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My Thoughts Following The Maryland Debacle

Daniel Seahorn

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FYI it's kinda long. 

I wasn’t planning or expecting to have to drop one of these pieces so early in the season, but now that I’ve had a day and some change to think it over I’m going put some of my thoughts on paper about what transpired on Saturday in Austin.

I said in the predictions piece on Friday that no matter how the game played out that you couldn’t get too high or too low because the season can’t be won or lost in week one. I’m sticking by that because obviously there is still plenty of season left to circle the wagons. They say in coaching that when you go back and watch the film it is neither as good nor as bad as you thought was when the game was playing out live. More times than none that holds true.

I’m sure when Tom Herman and his staff go back through the film they will find some positives that they feel like they can build on, but they will probably also find plenty of things that they either need to fix or scrap completely going forward. At the end of the day the game against the Terps brought about a lot more questions than answers and given how the schedule is setup, that isn’t promising for the Longhorns.

So where do we start? From the moment this staff was hired and put in place we’ve heard time and time again about how the little things have been stressed and how Herman constantly harps on the details. It was hammered home how the team would be sound fundamentally and discipline would be instilled after the previous staff failed to accomplish that. After taking in that game in its entirety I can safely say it feels like everyone was sold a bill of fake goods.

Bad angles in pursuit, alarming number of missed tackles, defenders not hitting their run fits, busting simple protections in pass protection, blunders on special teams, and lastly... penalties. These are things that plagued this team last year and led them becoming the butt of several jokes nationwide. After watching this team on Saturday all those things mentioned seemed to be front and center once again like nothing had changed. Except this time there is no Charlie Strong to blame it on.

After the game, Herman said something along lines that if everyone expected things to fixed in nine months then they were mistaken. I don’t think anyone reasonable expected all issues to magically disappear between now and last November, but at bare minimum I was expecting this team to be able to go out there and execute what is being asked of them and that they will play sound, disciplined football. It’s safe to say that bar was not cleared.

At this point I have questions that span from things such as why some guys seem to be stagnant in their development and when is it time to give other guys a bite at the apple to what exactly was going in the coaches’ office when they were going over game planning for Maryland?

For instance, the staff knew going in they were deficient at tight end and were going to have to trot out Garret Gray as their starter if they wanted to use him in personnel packages. Gray is a converted wide receiver who in normal circumstances is probably not going to see too much PT in an ideal situation. The coaches knew going in that the situation was far from ideal and they still opted not scheme around the position like Herman had previously mentioned. Instead they put Gray in situations in which he had to win as a blocker on the edge and it went about as bad you would expect. They also opted to keep Gray on the field when they decided to go to empty sets rather than putting another receiver out there, which I didn’t really understand at all.

That’s just one example, but here’s another. Linebackers are still completely lost when it comes to their run fits. We saw a lot of this last year to the point where you had to ask if guys just weren’t getting it or were the coaches just horrible teachers. At this point it’s probably a bit of both because after having months to hammer out the basics they were back to getting gutted in the run game and letting Maryland rip off big runs. It was no secret that Maryland wanted to establish the run early and pound the rock. Everyone knew for months that was what they wanted to do when they rolled into Austin. Yet the defense looked completely bewildered and confused.

Want another? The secondary is still getting balls thrown over their head in crucial situations where they absolutely can’t allow it and guys seem to not know where there help is coming from. This once again led to the defense not being able to get off the field and kept drives alive for Maryland. You can take your pick and just about every guy in the starting lineup gave it up on Saturday. So once again are things just not clicking for guys or are the coaches horrible teachers?

These are the kinds of things going through my mind as I watch the same issues from last year play out in week one of this season.

 The offense has plenty of things it has sort out in short order, but if the defense is going to allow 40+ per game, then it makes the margin of error for the offense almost nonexistent and forces them to have to be perfect. That’s not feasible.

Speaking of the offense, my worries about the running back position came to fruition on Saturday. Texas doesn’t have a feature back on the roster to pick up the slack left by D’Onta Foreman (landing JK Dobbins stings even more now). On top of that, the offensive line wasn’t getting a consistent push at the LOS for the run game to get going and they had Shane Buechele under fire most of afternoon, which was something I wasn’t anticipating to be an issue outside of right tackle. The run game was basically abandoned early on as Texas found itself in a big hole it had to crawl out of thus leading to Buechele having to throw the ball 50+ times.

