I intentionally took a few days off before writing to let things simmer down in my head. I stayed off Twitter, away from any Longhorn news and just sat back and watched the rest of the college football weekend. That carried over to Sunday and on Monday I began writing this. What did the four-day break do for me? Nothing at all.
I am mad. Very mad. The Texas Longhorns came out flat. Again. That’s the third time in 11 games Texas has hit the field with what I looks like indifference (I know it isn’t indifference, but it looks that way) and I just don’t understand it. It happened against ou, it happened at Kansas and it happened again Thanksgiving Night. How does it happen Thanksgiving Night? It’s Senior Night, it’s the only college game on TV and it’s the last home game of the year. Idiots like me where projecting what might happen if Texas and Oklahoma State won, setting up a winner-takes-all scenario at K-State next week… But the Longhorns were not ready to play. HOW IN THE WORLD ARE YOU NOT READY TO PLAY? How in the world do you come out flat for 25% of the season? Unacceptable. UNACCEPTABLE.
The fans do not get a pass, either. The announced attendance of 99,000 was garbage. The entire south end zone was empty except for the band and everyone not wearing purple in the crowd seemed ready for naps instead of football. There was no energy in the pre-game, none in the stands and none on the field and the result was a 20-13 loss to a team that had no business beating the Texas Longhorns. A loss is not the end of the world and I give TCU credit for bringing their A-game, A-effort and A-intensity and they certainly earned the win, but Texas put up minimal fight and once again we are here dissecting more than just a loss. It was a complete lack of effort and urgency from a team that was criticized mercilessly for a lack of effort and urgency already this season. Twice. This is a loss that shouldn’t have happened. Texas was outcoached, out-played, out-hustled and out-everythinged. Again.
Amazing this team only seems to be dialed in and ready to fight when they are on the edge of the cliff. The good news, I guess, is they are on the edge of that cliff again. The bad news is now they head to one of Dante’s nine rings for Texas football: Manhattan, Kansas. Let’s proceed.
TCU 20 No.16 TEXAS 13
Let me sum up the above again- Thanksgiving Night sucked. The TCU crowd was fired up, rowdy and ready. The Texas crowd was full, sedated and absent. Texas took the opening kickoff and shoved it right down the No.8 rush defense’s throat and seemed poised to score… Then it started to unravel. And then it did unravel. Here we go. The Thanksgiving nonsense:
Quarterbacks — Absolutely awful. It seems Ash was nailed in the side early in the game, on the first drive possibly, and his ribs were nuked. He didn’t tell anyone and tried to fight through it, but the output didn’t match the effort. You have to respect his toughness, but if he can’t make the plays he shouldn’t be in there. He under threw wide open receivers, which turned touchdown passes into interceptions twice, both in the red zone. He threw behind receivers, at their feet.. he threw a pass so bad to Marquise Goodwin he mangled his finger trying to get before it hit the ground and he was knocked out of the game. Seriously, have you ever a seen pass thrown so poorly the receiver gets HURT trying to catch it? If you watched the TCU game you did. Not only did his two interceptions in the red zone take at a minimum six points off the board for Texas, his weird third turnover—where he lost the ball without being touched— was the capper. Trailing 7-3 with 2:52 to play in the half, Texas had overcome both of his first half interceptions: one at 8-yard line, the other at the 2-yard line, and needed a solid drive to get back in the game, take the lead and get the momentum on the Texas sideline… Only none of that happened. Ash dropped back to pass with Texas on the 27 and whiffed on the ball, losing it has cocked his arm to pass and fumbled it at the Texas 16-yard line. TCU recovered and three plays later it was 14-3 and what little energy there was in the building was all purple. It seemed like it was 50-3 at that point, didn’t it? I am certainly not putting the entire loss on David Ash’s shoulders, but it didn’t help. Three turnovers, two in the red zone and one inside the Texas 20, and the Horns lost by four.
