Ok, now the season has begun.
Perhaps the most inherent quality of college football is hope. At the beginning of the season, the fans of usually about twenty-some-odd teams believe that this is the year that their team will take home a national championship. Think back to 2005. Never mind the fact that Texas hadn't won a national championship in 36 years, you knew that this Vince Young kid was going to lead the Longhorns to the promised land.
Well, after Texas' opener again Arkansas State, there wasn't a whole lot of hope around the 40 Acres. There's no two ways about it; the Horns looked bad. During the first half of Saturday's game against TCU, we saw a lot of the same, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
But with a 33-yard strike to Nate Jones, the momentum of not just the game, but the entire season shifted. The Horns showed they can move the football against a great defense, that they can play consistent D, that this team has some heart and that they can freakin' tackle somebody!
While a spectacular second half against the Horned Frogs doesn't suddenly make the poor performance in the opener go away, and while it doesn't make all of the Longhorns' worries disappear (offensive line, for example), it gives hope. And now that there's hope, the season has finally begun.
-It was nice to see Roddrick Muckelroy and Jared Norton get some real playing time and they played exceptionally well. Norton gave Texas a key sack and brought the lumber on a number of occasions, but Muckelroy gave the Longhorn linebacking corps the biggest boost, including a key fumble recovery. I continue to wonder why the best linebacker on the team is sitting on the bench to start each game.
-Still no Drew Kelson. Ross confused/angry.
-How about true freshman Sam Acho jumping into the mix? The impressively cordial and intelligent defensive end got the fist sack of his career, sacking TCU's Andy Dalton with a huge hit. Get to know the name Samuel Onyedikachi Acho. You'll be hearing it a lot (FYI, in his native Nigeria, "Onyedikachi" means "One who is like God").
-I'm worried about that offensive line. Chris Hall did about as well as you could expect a player who's been tossed around the line, playing center, guard and tackle in the same game, but Tray Allen's gonna have to develop in hurry, because it sure looks like Texas will be without Adam Ulatoski all this year. And this is something we were concerned about heading into the season. Both of the Longhorns' starting offense tackles took a gray shirt due to major injuries. True, Ulatoski's apparent broken arm on Saturday night didn't have anything to do with his previous back injury, but still, two injury-prone offensive tackles with no experience behind them is an issue.
-Did you ever notice how Texas runs surprise plays as base plays? It's very curious. The counter, the wide receiver screen, the reverse, these are plays that are done to surprise an opponent. The counter typically is most successful when it comes after a series of straight runs. Off-tackle, off-tackle, off-tackle, off-tackle, BOOM counter. Defense is spinning in circles. Isn't really as effective if you run it as a base play. Another one of the problems is it forces the running back to come to a halt and completely change his momentum. There are too many plays in the Texas offense, such as the counter, the Zone Read and the wide receiver screen, that forces the ball carrier to start from a flat-footed, still position.
-But while we're on the subject of offensive play-calling, credit where credit is due. That was a brilliant second half. As many issues as I've had with Greg Davis' strange decisions, what I have praised him for is his ability to find a less talented team's weakness and exploit it. He found the mismatches necessary for Texas to move the football and made some good calls.
-Better performance from the crowd as well this week. The sound wasn't deafening and being an exciting football game helped, but it just felt much more like a Texas football game thanks to the crowd. By the way, I found the crowd's reaction at the end of the first half especially interesting. When the final seconds rolled off the clock, a large portion of the fans were booing, primarily because of the Texas coaching staff's decision to run out the clock instead of throw down field (although I'm sure a few were because of the Horns' first half performance). But as the team itself jogged to the locker room, many fans started cheering for the players as they exited, creating a curious mix of boos and cheers. We need to come up with a sound that means: "We support the team and do not wish to boo you, specifically, as players, but disagree with many of the decisions made by the Texas coaching staff." Kind of hard to express that as an onomatopoeia.
-Poor Aaron Lewis. He really thought he was going to get that touchdown. Regardless, great job by Muckelroy to get on that fumble. In general, great job of getting on the football by Texas throughout the game. The turnovers helped swing momentum back to Texas, just as the early INTs gave it to TCU.
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