Here’s a question for you: If the pre-season coaches poll put the University of Texas Longhorns football team at number 4 in the nation, how much do coaches really know about football? One would have to wonder, given the depths that this team has sunk to over the past few weeks.
At least the AP poll had them at number 5 – maybe sports writers do know more about football than the coaches do. This is something they have maintained for years!
Better yet, let’s extend this thinking a bit further. If the polls are obviously so skewed from reality (we can thank the Longhorns for making that readily apparent), then how can we use their “collective wisdom” in the BCS rankings when they obviously have no relationship to much of anything?
And with that in mind, I’m left with all of the questions surrounding the Longhorns this season, and, more specifically, the questions of coaching or lack thereof on this squad. Or how about the lack of pride – or perhaps the sense of entitlement - displayed on field? Or how about a combination of the two?
It probably goes without saying that the last two weeks for the Longhorns have been the next closest thing to abysmal. Actually, it extends far beyond the last two weeks. The roots are far deeper than that.
The Longhorns have lost their edge this season. The level of pride in quality play and in putting forth a team effort would appear to be significantly diminished over previous seasons. Players seem to not be able to perform their assignments, or simply don’t seem to care. And as Mack Brown has noted, there is a sense of entitlement rearing it’s ugly head on the Forty Acres. This complacency became readily apparent in losses to both Iowa State, UCLA, and Kansas State – three teams that the Longhorns should have owned this year. And then you look at the Baylor loss and you really have to wonder. Baylor? Really?
Although the players are the ones doing the playing (or at least that’s what they are supposed to be doing), there is a significant coaching role that is getting missed. Coaches need to instill discipline in the players. They need to provide a foundation on which players can succeed. They need to be able to develop a game plan that utilizes the best skills of their best players and puts them to good use.
Frankly, this isn’t being done this season, on any side of the ball. The coaching staff is, for all intents and purposes, missing in action this season.
Offensively, we’ve been witness to yet another Greg Davis offensive fiasco. The fingers are being pointed at Garrett Gilbert, and unjustly so. He was put in a “power running game” to take the pressure off him, yet he was most familiar with the spread-style offense. Then, when the Horns finally go back to this, they refuse to run at all and force him to make 40 to 50 passes. Against KSU, the play calling consisted of 22 consecutive passes! He should have been pulled long before his 5th interception against KSU last night. What is a bigger confidence wrecker – being forced to play the duration when you’ve thrown 5 interceptions, or simply being pulled to allow the second string quarterback to gain some valuable experience? I would suggest that the latter has the least impact on his confidence in throwing the ball, especially when the next game rolls around. Now we get to watch Gilbert’s confidence get destroyed simply because a group of coaches can’t manage a game plan. The coaches have already made the decision to toss aside Case McCoy’s redshirt, so why not put him to use?
But that’s only the beginning of Davis’ follies. It barely scratches the surface. And frankly, as a Longhorns supporter, I’ve really seen enough of it.
It doesn’t get much better on the defensive side of the ball these days. Case in point – the game against Kansas State. For three quarters, exactly TWO offensive players had been involved in the offensive game plan and statistics. One quarterback, and one running back. Passing? Non-existent. And the quarterback they did use was a back-up. It was as though Will Muschamp hadn’t even prepared for that as an option in his game plan. Surely they must be able to find a way to at least slow down those two players! Adjustments? No such luck. Blitzes? Anything? And this is supposed to be the savior of our defense, and the heir apparent to Mack Brown’s head coaching position in the future? He sure did have that “deer in the headlights” look when they showed him on the sidelines last night.
One would have to wonder if that “sense of entitlement” mentioned by Brown wasn’t in reference to his players. Maybe it was in reference to his coaches. Be it special teams, offense, defense, you name it, this coaching staff is having a difficult time isolating the talent and putting it to good use. And with as much National Championship experience as they have in recent years, we should expect a whole lot more – from Brown, all the way down the chain.
We’re now faced with the possibility of not even being bowl eligible. Imagine that. National Championship game to non-entity in less than 10 months. That’s not an issue of player skills, that’s a demoralizing lack of coaching and management. Instead of using a “maybe you should ask them” philosophy with his coaches, maybe Brown should start with a reorganization like any good CEO would do.
Let’s start with Major Applewhite for offensive coordinator, and go from there. Anything has to be better than what we are currently experiencing. And much like corporate America, perhaps a firing here and there will wake everyone up to the current reality. No entitlements. And some changes before this season is completely lost. Please.
Photo credit: dj @ oxherder arts