October 27, 2012

MY TAKE: On the post-game from Kansas

1. On the quarterback change from David Ash (8 of 16 passing for 63 yards and 2 INTs) to Case McCoy (5 of 7 passing for 68 yards and 1 TD), Mack Brown said it was Bryan Harsin's decision.

Harsin said, "We needed to move the ball. The way things were going, we weren't being productive enough offensively."

Added Brown, "Two turnovers are things you can't have when you're going in to score."

Brown was asked who would start at quarterback next week at Texas Tech and said, "I'm excited we won the game. We'll decide all that when we get home."

MY TAKE: This team isn't strong enough to handle a QB controversy. But who knows what the coaches are thinking? Ash had a bad day. The future is Ash. You have to think Ash is the guy next week.

But credit Case McCoy with delivering the goods on that final drive. Jaxon Shipley bent his route underneath the safety on the 18-yard catch on fourth-and-6 from the Texas 34 with less than two minutes to play, and McCoy said he expected Shipley to do that by the way the safety was playing.

"Once I saw the ball in the air, I just knew I needed to make a play for this team," said Shipley, who had 6 catches for 66 yards.

Then, on the 39-yard pass from McCoy to Mike Davis, giving Texas the ball at the KU 3 with 1:16 left, that was a decision McCoy made at the line because of the coverage being played.

"The throw to Mike Davis was a decision he made," Harsin said. "We had talked about throughout the week that might come up in one opportunity, and he took advantage of it.

"So that's Case having himself prepared mentally to come in and play. Credit goes to Case. He did a heck of a job on a fourth down and making a big play to Mike there. And we needed that. We needed some mojo to get us going offensively."

On the game-winning TD to D.J. Grant, Grant said Texas knew from the goal-line stand Kansas had in the third quarter (when Joe Bergeron was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1), that KU was likely to overplay the run.

Grant said either he or Ryan Roberson was going to be wide open on the play.

Grant said when he came free, he was thankful McCoy lofted a soft pass with lots of air under it.

"I like that kind of ball," Grant said. "It gave me time to get under it and make that play."

Johnathan Gray, who had a career best 18 carries for 111 yards (6.2 ypc), said McCoy came into the huddle with a lot of energy.

"He gets excited and some of that energy rubbed off," Gray said.

McCoy deflected the credit.

"It wasn't anything I did," McCoy said. "Our team decided to fight. Our whole team decided to dig deep. We definitely came out slow and sluggish and that's something we can't do the rest of this year. We got lucky. And we were able to come out of here with a win.

"But for the most part, I thought our team decided to dig deep. We were able to start running the ball, get downhill and give me time to get warm for when we had to throw on that last series.

"Hats off to our defense for holding them to a field goal, and we were able to go down and score. Luckily, I had a dropped pick on the first play of that drive.

"But just like you saw with David (Ash) on the fourth-down play at Oklahoma State, we are a team that fights."

On his fourth-and-6 pass to Shipley, a childhood friend, McCoy said, "I've probably thown that route to Jaxon for years. You all may have seen just the throw and catch, but they were bringing twists and blitzes, and our offensive line handled that, so we could keep the drive alive."

2. I asked Bryan Harsin why it took so long to get to the perimeter running game (speed sweeps, end arounds, etc.) that worked to perfection on Texas' second-to-last scoring drive (7 straight running plays for 84 yards and a Marquise Goodwin TD to tie the game 14-14), and he said:

"Trying to set it up and see what the defense would be for it," Harsin said.

Harsin also said he was trying to see how Texas would be able to block those perimeter runs and talked about how the receiver blocks on those plays are critical or the plays could be dropped for a loss.

"It doesn't matter who's running it on those plays as much as it matters how it's blocked," Harsin said.

OK, so run the (bleepin) play and see if your guys can block it, because it was probably there all day!

When I asked Mack Brown why the offensive coaches didn't go to those perimeter runs earlier, Mack said, "I don't know. I thought they did it perfectly. We won."

MY TAKE: Sorry, that's crazy. Everyone could see Kansas didn't have the perimeter speed to keep up with Texas on those runs. The outside zone play to Johnathan Gray worked all day. And a speed sweep to D.J. Monroe went for 11 yards. Marquise Goodwin took a flip on an end around for 41 yards, then scored on a perimeter run of 11 yards.

This is yet another example (WVU, OU and now this game) in which Texas spent too much time between the tackles and in a controlled passing game (0-for-3 on third downs with the screen pass) and not enough perimeter runs or throwing deep.

Kansas CB Tyler Patmon, whom Mike Davis beat deep for 39 yards to the Kansas 3 on the game-winning drive has been torched by teams all year. And Texas didn't throw at him until the final drive.

The identity of this offense should always include the perimeter run game. Make them show you how they're going to stop a speed sweep or end around. If it works, keep using it. If they stop it, play-action off of it. But to simply not use those plays in the first half of the OU game or the WVU game or until the fourth quarter vs Kansas is just ridiculous.

And after Daje Johnson took a handoff 84 yards on the first play of the game last week, he got two touches Saturday.