Anytime the Texas offense looked like it was getting some momentum or putting a drive together, they found a way to shot themselves in the foot via penalties, lack of execution, or poor play calling. I love Drew Mehringer as a recruiter, but he better be drilling his group all week on how to run a proper pick route. If my three year old daughter can tell it’s an illegal pick then you need to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate how you are teaching the technique.

While I’m talking about coaches going back to the drawing board, Derek Warehime needs to rally his troops. It’s unacceptable that Maryland was able to get pressure on Buechele with as few as three rushers at times. It’s unacceptable that his bunch looked befuddled when it came to picking up blitzing linebackers who are tipping their hand. This is day one stuff that an experienced group shouldn’t be struggling with in week one. Can’t happen and shouldn’t happen.

This brings me to the topic of the quarterback. As you see I just laid out some issues that were surrounding Buechele on Saturday and I’ve already previously written on the board that I don’t fault him for a lot of the stuff that transpired out there. Was he without fault? Absolutely not. The first series of the game was as bad of a series you will see from Buechele and it resulted in him getting squared up for a big hit that he doesn’t need to be taking. He wasn’t as crisp on the deep balls as we’ve seen in the past, he self-sacked and self-pressured himself at times, and he isn’t going to strike fear into a defense with his wheels and ability to improvise. He’s not perfect and nobody is saying he is.

With all that said and all the issues plaguing the offense, Buechele still posted a respectable stat line that included 375 yards passing with a completion percentage of 65% and three total touchdowns. Lets make things clear. Buechele is far from the biggest issue holding the offense or the team back right now. Before we start screaming for a change at quarterback, I would rather see a staff competent enough to scheme around the strengths of their starting quarterback who threw for almost 3,000 yards last year and set freshmen records in 2016.

Capable staffs can scheme around the strengths of their personnel. I don’t think Sam Ehlinger, a kid who was just taking snaps on the high school level several months ago, is going to be some kind of magic bullet that people are making him out to be. He has yet to take a snap at the collegiate level and people think he will be the answer to kick starting the run game without having anything to go off of. If the offensive line doesn’t get its act together it may not matter who is back there taking snaps, so be careful what you ask for.

I’ve talked/written a lot. But these are the things that have been on my mind since the clock hit triple zeroes on Saturday. At this point I have as many questions for the coaches as I do for the players, because I feel like the coaches didn’t have their team put in the best possible position to go play confidently and to be successful.

Texas was never going to win all of their games this year. That wasn’t feasible. Thinking this team was going to hit the corner and win 10+ games wasn’t any more feasible. At this point this team needs to show it can put together a complete football game for sixty minutes before we start trying to predict wins. Saturday’s loss to Maryland showed that this team isn’t anywhere close to competing for championships of any kind. The season isn’t over by any stretch, but expectations need to be dialed back and recalibrated until the team proves it on the field.

Edited by Daniel Seahorn
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It's hard to comprehend how guys aren't improving year to year, with many of them regressing. You hit the nail on the head, Daniel. Maybe it's from bad coaching the past 3 years, or maybe these new coaches aren't hammering home fundamentals, but I could name several players off the top of my head who were the same player they were their senior year in high school.

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Great write up Daniel , and the  small details plus execution that could be ironed out over a nine month period did not look like any of those things were actually addressed during that time period. The same Longhorn team that I saw last year appears to be the very same Longhorn team this year and that is very frustrating from a fans perspective.  Playing San Jose next week might be great for this team , but I am not sure a win would tell me  if this team is actually improving or not .  Regarding the running game and lack of a featured back it is my opinion that Warren is just not able to stay healthy to be the featured back and the staff knows this  so his carries are going to be limited.  The offensive line still looks weak and easily controlled by their opponents .  The off-season weight program does not appear to have made any of those players stronger , faster , or better.   Buechele play at QB can in my opinion be described as "he did not lose you the game nor did he win you the game" .   I still think as I have mentioned before Buechele does not have the arm strength to be a passing threat as he will always have to arch the ball high  to get it to the receivers which scares this coaching staff when they call plays.  Buechele is doing the best he can but I do not believe he belongs as a D1 QB.  Defense  ,  well Daniel and many others have already stated better than what I can  but again the nine month period that Coach Tom mentioned I would say many of these things could have at least been improved upon .  This loss for me falls on the Coaches ,  we know from the past several years that the players are not executing and have been making mental mistakes....the Coaches have to get this corrected !

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Good write up Daniel.

After watching this game its pretty safe to say the issues with our LB still failing the run fits is a player issue.  Bedford, Strong, and now Orlando all the same result.  I dont get how these LB's cant figure this out.  Maybe their are trying to make a play rather than do their assignment and those gambles are costing them.  Pretty selfish of them if that is the case.  Why didnt we see Gary Johnson at all considering he is supposed to be better against the run?  I dont that at all.