Case McCoy, you CANNOT throw off your back foot into the middle of the field. I don’t blame McCoy for trying to make a play, but that CANNOT HAPPEN ANYMORE. Texas seemed poised to make a miraculous comeback, but that throw resulted in an interception and the ball game.
You don’t have to have an All-American quarterback to win games, but you need a guy that limits mistakes and makes a few plays, like the redshirt freshman athlete TCU has. Your quarterback cannot be a liability and Thursday night the Texas quarterback was a liability.
Running Backs — 86 yards rushing on 33 carries. No scores. Jonathan Gray had 31 yards rushing on four carries in the first two drives and then was abandoned, finishing with 47 yards on 15 carries, meaning he was only given the ball 11 more times the rest of the game. Daje Johnson only touched it twice and DJ Monroe, the electric player on the edge and playing in his last home game ever, was not given the ball once. A few carries for Joe B. and I am not sure if Malcolm Brown was even on the sideline. I said last week that if Texas’ plan was to be predictable and try and run between the tackles it would fail. The first drive Texas was creative, but it seemed to go away as the game wore on and turned into a predictable running attack. The result was 86 yards on 33 carries.
Wide Outs/Tight Ends — Jaxon Shipley had six catches for 80 yards and was moving the chains, but the uneven play at quarterback couldn’t find him consistently. Mike Davis should have been a superstar, but two bad passes to him resulted in interceptions and another pass in the end zone went through his hands earlier on the second interception drive. Not much to report other than Marquise Goodwin ruined his fingers trying to catch a low pass from Ash aside from Davis and Shipley.
Offensive Line — Behinds were whipped. Sacks were allowed. Sacks allowed by freshman. It was the second best front seven Texas has played all season and the result was the same as it was against the best front seven.
Defensive Line— I will not be lured in by numbers. The Texas dl only got to Boykins once and time again were run around or run by as he scrambled for first downs. Alex Okafor was also injured and is questionable this week, so that’s awesome. The good news is Cedric Reed was terrific, doing his part with eight tackles including three for loss. But Texas couldn’t hold the line of scrimmage against a one-dimensional team and gave up 217 yards rushing. Reed was very good, but he didn’t get much help.
Linebackers —Moving on.
Secondary — Kenny Vaccaro was a MAN. He led the team with 11 tackles and seemed to be everywhere. TCU stayed away from Quandre Diggs, but they sure seemed to like running at Carrington Byndom. And the first TCU play of the game where the other safety was totally fooled on the play-action bomb to get the Frogs out of their own end zone was awful. I don’t put a lot of blame on the unit as a whole because of the play in front of them, but I had no idea that the safety spot opposite Vaccaro would be such a massive liability this year.
Special Teams — Points Nick is the man at kicker now, hitting everything the last two weeks. Alex King is terrific punting the ball and Kickoff Nick was also very good. Marquise Goodwin was THIS close to breaking one for a touchdown on his 41-yard kickoff return and Quandre Diggs had a nice 10-yard punt return… But the play that I still see in my mind is the third quarter punt where Duke Thomas had the ball carrier wrapped up and then, for some reason, let go of him and he continued to run and picked up five yards. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT? It was like he was about to get called for a block in the back or holding and didn’t want to get caught, you know? With his hands up in the air to show he isn’t holding… Or was it something else? It’s pretty well known that Texas doesn’t tackle to the ground in practice for fear of injuries, just contact and stop, which is exactly what that looked like to me. If you don’t tackle in practice, you can’t do it a game. Right? Right. A blocked field goal stemmed the tide and the big kickoff return was the ignition, but the offense was too bad to do anything with either Thursday night.
