Momentum can be a huge ally, but right now, the Texas Longhorns do not have much of it.
Following a 40-21 beatdown at the hands of BYU this past Saturday—a game that had the Cougars rush for 550 yards on the ground, including 259 from quarterback Taysom Hill—the Longhorns dismissed Manny Diaz from his defensive coordinator position.
Former Texas defensive coordinator (2004) Greg Robinson, who joined the Texas staff this summer, will assume his former role on the staff.
With the unranked Longhorns sitting at a wobbly 1-1 and gearing up for a weekend clash with an offensively potent SEC opponent in No. 25 Ole Miss—plus the possibility of David Ash missing the game due to injury—Texas is in dire need of a victory to boost morale and confidence before Big 12 play begins.
Suffice to say, the Longhorns could be at a major crossroads to the rest of their season.
Winning Cures Everything
At least, that's the idea.
A convincing win over Ole Miss could restore some confidence lost against BYU. More importantly, it sets the wheels in motion to establish some rhythm going into conference play.
Texas could be without Ash this weekend, putting an offense that had trouble creating much of anything against the Cougars into the hands of senior Case McCoy. McCoy has had some instances of success with his short and intermediate passing game, but inconsistency and poor arm strength have gotten the worst of him more often than not.
Still, the Longhorns managed to put on an offensive exhibition when these two teams last met in Oxford, Miss., last season. The 66-31 win in 2012 was a resonating one for the Longhorns, and it showed the kind of offensive explosiveness of which they were capable.
Can Texas be that potent on Saturday? After all, a win is a win is a win.
Ash is still being evaluated for this weekend after suffering head and shoulder injuries against BYU, and if he cannot go, the Longhorns will have some decisions ahead of them on offense.
McCoy is the No. 2 on the depth chart with true freshman Tyrone Swoopes hovering below. McCoy has delivered for the 'Horns in the past, and, perhaps, this Saturday could be another showing. But if the senior struggles, do not be surprised to see the coaches throw Swoopes onto the field.
Also keep in mind that running back Jalen Overstreet was recruited at quarterback. Overstreet led Texas in rushing against New Mexico State with some big, late-game gains. But against the Cougars, Overstreet was hardly a factor.
There is no obvious correct decision if Ash is ruled out, but Texas does have some options. None of them bring significant confidence.
Finishing out the three big storylines that make up this Texas crossroads is the reassignment of Manny Diaz. The third-year defensive coordinator simply did not deliver the goods after an abysmal 2012 campaign, and now, the Longhorns have turned to a familiar face in Robinson to try and shore things up on the defensive side of things.
It is hard for the Texas defense to get any worse, but, perhaps, this is exactly the kind of radical change that could generate some much-needed developments on defense.
It will be hard for Robinson to win over the Texas fanbase fully in his first game as the defensive play-caller, but many will want to see a different energy about the defense.
Will the Longhorns defense rise to the occasion, or will it sustain its level of subpar performances?
The Bottom Line
No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Texas needs a win, and there are not many things going in its favor heading into the weekend.
Its starting quarterback is questionable, it just fired its defensive coordinator and its coming off an atrocious defensive performance.
If the 'Horns can win, it will re-establish some confidence, but a loss could become the pivotal point that sends the program down a very familiar road.
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