On to the Fair
As Oklahoma awaits, is the glass half empty or half full for Texas?
Enjoy this good feeling, Longhorn fans, as you prepare your insides for fried beer, fried bubblegum, fried Oreos, and, oh yeah, fried corn dogs at the State Fair of Texas.
The next two weeks will bring hold-your-breath, chest-tightening stress as the Horns take on two top five teams in consecutive weeks—No. 2 Oklahoma followed by No. 5 Oklahoma State.
Texas mauled Iowa State Saturday night. That’s the only way to describe it. By the time the fourth quarter came around, Texas led 34-0 and most fans couldn’t recognize the names on the backs of Texas’ jerseys—the back-ups played a lot.
The game tunes Texas up for a string of football that can only be described as scary.
The optimist (and Texas fan’s optimism is soaring right now) must say this team is as ready as it could possibly be.
“I'm not sure a lot of people would've thought five weeks ago we would've been 4-0 right now. Guys are playing with a lot of confidence,” said head coach Mack Brown after the game. “We know a lot more about us now than we did when we started the season.”
That may be, but the pessimist might suggest, Brown and his young, impossibly confident bunch also doesn’t yet know what it doesn’t know after four games against—to be charitable—not great teams.
Texas will know a lot more a week from today.
We’ll look more closely at the OU game later in the week, but for now, let’s assess 4-0 Texas from two perspectives:
- Smoke and mirrors. The Texas offense needs trick plays and razzle-dazzle to beat bad teams.
- So far the offensive line shows little ability to open big holes for the tailbacks who run a lot from sideline to sideline rather than straight up the middle toward the end zone.
- Further, that same offensive line is struggling to create a pocket for the Texas quarterback, forcing whoever happens to be playing QB to run around a bit or throw the ball early.
- The defense has yet to be tested against a great, or even a good offense. Even lowly Iowa State broke some big plays and averaged over four yards per play.
- The defense has yet to show the ability to pressure a quarterback with only five sacks so far, and only one of those coming from a defensive lineman.
- The kicking game seems one step away from giving up a touchdown. Iowa State averaged over 20 yards per kickoff return. That’s too much.
- This team may have potential but their youth and inexperience will rise to the surface in these next two biggest of big games.
- Brown has exorcised his demons and learned from 2010’s misery. Poor play is punished with time on the bench and great play is rewarded with more. Brown really meant it before the season started when he said he would play those who gave Texas the best chance to win.
- Texas improves every time they take the field, and last week’s Saturday off allowed the Texas coaches to tweak and perfect a game plan with players they now know can deliver.
- Yes, Texas is young, but they are enormously talented and have matured. The season set up perfectly, building confidence upon success against continually better opponents.
- QB’s McCoy and Ash, tailbacks Brown and Whitaker, receivers Shipley and Davis, each make the other better. This is young selfless team intent to prove something.
- The Longhorn defense bends but rarely gives up the big play and they steal the ball, forcing turnovers that in turn destroy the confidence of their opponent.
- Brown identified a lack of defensive turnovers as one major problem last season. Texas seems to have fixed that. They’ve intercepted six passes in four games and recovered five fumbles; they allow just over 110 yards rushing per game; they allow less than 10 yards per pass; and teams have scored only five touchdowns in 13 red zone appearances—they’re even blocking punts.
Continued success this season depends upon Brown’s ability to fix the concerns of the pessimist and improve the hopes of the optimist.
So far, coaches made all the right moves. The Texas Longhorns are undefeated and rightfully believe they can beat Oklahoma. That might be too much to hope for, but so far, hope has carried this team a long way.