Season On The Brink

So, are there parts of San Diego you still want to see?

Tempe, Arizona (the site of this season's national championship game) never seemed so far away even though Texas head coach Mack Brown said in August (and, in essence, repeated both Saturday and Sunday) that Texas would not have to beat OU to be in contention for the national championship.

You only have to go back to last December to remember that Brown is correct. Texas not only did not have to beat OU to get into the Big 12 Championship game, Nebraska didn't even have to win its division to play for the national title.

Even though there's a lot of football left, I am not looking for Texas to get back into the title hunt (or, even to back into it like it did last year). Right now, I am just hoping that Texas can find some semblance of a running game and a consistent deep ball threat to win out and be in contention for a January BCS bowl game.

Players and coaches talked about looking at game film and correcting mistakes, as if what happened Saturday was an aberration. After further review, Brown said the biggest difference in Texas squandering its lead was its inability to move the chains in the third quarter and not taking advantage of the field position based on turnovers that the defense gave it.

Going into the game, Texas ranked No. 41 in the nation in total offense (No. 42 in rushing offense, No. 46 in passing offense) and that's without facing the kinds of defenses that OU, Kansas State and Texas A&M put on the field. RB Cedric Benson did rank No. 11 in rushing and is playing heroically with a painful turf toe, but most of his stats were padded by a stellar performance against North Carolina. He did not pass the century mark against North Texas, Tulane or Oklahoma.

QB Chris Simms' three interception outing made him an easy target for radio talk show fodder Saturday.

"Everybody likes to beat up Chris," Brown said. "We felt like Chris played well enough for us to win."

As far as Texas‘ ‘Big Three' playmaking pass-catchers, SE Roy Williams is Texas' highest-ranking receiver, checking in at No. 99 nationally. There are actually not one, but two, A&M receivers ranked ahead of him (Quick! Name them). Despite the hamstring injury last month, the Legend was averaging a very mortal four receptions per game and 16.8 yards-per-grab heading into Saturday's two reception performance.

So, it must have been offensive coordinator Greg Davis' game plan, then?

"It wasn't the scheme as much as we needed to stay on the field and convert third downs," Brown said, referencing some missed assignments, the wind, and poor field position as a result of OU's defense/special teams play.

For all the talk about the Texas offense, the defense allowed RB Quentin Griffin (generously listed at 5-7) to have a career day (248 yards). Brown points out that his yards came in the first quarter (before the defense made adjustments) and the fourth quarter (after the defense had been on the filed all afternoon), Brown said. There were also 15 missed tackles on the day, he said. At the same time, credit Bob Stoops-to-conquer and his staff for spreading the defense and then springing Griffin on draw plays and pitches to counter a Texas team that often compensates for its three-man front with its blitz package.

"One thing we've never done is point fingers," Brown said. "In Austin, they point fingers if you win by a little and really get on if you lose. That's just part of the environment here. My message to (the team) is that I am proud of their effort, that I was proud to be going home with them, but that I was really disappointed in the loss. Give OU credit because they outplayed us. But what we saw on the film is that we had our chances to win, but we didn't take advantage (of those chances)".

Still, three straight losses to your bitter rival and fans want to know why. And they (not just those in Austin) will point fingers because if "honorary coaches" can identify the problem, then maybe it can get fixed.

There. I said it. I've done my job as a reporter with an "honorary coaching degree" by harping on the negative.

Now it's time for Texas coaches to do theirs in what will be Texas' biggest gut check since traveling to Colorado after that 2000 OU massacre.

As it stands now, you only thought the biggest game of the season was last Saturday in Big D. It's actually this Saturday in the Little Apple.


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