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Five Takeaways Following a Late Night Loss to Cal


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Weird things can happen after dark, and the Longhorns found themselves on the losing end of a game full of twists and turns.  California outlasted Texas 50-43, and we bring you five takeaways following that loss.

 

 

1. Plenty of blame to go around

 

On a night where plenty of fingers will be pointed at different aspects of this squad, it's important to remember that this is still a very young team struggling to grow up.  After riding high through two weeks this was a massive trap, and the mistakes were endless.  We'll get to the defense in a bit, but penalties reared their ugly head once again.  While the Horns cut down on the number of overall penalties from previous weeks, the infractions tonight came at the absolute worst times.  Freshman center Zach Shackelford committed penalties on back to back drives that stalled the offense in crucial situations.  Add in unforced errors like drops and blown coverages, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Speaking of drops it appears that John Burt is in the middle of a sophomore slump.  For Texas to be a consistently dangerous offense they he will need to do whatever is necessary to slow the regression.  While we're talking about blame, can we discuss special teams?  Trent Domingue missed two field goals, and I'm not going to hold those against him too much since they were from well outside of his range, but there were plenty of other errors there.  Outside of the Brandon Jones blocked punt in the second quarter I'm not sure there was anything to applaud. The return team is the opposite of dynamic, and the coverage team looks like a big return waiting to happen every time down the field.

 

2. About that defense

 

Yes this unit is still young, but the performance tonight was inexcusable on many levels.  The Longhorns couldn't get a stop when it mattered, and they let the Cal offense go up and down the field without effectively pressuring Davis Webb.  From my couch it looked like Vance Bedford opted to let Cal dictate the way they'd play defense, and that played right into the Bear Raid's hand.  The offense has improved enough to win more games, but the question of if Texas is back or not cannot be truly answered until some things are fixed on the defensive side of the ball.  The secondary is in shambles, and they were dominated by a receiving corps full of inexperience and youth. While most fans lament the safety duo of Dylan Haines and Jason Hall, the Texas cornerbacks were mostly at fault for big passing plays tonight.  Cal does have a dynamic offense, but Texas better get ready to see this style for the majority of the season.  Vance Bedford definitely has some heat on him from the fanbase.

 

3. Shane isn't perfect

 

We knew there would be some rough patches in his development, and to be honest I'm not sure he didn't push himself back on the field through a concussion.  The true freshman wasn't horrible by any means (19/33, 196 yards, 1/1 TD/INT), but he didn't look himself after returning to the game.  Buechele stared down receivers, forced balls into coverage, and let a deep pass hang for an interception that could be considered the turning point of this game.  It's mind boggling that a defense as porous as Cal was the one to decode Buechele so effectively, but this wasn't a back breaking performance.  There's still enough there to be encouraged about as Texas moves forward throughout the season.  The priority will be to keep him upright and in positions to succeed.

 

4. Process vs. results

 

Twitter was buzzing with pleas from the fans to run the ball continuously, but that's not what this offense does. While Texas found great success with the run, they have to continue to be aggressive and take shots when they are presented with them.  Results tonight weren't in their favor, but the Texas offense did plenty enough to pull out a win.  Remember that Sterlin Gilbert is also maturing as a young coordinator, but also remember that you shouldn't bemoan aggressive play just because it didn't work out.  If nothing else, find encouragement in the fact that an off night for this offense by some people's standards resulted in 500 yards of total offense and 41 points. As this offense continues to develop remember that process oriented decision making usually wins out over result oriented decision making.

 

5. Where does Texas go from here?

 

Before the season I think many considered a 2-1 start a realistic best case scenario for this team.  Texas enters the bye week at a great time, because they've got some banged up players in need of recuperation.  The Longhorns need to enter conference play as healthy as possible in order to to achieve their goals.  This is still a dynamic offense, and if Texas can find something to plug the leaks on defense they should be a tough out for any team on the schedule.  While this might feel like a major step back, I'd offer that I think this is something young teams learn from.  The Longhorns know they have some emerging players in the front seven on defense, and a nasty running game.  We think that there is finally a quarterback in place to take this team to the next level, but there are still important areas of growth needed.  If Texas can recover and play well against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, they should be able to springboard into the rest of the season.  If they let this loss get them down they will be right back where they were last year.  Adversity is always a test for young teams, and despite failing their first true road test they have the opportunity to pass the adversity exam.



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This one stings in more ways then one. I said previously I wouldn't be happy if Texas lost this game after seeing Cal previously, and that's about where I'm at currently.

 

A lot stuff to correct going into the bye with conference play looming and as Mike said, there is plenty of blame to go around, but there is still a lot of season left and this team was never going undefeated.

