WHERE CHARLIE STRONG GOES FROM HERE
And fans wouldn't be on tilt this much after the Cal game if not for the WAY the game was lost - with a defense that gave up 18 plays of 11 yards or longer, including TD passes of 29, 29, 23 and 12 yards.
It's one thing to lose a hard-fought, close game. It's another to lose by getting whipped by the one WR (Chad Hansen - 12 catches, 196 yards, 2 TDs) you knew you had to stop and who has now been added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list after the UT game.
Texas fans can handle a tough, close loss. They can't handle being embarrassed in an upset, especially when there's talented players on the field, and it appears they weren't prepared.
So the reaction to THIS loss - on top of last year’s school record for yards given up - has been especially harsh.
Will this be the wakeup call the team needed to be on point for Big 12 play?
Or will this be the defining moment of the Charlie Strong era in terms of how he is judged in managing the day-to-day operations as the head of the Texas football program?
Strong gets an A in my book for the evaluation, recruitment and development of players - the lifeblood of most any program.
The question about Strong so far at Texas has been his ability to pick assistant coaches and coordinators. Only two assistant coaches remain from Strong’s original hires - DC Vance Bedford and LB coach/recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary.
More on whether BJ could replace Bedford as the defensive play-caller in a second.
Shawn Watson was demoted one game into last season after promising a spread, high-tempo offense and delivering a three-and-out-a-thon.
This season, it seems Charlie Strong has to demand Bedford act like a defensive coordinator by doing things like - be aggressive and … play aggressive players … and encourage players to play aggressively.
I’ve said Bedford reminds me of former Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes, who hated playing freshmen and instead preferred to break them down … and down … and down.
I know Bedford knows football and has coached a No. 1 defense (Louisville 2012), who can charm the media in a press conference. But Bedford appears to have lost his fastball the last two years.
Strong had to force Bedford to play Holton Hill and Davante Davis at corner last season after Bedford started John Bonney and Antwuan Davis.
Strong had to get Bedford to adjust the defense against Baylor last year after Bedford continued to play the Bears as a passing team while BU gashed Texas with its fifth-string QB - RB Johnny Jefferson - on the ground.
And this season, Strong had to demand Bedford put pass rushers Breckyn Hager and Malcolm Roach on the field against UTEP (with great success) only to have Strong have to demand Bedford put Hager and Roach on the field against Cal (at the tail end of the first half) after Cal had put up most of its 35 first-half points.
What the (bleep) is going on with Bedford?
Is he salvageable as a play-caller? Or is it time for Strong to give LB coach Brian Jean-Mary the chance to coordinate this defense (with Strong’s input, of course)?
BJ seems to have the same, aggressive mindset of Strong. Not sure where Bedford’s mindset is unless he has a defense full of veterans like in 2014 (DT Malcom Brown, LB Jordan Hicks, NCB Quandre Diggs). And that’s not happenin’ this season.
I asked around this week about if Strong would actually strip Bedford of play-calling duties, and half said Strong wouldn’t do that to Bedford and the other half said they weren’t so sure.
“I have two weeks to evaluate it,” Strong said Monday.
SECOND-HALF OFFENSIVE PENALTIES A KILLER
There’s a lot of discussion about why the Texas offense wasn’t more productive in the second half of the Cal game, when UT scored only 10 points (all in the fourth quarter) after scoring 33 in the first half? And why the Horns didn’t run the ball more with D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III in the second half?
Texas had six possessions in the second half vs Cal and four of those possessions had drive-derailing penalties.
(The Horns had 10 possessions in the first half and had only one offensive penalty - a false start on Brandon Hodges in the 2Q. It, too, derailed the drive.)
The only two possessions in the second half that didn't have Texas getting flagged were:
1) D’Onta Foreman's 47-yard TD run on the opening play of Texas' first possession of the 4Q.
2) UT's last drive that started at UT's 21 with 3:34 left, down 50-43.