No.18 TEXAS (8-3/5-3) @ No.6 KANSAS STATE (10-1/7-1)
Saturday, December 1st
Of all the places for Texas to try and get right, this is not one. The Longhorns have bad memories of Manhattan: a terrible K-State team ended Texas’ hopes to defend their National Title in 2006 and it was where the 2010 season officially bottomed out in the lowest point in the lowest season in 15 years. Now they head up there after losing at home to TCU with their quarterback on the shelf (David Ash is not starting this week and his availability is “questionable” which at Texas usually means “not at all.”) and their best defensive lineman also questionable (Alex Okafor and his ankle) against a team that has been off for a week and surely has a nasty taste in their mouth after watching their own National Title hopes disappear on the road at Baylor. The Wildcats have a Big 12 Title on the line, a BCS berth on the line and it’s Senior Night for Collin Klein, the biggest star at K-State since Michael Bishop. He can win the Heisman Trophy with a big game against Texas and you can be sure the Wildcat fans will pack that sunken field to see the highlights of Texas disasters up there in 1998, 2006 and 2010 (they like their video montages there). Does Texas have a chance? Of course they do. Let’s take a look:
It’s the Optimus Klein show. The 6-foot-5, 226-pound senior owes Texas a thank you speech and a piece of cake from the Heisman ceremony for launching his career in 2010. Klein was the backup and took over for Carson Coffman and exploded for 127 yards rushing and two scores as K-State destroyed the Horns in the ugliest game of the ugliest season. Klein has 2,306 yards passing and 14 touchdowns with six interceptions, completing 66.7% of his passes. While throwing ball was never his biggest strength, he’s shown terrific improvement this year. He’s second on the team in rushing with 787 yards and a mind-blowing 20 rushing touchdowns. He’s a less-smooth Vince Young, or a more physical Matt Jones, or whatever. He’s Collin Klein, and he’s a beast with the ball in his hands. He’s positively lethal running the ball and it makes the play-action so much more dangerous when he does throw.
Joining him in the backfield is John Hubert. The junior is about half of Klein’s size at 5-foot-7, 185 pounds and is more about speed and quickness than the bulldozer Klein. He’s second in the league in rushing yards per game, averaging 75.1 yards and has 826 on the season. He has 12 touchdowns of his own, which is third most in the league. His production is a welcome addition to Klein, who did it all last year. He still does it all, but Hubert shares the rushing workload with him and does so very well.
When Klein does throw it, his main targets are Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson. Both Lockett and Thompson are inside receiver types at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and 5-foot-7, 185 pounds, respectively, with terrific open field abilities and blazing speed. Harper is the biggest of the three at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, and he’s the muscle over the middle while the other two will stretch the field as often as they work on screens in space. The three combine for 153 yards per game and have 10 touchdowns combined on the season. Harper is the most productive with 727 yards receiving while Thompson leads the team with four touchdown catches. The other player to watch is tight end Travis Tannahill, who averages 11.9 yards per catch. These guys are excellent, particularly when you consider how good the running game is.
I don’t see anything special about this offensive line, but it doesn’t matter how they look it matters how they play. There are no eye-popping numbers on this offense, other than Klein’s 20 touchdowns, that make you think there is a Heisman candidate on the team… Except for the big wins at ou, West Virginia, and everyone else not named Baylor. The remind me a lot of OSU last year in that they aren’t flashy, high profile guys, but they get the job done.
K-State is going to run their offense: zone reads, play-action passes, bootlegs.. Basically the same thing TCU ran last week, only they do it much, much better. They have ridden Klein to the verge of a Big 12 Title and a Heisman Trophy and they certainly see nothing on film that is going to make them change their approach.
The defense is excellent, but like the offense the numbers don’t really reflect how well they play when they need to. They are terrific at stopping the run, ranking 18th in the nation in the category, allowing only 121 yards per game. The pass defense is not great, but they make up for that by leading the nation in turnover margin with 1.73 ratio per game. That means they AVERAGE nearly two more turnovers per game than they give up. It’s hard to beat someone when you turn it over two more times than they do, right? Right, and it starts up front.
Defensive ends Adam Davis and Meshak Williams have 15 sacks between them this season with Williams leading the team with 8 ½. Neither player is a big run stopper, but they are both smallish, quick athletes that can get into the backfield with speed and athleticism. The tackles do a good job of keeping the linebackers clean and will occasionally make plays, but they like to get those ends up field and create pressure, forcing sacks or turnovers, or both.
