It may be hard to believe for some, but the University of Texas Longhorns are now 4 – 0. In some polls, they are even back into the Top 10. We do need to remember that these wins were against Rice, BYU, UCLA, and Iowa State – none of which have looked that spectacular this season.
However, the Horns have won 3 games on the road, and that does count. And although they started the season at Rice, they really got the road trip rolling with a big win against UCLA. It was against UCLA last season that the Horns got pounded. What was bad then became worse when they lost to Iowa State at home. And it was all downhill from there, in more ways than one.
Given the way they played last season, a 4 – 0 start is a big change in the right direction. They have already erased some of last year’s humiliating losses with solid victories this season. But there are a lot of games yet to be played, and Oklahoma – the number one team in the country – are lurking right around the corner.
I will be the first to admit that after last season, I had some significant reservations about the coaching staff. The Longhorns were in dire need of change. Fortunately, Mack Brown ended up with three new coordinators: two on offense, one on defense. Coming into this season, most of the question marks surrounded the coaching changes that were made in the off-season. How would this team respond?
Just fine, thank you very much.
Although much remains to be seen, and there is a lot of season left, there are noticeable improvements with this Longhorn team. Perhaps the best change that I can report is that they have returned to being fun to watch. On both sides of the ball.
The Longhorns coaching staff have done a great job of making good use of the current skill set of the UT athletes. They are making best use of what they have to work with, and they are doing so with great creativity. Offensively, they are mixing it up on every play. It could be Ash or McCoy at quarterback. It could be Whittaker from the wildcat formation (or whatever UT is calling their version of it). You have to stay focused on the numbers nowadays because if you look away for a moment, offensive coaches Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite might put in the ball boy or the janitor (if he has any years of eligibility left). Any and all options exist with this group. It has been a long time – probably 2005 – since the UT offense has been this much fun to watch.
The defense has shown the same trends. They have remembered how to blitz - and from just about anywhere on the field. They confuse offensive lines with all of their movement and stunting. They have even managed to grab a few interceptions. So far, so good.
Of course, all will be put to test this weekend when they meet OU in Dallas. I am sure that this rivalry game will be highly predictable in its unpredictability. I am sure that the game will prove exciting – the youth of the Texas squad versus the experience (and number one ranking) of Boomer Sooner. Anything can happen at the Cotton Bowl for this game, and it oftentimes does.
One thing that I do know is that the reality of the 2011 Texas Longhorn team will be exposed and readily apparent this weekend – for good or for bad. Hold on to your seats for this one.
Notes:Meanwhile, back in College Station, home of the SEC’s Texas A&M, those beloved Aggies have been in the midst of a “first half only” policy. They have thrown away a 17 and 18 point half time lead in the past two games. Their pass defense has given up 948 yards passing in the past 2 games, and they are officially ranked as the worst pass defense in the country. Somehow, they are still in the Top 25. Baylor, on the other hand, started this weekend with a number 15 ranking, have a true Heisman hopeful, lost by a point, and plummeted from the rankings. Fair? Hardly. I just don’t get it sometimes.
Outlandish quote of the week goes to NCAA President Mark Emmert, who stated that "I think what came across (with realignment) is that all we care about is money ... this is not the NFL, the NBA, it's not a business". Wow. Does he really believe that? If so, some reality therapy might be in order.
Photo credits: Wikipedia