O's performance leaves many question marks

With team goals apparently unchanged by Saturday's loss to the Sooners, <B>Mack Brown</B> said Monday that the hardest thing for the UT players to do is not let the Oklahoma game beat them twice.

"We can't do anything about the OU game except correct it and not lose it again," the head coach said. Brown said he would personally "coach as hard this week as I've ever coached in my life. I'm going to be early to every meeting. I'm going to be the most organized I've ever been. I'm going to be hard on those coaches and I'm going to be hard on the players and we're going to have the toughest practice we've had since we've been here. They're going to understand if they're going to pout it's going to be off the field, not on the field. They can get rid of that today. We don't have time to lay around and pout."

The man who along with Brown should be burning the midnight oil this week is offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Aside from the '00 Cotton Bowl with an offense severely limited by injury, the three point, 225-yard Oklahoma total is the worst showing of Davis' offense in his three-and-a-half years at Texas. Sadly, the problems exposed are many of the same that have plagued his unit against quality defenses since Ricky Williams moved on to the NFL: multiple interceptions and sacks, conservative play calling, and a tendency to abandon the run.

Regarding the conservative play calling, particularly the lack of "trick" plays, Brown said "trick" plays are best employed when an offense is having some success, not in a game dominated by blitzing defenses as Saturday's was. He pointed out that Oklahoma also did not get too imaginative in its play calling. Regardless, the results are unacceptable for an offense with the skill position talent of Texas.

Unfortunately, one of the most talented of UT's talented players saw the field for just one snap, and only then because Ivan Williams lost his shoe on the previous play. Cedric Benson sat on the sidelines and watched as three other Texas running backs (including Brett Robin!) rushed 15 times for 44 yards. Brown admitted today that Benson "probably should have" gotten an opportunity in the game, but the coaches put Victor Ike in before Benson because of pass protection and "(Ike) took some of Cedric's carries." Davis emphasized earlier this fall that this very scenario would not take place, but apparently the fact that this was a "big" game changed the coach's thinking. Just a reminder, Benson in high school had some of his very best performances in the "big" game at that level, rushing for 680 yards and an amazing 15 TDs on 90 carries in Lee's three state championship game triumphs.

It'll be another 369 days till we'll see what Benson can do against the Sooners, but Brown promised that the true freshman will play this week against the other team from Oklahoma on the Longhorn schedule. "We'll get him back in this week," the head coach said. "We'll force ourselves to get him in."

The frustration with the OC's decision to leave Benson on the bench in particular and to abandon the run as the game progressed in general is compounded by the fact that over the first four weeks of the season, the staff and players said the limited offense was a result of the need to work on the running game. Saturday, the Horns didn't run the ball despite spending those four games working on that very aspect of the offense. If the run was to be so easily abandoned at crunch time, the first four games of the season could have been better used to sharpen the passing game. Perhaps then the timing between Chris Simms and the Texas receivers on the deep routes Saturday wouldn't have been a step or two off, which resulted in multiple missed opportunities and interceptions.

Brown Monday seemed to somewhat agree with that assessment, but with a caveat.

"Offensively, I was really disappointed we couldn't run the ball in the second half and I'm disappointed we didn't run the ball better in the game after the amount of time and energy and effort and conversation we've put into running the football," he said. "On one hand, I felt like we could have tried it more the second half but on the other hand, I told our coaches and our kids that if you're not making any yards, it's hard for the guy calling the plays to keep calling them in a game that is that big because you working against the clock."

Brown, though, also said, "When we've run the football in games this big, we've won the game. When we haven't run, we've lost the game." Given that, there really is no excuse to get away from the running game in big games if it is indeed so demonstrably crucial to and historically a predictor of victory.

Despite saying Sunday and reiterating Monday that the coaches may have "too much" in the passing game, Brown said the staff "can't simplify much more but we will look at things in the passing game." The head coach said a simplification isn't required because this year's team is far better than last year's and is not making as many scheme mistakes. Brown did say, however, that the coaches plan to evaluate all of the offensive players and, "if someone didn't play well, we'll look at putting someone else in their place."

Notes: Brown confirmed that Lee Jackson could redshirt if his turf toe condition does not improve. Phillip Geiggar played the rover spot in Saturday's game and played well, totaling three tackles, including two TFLs. . . . The number of true freshmen that have stripped the redshirt remains at five (Benson, Derrick Johnson, Brian Carter, Dusty Mangum and Aurmon Satchell). Will anyone else strip the 'shirt this fall? "We told the kids nobody is a redshirt if he can help win a game," Brown said Monday. Interesting comment given that one of the guys whose redshirt is already gone wasn't given the chance to help the team win the Oklahoma game. . . . Despite the outstanding overall play of the defense, Brown pointed out a few disappointments: the lack of turnovers created, the breakdowns against the option and scrambling of OU back-up QB Jason White, and the six-and-a-half minute drive that ended with Nathan Vasher catching a punt at the three. On the positive side of the ledger, the defense tackled well, put pressure on the quarterback, and the coaches had guys in the right place and defenders kept their guys in front of them, according to the head coach. . . . Brown said that despite a couple of busts in pass protection, the Longhorn OL, TEs and backs gave Simms time to throw with protection he called "good enough to have won the game." . . . The head coach said there was never any discussion of removing Simms for Major Applewhite. . . . Brown said in the second half he felt like the game would end as a 10-7 UT win or go to OT at 10-all. . . . Mangum simply kicked low, according to Brown, on the blocked field goal in the second quarter. Replays seem to show Mangum probably deserves less blame than Andre Woolfolk deserves credit. He jumped practically out of the stadium to block it. . . . The status for this weekend's game of Victor Ike (bruised ribs) and Kalen Thornton is still unknown.


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