The 2015 football season did not kick off the way Texas fans wanted.
As RB Johnathan Gray said afterward, the Longhorns "laid an egg" in a 38-3 whipping by No. 11 Notre Dame in front of an estimated 10,000 burnt orange-clad UT faithful in South Bend. There were a lot of issues Saturday night, many on the offensive side of the ball.
And a blowout loss was the last thing Charlie Strong and Texas needed after lopsided, offense-deprived losses to TCU and Arkansas to end 2014.
With plenty of questions now hovering over the 2015 season, here are three Texas needs to answer sooner rather than later:
1. WHERE IS THE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE LACK OF OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION?
Throughout the 2014 season, Charlie Strong would typically deflect any questions about the lack of offensive production onto the defense not doing its job. Or Strong would say the team has to be better at all three phases of the game. And it appears that answer hasn't changed from Strong in 2015.
Following an opening performance in which the Texas offense was shut out of the end zone, Strong was asked if this is the offense he was expecting to see after talking all off-season about changing from pro-style to spread?
His answer sounded familiar:
"In order for us to win this game, we had to play great defense. We had to run the ball. We had to run the ball downhill and we didn't do that tonight. … We had to control the clock and win special teams, which we didn't do."
While Strong is correct the team as a whole had to play better, you can only expect so much from the defense when it is on the field for almost 40 minutes. The defense had some sloppy plays against Notre Dame and does have to get better moving forward. But the best defense is one that is not on the field.
In the last three games, Texas has played (Notre Dame, Arkansas and TCU), the offense has scored two touchdowns, none of which were in the season opener. That is not the defense’s fault.
At some point, someone has to take accountability for the offense. And the sooner it happens, the better off the team will be.
2. WHY IS TEXAS RUNNING THE READ OPTION WITH TYRONE SWOOPES?
The quarterback almost always receives the majority of the blame following losses.
People will continue to question Tyrone Swoopes’ ability to lead Texas' offense after showing an increasing lack of ability to move the chains. While the questions may be valid, the bigger question is why is Texas running the read-option with Swoopes as the quarterback?
Let's not sugar coat things, Swoopes is not a running quarterback. Period. But there are two backups on the sideline who can run the ball.
The Longhorns offensive line didn't do much to help protect the quarterback against Notre Dame.
And there’s a chance the O-line will continue to struggle - in the short-term at least - due to youth and inexperience. If Texas is going to continue running the read option, Watson needs to rethink giving Swoopes the majority of snaps and turn his focus to Jerrod Heard or Kai Locksley.
3. IS THE TEXAS OFFENSE INSANE?
Albert Einstein summed it up best when he gave the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So I ask, is there some insanity going on with the Texas offense?
The Longhorns continued to put together ineffective offensive game plans last season. And it seemed like all of the issues from last year have carried over to this season.
The offensive line struggled. The quarterback did not execute well. Texas could not convert on third down. And where were the playmakers?
If the Texas offense cannot make proper adjustments in its game plan moving forward, this could be another insanely long, frustrating season for the Longhorns.