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Texas-Baylor Football Post-Mortem: Offense/Special Teams

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Generally when you drop 557 yards on someone and convert 14 of 22 3rd downs - particularly against Baylor - you should expect to score more than 24 points and probably not anticipate a blowout loss, but the last two years have been a cornucopia of Mack Brown era firsts. This was a tough re-watch and I hope you'll forgive the echoes as the themes throughout the season are more or less constant: a weird rash of injuries, horrendous QB play, a flawed OL comprising mostly natural guards and centers, and a constant, if tedious, reminder that we're still reaping what was sown during the Great Paid Staff Retirement after the National Championship.

The Longhorns amassed six turnovers and 12 penalties - including four interceptions of the WTF variety that led directly to 17 Baylor points (a pick 6, an 11 yard drive, a field goal after possession at midfield).

QB

Regression to the mean with a vengeance. The fool's gold of 11 of 17 for 237 yards and 3 TD start (basically two throws of 78 and 80 to Shipley and Goodwin and then some dinking) on easy throws morphed into a 11 of 22 for 119 yard and four interception denouement as Baylor contested the early window with their corners and stood two 4.7 40 Blake Gideii 15 yards from the LOS and told them to grab whatever fluttering duck plummeted to earth nearby. One of them was just named Big 12 Defensive Player of The Week. Even Baylor fans are rolling their eyes.

And if you'll forgive me for regressing to just plain mean, If there's a silver lining here, it's that the McCoy mythology was exposed for what it is - a projection by goofy fans (and coaches) who believe QBing is purely hereditary and who won't see what's in plain sight. He doesn't have a FBS arm, has terrible mechanics (if he's the quintessential coach's kid, why are all clean pockets immediately bailed from and why are his passes released like a Dirk Nowitski fade away?), limited athletic ability, and an inability to make the needed play action throws outside of a 15 yard radius. Watching people try to find false hope here with Kellen Moore, Major Applewhite, and Colt McCoy comps is as strange as thinking every 5-7, 140 pound guy you meet hits like Manny Pacquiao. His play crystallizes why Harsin was so intent on trying to salvage Gilbert, got Ash involved early in the hopes of easing him into the true backup role, and saw his best laid preseason plans reduced to rubble.

I'm not sure why it took Baylor a half of football to figure this all out since the tape is readily available, but once they did, their secondary, arguably the worst performing unit in major college football, looked like All-Americans.

David Ash ran a little, threw one pass that bounced off of Marquise Goodwin's chest and hands in the end zone, and I thought he was going in after McCoy's 3rd interception, but didn't. That was a Mack Brown decision and either it stemmed from a desire to prove to fans (and players and parents) that McCoy isn't the answer and allow the appropriate reshuffling of our QB hopes or it was motivated by some irrational sentimentality that McCoy might work some A&M magic. You make the call, dear reader. A moot point with respect to game outcome, in any event.

I wrote in my preview that if we don't get QB play, make your reservations in San Diego. See you at the Hampton Inn in Carlsbad!

RB

Either Brown or Bergeron would have probably dropped a 180-220 yard individual effort (Baylor never budged from their nickel, two safeties deep once the game got rolling) and Fozzy might have averaged 10 yards per carry in the WildOreo, but we used a combo of Johnson-Hills-Monroe to some degree of effectiveness. All tried their hardest, but each player is incomplete. Monroe had a nice 51 yard scamper and then reached his 8-10 touch limit, Johnson ran tough inside, but Baylor's vulnerability is on the edges and off-tackle, and Hills averaged 4.7 yards per carry, but couldn't break the tackles that would have turned some four yard runs into forty. Our running game was most consistently thwarted by our love of holding and procedure penalties as much as Baylor's defense.

WR/TE

Finally saw the Luke P end zone stroll we were all expecting. Nice moment. Oddly, the early dominance and promise he showed as a blocker against Tech and Kansas tailed off through the year, even when facing Baylor DL personnel not much different from the Jayhawks or Red Raiders. Irby had an amazing TD catch in the back of the end zone that should have been an easy lay up and props to Blaine for finishing the season strong. A great, inspiring story. We still lack an every down complete TE despite cycling through 10 over the past 3 years. Bruce Chambers would probably lobby for Rob Gronkowski to play offensive tackle and tell Jimmy Graham basketball players have no place on the gridiron.

A hobbled Shipley gave us all he could, including a 78 yard reception that would have gone for 6 if not for the protestations of his ligaments, and Goodwin flashed what he's capable of when you can hit him in stride on a 80 yard TD catch. On the debit side of things, Mike Davis continues to exhibit the hand strength of an elderly woman afflicted with myasthenia gravis and Goodwin dropped a sure touchdown pass. I like Miles O as a future possession guy (along with John Harris) but he's a kid.

This was the sort of opponent that someone like Darius White could athletically dominate operating as the #3 WR and his absence from the game plan and our recent recruiting takes will tell you all you need to know about what our coaches think of our current personnel and the likelihood of transfers down the road.

ROSTER SABANIZATION SEQUENCE: INITIATED!

OL

A ridiculous number of holding and procedure calls, some of them spurious. I guess Grant Teaff was retiring again?

If not for the officials, we only lose this game by two touchdowns. What might have been. Sigh.

This is still a group in development and David Snow turned in a hell of a solid year after a rough start, but when you throw down 500+ yards of offense with a starting group of skill personnel in this game that would rank 10th or 11th in the league, it's hard to come down too hard on the big boys. Put another way, of the guys we rolled out in Waco, only Shipley would grab a starting job for Baylor, and he'd be Baylor's #3 WR. And Baylor's back up QB Florence is better than anyone on our roster. Puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

This OL remains a mismatched group of parts, thrown together by previous staffs (and current head coach) with no real plan or understanding of what they wanted developmentally or conceptually and it will take some time to iron that out. I'm generally satisfied with the early returns on Searles, even if his guys lost their composure in Waco and continued to exhibit some of the deficiencies that are hard-wired into this unit. I think the effort is generally good and the coherence in our running game is wildly improved vs last year.

Special Teams

Baylor had poor special teams and we did nothing to punish them for it. Tucker missed a 31 yard field goal. We needed to win here decisively. We didn't. End of story.

Final Thoughts

A strange offensive effort, sunk mostly by deficient skill position play, inopportune penalties, and egregious turnovers. We were 2 of 5 in red zone scoring opportunities, special teams gave us nothing special, and we featured QB play comparable to taking in a rhino suppository dipped in resin and then rolled in a broken bottle of Tobasco sauce.

The Texas Longhorns are now 6-11 in Big 12 conference play over the last two seasons and playing .500 ball over all. That's sobering for a job that I consider to be the best in college football.