The stadium isn't the only thing that's "Under Construction" over at Belmont Hall. Three games into the season, the Texas Longhorns are still a work-in-progress in many areas. But despite the spotty offensive line, despite the shaky linebacker play, despite the red zone difficulties, despite the close games against big-time underdogs, the Horns are 3-0.
It's good for the Longhorns that they're able to figure out their issues while still winning, but Big 12 opponents, including Oklahoma, are coming up and they aren't going to wait for Texas to figure everything out.
-Despite defensive end Brian Orakpo's non-involvement in the game action, he was definitely involved in firing his defense up. Orakpo limped up and down the sideline all game, rallying the troops and standing right at the down marker, yelling out onto the field.
-I understand Central Florida's desire to surprise Texas by coming out throwing against a largely untested secondary, but the Knights had much more success when they just did what they're best at doing. You have the nation's leader in rushing in your backfield. Use him.
-As for Texas, a traditionally lateral offense took it to the next level against UCF, relying almost entirely on quick passes and runs away from the center of the defense. It's odd that the Texas coaching staff seems confused on why the Longhorns can't put the ball in the end zone when down in the red zone. Texas, possessing greater athletes on the whole than most of the opponents it faces, is able to get the ball quickly to its play-makers and gain yards by beating their man out in space. This will not work in the red zone. When the field shortens, you have to be able to run straight ahead because you aren't going to be able to spread out the defense as effectively as you can at midfield.
-I will grant, however, that the Longhorn's rushing scheme did allow Texas to take advantage of one aspect of Central Florida's defense. UCF has a very big D-line, averaging 290 pounds a man. Although that made it difficult to move up the middle, Charles was occasionally able to get the corner and break a big run for a TD late in the game. It certainly produced an inconsistent running attack, but one that did have some big plays.
-There was a 15-minute lightning delay during the first quarter, but , ironically, soon after they called the delay was when it stopped raining. Lightning continued off in the distance, but didn't approach the stadium. Then again, the weather was weird the entire day, switching back and forth between pounding rain and blistering heat. Such is Central Florida.
-Texas got Jordan Shipley back just in time. The Horns lost Limas Sweed to an ankle tweak early in the game and Shipley made a few impressive plays for Texas, including a 38-yard reception and a successful fake field goal conversion.
-Great job by Drew Kelson on special teams. He also made a huge diving tackle on a punt returner who only had green in front of him. Would be nice if he was allowed on the field a little more often.
-The Longhorns got a very solid game from Ryan Palmer. The junior corner didn't allow his man to get open much and had a couple of impressive broken up passes. Big 12 defensive player of the week Brandon Foster will get the most attention because of how large the individual plays he was involved in were, but Palmer deserves some credit for his work.
-Nice to see Jermichael Finley involved in the offense again. The Texas tight end had seven receptions for 54 yards and was a great safety valve for Colt McCoy.
-Did Texas grease up McCoy before the game? He's always been good at stepping up in the pocket and avoiding the rush, but he was particularly slippery this game, getting away from multiple tacklers. Then again, he had to. There was pressure on almost every play. That, more than anything else, is what's contributing to McCoy's lower level of production this season. It's hard to throw when you're under pressure. McCoy was pretty comfy behind last year's offensive line and this year's unit is still a work in progress.
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