Expectations were high for the Texas Longhorns in 2007. A little too high.
When Texas was ranked No. 4 to begin the season, it was clear at the time that the Horns were higher than they should have been (yeah, yeah, ba-dum ching), but how overrated the Longhorns were didn't begin to reveal itself until they took the field against Arkansas State to start the season.
One can examine all of the individual mistakes, poor decisions and strange occurrences that they want, but the fact of the matter is that this just isn't a very good football team.
I don't mean that Texas doesn't have the talent, but all of the things necessary for a team to play well just isn't there. It's a confluence of a lot of factors, from poor preparation to a lack of leadership to the wrong players being on the field. But all of these things are a part of the team. A team is more than just the talent of the players who are on it and on Saturday the best team won.
-If it's fourth and eight and you have your primary wide receiver run a two-yard route into the flat, you deserve to lose. Period.
-Speaking of which, I'm not a fan of people frequently booing, but the Texas crowd was entirely justified in this case. I won't speak for everyone, but most people who were booing were not booing the players, but the decisions of the coaching staff.
-One of those poor decisions has to do with the linebackers. As a defense, you must make an opponent fear you. Jared Norton brings that. Roddrick Muckelroy brings that. Yet for some reason, they sit on the bench for a majority of the game while less-skilled players are put on the field. This was most apparent mid-way through the ball game when Norton and Robert Killebrew were on the field at the same time. Norton made consecutive tackles, crushing the running back both times. Killebrew? He followed by whiffing in the open field, again. Killebrew has a tendency to make major mental errors, ranging from late hits to overrunning simple plays. He's benefited in the past when he's been sat down during a game and given an opportunity to sit, talk to coaches, think and play with more focus. He hasn't gotten that opportunity. Despite playing worse than any linebacker on the field, he's gotten the most playing time by a wide margin. Kill isn't the only issue with linebackers, but the mistakes he's made are a good example.
-If an offense ever looks terrible and you're not sure why, take a look at the offensive line. Many people have theorized that Brady Quinn must be an incredible quarterback because of Notre Dame's instantaneous drop from BCS to possibly the worst team in all of Division I. During Quinn's senior season, though, he had a senior-laden offensive line that was one of the most experienced in all of college football. They're all gone and defensive linemen are having a feeding frenzy with Jimmy Clausen. Texas suffers from much the same problem (with not quite as disastrous results as the Fighting Irish, but still not good). Colt McCoy got very comfortable behind last year's talented, senior-heavy offensive line. He had time to work his magic and, working from the pocket, he has the ability to dissect the defense. He hasn't had that luxury this year. Even Texas' best pass against Kansas State, Quan Cosby's leaping TD reception with 2:34 remaining in the first half, was thrown by McCoy out of the pocket, by the Texas sideline, as he was getting hit. His best throw against TCU? Nate Jones as McCoy fled defenders. His best throw against UCF? Rolling left away from pressure and throwing across his body to Jordan Shipley for a 38-yard gain. You can't throw the ball if you're laying on your back and McCoy is getting crushed out there.
-At one point in the game, seriously, Chiles faked a hand-off to Charles and was tackled by Childs, Chandler and Cheatham. Say that three times fast.
-Come on, guys. Vince Young showed up for you and everything. Why you gotta play bad in front of Vince?
-I need to call Kansas and apologize. On Friday, to help preview the Texas-Kansas State game, I was on the air over the phone with Neal and Marty on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas and they asked me if Texas' shaky kick coverage was going to be a big factor in the game. "No, it won't be a huge factor," I said. "Texas' kick coverage isn't the best, but it's improved a lot since its poor performance in the Rose Bowl against Michigan. And K-State lost a lot in kick returns when Yamon Figurs left. It's a concern, but I'm worried about a lot more things than kick coverage. It won't be a huge factor." I need to get back on the air and eat some crow.
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