1. Can we start off better than last week? As much I would like to pretend Missouri didn't lead us 24-0 at one point last week, it happened. I'd also like to pretend that we have a fickle fanbase that doesn't boo when they think that they know more than our coaches, but we don't. It's ridiculous how much finger-pointing that there has been on the forums lately. Everyone, including the players, realizes when members of the team struggle. You aren't some kind of rebel genius for reiterating it. Move past the loss. Green Bay fans booed Brett Favre in his early years. Look how that turned out. That said, we aren't going to win anything by spotting a team 24 points. The growing pains for Harrell need to be less of an issue, and the rest of the team needs to do a better job of helping him through it.
2. Can our defensive line return to top form? What happened to our defensive line that was playing so well? Chase Daniel just played with them in the backfield. I realize that Daniel is a mobile quarterback, but it's not like he is Vince Young. I have never seen some many missed arm tackles in my life, and that includes the times when we actually played Vince Young. The problem against Missouri wasn't even a lack of penetration, it was that the linemen were overrunning the play and taking poor angles at Daniel. I don't even want to want to count the number of times that one of our defensive lineman would beat their man and the blow the tackle because they would try and tackle Chase with an outstretched hand. Don't give him a warning that you are about to try and tackle him, go for the body and wrap up.
3. Can we get Jarrett Hicks more involved? I had thought this would be a given, since he was forced to sit out the first few games. I guess we were trying to use him as a decoy, or maybe him and Harrell aren't on the same page yet. Whatever it was, it needs to change. We have to start using the entire field like our Spread offense is designed to do. Opponents are not going to buy Jarrett Hicks as the threat that he should be unless he starts getting the ball thrown his way. Hicks is an All-American. Shouldn't we start treating him like one? I wonder if thing would have been different last week if Harrell hadn't become accustomed to life without Jarrett in the lineup. Oh well. We can't change what happened last week, but we can learn from it and plan for the future. That plan needs to involve Hicks.
4. Can we handle the road? UTEP was closer than it should have been, TCU was a disaster, and A&M was a win, but it was a rivalry game. The next two weeks for the Red Raiders are back-to-back away games at Colorado and Iowa State. If we lose to Colorado, the football board is going to be the most miserable place ever. The same goes for the Iowa State game. The last thing I want to see is the "woe are we" crowd whining about which player had the worst game, and how they know how to coach better with their hindsight. Then again, maybe it will turn out for the best. If we can get two road wins before coming back home for a big game against Texas, hopefully the fairweather fans will have settled down a little bit. We will need the fans' support if we expect to upset a good UT team.
5. Can we forget about Missouri? We lost. We aren't perfect. Learn how to deal with it. That goes for both the fans and the team. Nothing good comes from carrying over bitter feelings from a loss. The good teams bounce back from a loss, no matter how painful it was. Look at what Iowa did to Purdue last week after getting manhandled by Ohio State. That is what I want to see out of our team in the next two weeks. No mercy. I don't care about running up the score or hurting anyone's feelings. I want our team to do whatever it takes to get back on track for the UT game, which is arguably our biggest game of the year. That said, there should be no looking ahead. This week, Colorado is the enemy. Next week, it is Iowa State. Pirates take no prisoners. Go sink some ships.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)