Five Things I Think

Five thoughts on Texas's 30-22 home loss to Baylor on Saturday.

1) The sad thing about last night's game is that it cast a shadow on the best performance of Garrett Gilbert's career. Sure, his completion percentage of 56.4 wasn't great. But his receivers dropped around seven passes, which skews those numbers. Add in those potential completions, and Gilbert's completion percentage rockets to 74.3 percent, and he would have had at least two more touchdowns. As it was, he was Texas's leading rusher with 79 yards and a score on the ground, and he passed for another 231 yards. His only turnover, an interception, was on a play where the ball bounced off his receiver's hands. For Gilbert, Saturday night was a step forward.

2) Overall, the Longhorns appear to be lower on the talent scale than they have been. Sure, there's talent throughout the roster. But it lacks the fear and awe-inspiring talents of a Brian Orakpo, a Vince Young or an Earl Thomas. When games are on the line, those are the players who can swing games in your team's favor. From what I've seen, I'm just not sure Texas has those guys. It isn't any secret that the Longhorns' most talented group is its young players, so those guys could develop into those guys. But for now, the Longhorns have a bunch of good players without the elite level talents to swing games.

3) Big plays again were the downfall of the Longhorn defense. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was largely held in check, as was running back Jay Finley. But the Longhorns allowed three long touchdown plays, two on Griffin passes and one on a Finley run, that changed the game. Griffin hit on a 59-yard pass where safety Blake Gideon took a poor angle to the ball, and a 30-yard pass where the Longhorns failed to cover Kendall Wright. Finley ran for a 69-yard touchdown when he split the linebackers and the safeties took poor angles. Texas only allowed a respectable 328 yards. But those three plays accounted for 158 of those yards and kept Texas from an elite, and game-winning, defensive effort.

4) Texas again failed to execute on the opponent's side of the field, attempting six field goals and scoring just one touchdown. The Longhorns are the only team in the Big 12 to have more field goal attempts (22) than touchdowns scored (19). In conference play, they're also the only team to have more field goals attempted (11) than touchdowns scored (9) in the red zone. The Longhorns need to start turning those field goal attempts to touchdowns. And they can start by playing better on first downs to create more short-yardage situations.

5) It sounds strange to say it, but the Longhorns will trip to Manhattan this next weekend with its bowl eligibility on the line. The Longhorns should be able to beat Florida Atlantic. But out of the other three remaining games: at Kansas State and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M at home, Kansas State appears to be the most winnable. Right now, the Longhorns have a lot of negative momentum. Defeat K-State, and Texas should have some positive momentum heading into a tough game against Oklahoma State. If Texas can somehow sneak out a win there, the Longhorns would be 7-4 heading into the finale against Texas A&M. Lose the Kansas State game, and the Longhorns could just as easily finish 5-7 and miss the postseason for the first time since 1997.

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