Texas Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Longhorns' Loss to the Rebels
The Texas Longhorns have moved beyond the crossroads, but they have begun a path down a dramatic road with huge question marks ahead.
A second consecutive loss, this time in a 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, puts the 'Horns at 1-2 moving into Big 12 play next weekend.
Not all is lost, obviously, but with injuries running rampant among Texas' starting offense, the once heralded group is brittle and not nearly productive enough given the defensive lapses.
The Longhorns will host Kansas State on Saturday night, but we will need to see plenty of improvements from several positions to even pretend that Texas can start conference play with a win.
The Texas run defense has given up more than 800 yards on the ground over its last two games.
Read that to yourself three times over because it is preposterous and dramatically unbelievable.
After getting railed by BYU, the Longhorns were again turned over by Ole Miss' quick run game, with Bo Wallace and Jeff Scott running the show.
Texas has had two different defensive coordinators through three games. The outlook cannot be good from here.
Texas Has Two Good Starting Defensive Ends
All things being equal, Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed are pretty good at what they do.
Both are strong at the point of attack and quick to the ball, though Reed has the size that could make the pro scouts drool.
The duo is just starting to heat up, so there is some positive news to expect from the defensive front.
If only defensive plays always generated points...
Adrian Phillips Can Be a Physical Force, But...
Senior safety Adrian Phillips took plenty of flak last season for missed tackles, but he may be one of the most physical tacklers on the Texas defense right now.
Phillips delivered the wood on several occasions against the Rebels, which is good news for the Texas defense. But if he has to be the one making the tackle every single time, then there are more glaring problems closer to the line of scrimmage.
Phillips is slowly posting a solid season, but he does not seem to be near the emotional leader who could help bring Texas out of this funk.
McCoy Is Definitely Not the Answer
We knew going into the game that Case McCoy was, far and away, not the best answer. But after seeing his limitations (again), he is definitely not the answer moving forward.
Many expected true freshman Tyrone Swoopes to see the field, but with McCoy having some success in the first half, the Longhorns went with their senior for the entire game.
McCoy finished 24-of-36 passing for 196 yards and a touchdown, but the wide receiver screens can only go so far. Texas has the weapons to go deep, but McCoy doesn't have the arm to go there.
So as we move into next week, if David Ash cannot go again, does Texas roll the dice against Kansas State and start Swoopes?
Johnathan Gray Is an Answer, but He Needs Help
Sophomore Johnathan Gray had another solid game, but he needs help.
The injuries are a drag, but without a deep passing game, it really limits the ground game.
Gray finished with 91 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, but with just 33 rushing yards from the rest of the team, the hesitation to keep naming the Texas backfield as potent is growing longer and longer.
Resiliency, but Not Nearly Enough of It
We saw some of that resiliency come through in the first half, as Texas established itself in the game with 23 unanswered points and a six-point lead at the break.
But after getting stomped in the second half, Texas just does not have what it takes to overcome its defensive issues over a 60-minute span.
Will the group improve with new DC Greg Robinson? Maybe, but it did not come this weekend.
Anthony Fera Looks Healthy
In a bit of brighter news, Anthony Fera did look good on field-goal duty, converting attempts from 28, 30 and 47 yards out.
But in the punting game, Fera did not look as dangerous.
The accomplishments on offense are somewhat refreshing, but as bad as Texas' defense has been, it needs to get a little bit more from Fera on field position.
The Offensive Line Had Its Moments
Judging by the first half only, you would think that the Texas offensive line had responded well from its letdown against BYU.
But Texas was blanked in the second half against Ole Miss, and the running game that was there in the first 30 minutes disappeared as the Longhorns lost their luster.
Combined with the injuries to Mason Walters and Josh Cochran, Texas now could look dangerously thin up front.
Kennedy Estelle and Sedrick Flowers Got Valuable Minutes
Sophomores Kennedy Estelle and Sedrick Flowers got some playing time in place of RT Josh Cochran and RG Mason Walters, both of whom suffered injuries and missed the rest of the game.
This could become a small blessing in disguise, if Walters and Cochran's injuries are not long-term, as the two underclassmen picked up some big minutes in a meaningful game against a good opponent.
The Longhorns front struggled against BYU, but against the Rebels, Texas had better success, but it still fell well short.
At any rate, the added depth with Estelle and Flowers available is a necessary one as we move into Big 12 play.
Texas Is in Big Trouble If It Cannot Get Healthy
Against BYU, Daje Johnson and David Ash suffered injuries that forced them out of the Ole Miss game.
Texas then had Mason Walters and Josh Cochran go down with injuries as well.
Throw in an ankle knock to Mike Davis and the Longhorns look to be plagued with injuries on offense, this coming a year after their defense got knicked up with Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks missing extended time.
So with five injuries and counting to the starting lineup, Texas looks to be in some trouble, personnel-wise, moving forward.