BYU at Texas
Nothing against BYU, it has a strong defense with a few developing stars on offense, but if Texas is doing jump-up/chest bumps on the sideline after winning a home game 17-16, there are big, big problems.
Fine, so beating Rice 34-9 last week looks a little bit stronger after the Owls beat Purdue, and again, BYU is a real, live team that's good enough to potentially do big things this year, Texas has as much talent as anyone in the country and the offense is still a hot mess.
The defense was great last year and it's doing fine this season after two games – it held BYU to under 300 yards of total offense – but the team has a quarterback controversy of epic proportions, and the coaching staff doesn't seem like it knows what it wants to do.
Garrett Gilbert's Texas career needs to be over. For whatever reason it's just not working out, and while he's getting chance after chance, he's not producing. A superstar recruit who could've gone anywhere, he has NFL tools and tremendous talent, but he can't play. After a disastrous 2010, he hasn't exactly come out roaring, and he sputtered against BYU completing just 2-of-8 passes for eight yards with two picks. Now, the Longhorns have to look into developing the other options, and the problem is that they have two.
It would be one thing if it was a choice between Gilbert and one other player, but Case McCoy appears to be the next in line, and he showed why completing 7-of-8 passes for 57 yards. David Ash is also in the mix, completing 2-of-3 passes for 35 yards, running nine times for 36 yards, and even salting the game away with a 23 yard catch off a trick play.
Texas shouldn't have to rely on gimmicky to put a game away against an above-average team, and it can't spend the rest of the year with a continuity-killing quarterback carousel that will only keep the offense from going forward. The coaching staff has to come up with one quarterback who can make Texas into Texas again, and stick with him.
The pieces to the puzzle are there - helped by freshman running back Malcolm Brown, who ran for 68 yards on 14 carries – and now Mack Brown has to make them fit. 2-0 is 2-0, but the offense needs to be solidified right now, or the second half of 2011 could look a whole bunch like the end of 2010.
When you play not to lose, well, sometimes you wind up losing after all.
After controlling the first half of a critical game with Texas, BYU became way too conservative with its play-calling, allowing Texas back into the game. Hey, the ‘Horns sure did their part on defense, but it's not as if the Cougars challenged them or made their life much tougher. Where were the shots downfield or the inventive game-planning, especially when crossing the 50-yard line? The BYU staff is going to shake its collective heads in disgust after watching the film of Saturday night's 17-16 loss.
For Texas, this was a huge victory, but also a reminder of how far the program has to go to once again be among the nation's premier programs. The defense is on the cusp of being championship caliber. The offense is not, which is even more of a reason for head coach Mack Brown to go all in with the kids, like RB Malcolm Brown, WR Jaxon Shipley and quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash. One-time franchise QB Garrett Gilbert is about to be nudged completely out of the picture after putting his team in a hole with bad decisions, much the way he did throughout the 2010 season.
By Matt Zemek
When this game began, raise your hand if you thought Texas would look like a dead fish, flopping around without any sense of purpose, coherence or verve through 30 miserable minutes of semi-comatose football.
When the second half began, raise your hand if you thought that Texas's offense would become an efficient, competent unit graced with a proper sense of pacing, good ball distribution, and crisp pitch-and-catch execution.
When Texas took the field Saturday night, raise your hand if you thought that Colt McCoy's younger brother and Jordan Shipley's younger brother would become the heroes of this contest against Brigham Young University. Raise your hand if a new McCoy-Shipley connection would so stylishly, centrally and shockingly become the overwhelming reason why Bevo buckled down and scratched out a morale-improving, hope-generating win over BYU. What we're left with is an upside-down landscape in which BYU, outplayed for most of the evening by Ole Miss on Sept. 3 and then dominant in this first half against Texas, is 1-1 in a manner that runs contrary to the flow of play.
Yes, Texas has a lot of issues. It's not as though Case McCoy is anything like his big brother at the moment… well, except for being clutch when called upon. Over the long haul of the 2011 season, it's very hard to see how Texas's assemblage (or lack?) of offensive talent is going to hold up for very long against Oklahoma or Texas A&M. However, in the short term, the Longhorns prevented what would have been a deeply disillusioning setback. For that reason alone, this win matters in Austin.
Some families – the McCoys and the Shipleys (who knows about the Hatfields?) – just have winning genes in their DNA. There's little else one can say about this tale of two halves.
By Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee
Don't go down this road, Texas.
Yes, the quarterback shuffle worked enough to squeak by a very game BYU team playing its second straight road game in humid weather. But playing musical quarterbacks on a series-by-series, or even play-by-play basis is a recipe for disaster. Just ask the 2010 Florida Gators.
If the Texas Longhorns are going to contend for the Big 12 title, they have to settle on one quarterback, and Case McCoy seems to be the guy. The younger brother of former Longhorn Colt McCoy was 7-for-8 for 57 yards in Texas' 17-16 comeback win over the Cougars. Most importantly, McCoy seemed to have full control over an offense that has been searching for an identity ever since the 2009 BCS Championship Game loss to Alabama in January of 2010.
It's pretty clear that the identity they are looking for is McCoy at quarterback taking care of the football and freshman running back Malcolm Brown providing the running threat that Texas hasn't had in years.
There's no need to get fancy, Texas. Stick with what you can do best. What you can do best is run the ball, play defense and make sure the quarterback keeps you out of trouble. Judging from Saturday's game vs. BYU, Case McCoy seems to be they guy best suited to do that.