Passes get underthrown and blown off course and even with the wind the ball sailed.
There are at least two other elements that can affect a passing team – rain and cold.
It's not all the coaches' fault but it makes for a make-or-break situation at the most unusual times, as it did Saturday against a weak Baylor team with the Waco coaching staff about ready to pack up their personal items and get on the telephones trying to find employment. Mix in a first-time start for Bear quarterback Michael Machen and a defense that had 58 points put on them in Lawrence, Kansas last weekend and one would expect that the Longhorns, who were extremely effective against Iowa State, would execute with precision and power. Didn't happen.
The inconsistency is not going to go away; Texas must employ a running game that goes north and south, with or against the wind. That kind of football works in all kinds of elements, elements that may be prevalent over the next five weeks.
Although I didn't like his fumble, I was happy to see Vondrell McGee get a chance to run with the football. Any back that is good enough to be the "Man" in short yardage and on the goal line tells you somebody in charge believes in his ability to get tough yardage.
Size at running back has little to do with the Horns' struggles. You put a back like Auburn's Brad Lester, who goes 5-11, 190, in a Longhorn uniform and allow him to attack the line of scrimmage from the Texas two-tight, twowide formation with an occasional I formation play using Peter Ullman at fullback and I promise you Texas beats Kansas State and Oklahoma!
Instead, the Longhorn sideways running game gives the opponents hope and takes momentum away from Texas.
A good example was the ridiculous play on the Baylor goal line that gave the Bears a chance to score their only touchdown.
Instead of smashing into the Bears from inside the three-yardline, the Longhorn went with a down-the-line – all backs headed to the sideline – option. The ball was batted backwards and Baylor raced all the way to the other end of the field. Colt McCoy and Vondrell McGee ran the Baylor defender down but on first down Machen threw a neat seam pass for a touchdown. Baylor 7, Texas 3!
Interesting to me was Colt McCoy's assessment of this ball game: "We didn't come out and play like we should have."
Colt is becoming the vocal, spiritual leader for a football team about to enter deep, deep water. Every football team the Horns play from here on out could beat them, and two of them at this point in time I would rate as playing better than Texas – Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Oh yes, the Aggies with their running quarterback and stable of running backs are licking their chops to get to the Texas defense again.
The Longhorn secondary had its finest game of the season thus far. At crunch time, with Baylor still within striking distance and driving with the wind at their backs, were turned away by well played interceptions by Texas. Marcus Griffin showed how to put a game away when he raced 91 yards down the Baylor sideline to give Texas its 30th point.
Now here's the number one question this week: what in hell is going on at Nebraska? Texas A&M ran the zone read at least 30 times and ripped the Cornhuskers for 297 yards – in Lincoln! The Aggies had two 80-yard touchdown drives into the wind that extended their 16-14 halftime lead to 30-14.
It wasn't so long ago that the Longhorns had to fight for their lives to just slow down the Huskers' option attack. But Nebraska fired the coach who coached Nebraska-type football – Frank Solich – and hired a West Coast offensive coach – Bill Callahan. When their big defensive linemen graduated this year, their defense has collapsed.
The situation is out of control. Nebraska still has athletes and will play tough early because of what they see on the Kansas State exchange tapes. How long will Texas let Nebraska stay in the game? This is for sure the last game the Longhorns will play where they are the clear favorite. I call it Texas 28, Nebraska 17.
Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.