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Texas Football: Nebraska Post-Mortem

I have a work colleague whose husband is a manager at the Venetian in Las Vegas. It might surprise you then, classy joint that the Venetian is, to learn that it is the site of the prestigious Adult Video Awards. Aside from the enjoyment of seeing porn stars being led through the lobby on leashes or Tito Ortiz terrorizing anyone who gawks at Jenna Jameson, he was most struck by the fact that the winners of the awards were genuinely thrilled to win. The awards were never received with ironic posturing or a roll of the eyes. The girls were weeping, mascara in full liquid sprint down their cheeks, thanking their mothers and those who always believed in them, telling their former doubters at Van Nuys High School to suck it. After the event, the girls on the gaming floor carried their awards like a newborn; you couldn't have pried their hands off of their prize with a jaws of life speculum.

The Nobel Piece of Ass Prize

Beating a bad Nebraska football team is the college football equivalent of winning Best Anal. A close win is better than a loss, but most Texas fans were hoping to be featured in a different category at a different awards show. But you can't pry Bill Little's hand off of the trophy (at least without the lure of a thermos of turkey gravy and a tome of Smythe & Struther's 101 Writing Cliches). After all, this is Nebraska - a fellow member of the court of college football royalty. We beat NEBRASKA! In a chess match, no less. Of course, this is eerily reminescent of the dark decade from 1985 to 1995 when teams would crow about beating TEXAS. We...beat...TEXAS! Who cares if we were 5-6?

Nebraska came into the game after suffering a series of home field humiliations, with a lame duck coaching staff, a QB who once tried to snort half of Scottsdale, and a defense that faints at the sight of a handoff. They then proceeded to clobber us for three quarters until we stumbled upon the zone read and commenced to whipping ass. We were once again reminded that Charles is a very fast human being who has excellent running instincts when his brain hasn't succumbed to the psychological mind bang that is the Greg Davis running game. Dude is, admittedly, a fumbler, but there's more bloom on his rose than thorn when he's used appropriately.

Our OL was horrific in some instances, though it's on Colt and our scheme to account for the extra unblocked man. We didn't do much of that. Once again, the blitz was treated as if it were the most exotic and unpredictable thing a defense can do (even though Akina is guaranteed to blitz any opposing offense on change of possession and give up 22 yards on the predictable screen to come). The Davisian notion that basic blitzes render your offense inept unless you've specifically prepared all week for them is a strange conceit we've seen from this staff time and again. Southlake Carroll and Westlake have anti-blitz measures hardwired into their JV offense. Why don't we? Actually, we do, but, as with all of our offensive schemes, they are tied to a specific player - Limas Sweed - who is out for the year. Throwing a fly to him in single coverage was our way of dissuading the blitz. It was pretty simple and effective. Now that we have a WR corps incapable of seperation - a crew of #2's - we're going to see more and more teams pressing us. Either we find a way to relieve that pressure through some other avenue, or defenses are going to blow us up. I vote for the unpredictable tunnel screen!!!!!!!

I shall tunnel screen you into submission if you bring this

One thing that I find fascinating about our OL is how solid they look when they're allowed to block down in the running game rather than reach block guys lined up on an outside shoulder. To fully understand the ramifications of this, secure one dog treat, your family dog, and a hallway. Stand at attention. Place your dog two feet in front of you towards the area where you'll be throwing the treat. Yell,"Hut hut" and throw the dog treat to the end of the hall. Attempt to stop your dog without holding. You're reach blocking. Good luck.

Now, place your dog two steps behind you, your body between the dog and the treat throwing area. Throw the treat. Lazily reach out and impede your dog's progress. You're now down blocking. If you'd like to add a further layer, down block on Fido twice and in the third instance, pretend to throw the treat. While he careens down the hallway into the kitchen, gently throw the treat into the hands of Jermicheal Finley running the opposite direction. You just ran play action.

I poop on your reach block

Good running schemes create a virtuous cycle. It begats advantangeous play action passing situations, which, in turn, begats advantageous running situtations, all neatly joining in a never-ending loop of happy and coherent offense. This, among other reasons, is why well-coached schools like Highland Park can run the ball so effectively out of the spread with halfbacks named Chaz Worthington III.

I say, that DE seems to be biting on the playfake

Defensively, we gave up 400+ yards and 20+ points again. Nebraska had a 100 yard rusher, a 100 yard receiver, and a 300 yard passing performance. Akina's movable fantasy football feast. Our version of Cover 2 is more vulnerable to the post than a careening drunk driving through a ranch gate. When Nate Swift sticks it to you, you have to wonder what the hell it is you're doing out there. Young LBs blah blah blah blah. Old LBs blah blah blah blah. Fill it in. You know the drill. I'm tired of it. Sergio Kindle deserves special mention as someone who continues to fly around and wreck human beings in the opposing uniform, which is something I generally value in a LBing corps more than an ability to dominate our walk ons in spring drills. Graduation will improve our LBing corps considerably in 2008.

Much is being written about a state of regress for our DL and I don't think it's all fully deserved. Our quickish DE's aren't being cut loose to penetrate for fear of exposing our LBs and our DTs always face a playside double team. This is usually the recipe for LBs to have stat lines with 14 tackles and two forced fumbles since the running game pretty much becomes an Oklahoma drill without the blocker, but it's not really playing out that way.

Our special teams are pretty much dedicated to fielding the ball cleanly and not fumbling which tells you a hell of a lot about where we are in our approach to the game. Quan is a negligible entity in the return game - 8.8 yards a punt return; 23.5 yards per kickoff return. The guy is a phenomenal possession receiver and a true football player, but he offers us very little explosiveness. I have to think there are some guys on our roster who could create some plays for us here. I can't think of a team more in need of creating cheap scoring opportunities, but our goal here is clearly not to have setbacks.

We're 7-2 and ranked in the Top 15. We've played seven sorry teams and beaten them all; we've played two above average or good teams and lost to them both. Our remaining three games feature three teams that range from average to above average, so your guess is as good as mine as to how this all plays out.

Were I a handicapping man, I'd assign it thusly as to how we finish the regular season:

3-0 10%
2-1 42%
1-2 41%
0-3 7%

I chose a lack of roundedness to my numbers in hopes that it would suggest to the reader that they are unimpeachably scientific and not to be questioned; speaking to some degree of precision and knowledge I possess that you cannot know. Let me know if that shit worked.

Truthfully, there is no result in Stillwater that would surprise me. Though I'm guessing the mechanisms by which the result happens will surprise no one. I think it's pretty clear what this team is and how we'll lose or win any game from here on out.

It's science