Kansas vs. Texas
Reevaluate, reboot, rewind: The Texas Longhorns need to forget and win
“Confidence is contagious, so is lack of confidence.” - Vince Lombardi
And so it goes for the Texas Longhorn football team. When the season began we knew two things, the team would be very young, and the players needed to go into every game believing they could win.
Two straight losses later, part B of that equation now comes into play. It’s not that Texas lost to two of the best teams in the country. No, the problem is the team lost a game to Oklahoma State that they probably should have won, and they know it.
This Longhorn football team has been anything but consistent—a sign that coaches have not yet discovered the team ‘identity’. And based on what Brown is saying now, they don’t appear to be any closer to answers.
And then, almost as bad, unranked Texas Tech strolls into Norman, Oklahoma and hammers the same Sooner team that pounded the Horns just two weeks earlier. Texas was pretty sure they were better than Texas Tech... until last weekend.
Doubt begins to creep into an athlete’s head—are we good enough to play in this league? Can we win a big game? Doubt kills confidence.
Head coach Mack Brown likes to say “don’t let one loss beat you twice.” Meaning, the loss of confidence after the loss of a game, can keep an athlete from becoming ready for the next one. Today, Brown must worry about not letting one loss beat you three times.
It would be easy to say good news is coming from Kansas, but frankly this is a trap game for the Longhorns. Yes, the Kansas Jayhawks have lost five straight games, but those losses have come from Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansa State. Not a shabby bunch at all. Kansas will not be intimidated by Texas.
Expect the Jayhawks to bring the farm against the Longhorns. They know what it takes to beat Texas—run the ball hard and pressure the young QB.
Texas' second bye week came at the right time again—the halfway point of the season. The coaches could reevaluate players, game plans, strengths and weaknesses. “We have more of an identity now than we did starting the season,” explained Brown in his pregame news conference. “Our young players are more experienced so the coaches know more about them and what they can do. We have a better understanding across the board of our offense and defense and where we're headed.”
Time to prove it.
This Longhorn football team has been anything but consistent—a sign that coaches have not yet discovered the team ‘identity’. Rotating quarterbacks; committing to the run then getting pass happy; giving up on the long ball; allowing 79 yard touchdown runs on 4th and 1—all signs point to a coaching staff searching for answers. And based on what Brown is saying now, they don’t appear to be any closer to them. “The quarterback situation hasn't changed. We'll look at them both throughout the week,” said Brown. “We worked hard on a number of areas offensively to improve, but we've got to get the guy that gets us in the end zone the most.”
Certainly you can’t disagree with that sentiment. The end zone is good. But at what point does the constant rotation of quarterbacks and lack of a consisitent game plan also mean that no one gets the repetition, the practice they need to improve? When do you decide to stick to something and show the team you believe in them?
Here’s what I’m looking for against Kansas on Saturday:
Malcolm Brown and more Malcolm Brown. This is a running football team, so lets commit. Fans criticized Mack Brown for quitting on the run game too early against Oklahoma State. Malcolm Brown is a superstar in waiting. Give the kid the ball until your opposition proves they can consistently stop him.
Throw the ball downfield. David Ash has the arm, Marquis Goodwin and Mike Davis have the speed. Stretching the defense downfield might not score touchdowns (or might!), but it keeps the defense honest as you run it down their throat.
“At this point we're a running football team that needs to throw the ball better downfield,” said Brown. “That's who we are. “
Stop the run on defense. What seemed to be a real strength of this defense early in the season, has become a bad joke. Texas linebackers are simply not plugging the holes the need to plug in order to stop tailbacks in their tracks. Kansas will run until stopped.
Texas cannot allow Kansas into this game. It's time once again to stomp on an opponent and build some team confidence. Last year at this time Texas was 4 - 2. That team lost game seven to Iowa State at home. It was the start of a 1 - 5 disaster. A loss to Kansas would be no less damaging and could set off a similar string of defeat. A win reboots the season. The Longhorns are done playing teams from Oklahoma, it's time to own Texas.
“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not a winner.” – Vince Lombardi