*Sigh* Closes Twitter and Facebook and reminds oneself to not open them after a Freshman punter lets the ball slide through his hands and shanks a punt that leads to the another last second gut-wrenching loss in as many weeks. I’m going to refrain from commenting on the officiating. Remember last season when the Green Bay Packers started the season 1-2 and Aaron Rodgers quipped on ESPN Milwaukee, “Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X. Relax. We’re going to be OK.” I’m not comparing the current Texas Longhorn team to the Green Bay Packers, just the current situation. Fan is short for fanatic and by some of the vitriol I read last night, it’s time to re-emphasizes that term. Texas fans are a spoiled ass rotten and entitled bunch. I said it. I’m not going to back away from that statement either. I get it. Nine consecutive years of winning 10 or more games, winning a National Championship in 2005, playing for another in 2009, all of that winning exudes entitlement and the “We’re Texas” mantra. It is time to get over it. That was in the past and you can’t keep holding on to it in the world of, “what have you done for me lately” college football. The sky isn’t falling Chicken Little. You are what your record says you are, step back from the ledge <insert another cliché here> Texas fans and R-E-L-A-X. This team is better than the 1-3 record that they currently have. By now you are either a) pissed off that I called you a spoiled ass fan, b) are belly laughing at my premise, c) have just written me off as a whack job, or d) all of the above. All of a sudden I have flashbacks to a Scantron. Ok, back on topic.
How is the heck do you see Texas as a better team than their 1-3 record you ask?
Quarterback Play/Offensive Play Calling
First and foremost you have to start here. These two aspects of Texas being better are interchangeable when talking about the QBs and their success and/or failures to this point. Tyrone Swoopes was overwhelmed against Notre Dame. For someone that has started 12 games there was zero command of the offense (7-22-93yds) from the, junior, incumbent starter was abysmal to say the least. 163 yds of total offense and 10 punts are not exactly a recipe for success. Where was this up-tempo streamlined offense that was talked about during Spring practice and Fall camp? It looked like the same Shawn Watson offense that was played the previous season. Square peg, round hole is what I felt like I was watching with that offense. Change is a good thing. Change was swift and to the point. New QB, Jerrod Heard, and new Offensive play caller (OC), Jay Norvell. These two changes go hand in hand. Jay Norvell is using the abilities of Jerrod Heard and has installed an offense with spread principles and zone read options. These two changes have equated to instant offense. Texas hasn’t had this kind of offensive output since, dare I say it, Greg Davis. Ok, I might be slightly exaggerating there. You get the point. Heard broke an all-time record of 527 yds of total offense against Cal, previously held by Vince Young. I realize Jerrod Heard’s numbers came back down to earth this past week against Oklahoma St., 103 rushing yds (only a net of 48 yds due to sacks) and 119 yds passing, but this kid exudes confidence and playmaking abilities to make Texas competitive in every game this season. This was sorely lacking on the offensive side of the ball. It might not turn into instantaneous wins but the future looks bright for Jerrod Heard and Jay Norvell.
This team is young, very young. How many freshman/red-shirt freshman have played so far … 15, 17, 23? I can’t remember at this point. There have been a ton. Why? They are the most talented kids on the team. What? Yep, the cupboard was left bare. Now Charlie Strong is trying to restock that cupboard. Playing this many freshman will pay huge dividends down the road. Actually, they are already starting to payoff. On the defensive side of the ball seven total true/RS freshmen played against Oklahoma St. That unit held OSU to 103 yds rushing on 46 attempts, 2.2 yds per carry, caused three turnovers, two returned for touchdowns. They also held OSU to 395 yards of total offense almost 100 yds less than their average of 481.5 per/gm. The defense, led by freshmen Malik Jefferson and Kris Boyd, is growing up before our eyes. There will be some growing pains such as stopping 3rd down conversions. But with the amount of playing time these guys are getting it bode well for the future. On the offensive side there are two true freshmen starting on the offensive line, Patrick Vahe and Connor Williams, along with the aforementioned redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. The more playing time and experience these guys get the more depth Texas will have.
Two run of the mill plays, an extra point and a botched snap by a freshman punter and Texas could be sitting at 3-1. Instead, they are 1-3. That is how close they are. I know it isn’t the instant gratification that fans are used to. The young talent is there, they just need to figure out how to close and win games. The Longhorns overall record might not show it right now, but, R-E-L-A-X, and give some time to Charlie Strong and the youngsters dividends will payoff in the long run.
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