The cleanup crew for the d-line is the lb’s. Led by Arthur Brown, the linebacking corps for K-State makes plays like they did in Snyder’s first run in Manhattan. The 6-foot-1, 223-pound Brown leads the team in tackles with 80, including a sack and five tackles for loss, two picks, a recovered fumble and five passes defended. He’s got excellent speed and is active at the line of scrimmage defending the run and seems to always be floating behind the line of scrimmage when in coverage, making plays on the ball. Fellow lb Jarell Childs is third on the team in tackles with 47 and 2 ½ sacks and seems to be the primary blitzer. Not a huge guy a 6-foot-2, 217 pound, he makes plays with his speed. These two, along with fellow starter Justin Tuggle, do an excellent job of dealing with run and letting the secondary handle the passing game.
And handle it they do. The Wildcats have 16 interceptions on the year. Cornerbacks Allen Chapman and Nigel Malone have four picks each and while neither is overly imposing (5-foot-11 and 5-foot-10, ~ 178 pounds) they just make plays. A big problem for K-State at Waco was the absence of superstar Ty Zimmerman at safety. Zimmerman was on the bench in streets with crutches under his arms nursing a bad ankle as Baylor torched that secondary. His status is unknown for Texas because Bill Snyder talks about injuries as much as Lindsay Lohan goes to court-mandated alcohol counseling. I expect he’ll play and he is a difference maker at safety with five interceptions and tons and tons of big plays. This is a terrific ball-hawking secondary, but without the steadying presence of Zimmerman they seem a bit risky and reckless. If he’s back that should settle them down, but if he isn’t there will be opportunities.
See the ou and TCU game plans. Hit the qb, force bad passes, get the Texas offense on the sideline. They have done that to just about everyone this year, so they will no doubt try it on Case McCoy.
The best special teams in the nation. They rank No.1 in both kickoff and punt returns, averaging 22.87 yards per punt return and 29.54 yards per kickoff return. Tramaine Thompson has a touchdown and a 24.9 average returning punts and Tyler Lockett has two scores and a 34.5 ypr average returning kickoffs. This is the most dangerous duo in the nation, bar none. If they are given an inch, it’s a score or at the very least a lay up for the offense. They give nothing up on punt returns (3.8 yards per return), but they have allowed two scores on kickoff returns and have a middle-of-the-road 22.9 yards per return average.
Punter Ryan Doerr averages 42.1 yards per punt with nearly half of his 32 attempts going inside the 20 and seven going for over 50 yards. The way they cover punts, he’s a real weapon. Anthony Cantele is solid on points, connecting on 18-21 field goals and all his extra points. Kickoff coverage could be a concern as they allow opponents to start at their own 31.
Expect K-State to punt and play defense and make Texas go the length of the field to score and expect them to do everything they can to spring Thompson on a punt return. I’d be concerned about that kick coverage if I were them.
Texas/ In Conclusion…
I’m skipping the normal format. I just would like to say this:
So here we are, on the way to Manhattan with the backup qb starting and the punter (Alex King) now the backup quarterback. That’s right- the Duke transfer is getting reps with the second team in case David Ash is unable to play if McCoy goes down (and from the way things are worded, I expect he doesn’t play). Marquise Goodwin is also injured… But who cares.
It’s time to cut loose. I don’t care who’s hurt or who’s not. I don’t care how loud it will be, or how cold it will be, or whatever. So what? It’s time to cut loose and see what happens. Texas isn’t supposed to win this game. Kansas State is the bigger, badder, stronger, older, better team. Or maybe not. Cut loose. No fear, no hesitation, no worrying, no second guessing. CUT. LOOSE.
