Escaping the Circus:
Nickel Rover labs had to be shut down over the Thanksgiving weekend to handle some transportation equipment malfunctions, computer issues, and other personal matters. Most of these matters have been happily resolved , also the weapon is nearing completion.
I couldn't bring myself to tape the Turkey Day debacle, although I do wish I had, partly because it marked the first time I've been confident that Texas would lose to A&M (don't forget, I'm fairly young). Detailed description of our failure is hardly necessary, Davis in the last two games of the season finally partially relented to what was supposed to be the plan all along, pounding the ball on the ground with Cody and co., and if not for the simple fact that our team has zero confidence they might have managed a victory.
This offense did not believe they were going to win the game. I believe that after the Baylor loss, for which some of the senior leadership seemed to have the team genuinely invested, this team decided that it's easier to lose. They adopted a Wilt Chamberlain attitude where failing in the clutch was a more comfortable place for them then actually risking the necessary hope and confidence to see results. The red zone played out like a Wilt game 7 over and over again.
I hate diagnosing team issues that are impossible to discern even when you actually know the players and are present in the lockerroom, but that is what I believe to have been the mindset of the team from what I watched on TV.
As far as the defense giving up some big plays/drives at some of the worst moments this season, I credit that largely to poor overall safety play. There are things Blake Gideon and Christian Scott can both do very well but catching guys who broke the lower levels and providing a "safety" net for mistakes is not one of them.
The inside-zone cutback really burned us this year and I suspect that a primary culprit of this was the atrocious run support by Scott and Gideon. Scott is a fantastic tackler but he gets himself out of position crashing the line and isn't a 4.4 guy who can take an angle and rectify the mistake. Gideon is both slow and a poor open field tackler, making him the worst eraser you can imagine. I wouldn't guarantee a starting job next year to either of them. Certainly not both.
As far as changes go next year you need to be reading the insider accounts of Jesus Shuttlesworth which tell a story of building pressure on Mack Brown to make the sort of changes we are all hoping for like a child waiting to see if his stocking contains coal or Optimus Prime.
The 2 most popular OC names floating around to replace Greg are Dana Holgorsen and Gus Malzahn, two of the brightest minds in the 2 main conferences consisting mostly of former confederate states.
Would they come here? Scipio suggested from the start that Holgorsen was picked by T. Boone as a potential replacement for Gundy but an OC job at Texas would be a faster springboard to some truly big time jobs assuming he didn't blow it here. Jesus points out that Malzahn could be looking to flee the wreckage of Auburn soon and while being a city of refuge doesn't particularly appeal to me Malzahn's schemes certainly do.
We've seen what Holgorsen does, he runs a lot of the Mike Leach AirRaid minus the line splits. This season, perceiving a lack of receiving talent but an abundance of FB/HB types, he retooled his offense with 2 and 3 back sets that have made Kendall Hunter and their ground game one of the best in the country.
Malzahn subscribes to the no-huddle philosophy but rather than trying to multiply the number of mismatches like Wilson his focus is more to make the defense have to think hard, quickly, and often. He utilizes misdirection and frequent trick plays in order to hopefully catch the defense on a few big plays every game.
Either would be a considerable upgrade to our offensive philosophy and both seem cognizant of both the importance of the run game and how to build one, which I have already written is most important in restoring Texas and keeping the program in constant competition for conference championships and thus national ones.
David Ubben, who writes and occasionally think coherently about Big 12 football, has the All-Big 12 Awards and teams. To a bitter Texas fan it goes down like a sourdough Jack and comes back out in a similar manner along an even faster timeline.
If you'll believe me, David Snow should have been at least an honorable mention and should be first team preseason next year (and thus first team postseason). As it stands, our contributions were Sam Acho, Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown, and Emmanuel Acho. Only of those was a first teamer. Blake made honorable mention, of course.
I watched Texas a great deal this season, rewatched almost every game and scrutinized many plays over and over. With that info and simple stats as resources, I'd like to highlight just a few of the bumbling errors here.
1. Kheeson Randall's absence: Kheeston Randall played nose-tackle for Texas in 2010 and accumulated the following stats as the only quality defensive tackle on the roster: 39 tackles, 13 TFL, 1 sack, 8 hurries, 2 blocked kicks.
The following players were listed at DL ahead of him: Sam Acho, Colby Whitlock, Cameron Meredith, Jacquies Smith, Phil Taylor, Ugo Chinasa, Jeremy Beal, Aldon Smith, Pierre Allen, Jared Crick.
That's 3 Nebraska DL, 2 Missouri DL, and Phil Taylor's ass. None of those units matched what Texas' defense did this season and few of those players had as large a role in those efforts than Randall did at Texas.
Chinasa, rarely facing double teams and playing a role as a pass-rusher managed 2 more sacks than Randall and 8 fewer TFL. Phil Taylor, who plays roughly the same position managed 1 more sack and 6 fewer TFL.
Meredith and Allen had decent campaigns but you would need to combine them to match Randall's impact on a game.
In addition to outperforming all these characters in statistics such as tackles for loss, he did so facing double teams and thus cleared the way for 2nd Teamer Uno Ocho (not sure how he made it over Keenan) and Robinson to manage 87 and 113 tackles respectively. There was a tremendous dearth of defensive tackle quality in the conference and at Texas and still Kheeston Randall was somehow excluded. Unbelievable.
2. Jeremy Beal, defensive lineman of the year?
Despite playing for a team that saw its opponent utilize the forward pass on a regular basis he basically tied Sam Acho in total sacks (8.5 to 9), tackles (59 to 60), tackles for loss (18.5 to 17), and was destroyed in fumbles recovering 1 and forcing 3 while Sam recovered 5 and forced 5.
Hard to go wrong either way but I'd take the guy who had a better nose for the ball and played more roles for his team. Of course this was far short of no. 1 on the egregious error scale.
3. No Justin Tucker.
Really? He deserved at least honorable mention for his placekicking alone. You might remember that he served as punter this season as well and handled kickoffs. Hell, in moments of desperation they built trick plays around him.
The guy was 12/12 inside the 30 and 10/13 between there and the 50. He averaged 41 yards/punt and landed 17 inside the 20. I haven't checked the stats of the winning kickers but how do you not make honorable mention of him if you bother to do so with Gideon?
4. Coach of the Year: Shitbird Gundy.
I give it to Mike Sherman. He brought on DeyRuter (granted that Gundy did something similar with Holgorsen...or did he?) AND switched from a highly regarded senior to a wide receiver at QB thus turning around the A&M season and yielding a Cotton Bowl while missing the Big 12 championship by a tiebreaker. Now that program is headed full steam ahead while we hope our coach has the guts to keep up.