Mauled

After the shortest honeymoon in history, excuse me while I wipe the egg of my face before I give you my order of shame in last night’s mauling in Fayetteville.

  1. In my first column of the year, I said I appreciated that Steve Sarkisian stated flatly that he was the play-caller so he’s number one on my list of who’s to blame for the blowout loss. His game plan depended on the offensive line being able to at least hold its own against Arkansas’s defensive front. When it was proven early and often that it couldn’t, Sarkisian didn’t adjust. He kept running Bijan Robinson up the gut where he was consistently hit three and four yards behind the line of scrimmage.  After consistently facing second and long throughout the first and second quarter, without consulting the box score, I can’t remember a single first down pass called by our play-caller. The few times that Robinson picked up four or five yards on first down, Sarkisian called another run up the gut that resulted in losses that put Hudson Card and the Horns in third and long. This happened three or four times in the first half.

I’m not an Xs and Os expert but I’ve watched enough football to know that when you face a fired-up defense that’s charging upfield on every snap, you try to take advantage of their all-out pursuit with a quarterback draw, a screen pass, a reverse or some kind of misdirection. How ‘bout an option play where Card faked a give to Robinson inside and kept the ball and ran in the opposite direction?  We saw nothing like that. I thought before that key fourth and one midway through the third quarter, Texas had an opportunity for a huge gain by suckering the Arkansas defense inside with a fake give to Robinson and then a pass or a Card Keeper. Nope, a run up the gut by Robinson for a one-yard loss. Game over.
First and foremost, the blame for this game is on the play-caller and head coach. It’s frightening to consider that Sarkisian is only a great offensive mind when he has a dominating offensive line.

2. The offensive line gets an F- if there is such a thing. Here’s my technical analysis of the collective play of Texas’s offensive line. They can’t block. Maybe Kyle Flood is only an outstanding offensive line coach if he as three, four, or five future NFL starters.

3. I hesitate to include Hudson Card on this list without knowing who told him that he wasn’t allowed to run for positive yardage when he couldn’t see open receivers and the opportunity availed itself. It looked like to me he had several opportunities for substantial gains running but instead, he danced around in the pocket before taking a loss. We saw Casey Thompson make some nice gains, including a touchdown when he tucked and ran, albeit long after the issue had been decided.
I guess a review of the tape will tell Sarkisian if Card held the ball instead of throwing to open receivers. Other than that, Card missed throws on a couple of potential touchdowns to Jordan Whittington. Whittington didn’t help matters much by dropping a perfectly thrown ball by Card that would have resulted in a huge gain.

In his post-game press conference, Sarkisian said that he thought the defense played well for as long as it could given the offense’s futility. I agree. Yes, the defense gave up 40 points and big yardage but I’m going to assign at least half the blame for that to the offense.
Sarkisian looked relatively composed during the press conference, but I was disappointed that he didn’t directly shoulder more of the blame for the offensive futility and the embarrassing loss.
After two games, I have no idea where the Horns go from here.

Hook ‘Em,
W.E.

6 Comments to “Mauled”

  1. Seems to happen every year. We listen to the local pundits and get hoodwinked into thinking we have a great coach and 5 star every things. Every other school hates us now for sure and they are going to play like Arkansas did every week. It may be a long season.

  2. David,

    +1 for the apt Maginot Line reference….🤘🏽

  3. I was, essentially, shouted down (by everyone I spoke with) after the Louisiana game when I called the offensive line trash. That group last night made trash look heavenly good. How Okafor, Majors, and Jones are starters on a D1 team in a Power 5 conference is one of the great mysteries of life. They absolutely suck. How bad must the second teamers be not to replace those guys? As for Card, he clearly was terrified. The stage simply was too large for him. How in God’s name can Sarkisian (who has to know) not start Casey Thompson when he trots out a Maginot Line (look it up) offensive line? Thompson can run. Card can’t, or won’t, and to my eyes the past two weeks, represents absolutely zero threat to run — and defenses know it. He has to sit, at least until Brockermeyer can get his brothers to transfer, or Sarkisian looks to the transfer portal for a few warm bodies. As for Sarkisian’s play calling, it was abominable, as Willie Earl pointed out above. Like Jake Pickle many years ago, speaking about John Con ally’s Milk-Fund scandal, I am sick to my boots.

    • Don’t know who shouted you down but I pointed out after the Louisiana game that the o-line needed work.
      Card had some nice runs including one for a TD last week.

      • No, wasn’t you or big bro … others … and, yeah, Card had a nice ball fake and scamper into the end zone from about the six, if I recall. I mean elusiveness and posing a threat to pick up 15, 20, or 30. That will not happen with him. I know something about drawing the collar and he looked awfully scared last night, in addition to really slow decision making and poor passes. He needs to sit until the second half against Rice. All Casey Thompson has done in three games of meaningful time in the field is lead touchdown drives at a 75 percent rate. I’ll take that, please.

  4. O-line looks awkward confused and slow.

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