Monday, October 22, 2007

A Few Thoughts on the Baylor Game

Texas' 31-10 win at Baylor was less than impressive, as Texas went through the motions and the game was much closer than the final score appeared. A few thoughts on the game and where the Horns go from here.

Jamaal Charles Splitting Time
- Jamaal Charles could be, and should be seeing a reduced role in the offense after this weekend's game. Vondrell McGee played well against the Bears, and he should replace Charles for a number of reasons. First off, despite a fumble against Baylor, McGee is more secure with the football, he's stronger and doesn't put the ball on the ground nearly as often. You just don't seem to find yourself screaming, "Don't fumble, don't fumble, don't fumble!" when McGee carries the ball in the red zone. Second, McGee runs North to South. He picks up what is there, and hits the holes hard. Charles consistently bounces the ball outside and looks to use his speed to get wide. But it seemed like every time he ran in the Baylor game, they just kept pushing him further towards the sidelines until he ran out of room and was stopped for a two yard gain. Last, McGee just runs harder, and is bigger and stronger than Charles. McGee will begin to see many more carries as the season goes on, and Charles probably will not see many more red zone carries this season. Charles shouldn't be eliminated from the offense as his speed is an asset and he is solid out of the backfield as a receiver. But watching him play he just looks like a 3rd down back, and we should use him as one.

Colt McCoy's Happy Feet
- I don't know when this started to become a problem. It probably has to do with the concussions and the number of shots Colt has taken this season. Either way, over the last few weeks Colt has lost his comfort in the pocket. (This is based on the last few games, minus Iowa State, my grandmother could have shredded Iowa State that day) It seems that Colt has a four second clock in his head, and as soon as that clock goes off he is either scrambling to make a pass or taking off running. Early in the season, the offensive line was so bad he only had 4 seconds to throw, but now he has more time, and he's not using it. It's hurting his accuracy, it's hurting his decision making, and it's hurting the Texas downfield passing game. He is bailing on plays before they develop and trying to create too much. If he doesn't relax and stay in the pocket more, he will continue to throw one to three interceptions a game. And Texas won't beat good teams doing that.

Running out of Shotgun
- I've wondered this about Texas for the entire Greg Davis era, minus the Vince Young era. Why do we run an offense that is geared specifically for Vince Young or a quarterback with a similar skill set. Chris Simms floundered in this offense, and while Colt McCoy is mobile enough to manage playing in the offense, it isn't ideal for him, and it certainly isn't good for the Texas offense. The Zone read is effective when your quarterback is a legitimate threat. Colt McCoy isn't a legitimate threat to run. He is not a good enough runner that you need to focus on him, and he's not big enough to be exposed to that many hits during a game. The other problem with it, is that it starts your running backs 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage from a standing position. It asks an offensive line that isn't anything more than average, to hold blocks for 3 seconds longer than they would normally need to. It gives defenses all the time to react and charge the line, and it's the biggest reason the Texas running game is struggling. McGee ran well out of the I-back and single back sets, and it is a wonder why Texas doesn't use it more. I understand Colt is more effective passing out of Shotgun, but is he incapable of making a 5 step drop? The offense would benefit from a change in philosophy, or perhaps a new offensive coordinator. But as history shows, we won't be seeing either any time soon.

John Chiles role
- While College Football has embraced the role of a sparingly used running quarterback, or using a position player at quarterback to add creativity to the offense, Texas needs to figure out John Chiles role. In the Iowa State game, Colt was perfect on the first two drives and shredding the Iowa State defense for two touchdowns, only to be taken out for a 3 and out led by Chiles. I am for getting him experience and adding a wrinkle, but you don't need creativity or a wrinkle if you are doing well. Also, they need to let Chiles throw the football some. He has only attempted 9 passes on the season, four of which were the last four of the Kansas State loss. They need to give him some simple throws to get his confidence up, but also to keep defenses honest to his running. He is seeing 8 or 9 guys in the box anytime he is in the game, because they know Texas would only throw with Chiles if it is 3rd and 15.

Texas Linebackers
- Another game, more proof that the trio of Muckelroy, Norton, and Kindle are better than Bobino, Derry, and Killebrew. Each game it seems like the younger trio is getting on the field more and more, but can't we just stop the charade? It's like ESPN saying they don't favor the Yankees and Red Sox over every other Major League team. Just bench Bobino, Derry, and Killebrew. Tell them, guys this is major college football, so we can't play just because you are seniors. Tell them it's unfortunate, but we have to go with the more athletic, talented, instinctive and aggressive linebackers. Killebrew would celebrate and have aggression, you know, if he ever could run to a play. Bobino is athletic and talented, but he just is out there running around. If the play goes near him then he'll make the tackle, but that's a big if. And I just don't know how Derry gets on the field. It's just another frustrating instance of Mack Brown's take the good with the bad. He's loyal to a fault. I suppose we'll just have to hope that Bobino gets lost on the way to the stadium, Killebrew doesn't get there in time, and Derry just doesn't get there.

Texas Outlook
-Texas is a good football team, but their are a few things that are keeping them from being a great football team. On offense, there is no big play. If Texas scores, it is because they are picking up 3rd down after 3rd down. They don't rip off 25 yards or 50 yards, and eventually when you are forced to make a 15 play drive to score, you will falter. Also, Texas is abysmal in their execution, efficiency, and play calling in the red zone. They need to figure out what they are going to do in the red zone, and then execute it. Texas makes more mistakes in the red zone then they do anywhere else. On defense, Texas needs to improve against the mid-range play. Texas is consistently susceptible in the middle for 6 to 10 yards. If it is 3rd and 5 or less, it might as well be a first down. Improving the middle of the defense will get the defense off the field more often, and make them more effective throughout the game. Texas is a good football team, but these problems give opponents like Kansas State, Central Florida, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M a chance to beat us. And it will cause us to fall short against teams like Oklahoma.

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