Winning is Hard

After a disappointingly narrow win over Tulsa last month Tom Herman said, “Winning is hard. Really, really hard.” Unless you’re Alabama or maybe Clemson, Herman is right. Look around, # 6 West Virginia lost to Iowa State, TCU lost at home to Texas Tech, a few weeks ago Wisconsin lost to BYU at home and I could go on, but you get the point.

So I was surprised when I read a slew of negative comments on Barking Carnival’s Baylor post-game thread.  With a six-game winning streak, a 6-1 record, and a top ten ranking (more on that in a minute) some Texas fans were complaining about a closer than expected win over Baylor win that included a nail-biting finish. Never mind that Texas lost their starting quarterback early in the first quarter.

I’m sure none of the readers of this here blog were complaining after the Baylor game, but here’s a news flash for any Texas fan who thinks winning any of the five remaining regular season games should be easy.  None of them will be.  They’ll all be hard, even the Kansas game.  Texas may finish 11-1 but they’re not a dominating team.

Why All the Remaining Games will be Hard

The offense has had its moments, particularly against Oklahoma and USC.  But in the Kansas State and Baylor games, the offense didn’t score in the second half.  Could it be that Tim Beck and Tom Herman were out-coached at halftime and the second half by the opposing defensive staffs in these games?  Will no-scoring or low-scoring second halves become a trend for Texas in the last five games?

When you add the question of Sam Ehlinger’s health to the offense’s second half inconsistency, you have a fair amount of uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball for the remainder of the season.

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The defense is getting some strong individual performances from linebacker Gary Johnson, safety Caden Sterns, safety B.J. Foster, and defensive end Charles Omenihu.  Brandon Jones, Davante Davis, and, yes even Kris Boyd have been pretty solid. But safety P.J. Locke and linebacker Anthony Wheeler are glaring weaknesses on a defense that is statistically average thus far. They rank 38th in the country in scoring defense and 46th in allowing third down conversions.

In the last two games against Oklahoma and Baylor, the defense has had trouble closing the deal. In fact, they blew the deal against Oklahoma but were bailed out by a clutch last-minute drive by Ehlinger and the offense.  They allowed Baylor—without timeouts—to march from its own 3-yard line to the Texas 17 in the last 1:43 of the game giving them three legitimate shots at the end zone before time expired.  In both of these games, receivers were wide open even though Texas dropped eight into pass coverage. What’s up with that, Orlando?

Kicking Woes

Just when you think Cameron Dicker is going to be the next Justin Tucker, he misses a 34-yard field goal that would have made the Baylor game a lot less exciting and he failed to make amends by missing a 51-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.  For the season, he’s a pedestrian 10 of 15. If he doesn’t get more consistent it will probably cost Texas a game down the stretch.

Ryan Bujcevski is averaging 38.6 yards a punt, which stinks. He did have good game against Baylor averaging 47.8 yards per punt with a long of 56 and nice 55-yarder that pinned Baylor on the 3-yard line.  If his performance reverts to the pre-Baylor mean it will be a problem for the Horns.

We’re number seven!

Don’t let me spoil your fun if you’re excited about Texas being ranked number seven, but I’m here to tell you, mid-season rankings verge on the meaningless.  If Texas was playing Georgia next week, who would you bet on? And I have serious doubts that our team is better than Oregon, West Virginia, or—dare I say—Texas A&M?

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Highlighting Texas deficiencies shouldn’t be interpreted as pessimism.  I’m on the verge of giddiness with a 6-1 overall record and 4-0 conference record that gives the Horns a leg up on a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game.  I am trying to illustrate why we should be happy with wins any way we can get them and shouldn’t be looking for style point victories down the stretch.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

3 Comments to “Winning is Hard”

  1. I feel like you do.

  2. WE needed this bye week to rest up and heal for a strong finish.

  3. Bill:

    Great comments! Winning is hard.

    Having said that, I’d take Texas with a healthy Ehlinger over A&M in a hearbeat.

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