Embedded Underachievement

Since the OU game, I’ve had conversations with two Texas fans, one a diehard fan since 1965, the other a more casual fan. The diehard told me, the loss to Oklahoma was for him, the most devasting loss since the 1984 Cotton Bowl loss to Georgia that cost Texas a National Championship. Before that conversation I hadn’t thought about ranking this most recent Oklahoma loss with other devastating Longhorn losses. The ’84 Cotton Bowl was devastating. The other loss that ranks with it for me is the 2008 loss to Texas Tech. Interestingly and surprisingly at 66, getting cut from the Junior Varsity basketball team 50 years ago next month (What might have been) is more painful for me than any Longhorn loss.   

The loss last Saturday to Oklahoma does not move for the needle for me because the 2021 Longhorns aren’t worth the emotional investment; the ’83 and ’08 teams were. This leads me to the conversation I had with the more casual Longhorn fan. We were talking about the defense and how we’re having the same issues that we’ve had for the last four or five defensive coordinators dating back to Manny Diaz. Mack Brown fired Diaz early in the 2013 season after his defense gave up 550 rushing yards to Brigham Young. During the conversation my friend commented that underachievement is embedded in the Texas Football program no matter who the coaches are.  I thought embedded underachievement was a nice turn of phrase. It won’t be until the embedded underachievement goes away that I can be emotionally invested enough for a Longhorn loss to be devastating for me. Don’t get me wrong, I want the Longhorns to win as much as about 95% of the fanbase. But after 10 plus years of mediocrity and now breaking in yet another new coaching staff and the grace period that goes with it, I’m shielding my heart with modest expectations.

Good News

Nobody except Dr. John Butler expected the Longhorns to go undefeated and compete for the National Championship this year but it was reasonable to think they could compete for The Big 12 Championship. As a few of the players said this week, that goal is still intact. Texas’ offense—despite a mediocre offensive line—is capable of outscoring all the opponents remaining on the schedule.

Speaking of the offensive line, as bad as it performs at times it’s been good enough to pave the way for Bijan Robinson to be the third leading rusher in the country and average 6.1 yards per carry.  Texas averages 44.5 points a game, fifth best in the country. So, as frustrating as its performance is at times the offensive line isn’t the biggest problem.

Bad News

The Texas defense is allowing 29 points per game, 95th in the country. It’s 106th in the country in total defense. These ignominious statistics include a shut out of Rice. Very Diaz and Orlandoesque.

Steve Sarkisian said on Monday after the Oklahoma game, and I’m paraphrasing, that when under pressure some of the players aren’t playing with the fundamentals that they’ve been taught and practiced. Tom Herman said almost the exact same thing. Anyway, is that the coaches’ fault for poor coaching and continuing to start players that abandon fundamentals when under pressure?  I don’t know. With million-dollar salaries at stake, should we assume that they’re playing the players that give them the best chance to win? I don’t know the answer to that either.

Speaking of coaching, do you think Xavier Worthy was told not to return a kick that went eight yards deep into the end zone?

*****

If you held a gun to my head and forced me to make a prediction, I would have Texas going 4-2 over its six remaining regular season games.

Oklahoma State

This game is a prime candidate for one of the two aforementioned losses. Mike Gundy’s teams are usually better coached than Texas and they always seem to have one or two playmakers that have good if not great games against the Horns.  Oklahoma State has won four of the last six, but Texas has won the last two in this series.

Keys to Victory

  1. Not starting the game flat. It’s an 11 am start coming after an emotionally tough loss. It would be nice if Casey Thompson could hit on a deep ball early that Sarkisian is sure to call.
  2. Slow down the Cowboys running game. I’d say stop the running game but who are we kidding?
  3. How ‘bout few if any holding penalties and false starts for the offensive line?

Final

Mike Gundy’s advantage over the Texas coaching staff should not be the factor it has been recently. Texas has enough playmakers on offense to put this one in the win column for the Horns.

Would you believe, Texas 48, Okie Lite 27?

Willie Earl’s Songsof the Week

“Let it Be” & “I saw Her Standing There” Performed by Paul McCartney and Billy Joel at Shea Stadium.

If you haven’t seen “The Last Play at Shea” . . . .

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

7 Comments to “Embedded Underachievement”

  1. I missed the over/under and the game while cycling in the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival. I reckon it was time better spent but nice to see Bijan extended another fine effort. Thanks for sharing the video clips to salve the wounds. I was just reading about that last night at Shea in the recent New Yorker article on McCartney, the man, the legend.

  2. Am I the only one who thinks that playing a “contain” defense instead of attacking in the second half was a huge error on the part of the coaching staff?

  3. Sportswriter Brain Davis mentioned that between 2018-2021 UT has gotten a total of 15 OL and DL players. That’s less than 4 per year for both sides on the line. We have enough receivers to field 3 teams and not enough linemen to field 1 team. This is mainly due to Herr Hermann’s love affair for receivers and complete distain for linemen.

    • Absolutely right. Need more bigs and more importantly we need to develop them. I put together a chart that illustrates that even with the lack of numbers along the lines the Horns are 2 deep with 4 star recruits. Maybe I’ll include it in next week’s column.

  4. Put me with the1st guy. That was my 48th straight Texas-OU game and I’ve rarely been that frustrated. You might not be able to coach against 50 yard runs, jump ball pass prayers and baffling officiating but the 3 plays that were very controllable by the coaches were the 2 kickoffs run out of the end zone (heck, OU was fair catching at the 15) and the snapping of the ball with 1 second left in the 3rd quarter.
    What hurt was that we are better than them and we didn’t play like it in the 2nd half. I guess we ran out of gas and rode the brakes.

    • Yeah the kick returns out of the end zone were dumb. Probably cost us the game.
      And,
      Everyone knows you were an SMU fan until 1975😀

  5. I read Gundy cut his mullet and that might just give us the edge for victory. The mullet has been like Kryptonite to us. Maybe our fortunes have changed!

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