There is no excuse for Juniors to miss assignments, consistently take poor angles, etc.  Herman wants chastise players for pee charts but blowing your assignment consistently is not punishable?   Sad.

JK Dobbins nightmare will haunt us all.

I see no changes to depth chart this week.  So apparently Gray at TE again.  Gotta say Im loving Herman creativity thus far /smirk


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I didn't even dive into the special teams stuff, but after yesterday I'd take Duvernay off KOR. Two botches too many when it comes to fielding the football clean. 

Still can't deny penetration on a PAT attempt. Only got the one blocked, but Maryland came close to blocking several. Guys are getting too easily split. 

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In reality MOST of us was hoping for 8 win season and that's not out the window JUST because this one loss. I do believe Orlando just tried to much and this next week will make it simple for the D which will lead to success... I agree with all Daniels points, but I do think Herman can win with this team and they are going to prove a lot of folks wrong. Not a big 12 title but a winning season like we all expected in reality 

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Great write up Daniel. I always appreciate your insight as your experience in the game shows in your takes. Great replies by all and covered many of the things that I had on my mind. I couldn't get over how sloppy they played in all phases. I know first games can be a little ugly sometimes but that was really bad. 

What I want to see now is what changes and adjustments are made to get better. San Jose is a bad football team, so while the Horns can win playing sloppy, I want to see improved execution, physicality, and cut down the damn penalties. 

The real story will be how they handle traveling out west in two weeks. USC can be beaten but it will take a much improved team from what we saw on Saturday. 



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First thing these offensive coaches need to decide if a TE is on team or just go to 4 WRs then decide if the O-line mistakes were physical, mental or both and find a RB start giving them most of run plays

on defense the same players played the same sloppy defense as last 2 years. Orlando needs to decide if current players will play their assignments or not if not give someone else a chance

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Thanks Daniel,

Agree with everything you wrote.

I can't remember but I don't remember ever seeing Texas put any real pressure on the Maryland QB. No pressure on the QB will always equal bad news for the DBs.

Hager and Roach need to be unleashed.

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Buechele's stat line is very deceiving, 78 yards came when the game was over. 290 yards on 47 attempts is mediocre in today's spread offenses, as is a 1:1 ratio. His AY/A was way below a Tom Herman offensive norm as well. 65% is again good on paper, but how many throws were completed -2 to +5 yards of the LOS?

My biggest fear with this offense was fitting a square peg, into a round hole. Buechele simply doesn't fit what this offense needs from the position to be highly successful in a shoot-out every weekend Big 12.

It appears Herman made the same brutal mistake Strong did, in not addressing the QB room with another option. Anu Solomon somehow ended up at Baylor, he's infinitely more a fit for this offense than Buechele. Heard is more of a fit, and is a very good comparison to Greg Ward. Though I wonder if Heard is physically capable of playing the position anymore, as I've read his shoulder hasn't recovered from his RS-Fr year. Which brings us to Sam, he's more of a fit as well, but I'm not going to advocate to play a true freshmen coming off a HS season where he missed all but 2 games due to injury.

I do know that Buechele is going to get injured to the point where he misses multiple games due to the OL and his issues holding the ball. Sam may get hurt as well, I'm not sure who the coaching staff turns to when this situation likely arises.

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Great write up, Daniel.

My thoughts . . . 

I think old habits are sometimes hard to break. With all the hubbub and excitement, we shfinctered up the first time Maryland punched us in the face. It seemed like last year just kicked right in again.

I think thats why Herman seemed so befuddled after the game. He expected something entirely different.

SJSU is a great game for us to get over this. The coaching mettle is about to be shown. We'll beat SJSU and feel good about it. The real test will come the following week. That will tell us a lot about this team and this staff.

My explanation (old habits) is the only sane thing I can come up with to explain this. Otherwise, every single one of us are absolutely crazy because we all thought this was a better team with high level talent.

Well, we're not crazy. And it IS a better team. Its up to the players to believe that and play up to it.


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just remember this bit of UT football history..in '68 the Horns were led by "Super Bill" Bradley..an All State bonafide blue chipper from Palestine TX.....but he wasn't the right fit for a new offense being installed....the staff  made the switch to James Street from Longview and the rest is Longhorn history and lore..what was that team's record when they made the switch, and how many wins in a row did they reel off when they made the switch ?  

