No Passing Threat A 'Shocker' For Brown

Who is most responsible for Texas' ineffective passing game Saturday, resulting in the program's fifth-straight loss to Oklahoma? The inexperienced receivers? QB Vince Young? Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis?

Head coach Mack Brown has always assumed full responsibility for a Longhorn loss, but conceded Monday that 8-of-23 passing for 86 yards was a "shocker."

"I really thought we had made more progress after Baylor and during practice than what showed up Saturday," Brown said. "I think that was the shocker for me."

Texas' passing game (157.2 ypg) is now ranked No. 102 out of 117 Division-I programs. Thanks to its No. 2 ground game (313.6 ypg) and a relatively weak non-conference schedule, Texas is the nation's 10th-ranked offensive unit this week, averaging 470.8 ypg.

"It's funny: we've gotten so criticized for not running the ball, rightfully so, and for being a passing team," Brown said. "And then you lose three guys who are on pro teams (Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson, Sloan Thomas), all of a sudden we're here having to grow up fast. Our guys are talented. They're good enough. We've just got to get more consistent with them."

The rest of the way, Texas typically will not have to lean on VY's arm to win out but the Horns could be staring at a couple more losses if the passing game doesn't at least become a viable threat. Three of Texas' next six opponents are ranked in one of the two major wire service polls this week (Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M) while the game at Texas Tech looms as the scariest on what's left of the Longhorn schedule.

"It (passing game) should be working better than it is," Brown said. "It did against Baylor; it didn't against OU."

As Inside Texas stated last week, Baylor is no measuring stick of any aspect of this program. Historically, Oklahoma is the litmus test. Texas' first shutout in nearly one-quarter century, as well as its latest disappointment against its arch-rival, has reignited heated criticism not only about Davis' effectiveness as an offensive coordinator but also his ability to develop quarterbacks. Brown, however, made it clear at the outset of Monday's press conference that he would not entertain the rhetoric.

"You all have asked repeatedly about the offensive game plan," Brown told the print media. "If you don't score, obviously it wasn't good enough. You've asked about play selection. If you don't score, obviously it wasn't good enough. You asked about execution. If you don't score, obviously it wasn't good enough. That's unacceptable at Texas. We understand that. I'm not critical of our coaches or players. I never have been and I'm not going to be. It's all my responsibility, and that's all I'm going to say about it. If you want me to talk about Missouri, then I will. If you'd rather belabor the point, we can sit here and let (you) beat me up until the end of the press conference and then I'll go to something else."

Added Brown: "The head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback are the most praised and the most criticized."

Brown then amended his statement: "Excuse me, the offensive coordinator gets no praise. They just kill those guys. They give the kids credit when you win, and kill the offensive coordinator when you lose. That's universal and not just here."

Davis, whose stated preference is to throw no more than one or two deep balls per quarter, called eight deep routes against the Sooners. VY completed one of his long balls, but it was too little, too late when SE Limas Sweed pulled down a 26-yard reception with about five minutes remaining.

"You've got to be able to connect on more deep balls than that," Brown said.

The most frustrating part about it for Brown is that the passing game looks (relatively) solid in practice.

"The amazing thing about coaching is, a lot of times what you see happen in practice doesn't come to fruition in a game," Brown said. "And that's when you're most disappointed. You felt good about everything and that's why, again, some of the credit has to go to OU."

OU's blitz package wasn't as big of a factor as the fact that the Sooners overloaded the box with seven-to-ten defenders, Brown said.

"I think, twice, we had a corner blitz that we didn't handle well," Brown said. "One other time we had a quarterback draw where we got sacked. We got tackled for a loss when we should have stayed up inside. We made a lot of plays on their blitz in the running game and some in the passing game. I didn't think the blitz was as big of a deal as some people thought. The two cornerback blitzes were obvious that we missed, and that's why everybody thought the blitzed killed us."

FS Phillip Geiggar said the young receivers only need more time to grow up.

"I really don't have time to watch them during the game but at practice they look pretty good," Geiggar said. "I think the only thing they're missing is experience."

But can Texas win with these young wideouts?

"We have no choice," Brown said. "We did against Baylor. OU's just really good. Everybody takes out the fact that they're really good. I think they're the best team in the country. I think they're better than they were last year."

To compound matters, Sweed, SE Brian Carter and FL Tyrell Gatewood have missed valuable snaps in the early going due to injury.

"We've had enough of them hurt that that's been a problem, too," Brown said. "About the time one starts to make a little progress... he'll have a sore foot, sore back, a sore leg, and I get a sore head."

Only three WRs caught passes against OU while TE David Thomas, Texas' leading receiver in total yards, was shut out in the Red River rivalry for the second year in a row. In addition to boxing up the line of scrimmage, OU spun two safeties down to smother the TEs and force Young to try and head 'em off at the pass -- literally.

"We had a ball to Bo (Scaife) and Brodney Pool makes a great play on the deep throw," Brown said. "We threw one over David Thomas' head and one behind David and then hit Bo again. We probably threw it to them four-to-six times."

Brown said he is not concerned about Young's psyche, but Thomas said the Texas quarterback gets down on himself when the offense doesn't click.

"When we struggle as an offense, he takes that as a reflection of himself," Thomas said. "When the offense doesn't do well, he kind of takes it personally. I'm sure he's really frustrated, but he's working hard and he's trying to get better every day. He's doing everything we can ask of him in helping us try to be a leader and help him move forward."

Brown, however, wants to tell both VY and Longhorn fans that the slow-to-develop passing game isn't the result of any one particular problem.

"One (pass) was a little low, one was a little high, that (play) had a little rush, this (player) went a little short on his route, this one went a little deep, that one just dropped the ball and, on that one, OU just made a great play," Brown said. "We've got to get rhythm in our passing game. We've got confidence in our tight ends but (OU) squeezed them down and we didn't do as good of a job with others as we've got to. We've got to take pressure off the running game and off the tight ends."

Brown never considered playing backup QB Chance Mock, adding that the senior is still not 100 percent following an off-season ankle/calf injury that he re-aggravated during the first week of August camp.


Saturday's game against No. 24 Missouri is set for a 2:30 p.m. ABC regional telecast.

Texas' October 23 game at Texas Tech is now slated for a 6:00 p.m. kick-off in a TBS national broadcast.

Horns Digest Top Stories