A horror show. Here we go.
We would have run for over four hundred yards in this one had Warren and Foreman stayed healthy...and probably still lost.
Obviously that’s on the defense - much more on that below, unsurprisingly - but it’s also on a passing game that has utterly failed to adjust to play-off-and-jump-the-hitches coverage from objectively poor secondaries.
And it is outright baffling.
The OL had its troubles with OSU’s stud DT Vincent Taylor, but did what it wanted on the edges and had no trouble ripping off five - or fifty - yard runs up the gut when they remembered that Taylor needed to be doubled. Maybe it was pure fear of Taylor in dropback situations that utterly neutered Texas’ willingness to attack downfield, but we played play-not-to-lose ball in the passing game in flagrant contravention of every single precept of the 5333 offense.
There’s not much more to be said when you attempt fewer than three play action, double move deep shots when you’re trailing the entire day and FINALLY get a short route jumped for a Pick Five And A Half because you’ve given the secondary no reason to do ANYTHING but attack the first break by a receiver and go for the ball.
It was truly depressing to waste double monster efforts by Warren and Foreman in this one - any time they got a hint of daylight, they were dealing damage and ruining defenders. It was even more depressing to see both guys go out - Warren with a knee injury of unknown severity, Foreman with something (hopefully not a lacerated kidney) thanks to an uncalled blatant late hit in the end zone following his long TD jaunt. Kyle Porter had a couple of nice moments as the Lone Survivor in the backfield, but wasn’t up to carrying anything close to the load that the big hosses managed.
There’s not much point in going into the passing game when everything was a hitch. Buechele can deliver them accurately, the guys usually catch them if they’re not actively broken up or picked, and we even saw Dorian Leonard almost take one to paydirt when an OSU corner impersonated a Texas corner and blew the tackle. If we’re terrified of our interior pass blocking or Buechele is hurt worse than is let on, that sucks...but if we’re playing close to the chest to try and save him for the rest of the season, here’s a bulletin - the season is on the brink right now. Run the O like it’s supposed to be run or just let Swoopes run 18-Wheeler all day and fold the tents. But pick one of the two and do it fast.
Speaking of the 18-Wheeler, I’d go into Andrew Beck’s outrageously awful blocking in that package - it’s time to put Blueitt in this role and just toss a sixth OL out on the edge, posthaste - but with the defense still to write I just don’t have the strength.
I evidently don’t know how to properly execute a quote in the new SBNation system, but as we don’t know how to execute a tackle we’ll call it even.
The exact same defensive issues murdering you week after week is horrifying. But playing a game of defensive Whack-A-Mole is ultimately no better. And that’s what we saw in a four quarter, third-trimester abortion of a defensive performance that put the Strong regime on life support.
The nail may not be in the coffin, but the priest is by the bed.
With two weeks to prepare for Oklahoma State, the onus was on Strong, Bedford and Jennings to clean things up in the secondary, get the athletes playing fast and eliminate the communication issues that led to the blown coverages that were murdering this D.
And they kinda sorta did.
My drunken haze only recalls two straight-out busts in this one. On the first, DeShon Elliott jumps a short route fake out of Quarters and lets the slot stream right past him for an uncontested TD. He looked back confused like he was supposed to be playing underneath in a Cover Three, but the other side of the field was also playing Quarters. There is no defense in history where the safety jumps a short route or plays underneath with two DBs over two receivers - just utter mindlessness. On the second, Texas let a tight end come off the line and go totally uncontested up the seam for 40 yards - though since said TE was subsequently ID’d by Mike Patrick as Jake Oliver, it’s possible that he just didn’t show up on the defenders’ Identification Friend or Foe system.
Other than that, guys were largely in position. Rudolph stuck some nice throws (the square in to one of their Jhalens or JaJuans in the midst of five defenders was a thing of beauty - but Texas was in position to make plays and win the game on the back of a largely plus effort from the DL.
And they utterly, completely and apocalyptically failed to do so.
