When you’re 0-7 and trying to get your first win against a team with considerably more talent, it’s axiomatic that you can’t have costly mistakes. Between turnovers, penalties, poor playcalling, a muffed snap on a punt, and a couple of key blown defensive plays, we had all of them. In year one under Tom Herman, Texas isn’t a great team, but they’re good enough (particularly on defense) to take advantage when you basically give them the game. And with three turnovers inside our own thirty that led directly to 17 points, we absolutely did. I dare say that if we were trying to lose the game, we might not have done a better job of it.
I’m a big believer in the adage that if you have two QBs, you don’t have one, and I’ve never been a big fan of alternating QBs during a game barring injuries, ineffectiveness, or special packages. It keeps either player from developing any kind of rhythm, increases the pressure unnecessarily (because the one in the game doesn’t want to get pulled), and, in cases like ours, changes your base offense completely from drive to drive. I’m even less of a fan of it when there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason; Smith “started” the game, then we went immediately to Brewer for a few series after the pick-six, then back to Smith for no apparent reason, and back to Brewer and on and on. It got to the point where I didn’t really care who was playing, but I wanted to see that guy keep playing so we might get some semblance of offensive cohesion. It seems like the staff wants to play Brewer and feels like they have to play Smith, but I may be wrong. Neither is a world-beater at this point, so it probably doesn’t matter in the short term. But in the long term, I can’t help but wonder what kind of effect it has on the team to see such indecision at the top. It can’t be reassuring to the rest of the offense when the Powers That Be either can’t make up their minds about who they want to play or lack the courage to stick with their choice.
Given how things unfolded, simply losing the game wasn’t the worst part of what happened today. The worst part was how it felt while it was happening. After the opening offensive series ended with DeShon Elliot streaking into the endzone for a TD and we started rotating QBs, it never felt like Baylor really had a chance. Even with the defense playing really well compared to previous games, our inability to run the ball (again) with any real success made it feel like a matter of time until Snow’s boys got gassed and the Longhorns blew us out. It hearkened back to the GuyMo era where the team tried really hard against more talented opponents but kept making mistake after mistake to take themselves out of it before eventually getting ground down. We were the little brother that gets thrown on the ground and sat on despite his best efforts to fight. That’s a discouraging place to be (believe me), and you have to wonder how long the fighting lasts.
At 0-8 and with no clear path forward offensively, I don’t know where we go from here (except to Kansas next week, obviously). We got manhandled today by a middling Texas team missing a bunch of guys, and there’s no sugarcoating it. This was a big step back. I’m not looking forward to reading the various forums this week.