Three Postgame Thoughts from BYU

Three thoughts about Texas's performance against BYU.

1) Re-watching the game, of course, the main thing that stands out was the defense's performance. But the thing that stands out about the defensive performance is the fact that, after watching it again, it seemed like it was mostly missed assignments and players — especially linebackers — out of place. Were there some effort things there too? Sure. You never want to constantly see your players "catching" contact as opposed to delivering it.

But you don't give up 550 rushing yards by catching contact. You give up 550 yards by conceding clear running lanes, not filling gaps and allowing for lightly touched long runs. You give up 550 yards by being out of position, so that you're having to try flying arm tackles, rather than getting your pads over the balls of your feet and striking people, or even just having a proper base to leverage the ball in space.

And ultimately, I think that's why Mack Brown made the decision he did, to fire Manny Diaz as Texas defensive coordinator. Too often, the Longhorns found themselves in alignments with too few players at the second level of defense. And too often, those second-level defenders were out of place.

2) Anybody who has any opinion on the Greg Robinson hiring so far, I think, is probably jumping the gun a little bit. I'll admit that I'm intrigued by the hire, if for no other reason that Robinson is famous (infamous?) for keeping things simple, not being blitz happy, and making sure people get their assignments right. It's a fundamentals-based approach, a keep-everything-in-front-of-you on defense approach, and while I don't know about Robinson as a long-term solution, his presence, and what he teaches, could be exactly what Texas needs.

At the same time, I realize that 1) teaching something new in the middle of the season isn't exactly optimal and 2) Robinson hasn't exactly had glowing reviews at his last few stops.

Do I expect Robinson to plug in and immediately make Texas a top-10 defense? Of course not. But neither do I expect things to happen like they did in the BYU game. From the sources that I've talked to, Robinson's recommendation against the Cougars was to throw everybody into the box and make BYU beat Texas over the top with the pass. And I think we can all agree that that strategy likely would have produced a better result than what happened.

He's also a pretty fired up dude as a coach, and that could also be what Texas needs.

3) Offensively, I didn't think it was that bad. Texas obviously took a blow when Daje Johnson went out, but the Longhorns still took some shot plays down the field and had chances to create some explosives, but a few were just off the mark. If Texas hits on a few of those, we're talking about an offense scoring 35 points. As it was, they put up better than 400 yards of total offense.

Of course, there were certainly some struggles, and a lot of those came up-front. Once again, Dominic Espinosa struggled against a good nose tackle head-up on him, an issue that made it really tough for the Longhorns to run the ball with any consistency. In those kinds of games, I really like to see more Malcolm Brown, because I think that he gives you the ability to add on extra yards after contact. You also really saw that manifest on third-and-short plays.

The other issue with the offensive line: they often struggled to block 3-4 rushers with 5-6 blockers. And that really hurts. When a defense knows that they don't have to get exotic, when they can just line up and rush the bare minimum number and still generate pressures and sacks, you get in jail offensively. And that's especially true in third-and-long situations. Texas was 5-of-20 on third and fourth downs, and a big part of that was the fact that BYU was able to win the battle up front.

And last, but certainly not least, David Ash just wasn't especially sharp. He wasn't bad. And even with missing the time at the end, he still had nearly 300 yards of total offense and a couple scores. But there were a couple times where he got happy feet and left the pocket, only to get corralled by waiting defenders. And there were a few other times where he either missed reads or missed open receivers by just a hair here or there.

Like I said, Ash didn't have a poor game. But neither was he as sharp as he could have been, or as sharp as he needed to be with Texas finding itself in an unexpected shootout.

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