From the first drive, Texas was completely and utterly unwilling and unable to put guys on the ground when they got a hat and two arms on them. The DL missed a pair of shots on Rudolph in the first drive and Malik reverted to 2015 catch-and-release linebacking form against Barry Sanders (Senior, apparently) in the backfield before a blown downhill tackle from Brandon Jones on a strung-out Justice Hill teed up the stroll-in TD.
And the tone was set.
Time after time after time after time, Longhorn defenders couldn’t put an Aikman-caliber scrambler on the deck in the backfield or drop Cowboy ball carrier when they hit him with three points of contact. Sheroid Evans was 2013 Mykkele Thompson all game long, Vaccaro was wretched and it’s hard to think of a Texas defender besides Jason Hall, Kris Boyd and maybe Davante Davis who didn’t bring a C- game or worse when it came to the most simple, fundamental act of physicality on a football field.
The promised 3-4 D was actually working well early - we managed to foul up some of Rudolph’s reads, stayed in tight coverage, jammed up the run and got plenty of hands on Rudolph - and couldn’t tackle to seal the deal. We eventually paid the Hager Tax on a slot dig where they knew Hager wouldn’t drop effectively or at all, followed by his usual
Insanity Wolf Vodka Fox act on crashing first action in the backfield rather than honoring contain and allowing Russell Wilson Mason Rudolph to roll in for a TD on the keep. Of course Roach (who otherwise played a man-size game...except for putting Rudolph on the ground when he got hands on him) did the same shit later - in nature the Fox has no contain responsibility, so maybe this is to be expected.
The D actually slowed things down in the second half, but the damage had been done and a few more late busts were whatever the opposite of icing is on whatever the opposite of a cake is.
Whatever stuff got sort of fixed in the last two weeks, Defensive Whack-A-Mole isn’t a winning formula. Bedford figures to get whacked in short order, and Strong stands on the precipice all alone.
Hilariously, the extra points aren’t even the thing I’m most mad about. This referee crew didn’t get up to the outright criminality that Alan Eck’s bunch managed last year, but they were criminally ignorant of:
III. NCAA Approved Ruling 9-1-2-XVIII-XX
XVIII. Team A is in an obvious scrimmage kick formation. Immediately after the snap, nose guard B55 charges directly at the snapper, contacts him, and drives him backward. The ball is snapped to an upback three yards behind the scrimmage line or to the potential kicker, who instead runs with or passes the ball. RULING: Foul. Penalty – 15 yards and automatic first down. The snapper may not be contacted until one second has elapsed after the snap when Team A is in a scrimmage kick formation and it is reasonably obvious that a kick might be attempted.
OSU rushed head up and jacked the deep snapper on all three of their XP blocks, with the first two situations being borderline-ish while the third was fully blatant. Texas at least paid them back by illegally rushing head-up over OSU’s snapper in the second half to get a block of their own, but a 4-1 exchange on lost points wasn’t much of a salve.
No, the rage-inducing element here was on more basic stuff. Texas still cannot get a single kick cover man solidly blocked with whatever upbacks we roll out, and we continually eschew the opportunity to start at the 25 when we get a ball 3 yards deep in the end zone because we have the pattern recognition of a goldfish. We also had a horrifying delay of game penalty on a field goal that pushed us out of Domingue’s effective range - with three minutes left in the half and three timeouts, mind - and then saw him proceed to miss a 47-yarder that would have been good from 42.
G’Day to Michael Dickson, who boomed a couple of punts and picked up a hilarious accidental fourth-down conversion when no one rolled with him on a rugby punt rollout, but this was another minus effort in a loss from the third phase.
And it’s well past the point of unacceptability.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Charlie picked the wrong season to screw around with Tom Herman lighting the world on fire down I-45. The priest is by the bed, and absent a turnaround that would have to be conjured from elements utterly lacking this season - namely smart, fundamental and physical play from the back seven - the rest of Texas’ games are simply a long march to last rites.
Hook ‘em - time to drink.