October 28, 2007

The grades are in - Nebraska report card

In a game that went from strange to bizarre to exhilarating, there was certainly a little bit of everything in Texas' shocking fourth quarter comeback win over Nebraska. Along with the sensational play of Jamaal Charles, there was a combination of good and bad on both sides of the ball that made this game one of the strangest in the Mack Brown era in Austin. Who graded out well? That's what we're going to find out in this week's Report Card.

Grading scale

A - All-American level
B - All-Conference level
C - Average
D - Below average
F - Complete failure

Quarterback - The Texas Longhorns have lived and died by the play of sophomore Colt McCoy for most of the season and it's a good thing that didn't happen on Saturday against the Huskers or things would have felt much different vibe in the locker room after the game. With the Huskers bringing the house blitz on three out of every four snaps, McCoy was unable to handle the pressure and the Texas passing game stayed in neutral for most of the day as McCoy completed 12 of 28 passes for 181 yards and one interception. The pressure issues don't fall entirely on McCoy's shoulders, but his inability to stand in the pocket at times and deliver was costly at times and you can bet that teams are going to take some of the principles out of Nebraska's game plan and use them for the rest of the season. If the Longhorns can get a win this season when McCoy doesn't play well, then they've lucked out because he's been the torch carrier all season. That being said, McCoy better prepare himself for more blitzes as the season continues and he's going to need to perform at a much higher level or the Longhorns will be in trouble.

Grade: D

Running backs - Where did that come from? If I had told you at the start of the fourth quarter that Jamaal Charles was getting ready to launch his level of play into the stratosphere with a performance for the ages, you'd have probably laughed to the point of tears. The running game had shown flashes all afternoon against a terrible Nebraska run defense, but an injury to McCoy led to the insertion of John Chiles into the game and after one simple zone-read play that went for 25 yards, Charles was off and running to a historic afternoon. Frankly, I'm not sure that a starting running back at Texas has ever needed a big performance like this to get his mind right, but Charles' ability to take over the game late was the difference between winning and losing. You could see the desperation in Charles' play and once he was able to get to the second level against an aggressive Huskers defense, it was time to strike up the band because Charles wasn't going to be taken down once he got beyond the line of scrimmage. After rushing for 290 yards and three touchdowns, including 216 in the fourth quarter, there should really be two separate grades for this team, the one given to Charles and then the one given to everyone else.

Grades: A++

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