Here’s a look at how those offensive penalties took down the Texas offense in the second half:
Opening Drive 3Q:
1-10 UT25 ….. Buechele pass to Jake Oliver for 10 yards
1-10 UT35 ….. Buechele incomplete pass to John Burt
2-10 UT35 …… Warren run for 2 yards
3-8 UT37 ….. Warren run for 20 yards
1-10 CAL43 …. Warren run for 3 yards
2-7 CAL40 ……. Swoopes run for 6 yards
3-1 CAL34 ……. Warren run for 3 yards
1-10 CAL31 …. D Foreman run for 3 yards
2-7 CAL28 …… D Foreman run for 21 yards (NEGATED by holding call on Zach Shackelford)
2-17 CAL38 ….. Buechele pass to Warrick for 4 yards
3-13 CAL34 ….. Buechele run for 2 yards
4-11 CAL32 ….. Trent Domingue misses FG from 49 yards
Running plays: 8 (one negated by penalty)
Pass plays: 3
Second drive of 3Q starts at 8:42:
1-10 UT10 …. Swoopes pass to Jake Oliver for 9 yards
2-1 UT19 ……. Swoopes run for 9 yards
1-10 UT28 ….. D Foreman run for 3 yards
2-7 UT31 …….. D Foreman run for 4 yards
3-3 UT35 …….. Swoopes run for 5 yards
1-10 UT40 …… Swoopes run for 1 yard
2-9 UT41 …….. Buechele pass to John Burt for 6 yards
3-3 UT47 …….. UT PENALTY (false start on Shackelford)
3-8 UT42 …….. Buechele incomplete pass to A Foreman
4-8 UT42 ……… Michael Dickson punt
Third drive of the 3Q starts at 2:57:
1-10 UT10 …… Warren run for 25 yards
1-10 UT35 …… Buechele pass to Jerrod Heard for 11 yds
1-10 UT46 …… Warren run for no gain
2-10 UT46 …… UT PENALTY (false start on Patrick Vahe)
2-15 UT41 …… Buechele pass dropped by John Burt
3-15 UT41 …… Buechele pass to Dorian Leonard for 7 yds
4-8 UT48 …….. Dickson punt
Fourth drive of 2H starts with 13:37 left in 4Q:
1-10 CAL47 … D Foreman 47-yard TOUCHDOWN RUN puts Texas up, 40-35, with 13:23 left
Fifth Texas drive of 2H starts with 10:39 left in 4Q and Texas trailing 43-40:
1-10 UT23 ….. D Foreman run for 11 yards
1-10 UT34 …… D Foreman run for 2 yards
2-8 UT36 …….. Buechele pass to A Foreman for 19 yards
1-10 CAL45 …. D Foreman run for 2 yards
2-8 CAL 43 …… Buechele pass to A Foreman for 10 yards
1-10 CAL 33 … D Foreman run for 0 gain
2-10 CAL33 …. Buechele pass incomplete to A Foreman
3-10 CAL33 …. Buechele pass complete to Devin Duvernay for 10 yards
1-10 CAL 23 … D Foreman run for 4 yards
2-6 CAL19 ……. Swoopes run for 6 yards (NEGATED by UT holding call on Andrew Beck)
2-16 CAL29 ….. D Foreman run for 1 yard
3-15 CAL28 ….. Buechele pass to Oliver for 10 yards
4-5 CAL18 …….. Trent Domingue FG from 35 yards, tying the game at 43-43 with 5:29 left to play.
Texas’ final drive of the night vs Cal:
1-10 UT21 …. Buechele pass to Jerrod Heard for loss of 1
2-11 UT20 …. Buechele run for 2 yards
3-9 UT22 ….. Buechele sacked for 1-yard loss.
4-10 UT21 …. Dickson punt 43 yards with 1:41 left
Texas never got the ball back.
The two holding penalties (on Shack in the 3Q and Beck in the 4Q) wiped out a 21-yard run by D Foreman on second-and-7 to the Cal 7 and a 6-yard run by Swoopes to the Cal 13 on second-and-6 - respectively.
On all four of those second-half possessions with a penalty, Texas had run the ball more than it threw the ball before the flags were thrown. After the flags were thrown, Texas attempted five passes and only two runs out of long-yardage down-and-distance.
On Texas' first drive of the second half, the Horns opened with two passes (the first one complete for 10 yards to Jake Oliver, the second incomplete to John Burt). Then, there were seven straight running plays that took the Horns from their own 35 to the Cal 28.
The seventh running play of that drive was the 21-yard run by D Foreman to the Cal 7 that was wiped out by Shack's holding call.
Every one of those penalized possessions were either near midfield or in Cal territory, and Texas was only able to come away with points on one of those possessions (Trent Domingue's 35-yard FG in the 4Q - the drive that Beck was flagged for holding).
The penalties were a killer.
INSTABILITY AT LSU = POSITIVE FOR TEXAS?
LSU head coach Les Miles' seat has been getting warmer and warmer over the last few years. And after the Tigers' Week 1 loss to Wisconsin, more questions have circulated regarding Miles' future.
As unfortunate as it is for someone to lose their job, Texas fans may want to start rooting against the Tigers for the remainder of the season for one big reason: Marvin Wilson.
LSU has been among Wilson's favorites for a while, but when I spoke with him at The Opening, he said he wanted to see the Tigers turn things around this season.
Tiger Blitz publisher Billy Embody caught up with Wilson earlier this week, and the nation's No. 1 DT is paying close attention to what is going down in Baton Rouge.
"It's a huge factor," Wilson said of how much Miles' presence impacts his recruitment.
"I don't see myself playing for anybody else at LSU other than Coach Miles. I'm not even joking. That's going to be a big factor."
This could be HUGE for Texas.
Wilson is one of the top prospects on the Longhorns' board for 2017. The staff has made a positive impact on the defensive tackle throughout the recruiting process and continues to recruit him on a regular basis.
But there is also one significant factor working in the Longhorns' favor: Wilson's mother loves Charlie Strong and wants him at Texas, according to folks close to the defensive tackle.
This will be a very interesting situation to watch play out over the next several months, but as it stands right now, Texas is in a prime spot with the No. 1 prospect in the state.