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I called  it early in the week when I said this game made me nervous and that it was the very description of a trap game. I agree with everything Mike wrote and will add that if our defense does not see significant improvement then changes need to be made. I hate to even say it but watching what Chavis has done for A&M's defense in the short time he has been there has been pretty impressive and they are getting better each game. 

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I agree with Matt in that one. Having said that couple of things that really pissed me off about this game. 1. They should've attacked more from the ground game when they knew Cali's biggest weakness is running the football. You had two big horses in the backfield that should've been punishing them down the damn throats. I don't know what in the hell was staff was thinking about butt there were missed opportunities that should have been capitalized!!!!! PERIOD. And SECOND F"""""Kin penalties bonef'''''''kin head penalties that killed us. Defense needs to get there asses and do a better job. We got a bye friggin damn week coming up and they better spend that whole time getting there head put there damn asses QUICK!!!!! They threw away the damn friggin F'''''kin game and it's just flat out horses"""hit that with this team with so much talent can do a whole lot better with that performance that was displayed..

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I am going to pose this question for everyone down on Texas after one loss, then I'm going to sign off.  If you are trying to get a young team ready for a season and installing a new offense, including playing, what, 6 true freshmen and starting many, many sophomores, do you take time away from fundamentals, installation of the new offense, practicing defense, or special teams?

 

It's a fair question.  There is a reason many looked to the 2017 season as the year this team would be dominant.  The ball is in your court, so to speak, where do you pull the time?  What do you sacrifice? 

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Here are some scatter shooting thoughts. They're al over the place, so be patient when reading.

 

Wrapping up and tackling seem to be a lost art with our defensive backfield. Let's not even get started on WR coverages by our DBs.

This is a game we should have won by 10, based solely on talent differential.

Some of the in-game coaching decisions were flat out head-scratchers.

 

Here is the biggest question I have this morning; is Coach Strong the right guy to lead Texas? I have been squarely in his corner. I love what he stands for, and how he got the team cleaned up and how the team has come together. I saw this really amplified in spots-last season's Oklahoma game, the Notre Dame game a few weeks ago. The players seem to love this guy. That's a really good thing.

 

I am seriously questioning whether he has what it takes to get us back to where we need to be. Charlie is a defensive coach. I saw bad defense last night...often.

 

I don't know what the answer is but something has to change.

 

 

 

I feel like I'm watching a David McWilliams or John Mackovic team.

 

What the heck is with some of our players leaving the field of play before The Eyes? Unacceptable.

 

Some of our "fans" acted like petulant children last night in Berkeley. Throwing bottles onto the field at the end of the game. When did we become Philadelphia Eagles/Ohio State fans? Ridiculous.

 

Had a Cal fan tell me he would piss on Mack Brown's grave after Cal got passed over for the Rose Bowl years ago. And that was the NICEST thing he had to say about Mack and UT.

I politely listened for about 15 minutes to this clown. Then I said to him, "well, y'all sure did show the Rose Bowl & bowl committee the error of their ways with how well you played against Texas Tech."

 

Felt really good to be standing in a bar after the game and listening to "FVCK YOU, TEX-AS" sang loud and repeatedly.

 

Overall Cal fans were not ugly. Nice folks that didn't have much to say. They were happy to help direct you to a good restaurant or pub.

 

For the most part, good trip. Game sucked. Post game was not a good time.

 

Glad the team has two weeks to work on things.

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I am going to pose this question for everyone down on Texas after one loss, then I'm going to sign off.  If you are trying to get a young team ready for a season and installing a new offense, including playing, what, 6 true freshmen and starting many, many sophomores, do you take time away from fundamentals, installation of the new offense, practicing defense, or special teams?

 

It's a fair question.  There is a reason many looked to the 2017 season as the year this team would be dominant.  The ball is in your court, so to speak, where do you pull the time?  What do you sacrifice? 

 

Why do you have to sacrifice anything?

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Here are some scatter shooting thoughts. They're al over the place, so be patient when reading.

 

Wrapping up and tackling seem to be a lost art with our defensive backfield. Let's not even get started on WR coverages by our DBs.

This is a game we should have won by 10, based solely on talent differential.

Some of the in-game coaching decisions were flat out head-scratchers.

 

Here is the biggest question I have this morning; is Coach Strong the right guy to lead Texas? I have been squarely in his corner. I love what he stands for, and how he got the team cleaned up and how the team has come together. I saw this really amplified in spots-last season's Oklahoma game, the Notre Dame game a few weeks ago. The players seem to love this guy. That's a really good thing.

 

I am seriously questioning whether he has what it takes to get us back to where we need to be. Charlie is a defensive coach. I saw bad defense last night...often.

 

I don't know what the answer is but something has to change.

 

 

 

I feel like I'm watching a David McWilliams or John Mackovic team.

 

What the heck is with some of our players leaving the field of play before The Eyes? Unacceptable.

