November 02, 2012
To get the scoop on Texas, we went to an expert on the Longhorns -- Jason Suchomel or Orangebloods.com -- with questions about the team and Saturday's game.
What's the sense in Austin about last week's escape against Kansas? Did it kind of dull the fans' senses or get people's attention?
JS: "I think escape was the right word. You described it. They escaped against a bad Kansas football team. They got the win, but I think 'dull the senses' is a pretty accurate description. The team, of course, is saying the right things but the fanbase -- you take the pulse of the fanbase, they look at that game and say, 'Hey, yeah, it's a win but what is going on with this Texas team?' They thought earlier in the season, everybody thought that this team was making strides, things were going to get a lot better and of course they get waxed by Oklahoma, they lost to West Virginia. They bounced back, they beat a sub-par Baylor team at home by six and then they go to Kansas last week and they have to fight back in the last seconds to get a win. It's just not a Texas football team -- you can't really sugar coat, you can't spin it, it's just not a team that's playing good football right now. For whatever reason, they can't seem to find the switch to flip that and get things turned around. Can it happen this weekend against Texas Tech? They're hopeful. They're focused. They're confident that they can go up there and compete, but I think they're going to have their hands full when they actually get up there and face some adversity."
Things seemed to be going so well for Texas before the bottom fell out against Oklahoma. What happened?
JS: "If I could, I tell you what, I think I'd be a hero on our message board because everybody's asking that question and there's really no rhyme or reason to it. But you're right, you touched on some of the subjects. David Ash started off the season, he was the second-rated passer after a few weeks into the season. He was throwing the ball down the field, he was doing some good things. He has regressed. He was terrible in the Oklahoma, he was terrible last week against Kansas and of course got benched for Case McCoy. The defense has been pretty bad, quite frankly, all year and it seems to have gotten worse. Now, they played in the second half last week against Kansas, they kind of went back to some base stuff and said, 'Hey, let's get away from all of these blitzes and things.' They played their half of football in the second half last week but, again, that's Kansas. Let's see them do it against a team like Texas Tech. Overall, the defense has bad. Texas has philosophically, they've kind of gone to this, 'Let's run between the tackles. Let's be physicals on offense. Let's impose our will on teams.' It's just not working. Kansas has a goal line stand against them last week. They're not running the ball consistently well between the tackles. There's nothing about this Texas team that you look at it and say, 'Wow, they do that well.' I tell you what, there's one thing they do really well. They punt the ball really well. Their punter, Alex King, is doing a fantastic job. There's nothing about this team that just stands out as being exceptional or even good, really. Everything's kind of average across the board."
For as bad as things seem for the Longhorns, they're still 6-2 with a chance to have a pretty good season. In order to salvage their season, do you think they should move away from the philosophies they entered the season with? Spread it out on offense and simplify things on defense?
JS: "I think they do, actually. It's funny. You said 6-2. You look at that on paper and most teams would like to be 6-2 right now. This is just a very hollow feeling 6-2 team. If you look at the overall body of work, it's just not been pretty and certainly not what expectations were. I think you're right. They came in, they wanted to be physical. They wanted to run the ball, be physical, control the line of scrimmage on offense and wear teams down in the fourth quarter. You can do that 'SEC-style' -- they want to be an 'SEC-style' team and be physical and wear you out. You can do that, but you've got to play some pretty good defense if you're going to do that too. First, Texas -- they've run the ball okay between the tackles but they've been inconsistent against some of their better opponents, they've been held in check running the football. The defense isn't holding up its end of the bargain. It's been hit with big plays. You mention all these exotic blitzes and formations. Last week, they kind of went back to basics on defense, it seemed to work albeit against Kansas. I think you're right. I think they've got to get their offensive playmakers on the edge more involved, guys like Mike Davis, Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin, Jaxon Shipley. Get those guys a little more involved. Throw the ball downfield a little bit more, and then mix in some of those power runs. Don't make the power run the focal point of the offense because it's just not working. And on defense, they've just got to get back to basics. They've got to tackle better. They've got to take better angles. It's not rocket science out there. They're just not playing well. If they continue to simplify things, I think that might help them a little bit."
How do you see Saturday playing out?
JS: "I don't think they get blown out like they did against Oklahoma. I think it's closer to the West Virginia game. I think both teams will put up some points but I just don't think Texas can keep up with Texas Tech. I see Texas Tech winning this game probably by at least one score, maybe probably two scores. I tell you what, it's going to come down to that first half of the game. If Texas Tech jumps on Texas early, does Texas have the mental strength to fight back and stay in that game or does Texas just lay down? I think we'll know a lot in the first half of that ball game. I think Texas Tech wins this one by seven to 10 points."