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7 hours ago, Epictetus said:

I'm satisfied with the press conference and LHN "Rewind" show. Made a few packets of Kool-aid. Ready for Saturday and following Saturday at USC. Hook'em.

I watched LHN Rewind and the Monday Presser as well.  Yea Herman came with some reasons but I wasn't buying the kool-aid.  

I mean seriously he stated in his Presser "We were ready and prepared but some of the mistakes we have not seen since Spring camp"  Who buys that bullshit?   Just a few of the most glaring mistakes which mostly includes football fundamentals.

1.  Not fitting the run.  DL & LB  (MJ, Wheeler, Hughes, Roach)

2.  Bad angles & poor tackling  (Locke, Jones)

3.  Not getting off blocks (Wheeler) or getting taken out by mediocre cut blocks (Brandon Jones)

4.  Letting receivers get behind the coverage.  (PJ Locke, Boyd, Hill)

5.  OL assignment issues.

So Herman is basically saying some these things haven't happened at all practice since Spring camp but all of a sudden reared its head in the first game.  I found it particularly hard to understand how 2 highly rated LB's in their 3rd year are all of a sudden given a "AH-HA" moment in film review.  He said the guys were trying to hard.  They looked more lost than "thinking".  I might buy that excuse if it sparingly done but it was consistently done.  If players are gambling and get beat they dont keep doing it repeatedly.

I guess I cant expect Herman to say anything negative about his staff or players but I felt like he was selling the excuses. 

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Added:  Herman did say its not time to panic its time to teach and I get that.  Im just saying Texas has had this issue since the Manny Diaz nightmare vs Taysum Hill and BYU in 2013.  When does this nightmare end?  Oh but yesterday's film review was the "AH-HA" moment (his words not mine)?  I doubt it.  Bottom line Herman is supposed to be a disciplinarian and detail oriented and he never saw this coming?  Not buying it.  Just come out say we werent ready, it was obvious.  The one thing he was on point is the team never gave up which was encouraging.

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DMAC I do like your posting on the board but my god your being a negative Nancy, it's the first game. New head coach new defense, new offense, new REAL time action. Let's sit back and watch the next couple of weeks then go for Hermans throat if need be.  No hard feelings just saying I  understand your frustration but we have to give it a couple games hell we gave Charlie 3 LONG years. 

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1 hour ago, okiehorn said:

DMAC I do like your posting on the board but my god your being a negative Nancy, it's the first game. New head coach new defense, new offense, new REAL time action. Let's sit back and watch the next couple of weeks then go for Hermans throat if need be.  No hard feelings just saying I  understand your frustration but we have to give it a couple games hell we gave Charlie 3 LONG years. 

Yea I am a "negative Nancy".  I am sorry I should be delighted after watching us get pushed around by Maryland on both lines, poor angles, failure to fit the run, missed assignments and much more.  Its only been a decade since we have been competitive and not rushed up the gut by every team we play.  I am overreacting because its not like my horns have lost to Iowa State or Kansas or anything.  Its not like our last bowl appearance (a long 3 years) was a total embarrassment and to top it off to the toothless pigs of all teams.  Besides we have only lost 22 games in 3+ years its not like we are bad anything.

Yea you are right lets focus on the positives and other than the fight in the team, Reggie and Lil Jordan.   The reasoning is a new head coach and new scheme?  You mean basic run fits, poor angles, poor tackling and shedding blocks those new coach things? Those are fundamentals not a Herman or Orlando specific case. 

Sorry for the sarcasm but my expectations were for big improvement on the details.  I saw more of the same.  Im sure it will improve over time but im not enabling bad football with excuses anymore.

Edit:  I will add much of my disappointment is due to my own expectations.  I predicted us to blowout the Terps.  Over zealous no doubt.  At a minimum I expected to see fundamentally sound football.  I did not see that.  Herman said we beat ourselves.  Yea he was right.  he had an entire Spring and fall camp and even extra time since classes started later to work on these fundamental details.  How are seasoned players still not filling the proper gaps, poor tackling, and poor angles (slew of those)?  That stuff is taught in pee-wee football.  So much for details.

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2 hours ago, okiehorn said:

DMAC I do like your posting on the board but my god your being a negative Nancy, it's the first game. New head coach new defense, new offense, new REAL time action. Let's sit back and watch the next couple of weeks then go for Hermans throat if need be.  No hard feelings just saying I  understand your frustration but we have to give it a couple games hell we gave Charlie 3 LONG years. 

$5M per year, 9 months of coaching and training, and that was what it looked like. It looked like Strong was still the coach. The worst part was the bungled coaching decisions in the 2nd half that went against basic football logic.

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