 

Some of our "fans" acted like petulant children last night in Berkeley. Throwing bottles onto the field at the end of the game. When did we become Philadelphia Eagles/Ohio State fans? Ridiculous.

 

Had a Cal fan tell me he would piss on Mack Brown's grave after Cal got passed over for the Rose Bowl years ago. And that was the NICEST thing he had to say about Mack and UT.

I politely listened for about 15 minutes to this clown. Then I said to him, "well, y'all sure did show the Rose Bowl & bowl committee the error of their ways with how well you played against Texas Tech."

 

Felt really good to be standing in a bar after the game and listening to "FVCK YOU, TEX-AS" sang loud and repeatedly.

 

Overall Cal fans were not ugly. Nice folks that didn't have much to say. They were happy to help direct you to a good restaurant or pub.

 

For the most part, good trip. Game sucked. Post game was not a good time.

 

Glad the team has two weeks to work on things.

 

Under Charlie, I think Texas will eventually be better than average year in and year out. There will be the occasional "average" year as well as the occasional "really good" year. 

 

I do not think he is an elite enough coach to get Texas to the level where we are "really good" more often than not like Saban and Meyer do. And, yes, I think Herman is likely the next coach to get to their level. 

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I am going to pose this question for everyone down on Texas after one loss, then I'm going to sign off. If you are trying to get a young team ready for a season and installing a new offense, including playing, what, 6 true freshmen and starting many, many sophomores, do you take time away from fundamentals, installation of the new offense, practicing defense, or special teams?

 

It's a fair question. There is a reason many looked to the 2017 season as the year this team would be dominant. The ball is in your court, so to speak, where do you pull the time? What do you sacrifice?

I don't buy the 'sacrifice' premise at all. Working on offense and defense is not a zero sum game.

 

Charlie is supposedly the defensive guru. And I doubt he spent more than 10 minutes with the offense in any practice. So presumably the defensive ineptitude we're seeing is a collaborative Charlie/Bedford production. That doesn't speak well for either.

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Was I mad that we lost? No doubt. I'm not going to worry about this loss when there's 9 games left in the season. I still felt this team was still riding high from the Notre Dame win. I feel like the loss to Cal should and hopefully will be a wake up call for these players. I see people are already calling for Strong to get fired. That's the last thing you want right now. Once Texas makes the adjustments and the players respond to it then I will not be surprised if this team can pull off 9 or more wins. This is a young team who will make mistakes let it go and move on.

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Ok, so when I woke up this morning, I thought it was just some damn nightmare, but soon realized that it did happen. It sucks, I'm pissed. Now as I walk back from the ledge, I'm choosing to find the silver lining.

 

This team was not picked by many to beat ND. A lot, including myself, were counting on a hard fought, close game and take a moral victory for a young team. They defied expectations, but suddenly became the media darlings and started to get picked to win everything. Last night was a bit of humble pie topped with reality. They are talented and young. They are going to get up for the big games, but read their news clippings and think that the logo on their helmet will win games alone. I hate that they lost to an inferior team, but as they go into a bye week, I hope that awful stench stays with them and they get hungry again. A loss isn't always the worst thing. That's how these pups grow and get better. Hopefully that means they beat OU's ass, win enough to get to a good bowl game, get errrbody again and look forward to next year when the expectations will be higher and real. Good days are ahead ladies and gents.

Hook 'em!

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Disappointing.  I didn't expect to go undefeated.  Nobody did.  But most expected to take two steps forward and one back, not one forward and two back.

 

Offense:  Yes many yards and yes many points... against a defense that gives up loads to everyone they play.  Why insist on throwing (after two picks already) when your running game is tearing off chunks of 4-12 yards every play.  The only way we were going to lose, even as atrociously as our defense played, was if we gave them extra possessions...and we did...and it was avoidable.  I'm sure the original gameplan was to run if they put 7 in the box, and check to pass if they went with 8.  But an experienced OC and QB know when to change the script once the game is underway and the dividends of the original gameplan change.  We were still able to run with however many in the box and were unable to throw consistently under any circumstances.  We stubborned our way into an average performance when we needed stellar.

 

Defense:  Players play hard in the front 7.  D-Line gets penetration most downs.  Linebackers lose their gaps same as last year.  Forget coverage from a linebacker. We are about to get exposed there for a loss or two even if the DB's improve.  DB's are completely lost.  Second year...no improvement with this group.  Miss tackles, miss assignments, talk trash, get burned, get shown up with horns down in your face only to come back and get burned worse seems to be the mantra.

