Texas Longhorns: Covering The Coverage


Looking back on the media fallout after the Texas Longhorns embarrassing loss to Notre Dame, things certainly aren’t as bad as they’re being portrayed.

There has been no shortage of coverage regarding the Texas Longhorns meltdown Saturday night in South Bend.  After several days of wading through numerous posts regarding that game, I have noticed a couple of familiar trends running through much of the coverage.  These things are annoying because I feel that the “professionals” out there are missing the point.

So I decided to voice my own response to the most prevalent items.

1) Don’t feel bad, Notre Dame is an elite team

Based on what?  Certainly not on their recent track record.  Based on the fact that they blew out Texas, a program clearly in trouble?  Notre Dame might be an elite team, but we won’t know that until they are actually challenged.  Let’s see where they are at after playing Georgia Tech and Clemson first, shall we?

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Notre Dame is one of those programs that always receives the benefit of the doubt.  People want Notre Dame to be back, so expectations arise quickly.  Short of one magical year that was as much Irish luck as anything, Notre Dame has been good to very good at best.  Not since Lou Holtz roamed the sidelines have they actually been elite.

It is typical then, to assign the Irish heightened expectations entering this season.  After all, they beat LSU in their bowl game, so they must be good. Right?  Except that LSU hasn’t been elite since Alabama pummelled them in the National Championship Game.  Come to think of it, neither has Texas.

I will grant that ND could be a force this year, but I will need to see how they respond to a team that matches up against them better to make that leap.  Just watching them pound Texas is not enough for me to put them in the Playoff.

2) It wasn’t really as bad as it looked

I consider myself a fairly intelligent football fan.  I understand the Xs and Os of the game pretty well.  True, I might not know how to break down game film like some professionals do and I lack the desire to watch that game more than once.  Just don’t tell me that I didn’t see what I saw.  This is very much a big picture issue.

The offensive line that was supposed to be much improved folded like wet cardboard.  The defensive line that was supposed to be the biggest strength of the team got dominated on roughly 90 percent of the snaps (not an exaggeration).  The offensive game plan was directionless, the personnel usage was horrible and no one provided any sort of a spark.  You can dissect game film and try to come up with ticky tack reasons why the fans shouldn’t feel so bad, but it is as empty as Shawn Watson’s preseason rhetoric.  It was every bit as bad as it looked.

I was especially disturbed about the performance of the defensive line.  Sure, Notre Dame has a good line, but so good that we can’t hold our ground at all?  I don’t believe that there is any excuse for how thoroughly our defensive line was dominated.  If that is the strength of the team then they need to at least hold ground.  You can’t consistently get blown ten yards off the ball.

Secondly, if Tank Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway are not up to game speed, they need to be on the sidelines.  We all admire athletes who play through pain, but there comes a point where if they can’t help, they don’t need to be out there.  My early impression of Brick Haley isn’t a glowing one.

3) You shouldn’t have expected Texas to win

I don’t recall anyone outside of Brad Paisley making any bold predictions.  The game was a tough matchup and we all knew it.  What fans needed to see was progress.  We didn’t because there wasn’t any.

Sep 5, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong walks to the locker room at Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

This team has regressed from last season’s end and all the promised improvements that the coaching staff kept hyping were nowhere to be seen.  This isn’t about unrealistic expectations.  It is about the fact that the Longhorns were punched in the face early and often and once again curled up in a ball instead of getting up and fighting back.  It is not unrealistic to expect Texas to field a football team capable of taking the field against anybody and at least putting up a fight and looking somewhat competent, not looking the FCS team they resembled on Saturday night.

Any Texas fan that has been paying attention understands that the program is in rebuilding mode.  However, we were told that last year was not going to be the standard.  After nine months of preparation, it is not unrealistic to expect more.  This team looks like a rudderless ship right now and Strong is looking more and more out of touch as the days go by.

There was nothing on display Saturday night that gives the common fan reason to feel good about the rebuild.  There was nothing to make us believe that this team isn’t headed for another lost season.  That’s what we needed to see.  Until we do, you can’t blame Texas fans for feeling hopeless.

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