While this game did indeed last four quarters, it was effectively over with at twelve minutes left in the fourth quarter. After Rod Muckelroy returned a fumble for a touchdown, both coaches threw in the towels and there was nothing left to learn from watching.
So what did we learn from watching the other 48 minutes? Greg Davis will run the same plays out of the same formation against every defense because that's what he likes and that's what he knows. I'm pretty sure he orders the same thing at every restaurant he visits. Why? He likes his routine. He likes his comfort zone.
Colt McCoy played flawlessly for most of the game, and there is no doubt that he is our quarterback. Even if John Chiles was given something to do other than hand off, he still isn't going to beat out McCoy. One thing McCoy does need to work on is throwing the ball away. I think he's fallen in love with scrambling and making plays off schedule. Sometimes the smart move is just to throw the ball away. Unfortunately it's beginning to look like he's going to have to carry this team in a few games this year.
We should have run for over 200 yards against UTEP. Why didn't we? Because we still don't know how to design a running game that plays to our backs' strengths. Fozzy Whitaker is the only guy we have who can excel at what we're currently doing, and so he is now our only hope at the position. "We've got a couple of downhill slashers (in McGee and Ogbonnaya), but Fozzy's got great lateral movement, and he's pretty quick," said Greg Davis in this morning's Statesman. So the obvious question is why are they all given the same plays? McGee and Ogbonnaya need to get the ball with their shoulders squared to the line because that's how they run. Giving them and Cody Johnson the ball while running parallel to the line of scrimmage or making them come get the ball from the quarterback is madness.
Our receivers played well enough against man coverage applied by corners who had no business playing man coverage. We still haven't shown a deep threat, and again we're looking to a single player (Malcolm Williams) to be that guy. How is that our running and deep passing games depend on two individuals? We ran a two tight end set maybe a handful of times despite playing against a vastly undersized defense.
The run defense wasn't up to snuff, but people need to step back from the ledge. "We were going to go into the game and give up a little in the running game to help our safeties out," Will Muschamp said in today's Statesman. "We were going to play a little more Cover 2, a little more quarters stretch and be a gap short on the line. We wanted to make them be a little more patient offensively." So we purposely took away part of our run support to help out our young safeties. If it looked like our linebackers were struggling, it's because they had to cover an extra gap.
We did miss Lamarr Houston. There is a big dropoff at defensive tackle from him to the 3rd guy in the rotation. Rashad Bobino constantly runs himself out of at least half the plays because he has no concept of what it means to actually beat a block. And Earl Thomas continues to struggle mightily against the pass. He's late to pick up guys in his zone for whatever reason. Different players from last year, same struggles in zone. But the secondary did tackle a lot better this week.
This game was never in doubt for the Longhorns. Our offense is hot and cold at this point, but McCoy is doing everything that is asked of him. He's at his best with a short passing game using high percentage passes. He'll need some help down the road in the running game though, and hopefully Whitaker will be that guy. The defense will be a work in progress. The front seven is going to be pretty solid, but the young secondary will continue to make mistakes. We knew that before the season started. This team will look very good at times, and it will look very bad at times. We need to just temper our expectations accordingly.