 

The season isn't over, I get it.  But seeing ND get basically raped at home and seeing Army beat UTEP worse than we did tells me we aren't very good.  We are what Okie State has been the past decade.  Reasonable to really good offense with average to really bad defense.  Okie Sate

 

Young this...Young that...  It took Charlie two years to learn Watson wasn't the right guy when everyone else knew after two games.  Bedford ain't the guy either and I hate that.  I wish he were.  But between the lack of progress and the inability to adjust in-game...he ain't the guy.  If Charlie doesn't do something quickly to get 9 wins out of this team in his 3rd year...he probably isn't either.  And I will hate that even worse.  But let's not be the same team 3 years in a row and call it progress just because we have a new group of highly ranked recruits underperforming.

 

 

 

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If I hear coach say "blown assignments" or "out of position" again for the reason our secondary is awful I'm going to puke. If that's the problem then (figuratively and literally) MAN UP. Freaking news flash Hansen was getting the ball on every important play. If we can't stick one guy on him that has a chance to make a play then our recruiting success has been a sham. We can't cover a screen or the deep ball. How is that possible???

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Disappointing. I didn't expect to go undefeated. Nobody did. But most expected to take two steps forward and one back, not one forward and two back.

 

Offense: Yes many yards and yes many points... against a defense that gives up loads to everyone they play. Why insist on throwing (after two picks already) when your running game is tearing off chunks of 4-12 yards every play. The only way we were going to lose, even as atrociously as our defense played, was if we gave them extra possessions...and we did...and it was avoidable. I'm sure the original gameplan was to run if they put 7 in the box, and check to pass if they went with 8. But an experienced OC and QB know when to change the script once the game is underway and the dividends of the original gameplan change. We were still able to run with however many in the box and were unable to throw consistently under any circumstances. We stubborned our way into an average performance when we needed stellar.

 

Defense: Players play hard in the front 7. D-Line gets penetration most downs. Linebackers lose their gaps same as last year. Forget coverage from a linebacker. We are about to get exposed there for a loss or two even if the DB's improve. DB's are completely lost. Second year...no improvement with this group. Miss tackles, miss assignments, talk trash, get burned, get shown up with horns down in your face only to come back and get burned worse seems to be the mantra.

 

The season isn't over, I get it. But seeing ND get basically raped at home and seeing Army beat UTEP worse than we did tells me we aren't very good. We are what Okie State has been the past decade. Reasonable to really good offense with average to really bad defense. Okie Sate

 

Young this...Young that... It took Charlie two years to learn Watson wasn't the right guy when everyone else knew after two games. Bedford ain't the guy either and I hate that. I wish he were. But between the lack of progress and the inability to adjust in-game...he ain't the guy. If Charlie doesn't do something quickly to get 9 wins out of this team in his 3rd year...he probably isn't either. And I will hate that even worse. But let's not be the same team 3 years in a row and call it progress just because we have a new group of highly ranked recruits underperforming.

I get your points, but you can't abandon aggressiveness in this offense. That's not the way it's designed to work. It's a results based thinking over process based thinking.

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I get your points, but you can't abandon aggressiveness in this offense. That's not the way it's designed to work. It's a results based thinking over process based thinking.

Regarding your second sentence if it's working it doesn't matter whether it's by design or not. Keep doing it.

 

Regarding your third sentence, I really have no idea what you mean.

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I know many were screaming "run the ball", I was too. This offense was designed to work exactly on pre snap looks though. That's the process, and as this offense grows I think they need to follow the process. Results based thinking is looking at it afterwards and knocking it because it didn't work. Was the process correct? Because that works out more times in the long run.

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I know many were screaming "run the ball", I was too. This offense was designed to work exactly on pre snap looks though. That's the process, and as this offense grows I think they need to follow the process. Results based thinking is looking at it afterwards and knocking it because it didn't work. Was the process correct? Because that works out more times in the long run.

 

The problem with being a slave to "the process" is that it makes it VERY easy for other teams to understand how to control your offense based on what pre-snap look they show. In other words, the defense can force the offense into what the defense wants to see because they know the offense will never alter from "the process."

 

Other teams pick up on tendencies. Cal sure picked up on some of the dumb things the secondary was doing against ND. If the offense becomes totally predictable and enslaved to "the process" Charlie might as well start packing his bags now.

 

I just shake my head at any explanation that the team had to abandon plays that were working because of "the process." If the other team's defense can't stop the run, you only quit running the ball when they figure a way to finally stop it or the clock runs out.

 

Take Buschele's runs out of the stats and the Horns were averaged 6.6 yds per attempt. How in God's name can anyone say losing the game, but following "the process" was a better decision than exploiting Cal's weakness on defense, gaining 6.6 yds per play and going 3-0 on the season? You do what it takes to win each game, one game at a time. You don't willingly lose games because the other team didn't allow "the process" to work successfully.

 

Now Charlie gets to go on the recruiting trail with the pitch "If you play for Texas, you will lose a lot of games you should have won, and you may well never play in a bowl game, but at least we follow "the process.""

 

There is a level of lunacy in the Texas program that is simply indescribable.

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