For those of you from the "We've Been Sandbagging Camp" - Welcome!
Sorry you had to abandon Camp Pyrite when you struck another vein of poisonous reality.
Listen. We need to talk. About Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and your belief that we have special plays that will unlock a secret offense other than the uninspired sack of shit we'll trot out every week.
The humorous thing is that our own coaches believed we'd been sandbagging, as if a -8 yard James Kirkendoll sack on an end-around pass was key to our offense being able to run for more than 93 yards on 43 attempts against a defense that New Mexico and SMU handled better than we did.
New Mexico 5.5
That's what each team averaged in yards per play against that Tech defense.
The Texas offense, brought to you by Massengale, reminded us again of what we've come to expect against defenses with a pulse in a pressure environment. What's so crippling about the offense is not just its total lack of productivity, but the fact that it continues - occasionally in cahoots with our special teams - to put points on the board for the opposing team while the defense sits helplessly on the sideline. It will continue so long as we have an offensive coordinator with minimal comprehension of opportunity cost, game context, and risk-reward.
I pointed out before the year that we should all gird yourselves for a SEC style offense, but that was being generous, because the perfected boring SEC model of offense doesn't put dumb points on the board for the opposing team and it doesn't consistently put the defense in a bind.
79 plays for 320 yards, a pick 6, 6 of 20 on third down, 10 TFLs surrendered, pissing away a 14-0 Q1 lead that should have snowballed into a 38-7 blowout, and three turnovers against an average defense is a horrendous performance, every bit the equal of the abomination we rolled out against OU and NU last year after you adjust for talent differentials.
We're ASPIRING to be an average offense.
Some coaching points that have nothing to do with talent on the field -
- Slow developing end-arounds aren't a strategy for dealing with penetration. They're the opposite of what you want to call. Once you factor in penalty losses, this was a negative yards per play call. We counter punch like Bernard Hopkins.
- 6'6 DEs with a motor should be cut when we run screens or quick slants. Mitchell doesn't execute on the screen (called against a three man rush, by the way), so we give up a pick. OK. It happens. No problem. Brown yells at MacWhorter, but I watch Mitchell make the exact same mistake through the rest of the game, no learning absorbed. None.
- The second pick 6 tip was a traditional pocket. A 3 step quick throw by Gilbert out of shotgun. Mitchell gives up the inside - a massive no-no. If you understand the play call and protection, you're taught to squeeze down. Inexplicable.
- The end around pass from Kirkendoll was a monumental fail: bad call, bad design, bad set up, bad execution, bad situational coaching to not understand to throw it away.
- Running backs can't run out of bounds when you're trying to burn clock. Can't happen.
- 3rd and long. Tech allows Greg Smith to run free on a two yard route and goads Gilbert to throw there for an easy stop. This is the precise read Davis praises in the Mack Brown / Pat Forde piece against Rice on 3rd and 17.
- More dead ball penalties on 3rd and short.
- Mitchell is struggling with Scott Smith. Do we help him? No. We never adjust for a mismatch, we just allow the brutalization to continue - see Suh last year. Can we bench him? No. Why? Because our offensive coaches went through the motions in recruiting and development for 2-3 years after the MNC and Colt's legs saved our asses. Yesterday's low staff accountability creates tomorrow's low player accountability.
- Colby Whitlock splits double teams three times in this game. Snow is apparently benched. Whitlock racks up six tackles, including 2 TFL. Coming into the game he had two tackles in two games and no TFL. Just about Scott Smith's stat line too, BTW.
- Go to 3:11 in the 1st quarter. Watch Mike Davis' "block." An exact replay of what Kirkendoll did last week. -4 yards. I don't mind if Mike is physically whipped by a more mature player - I just want him to try. BTW, Davis was known for his blocking in high school.
Gilbert made some good throws on 3rd down and he demonstrated composure after three somewhat faultless first half interceptions when he might have gone fully into the tank. He threw for 170 in the first half and 57 in the second, an identical stat line to the Wyoming game, proving that our running game isn't the only thing that goes stale once you get a chance to see it. He took some foolish sacks and he continues to rocket some throws that could use touch. He also continues to break the pocket in self-sacking panic when a team only rushes three and drops eight into coverage instead of standing strong, waiting a few beats, and letting his WRs work into gaps. Garrett is a work in progress operating within the constraints of a conceptually poor offense. After seeing his tackle effort against Tech and against Bama, he has no future at strong safety.
Fozzy (15-55-1) looked good early (he was 5-30-1 in his first five carries, 10-25 down the stretch), broke some tackles, got dinged up, and his productivity bombed as Tech realized that, yes, the power play and inside zone really are all you have to defend and that you really can cheat to the hole when a team tries to deal with penetration with slow developing end arounds. Good pass blocking from all of the backs. I thought Cody Johnson ran OK (17-35), which is to say he ran like the rest of our backs when someone is standing at the LOS waiting for him. Recall that we have a fan base that wanted Cedric Benson benched as a sophomore and a coaching staff that considered benching Jamaal Charles as a junior. Ties don't go to the runner in Longhorn land.
If Tre Newton sustained another concussion, I'm wondering what this means for his future.
Britt Mitchell got Ndamukong Scott Smith at least 2nd team All Big 12 honors in one game: 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 tipped ball INT, an INT of his own, and he drew two penalties. I'd written before the year about the incredible imbalance in this league between DE and OT talent, but I have to confess that I wasn't thinking about Scott Smith when I wrote it. And Brian Duncan got a sack when we blocked him with Barrett Matthews. That was Tech's pass rush.
Colby Whitlock destroyed our running game, Tech's safeties and LBs ran to the holes before the back got the handoff, and the OL and WRs were poor on at least half of our snaps. We have a miserably coordinated running game.
Props to James Kirkendoll for his best game as a Longhorn, though he was fortunate not to draw the same stupid penalty the Tech guy got two plays later. The Malcolm Williams interception bobble was interesting. They'd had Malcolm on an island for much of the 2nd half and we chose to go to him with a simple flip out. Malcolm struggles to catch the ball when he thinks about doing something after the catch and the pass play called is predicated entirely on that assumption. Next time someone covers your 6-3 220 pound guy without safety help, point him downfield. Does that mean Malcolm isn't to blame? No. He is. But it's about percentages, playing to strengths, and understanding context. Lightning strikes are rare. But I don't hike on an exposed ridge line when a storm is blowing in.
Mike Davis showed a lot of the reasons he's going to be a star, but he was inconsistent. We also did nothing with him downfield. His blocking was horrendous as was the entire WR corps.
There is zero accountability on this staff offensively and with a head coach that measures offensive efficacy by a W if the team wins 6-3 or 10-7, there's no reasonable reason to expect real systemic improvement. We're not good at anything. As Gilbert matures, we will see more individual playmaking and freelancing, which is what real offensive production at Texas has always been based on against any real defense.