3. Player after player, including Jaxon Shipley and D.J. Grant, talked about how Texas came out flat because it was an early game, cold and UT didn't have any kind of crowd atmosphere (40,097 fans announced but there was less than that).

Mack saw things a little differently. He noted that Texas' D came out and stopped Kansas on its first drive and then the Longhorns' scored on a 4-play, 43-yard drive aided by a 31-yard run by Johnathan Gray.

When asked if the team came out flat, Brown said, "I wouldn't think so. We held them, then scored and then I thought we relaxed. We're not good enough to relax."

MY TAKE: Plain and simply, this is not a team with player-driven leadership. It's a team with coach-driven leadership, and that means the team totally takes on the personality of the coaches.

And if this game was a reflection of the personality of the coaches, then that's Halloween scary.

4. Mack Brown was asked about what a loss in this game would have meant to his program.

"You all talk about losses, I don't," Brown said.

When he was told Texas was made a 21-point favorite by Las Vegas oddsmakers over Kansas, Brown said, "I don't know them."

MY TAKE: After coming within seconds of losing to a program with a 16-game, Big 12 losing streak and having a meltdown of epic proportions in Austin, Mack said, "We're 6-2 and in great shape. We have some tough games left."

Mack went on to say, "I'm excited we won the game. It was really, really hard to win this game, and it can give this team and this staff so much confidence moving forward to play poorly most of the game and win.

"That is when you get better, believe it or not. Not the blowouts. You walk out and feel too good about yourself. One like this, we have a win, and we have their attention next week, and that's about as good as it gets."

And the players said that was basically Brown's message in the post-game locker room.

Watching Mack in the post-game locker room after the Baylor victory on LHN, he told the team, "You won this game because you fought your ass off."

It's clear Mack is walking a very fragile line between jumping this team and trying to be positive to maintain the team's confidence or its confidence in him. This team is testing that line over and over again.

Whether Mack believes what he's saying or not, he's hoping his team is believing it to try to grab a foothold somewhere that this team can build on. About the only way for Texas to show it has grabbed a foothold anywhere is with a win at Texas Tech next week.

Players and coaches were asked if they played like they did Saturay against Kansas if they could win another game this season, and they all said no. So they understood that.

5. Kansas attempted only 9 passes in the game, running it 56 times for 234 yards (4.2 ypc), including 28 carries for 176 yards for James Sims (6.3 ypc) against Texas' 107th-ranked run defense (215.7 ypg coming into Saturday).

Sims became the fifth straight Big 12 player to set a season-high rushing against the Longhorns, joining:

Ok State's Joseph Randle 199 yards
WVU's Andrew Buie 207 yards
OU's Damien Williams 167 yards
Baylor's Nick Florence 69 yards

Alex Okafor was seen screaming at the defense on the sideline and on the field at different times. Okafor was a monster in the game with 13 tackles, including a TFL and a forced fumble.

Okafor said the Texas defense holding Kansas to a field goal with 2:28 left turned out to be a key difference in the game as the Jayhawks went up 17-14.

"It came down to if we want to be the defense we portray ourselves to be, we had to stop the run," said Okafor, who made three tackles on that drive.

Added Kenny Vaccaro, who had 10 tackles, "We started off slow, but guys saw Alex (Okafor) trying so hard to get to the ball that everyone picked it up when we had to."

Kansas coach Charlie Weis said after the game:

"I basically told the players I feel really bad for all of them today. Every week is a different circumstance. Last week (in a 52-7 loss at OU), we should've been more embarrassed.

"This week, I feel that there's nothing to be embarrassed about. We played our butts off on both sides of the ball.

"Physically, we really not only hung in there, but more than held our own, and to lose with 12 seconds to go in a game is really disappointing for everyone, and I just feel bad for them."

MY TAKE: Against a completely one-dimensional offense (KU attempted just 9 passes), the Texas defense held KU to 3 points in the second half after giving up runs of 14, 19, 64, 15 (TD), 20, 18 and 11 yards in the first half. James Sims had 14 carries for 139 yards at halftime (9.9 ypc). Texas gave up 154 yards rushing on 19 carries in the second quarter alone.

In the second half, Texas was able to hold Sims to 14 carries for 37 yards. And after Texas allowed KU 177 yards on 33 carries in the first half (5.4 ypc), KU had 23 carries for 57 yards (2.5 ypc) in the second half.

I asked Manny Diaz what he thought of his defense on Saturday, he said:

"There were a couple drives in the first half that we didn't play as well as we wanted to. But I thought in the second half, the credit goes to the players, especially these two (Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor). I thought they just willed our guys to make stops.

"I really think the credit goes to our leadership. Our leadership was awesome. The young guys are starting to believe, and you're starting to see some of the improvements."

That first-half performance with all the missed tackles allowed KU to hold the ball for 7 minutes longer than Texas and was awful. The second half defensively is the kind of ball I think everyone expected all season from this defense.

Here's the problem, If the D plays the same kind of first half next week at Tech, in that crazy atmosphere, with those missed tackles against a TWO-dimensional offense, it will be over by halftime.

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