Dan Neil: The Good, Bad, & Ugly from UT Loss

This season, here on HornsDigest.com former Texas All-American offensive lineman DAN NEIL, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos (1997 & 1998) who opened holes for 2,000-yard rusher Terrell Davis, is breaking down film of Texas games and telling you what he sees.

Post your questions for Dan in this thread, and he will answer them. Catch Dan on “Upon Further Review” on the Longhorn Network on Mondays at 6 pm CT.



Winning is a habit and losing is a habit and habits are hard to break.  Right now Texas is on the habit of losing and can’t seem to figure out how to win. 

My family and I are dog people.  We just got our third puppy. He is a beautiful, 6-month-old lab named Ranger.

Our other two dogs are golden doodles. They are about 6 years old. When we brought home Ranger, we introduced him to a home with two established dogs. 

Right away the two older dogs set the rules for the puppy. They let Ranger know what he can and can’t do.  Ranger just follows around the other two dogs and does whatever  they do. 

When the old dogs go outside, Ranger goes with them.  We don’t have to do any training, because the older dogs are doing it for us. If we did not have the older two dogs, Ranger would have no idea what he should be doing.

We’d have to spend more time working with him.  Imagine a house full of puppies that have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. 

It helps to have older dogs around. 

Texas is a team full of puppies, and there are not enough old dogs to help show the puppies what it takes to win.

Young players react to seniors and coaches differently. The last thing you want to do is let down an older teammate. 

Coaches can yell at you, and it is water off a duck’s back.  When an older player calls you out, it embarrasses you. There is not a worse feeling. 

When I talk about learning to win, I’m talking about older players setting a standard of competition and telling the younger players, “You do your job, and I will take care of the rest.” 

Remember, I played with John Elway, and he taught me how to win.  He taught me if I did my job, he would do the rest. 

I also learned early that when you have a guy against the ropes - finish him. 



These players need to realize when they are in position to finish the other team - then make a play to finish them. 

Texas let Oklahoma State hang around, and it cost them the game.


I love westerns - especially Clint Eastwood’s old spaghetti westerns. When I watched this film of the Texas-Oklahoma State game, I saw Eastwood's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:


The Good:


This is a team getting better every week. 

I watched the film a few times Sunday, and there was outstanding effort from guys.



Johnathan Gray -  the senior RB will block anybody.  I’m sure most of you saw the block on OSU’s No. 20 in the second quarter, when Heard was scrambling. 

What most might not have seen were the other blocks he threw when Foreman was running the ball and other times when Heard was scrambling.  Gray is a team player willing to do whatever the coaches ask him.  He is a great senior leader on this team.


Hassan Ridgeway - I’m officially the president of the Hassan Ridgeway Fan Club.  The junior defensive tackle is a stud and plays as hard as anyone on the football field.

I was marking film to highlight great plays from Ridgeway and came up with more than 10 plays I thought were highlight plays. 

On one key drive in the fourth quarter, Ridgeway made almost every play. He was playing like a man who wanted to win!


Nick Rose – Everyone in burnt orange was glad to see Rose make those two field goals early in the game – and from 41 and 46 yards. No chip shots.

Charlie Strong and the coaches worked overtime after last week's Cal loss to make sure Rose's head was right, and they deserve credit for having him out there kicking confidently again. 

An ending like the one against Cal has the ability to sink a kicker's confidence. And Strong, by staying with Rose well after the Cal game and reassuring him, and then having him in meetings with the offense all week to keep him around reassuring teammates, may go unnoticed. But that's excellent coaching.


The Bad:


The offensive line continues to struggle with combination blocks in the run game and with twists by the defensive line in pass protection.

Let me say, these are two of the harder things to do, and almost every O-line in college will struggle with these at times. 

Oklahoma State wanted to contain Heard and achieved this by running end/tackle twists in pass situations.

The idea was that the tackle would loop out and be unblocked and would force Heard to the middle of the field. It worked pretty well, because it was hard for the O-line to pick up.

This lead to pressure and did not let Heard get comfortable standing in the pocket.

The other aspect the Texas offensive line is struggling with is the combination block in the run game.

You try to get two offensive linemen to double a defensive tackle and get a push.

Once the linebacker  commits to a hole, one of the offensive linemen comes off the block to pick up the linebacker.

Both linemen have to read the same thing with regard to the linebacker and both need to be right. If one is wrong, the O-linemen will either block no one or let the defensive tackle go free right in the gap you are trying to run in.

This is something this line is still struggling with and working on. 

Last year, the O-line had the same problems.  The difference is last year the linemen were not athletic enough to make the blocks. 

This year, they are. It’s just a matter of them continuing to improve. They will get there.


The Ugly:


Some guys on this team still don’t get it.

Marcus Hutchins gets a chance to come into the game at right tackle when Kent Perkins gets hurt and looks like he never played football.

In the third quarter, he is supposed to block the edge rusher, and Oklahoma State brings a blitz outside. OSU does not disguise the blitz. The entire stadium knows what’s coming.

Hutchins does not block the blitzer or the end, and both put pressure on Heard and get the sack. 

What bothers me is at the end of the play Hutchins has a chance to pick out one of the OSU players and either cut him or go and try to knock his head off.  He chooses to do nothing and watches his quarterback get sacked.

To top things off, it was third-and-11!  Texas converts about one out of every third down plays right now, and that is killing this team.

This is what I mean about finishing a team. You have a chance to score late in the game, and you give up a 15-yard loss on a sack! 

If you want to watch the game, go get a ticket and sit in the stands like the rest of us.


Penalties -  I know I am stating the obvious, but the penalties killed this team Saturday. 

Most of you watched the same game I did and realize the referees were a joke.  I get as mad at referees as anyone.

I was once playing in the Superdome. On the last play of the third quarter, I  got called for holding.

It was one of the few times I was not actually holding - HAHA.  Everyone else had flipped the field to start the fourth quarter, and the “Umpire” and I were standing at the opposite end arguing all by ourselves. 

In fact, I had to rush to the huddle at the other end so we would not get flagged for delay of game. 

I’m out there trying to do my job, and some guy who has no clue what he is doing makes a call that he has no business making and can cost me my job. 

You would be mad as well with all those ramifications hanging in the balance.

Despite our discussion, I did not get the call overturned. I couldn’t do anything about the referees and neither could Texas Saturday.


And even though there were calls you struggle to find on film, you just have to keep your composure, stay focused and keep fighting to put the other team away. Trust me, it's easier said than done.

I get where Charlie Strong was coming from late in that game, and I'm not sure he deserved the flag he received, because I wasn't standing on the sideline witnessing everything that transpired.

The fans can continue to talk about the officials. The coaches and players can not. They have to move on - quickly. One thing about justifiable penalties is they are mistakes you can clean up. 



The ending - In the grand scheme of things, I could live with the Cal game.  The missed extra point hurt, but I felt the team found some things it could improve while learning from mistakes.

With the positive energy that came from Jerrod Heard’s big performance, I thought Texas could get a big win at home to kick off Big 12 play. 

But to have this game end the way it did – with another unforced error on special teams hurt! 

It’s unreal that with the game on the line, the team suffered such a similar mistake as last week.

You cannot give away a conference game at home.  Somehow, some way, they need to figure it out and steal one in Fort Worth next week.

Next week is a new week. A win in Fort Worth would change this season for Texas.


Strong wants that signature win for his program, and Top 5 TCU (No. 3 in coaches’ poll and No. 4 in the AP poll) presents a great opportunity.

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