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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Texas Football: It Had to Happen Eventually... 

Eight thoughts about the Texas-Ohio State game

1. Ohio State has a great team. Teddy Ginn looks like a great WR instead of just a great athlete playing WR, and Troy Smith is one of best QBs in college football. And that defense is a lot better then what I, or anyone else that cited an inexperienced defense, gave them credit for.

2. Colt McCoy will be fine. We had a pretty vanilla gameplan, but I don't think that's why we lost. McCoy, relatively speaking, played well enough to win. Dropped passes and the holding penalty that nullified his heady third quarter scramble hurt us much more than offensive scheming. And as I mentioned the OSU defense was stout.

3. Tarrell Brown's absence hurt. But Drew Kelson's absence hurt, too. I can't help thinking that the speed and coverage savvy that he showed against Reggie Bush in the Rose Bowl would have helped against Ginn and Gonzalez. Ginn absolutely burned Aaron Ross on the TD catch in the waning seconds of the first half.

4. The Texas run defense played very well (2.7 YPC for OSU). The pass defense wasn't as sharp, but then again they weren't at full strength. I don't want to seem like I'm making excuses, but Gene Chizik's defenses had won something like 26 consecutive games, so the fact that Buckeye WRs consistently had a ten to fifteen yard cushion tells me that it was probably the personnel (conceding the short pass to guard against the bomb) more so than our ability to effectively scheme against Ohio State's offense, and that was particularly true in the second half. Whichever it is, there's no denying that the Bucks have an incredibly talented offense.

5. Positives I'm taking from this game:
- Selvin Young looked good. He seems to have completely returned to the form he showed as a freshman.
- I'll put our defensive front seven up against anyone in the country. Antonio Pittman is a good running back, and he had no room to run at all. And the Horns managed to sack Smith three times, despite rarely blitzing (all three sacks came from DEs).
- The offensive line held up against a constant barrage from the Buckeyes, who blitzed relentlessly, allowing just one sack. And they led the way for a ground game that averaged 5.5 YPC.
- If nothing else the big-game experience can only help McCoy's development. That's important, as the Horns still have Oklahoma in Dallas, as well as road trips to Lincoln and Lubbock.
- Hopes for a national title repeat probably disappeared last night, but you never know. Yet the Horns still look like a team that can, and probably should, win the Big XII. Based on the first two weeks the conference looks a lot better than it did last season, but Texas stood toe-to-toe with the best team in the country for 57 of 60 minutes, and they're not going to face another opponent of that caliber until January (hopefully).

6. Things that worry me moving forward:
- Brown's status. Texas has a stable of talented DBs, but like offensive line and QB, defensive back is not a position that many inexperienced players usually step into and immediately dominate. The Horns can get survive most of the Big XII schedule while Brandon Foster and Ryan Palmer get on-the-job training (or waiting for true freshmen Chykie Brown and/or Deon Beasley to emerge), until they roll into Lubbock to face Mike Leach's quintet of WR's in his 7-on-7 offense.
- Has Greg Davis reverted to the Greg Davis of old? I'm not going to hop on the resurrected anti-GD bandwagon just yet, because I understand that a redshirt freshman making his second collegiate start is not going to have the same command of your offense as that guy named Young, but I reserve the right to change my mind if we're dinking and dumping the ball down the field two months from now.

7. The vast majority of Ohio State fans I encountered were great. From the tailgating scene beforehand to the walk to the stadium to the game to the walk back afterward, it was just a great day for football. A Buckeye fan described it as a "mutual admiration society" on one of the OSU boards I visited today, and I think that's fitting. They have a great program, and after witnessing yesterday's game I have a new outlook on Buckeye football. I know about the hooror stories from the game in Columbus, but the 15K or so of Bucknuts that made it to Austin represented their team and school well. I saw a lot of pasion, a lot of pride, and I truly hope that Ohio State fans had a similar opinion of the Orangebloods that they met.

8. Texas-Ohio State was everything that is good about college football, and every real fan of the game deserves to be a part of what I got to experience on Saturday. In all of the years I've tailgated before Texas games I've never seen an atmosphere as lively and adrenaline-filled as what I witnessed from about noon until the final seconds ticked off of the clock. There are big games, but No. 1 versus No. 2 in the middle of September between two of college football's most storied programs doesn't come along very often. Football players go to big-time programs to play in those types of games. Fans shell out full paychecks to attend those types of games. And networks spend millions for the rights to broadcast those types of games. Sure, there's a downside in that you might lose, but in my opinion it's well worth the risk. Three weeks from Texas hosts Sam Houston State. There is absolutely no comparing the Sam Houston State to Ohio State. I'd honestly rather play the latter and lose than play the former and win.


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