Whatever you might think of Case McCoy’s game, he’s the guy to cut loose with because he embodies all the things I just said: no fear, no hesitation, no worry, no second guessing. He’s going to freelance to make plays and the offensive staff, the entire staff, needs to embrace that and let him. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, SO LET’S HAVE SOME FUN. Right? Cut loose, Coach Harsin, and play to McCoy’s strengths, which are extending plays with his feet and the underneath passing game. McCoy has to play better than last week and make good decisions and sound throws (GOOD FORM) and avoid the turnover bug, but they way he ducks, dives and dodges he isn’t going to get sacked as often as Ash would facing a withering pass rush. That means receivers will be open when he avoids that pressure, so put them in places where he can get the ball to them. CUT LOOSE, Coach, and trust your guy to make plays.
Get after Collin Klein and punish him. This is the 80th ranked pass offense in the nation, so make them throw. Stack the line and let’s be physical. Make him pay for running the ball and just… Just hit somebody. I saw indecision at times last week, looking around and at the sidelines. None of that this week. Line up and get ready for a bar room brawl. Cut loose, coach, and let go of the super secret misdirection. They are not doing anything tricky, so why should you? Embrace simplicity, coach. It worked well as of late. Trust your guys to play football.
No returns of significance. If that means kicking it out of bounds, then so be it. None. DJ Monroe is getting one more regular season crack at doing something special on kickoffs. I think he makes the most of it with that injury to Goodwin.
Cut it loose. Let’s put some pressure on the defense with a scrambling McCoy and running out of some exotic formations (who does that better than Bryan Harsin? No one) and force the K-state defense on their heels. I think McCoy has the right attitude and abilities to do that very thing, but he has to make good decisions with the ball. Let’s stack the line and make Collin Klein throw it 40 times to win the game. If he does, great. If he doesn’t, even better.
Cut loose, fellas, and let’s see what happens.
This Week in the Big 12
IOWA STATE (6-6/3-6) REGULAR SEASON OVER, BOWL GAME PENDING
TEXAS TECH (7-5/4-5) REGULAR SEASON OVER, BOWL GAME PENDING
No.23 OKLAHOMA STATE (7-4/5-3) @ BAYLOR (6-5/3-5) 11 am F/X
I think Oklahoma State is playing for the Cotton Bowl if Texas loses to K-State and a possible match up with the little Aggies from College Station… But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This will be a shootout, which are fun to watch; but I think the Cowboys have too much defense to let it become a true shootout and their running game, running defense and special teams open up a close game late.
KANSAS (1-10/0-8) @ WEST VIRGINIA (6-5/3-5) 1:30 pm FSN
How is this on TV? Tavon Austin might get 1,000 yards in the first half. KU is on the way up, just not today.
No.11 oklahoma (9-2/7-1) @ TCU (7-4/4-4) 11 am ESPN
Hey jackass Texas fan sitting with the TCU guys and cheering against your own team: even your friends didn’t think you screaming “Johnny Manziel!” every time Texas didn’t score was not funny. But they were work acquaintances, weren’t they? They went with you because they were your tickets. No one really likes you I bet. I sure don’t, but you knew that in the first quarter…
Last Week in the Big 12
No.6 KANSAS STATE (10-1/7-1) BYE
KANSAS (1-10/0-8) BYE
Friday, November 23rd
WEST VIRGINIA 31 IOWA STATE 24
I said last week that WVA needed this game more than Iowa State did, because they needed it to get bowl eligible.. Nailed it! I didn’t see a second of it, so it surely went as I said it would go.
Saturday, November 24th
BAYLOR 52 TEXAS TECH 45
“I used to say Tech won shootouts, but I like Baylor in this game and they need the win to get to post-season.“
I am on FIRE! Did you see RGIII on the sidelines, you guys? He was right there, talking with the coach, and the team, during the game. Right there. With the coach. Talking to him. During the game.
No.21 OKLAHOMA STATE 48 No.31 oklahoma sooners 51
Mike Gundy to Arkansas? http://www.dixiefriedsports.com/Gundy_to_Arkansas_.html
That’s it for this week. You can reach me FromTheStands@gmail.com or on Twitter @TreyMcLean.