Diagnosis and Prognosis

When you catch the common cold you don’t need a doctor to diagnose what’s ailing you and Longhorn fans don’t need Kirk Herbstreit to diagnose what’s ailing their team.  It’s a historically bad defense that can’t stop the pass (126th out of 130 nationally), rush the passer (97th nationally in sacks), or stop the run (68th nationally). 

Making matters worse, Sam Ehlinger has thrown six interceptions in the last two games after throwing only one in the first six games of the season. Perhaps he’s pressing a bit because he thinks he needs to score on every possession because the defense won’t stop anybody. It should be noted that two of his interceptions in the TCU game were the fault of receivers running poor routes.

Here I could offer the Longhorns treatment recommendations for treating their condition but I won’t because it’s been done by many other commentators and writers and you’ve probably already read or heard them.  Instead, I’ll just offer my prognosis for the rest of this season and maybe a little beyond.

One of my favorite words is callow. The first time I heard it I knew what it meant because it’s one of those words that by the sound of it creates an image in your mind of what it means.  Incidentally, at my advanced age, looking back, I realize I was often the perfect illustration of the expression callow youth. That’s a long story for another time.

In Merriam-Webster, three of the synonyms listed for callow are immature, inexperienced, and unformed.  At times when I watch Tom Herman, I see immaturity in the sarcastic way he often deals with questions he doesn’t like.  Considering that he’s only midway through his third year of coaching a high-profile power five college football program—through no fault of his own—he s inexperienced.  And—at 44 years old—hopefully, he’s unformed.  As a Texas fan, I’d hate to think he was already fully formed. 

Perhaps callow is a little harsh in describing Tom Herman. Maybe I should just say he’s inexperienced. And it’s his inexperience combined with his stubbornness that informs my prognosis that Herman will not be able to solve his team’s problems this season especially on defense.  If Caden Sterns returns, that will help a little but not enough to make a demonstrable difference.

Except for the offense’s performance against Kansas, Texas has not played well in their last three games. I’ve read unattributed reports on InsideTexas.com that there is discord between coaches and players. We can only guess what’s going on behind the scenes but it seems obvious something is wrong with this team besides a poor defense.

The cumulative record of Texas’ remaining four opponents, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, and Texas Tech is 20-10. In conference, it’s 10-8.  Baylor and Iowa State on the road look particularly difficult though watching Baylor last night against West Virginia, I wasn’t impressed. Baylor and Iowa State are 12th and 27th respectively nationally in scoring offense. 

Last year, the Horns rallied after two straight losses to Oklahoma State and West Virginia by winning their last three games to finish the regular season 9-3 and qualify for the Big 12 Championship game. That team was in a different place mentally and emotionally than this year’s team. Last year even after those two straight losses, it was a team that was confident that it was improving and on the come. I don’t sense that in this year’s team.

My track record for predicting ahead of time what will happen in football is spotty at best. In August, I predicted Texas would go 11-1 during the regular season. But that won’t stop me from giving it another go.

Texas will go 2-2 in their last four games finishing 7-5 for the regular season. I think that would put them in the Texas Bowl for the second time in Herman’s three seasons at Texas.

If Texas does finish 7-5 with a trip to the Texas Bowl, there will be expectations all around that Herman will shake up his staff, particularly on defense.  Speculating for speculation’s sake, I see Herman standing pat with Todd Orlando who’s been the only defensive coordinator he’s ever had starting in Houston in 2015.  He can justify it by pointing to the large number of injuries Orlando had to deal with. In addition to the injuries Herman can turn to what has become over the last 10 years the standard coach’s fallback at Texas, “We’re young,” to justify the defense’s struggles.

I can’t wait until we’re not young anymore.

Hook “Em,

W.E.

5 Comments to “Diagnosis and Prognosis”

  1. Terrible coaching…Coaches need to spend a lot of time in the film room watching how teams in the top 5 block, tackle, rush the passer and defend the pass.

  2. I see another OU game in the future
    Next year

  3. Did you think I said callow? It was Gallo.

  4. Herman might have to get a bodyguard if he doesn’t show Orlando, Warehime (he of the pathetic special teams, last in country in virtually all categories), the two D-Back coaches and D-Line coach Oscar Giles, a proud Longhorn, but shitty coach.

    • Have never seen things go straight to hell so quickly like this. All units are playing bad. Defense special teams, offensive line.

What Say You?