Remember Colt McCoy’s victory lap around DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium in
November, 2009? Yep, that was the last time Texas won on Senior Day
following Thursday’s 20-13 upset loss to TCU. That was the last time you
could trust a Longhorn quarterback. That was the last time Texas was
nationally relevant. Seems like a million years ago.
Let’s not lay this one entirely at the cleats of QB David Ash, despite the fact it was his most abysmal performance of his career and that he was benched twice. There are just too many across-the-board deficiencies within a UT program that has been mired in third-tier mediocrity for three seasons.
“We can sit here and talk about it all night,” coach Mack Brown said, “but four-turnovers-to-one, you’re gonna get beat.”
Here’s what Brown won’t talk about on any night: Thursday was yet another example of a less-talented opponent pushing Texas around because it was more aggressive, assertive and physical than Brown’s bunch. Texas can’t use inexperience and injuries as an excuse. TCU is every bit as young, and has had as much attrition this year, as Texas. (That was three freshmen and four sophomores in the Horned Frogs starting defense, by the way, that held Texas to 86 rushing yards while notching three sacks and three INTs). This was a TCU team that, save for a double overtime win against defenseless West Virginia, would have entered DKR having lost five of six. And they never trailed Thursday.
The 2013 football schedule was released this past week, so circle August 31 on your calendar. That’s the day Brown starts coaching for his professional life. There’s little doubt that Brown returns next year, my sources continue to report. But, for the sake of the program, Brown must take a good, hard look in the mirror and determine -- despite his passion and competitiveness -- whether he has the stuff, and the support, to restore the program.
The fan base absolutely cannot stomach a fourth year of what’s passed for football since Colt McCoy took that victory lap. Nor should they, considering the ungodly amounts of money boosters pump into DeLoss Dodds’ coffers. The deep pockets funneling the cha-ching into the Burnt Orange vaults are more fractured now than at any time since the Fred Akers’ era. The smattering of empty seats on display at DKR the past two ballgames are indicative of the apathy that has begun to creep into the fan base. (Don’t blame the holiday weekend. The stands would be filled if people cared).
Brown has, on several occasions, pointed to the 2013 season as when Texas should be “really good.” Memo to Mack: an eight- or nine-win season won’t be good enough. Not here. Not after the past three seasons. And, frankly, two conference titles in 15 years is Not Our Standard.
Obviously, nothing has been more substandard this season than the Longhorn defense. A storyline this week was how improved Texas’ run defense had become during its four-game win streak, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that there’s a helluva difference between lining up against the likes of Iowa State and Kansas than Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia.
Same song, different jersey color: the Frogs gutted Texas for 217 rushing yards,
“We didn’t play the run very well,” Diaz said, “especially in the first half. It allowed them to control the clock. It allowed them to protect their quarterback.”
Brown laid this one entirely at the feet of his offense, but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz didn’t see it that way. This one was lost because his defense couldn’t contain a RS-freshman QB (in just his seventh start after opening the year at WR).
“I thought the (TCU) quarterback’s running was the difference in the game,” Diaz said.
It’s just that Trevon Boykin was no threat to throw the ball downfield. He finished all of 7-of-9 passing for 82 yards and no TDs. Nearly half those yards came on his opening toss out of the south end zone.
“We didn’t make him do much,” Brown said. “He didn’t have to throw.”
Ash couldn’t throw the ball to save his life, and yet Texas ran just 14 times in the second half. Johnathan Gray had just three carries after intermission. There were no touches for D.J. Munroe. There were no touches for Malcolm Brown. The jet sweep was MIA.
“We put ourselves in a position where we had to throw the ball more to try to get some bigger yards,” offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “We needed some bigger plays on first down.”
So why stick with Ash after McCoy came off the bench late in the second quarter?
“Coaches felt like, and I agreed, that (Ash) had been the guy,” Brown said. “We were going to have to go with some one-minute offense in the second half, and he’s done it more than Case.”
Ash was guilty of three Red Zone turnovers in addition to under-throws and over-throws on a wretched night in which the sophomore finished 10-of-21 for 104 yards. The QB shuffle saw Case McCoy follow Texas’ lone TD drive with a ridiculous INT to put a dagger in this one and, in all likelihood, the season.
When asked directly about the QB shuffle, McCoy responded: “I’m not going to answer that part.”
His teammates, meanwhile, are already talking about putting this one behind them and preparing for a Kansas State team that most will expect to hand Texas its fourth loss. Texas would then have to win its bowl game just to avoid matching last season’s disappointing record.
“We obviously can’t go the BCS route,” senior S Kenny Vaccaro said, “but there’s still a lot ahead of us. We can still go to the Cotton Bowl.”
Seriously, do you want to put this team on the field against Texas A&M?