Get Jevan Snead a lot of work. Not a rotation, but in the event that Colt McCoy struggles in one of the remaining big games on the schedule (actually they're all big now that two games in, the team is 1-1), Snead needs to be prepared. Give him meaningful snaps, at least some with the first-team, and all with the playbook fully open. Matter of fact, build this team's depth across the board. Texas did not play like a deep team Saturday versus the Buckeyes, with a short rotation not fitting of a team as talented down the depth chart as the Horns. Which leads to...
Trust your players! Why do I feel like we're back in the pre-Vince Young days again? Why? Because the play-not-to-lose philosophy seemed to be back in the booth riding shotgun with Greg Davis vs. the Buckeyes. He pretty much confirmed as much Monday, calling his handling of Colt McCoy "too conservative". Players reflect their coaches, and Davis' conservatism (which is almost certainly coming top-down from Mack Brown) had to have had an effect on McCoy's decision-making (choosing to dump over a third of his passes off to running backs). And it will have an effect on the entire team if this philosophy takes hold (think: OU, 2000-2004).
Show Jamaal Charles his highlights from early '05. Surprisingly, Selvin Young has looked more like Jamaal Charles than Jamaal Charles through two games. (Young is averaging 6 yards per carry through two games while Charles is averaging 4.9.) Charles has amazing vision and balance, but he's looked less sure of his ability this year. Do what you did with Vince following the '04 Missouri game. Show him just how good he can, and should, be.
Throw to the tight ends. In just about every scrimmage during spring and August, Jermichael Finley earned a prominent place on the stat sheet (notably, four catches for 73 yards in the Spring Game). After two real games, though, neither Finley nor Neale Tweedie has scratched the reception column. Talk after the first game was that the tight ends were not a part of the offense against North Texas so the Buckeyes wouldn't see Finley on film. That talk can be put to rest after another reception-less game for the tight end position. For the Texas offense, and Colt McCoy in particular, to thrive, the tight end must return to prominence.
Bring Robert Killebrew off the bench. Hey, it worked last year. After entering fall camp as the presumptive starter but being relegated to reserve duty over the first few weeks of the '05 season, Killebrew turned into the Horns' top linebacker over the second half of the schedule. Give Scott Derry the start (for this week at least), and Sergio Kindle (if he's ready physically) substantial snaps, and let Kill earn his way back into the starting line-up by playing inspired and smart ball for the snaps he gets. Because if this linebacker crew is going to live up to promise (which has not remotely happened so far), Killebrew needs to return to '05 form, Kindle needs as much work as possible, and Drew Kelson needs to get healthy.
Play Hunter Lawrence. If nothing else, get him in on kickoffs. Mack Brown has talked repeatedly of not overburdening one kicker with all three kicking jobs, yet he has done just that over the first two weeks of the season with Greg Johnson. Johnson's field goal attempt in the fourth quarter against Ohio State, which would have brought the Horns to within a touchdown, was one of the ugliest attempts you'll ever see. The excessive workload could have played a part. Lawrence was recruited as a scholarship athlete for a reason. Use him.
It Hurts, But...
By Clendon Ross
Sept. 11, 2006
It's been almost two years since we've had to a deal with this, the empty feeling of walking out of a stadium with Texas on the wrong end of the scoreboard, the drop in the Sunday polls, the Monday morning quarterbacking, the uncertainty of how the team will respond. It's not a great feeling for any of us, I'm sure. On cue, I woke up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, after just a couple of hours of sleep, and couldn't go back to sleep thinking about the game. But I've gotta say -- and this may be sacrilege to some -- this loss stings less than just about any I can remember in my 20-plus adult years as a Longhorn fan.
It's not the fact that the Horns lost to the top team in the nation, one very deserving of the win in Austin. It's not any rationalization that Texas would have won if [insert play that went wrong or official's questionable call] or some sort of moral victory. And it's certainly not a lowering of standards or expectations for the program.
What it is, I think, is quite simple to explain: the loss, unlike all those that have come over the last 20 or so years, didn't extend by another year the misery of knowing that this would, again, not be THE year. We finally had THE year! It came with last season's 13-0, national championship team. And that, I think, made this loss substantially less devastating than most that came before it.
I also believe that the loss didn't knock Texas out of title contention, but from what I saw Saturday versus Ohio State, this team is not a legitimate title contender at this point. It may get there, but let's see some of the many problem areas exposed by the Buckeyes addressed -- quarterback, linebacker and secondary play, and coaching, including game planning and in-game coaching adjustments (Anthony Gonzalez, anyone?) -- and let's also see an undefeated run through the rest of September and the Red October schedule (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech), before mentioning a potential national title again.
Then we can talk title. Regardless, I don't want to find out, this season at least, whether the next loss will hurt like losses used to.