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FROM THE STANDS: Bye Review

Texas had the weekend off and I spent it watching just about everyone play football. Exciting games and good stuff all around:

  • Special teams are issues everywhere. K-State missed three field goals in a 6-point loss, Clemson missed two in an overtime loss to No.1 Florida State. Better field goal kickers and two of the top five teams in the land are no longer top 5 teams.
  • Last week I said I was on the fence about whether or not Jameis Winston was unbelievably arrogant, unbelievably dumb or both. Suspended for the entire game against Clemson, Winston came out for pre-game warmups dressed out and went through drills. Head coach Jimbo Fisher sent him back inside to change, but not before the TV cameras caught it. He didn’t look too happy with Winston in their talk and you could see his body language was “Hey, do you know what suspended means?” Clearly he doesn’t, coach. His actions did nothing to sway me either way.
  • Ed Cunningham, ABC/ESPN college football color commentator,  unloaded on Winston Saturday, saying “…he needs to be done with college football…” and “…his eligibility needs to be revoked.” That sentiment is growing and Winston’s NFL stock is plummeting with every bad decision he makes. And then he suits up whilst suspended. That’s not helping.
  • Cal was rolling Arizona, 31-13, late in the game and the bookstore sent out an email congratulating the Cal fans on the win and offering a sale as a reward. One problem; Cal didn’t win. Arizona hit a hail mary and won, 49-45, after scoring 36 points the fourth quarter. Oops.
  • The mighty SEC didn’t look so hot on Saturday as Missouri lost at home to Indiana, Mississippi State beat No.8 LSU in Death Valley at night and Kansas State should have beaten Auburn. They are still the best league in football, but it seems like everyone else is catching up some.
  • The best game of the day was probably Oregon at Washington State. The teams combined for exactly 1,000 yards of total offense and nine total touchdown passes.
  • I hate the Redskins and the Eagles, so when they play no one wins. But the fight was awesome. What a chickenbleep hit that was and Jason Peters did the absolute right thing. Kellen Heard says hello, Redskins.
  • How about Michigan State this weekend with three starting quarterbacks in the NFL: Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer and Drew Stanton. And remember Nick Foles was originally at Michigan State before transferring to Arizona. Current Michigan State qb Connor Cook is likely a first round pick when he comes out, so you could have four this time next year. Nice work, Sparty.
  • Ike Taylor’s broken arm was gruesome.

TEXAS (1-2)   BYE

We talked last week about some issues with execution, decision making and special teams, among other things, as Texas headed into the bye weekend. Now they’re back in game week mode with the opening of Big 12 play and their true road trip of the year to Kansas. Far better Longhorn teams have gone to Lawrence and were forced to hold on for dear life, so Texas can take nothing and no one for granted.

A bye week is a good time to do some self-evaluation as there is no opponent to prepare for. It’s a time for the team to take a good, hard look at what is working and what is not working. So what is that, exactly? Let’s look at three good and three bad.

What’s Working
It’s easy to focus on the bad and what’s broken, but there are things that are working.

Quarterback. I was one that thought Swoopes was probably on his way to another position, but he’s responded to the job and the circumstances very well. He’s still learning and growing and will make some mistakes, but Texas looks to be in good hands. I’d like to see him be more decisive when he runs the ball and use the big size he has to his advantage, but I like what I see so far.

Will Russ. The guy is murdering the ball. Just murder. Keep it up.

Secondary. There will be some mistakes will be made with freshman Jason Hall at safety, but I love his aggressiveness. They look like a unit with NFL talent back there.

What’s Not Working
Pretty self-explanatory, yes?

Third Quarter Defense. It’s a problem. The first half the defense has been lights out in all three games, but in the third quarter of both losses the other team has taken the ball and gone right down the field and scored. And in both losses those second half drives have happened on the ground, running right at the strength of the team. What’s going on? It was markedly better against UCLA, but it still happened. When Desmond Jackson went down, UCLA seemed to find something to exploit. He’s now out for the season, so you can be sure other teams are watching that film and seeing what they did. What can be done? I expect some new alignments to help the linebackers, and new stunts and schemes to counter that interior run that worked so well. Twice.

Special Teams. Everything and everyone not named Will Russ needs to be better. I expect Texas will have a new return man for the Kansas game.

Playmakers. With Daje Johnson still shelved Texas needs to get some people on the field that can make a short pass into a long touchdown run. Armanti Foreman? Duke Catalon? The freshmen were terrific in summer and fall camp, but they haven’t gotten a shot in game time. It’s time they do, especially if Johnson is still out. Jaxon Shipley is a great player, but he doesn’t have that gear to take a short pass for a 75-yard touchdown. For whatever reason, Marcus Johnson hasn’t shown that ability this fall, either. It’s time to let the kids have a crack. And the staff can help the offense out by running some screens, some reverses and unleashing Swoopes with the deep ball to get these guys in the best position to make plays. I expect you’ll see more aggressiveness from the offense this week, which hopefully means packages for the freshmen to make some plays.

SO…

I think the bye week came at good time for Texas. At 1-2 the Horns are not where they want to be, but it’s where they are. I expect the staff went over their own list of what’s working and what’s not and how they plan to correct/address it. Even in the middle of a two-game losing streak, there was plenty of good to build on.

I think you’ll see a spirited week of practice as the Horns begin conference play, and I think you’ll see a more aggressive offense and a tweaked defense as team prepares for Kansas.

 

THIS WEEK IN THE BIG 12

BAYLOR (3-0)   BYE
IOWA STATE (1-2/0-1)   BYE
OKLAHOMA STATE (2-1)   BYE
TCU (2-0)   BYE
TEXAS (1-2)   BYE

TEXAS TECH (2-1)   BYE

Thursday, September 18th

No. 5 Auburn Tigers 20 No.20 KANSAS STATE 14
You can’t miss three field goals and throw an interception in the end zone and expect to beat a good team, and that’s exactly what happened on Thursday night to K-State. Their defense played terrific, holding Auburn to just 128 yards rushing, but tip drill interception in the end zone cost them a touchdown and then three missed field goals doomed them.


Saturday, September 20th

Central Michigan Chippawas 10 KANSAS 24
KU scored on the first play of the game and then broke open a 10-10 tie with a 60-yard td pass in the fourth quarter. Well done, Jayhawks, that’s two more wins than I thought you’d have at this point in the season.

@ No.4 oklahoma 45 WEST VIRGINIA 33
Tied at 12, the T&C Warriors South and the Round Rock Raiders went to overtime. Yes, 5th grade overtime. It’s not quite the same as college football OT. Each offense gets the ball four plays and four plays only, and the team with the most yardage after those plays wins the game. The Warriors South lost five yards on their drive. Not exactly the start you’d hope for. The Raiders lost three on their first play, got one back on their second play and threw a swing pass on play No.3. The defense was not ready for that play, and the receiver broke outside and took it to the house, which ended the game. Not because of the touchdown, but because of the 30 yards gained on the play. They didn’t have to run play no.4. See? Not really? Me neither. A good game, though, and lessons learned from playing in OT. The loss was offset by Oreos and Gatorade.

Back next Thursday with a look at Texas/Kansas.

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