Alamo Bowl 2013 Oregon vs. Texas: 10 Things We Learned in Longhorns' Loss
Led by Marcus Mariota, the No. 10 Oregon Ducks were impressive in blowing past Texas by a 30-7 margin in Monday's Alamo Bowl.
The same cannot be said for Case McCoy's Longhorns.
In Mack Brown's final game as their head coach, the 'Horns were unable to compete with the Ducks for 60 minutes. Mariota supplied 386 of their 469 offensive yards, nearly doubling the 236 that Texas mustered.
The loss was Texas' fifth of the season, all by 20 points or more, and somewhat validates the decision to move on from Brown.
Like the rest of the season, this was a disappointing finish for the Longhorns.
Mack Brown's Struggles at Quarterback Spelled His Doom
There was one major difference between Texas and Oregon. Ducks' quarterback Marcus Mariota accounted for 386 yards, while Texas quarterback Case McCoy accounted for 39 and threw two pick-sixes.
Is there a more perfect metaphor for Mack Brown's final four seasons at Texas.
Not only has Brown failed to recruit the last three Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks, he has been no better at developing the ones he does land. Garrett Gilbert was an unmitigated disaster, McCoy should have been no better than third string and David Ash might never play again after his poorly handled concussion.
This season, Brown added to his woes with his strange usage of Tyrone Swoopes, burning his quarterback's redshirt against TCU. The athletic freshman saw action against Oregon, but only after the game was well out of hand. Even then, Swoopes outgained McCoy 46 to 39 in terms of yardage.
That's why it is time for a change.
The Oregon Offense Is Everything Texas Should Be
Tonight's loss serves as a painful lesson for the Texas Longhorns' program and fans alike. The Ducks showed them exactly what their team should look like.
A dual-threat quarterback who can pick up first downs at will. A bevy of multi-talented running backs. Receivers who can make plays on the ball and force defenders to whiff in space.
Those used to be qualities of the Longhorns' title-winning offense back in 2005. In Monday's Alamo Bowl, those were more accurate descriptors of the Marucs Mariota-led Oregon attack that piled on 469 yards of offense despite being in cruise control for the second half.
There is no reason that Texas can't get back to that level of production on offense. It just has to set that standard for itself moving forward.
A Healthy Marcus Mariota Is Scary
Much to the chagrin of the Pac-12, Marcus Mariota is returning to Oregon in 2014. As long as he's healthy, he should be right back in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
Mariota put on an absolute show in the first half. The third-year sophomore threw for 130 yards and a touchdown to give the Ducks a 20-7 lead. He also racked up 132 rushing yards, with seven runs of 10 yards or more. Hobbled by a hamstring injury, Mariota eased his way to another 124 total yards to pace the 30-7 victory.
After struggling through his last five games of the season, Mariota reminded everyone just how explosive he can be. With another offseason to improve as a passer, his ceiling is as high as anyone's in 2014.
Tyrone Swoopes Will Be Ready in 2014
With Case McCoy graduating and David Ash's future still in doubt, Tyrone Swoopes should get a shot to be Texas' starting quarterback in 2014. He showed off some of his potential against the Ducks.
Swoopes only played three series on the night, but was again able to display some of his impressive physical tools. He unleashed a 50-yard bomb that was dropped after hitting Mike Davis in the hands, and also added a 26-yard glide up the left sideline. All against Oregon's first-team defense.
The sample size is small, as it has been since Swoopes arrived on campus last spring. But when he flashes his athleticism in the open field or busts out his howitzer of a right arm, it's hard not to envision his ceiling.
Whoever Texas' next coach is, he gets a 245-pound, big-armed quarterback to scheme around. That should lead to Swoopes doing some special things as a sophomore.
Greg Robinson Can Stay as Long as He Wants
Even with Marcus Mariota putting up video game numbers, Greg Robinson's defense held its own against the explosive Oregon offense. Once again, he has proven he deserves to stick around.
You can argue the Texas' offense did more damage than Oregon's. Greg Robinson's defense held the nation's third-highest scoring offense to 16 points, whereas Case McCoy handed them 14 points on interception returns. It didn't help that his group went three-and-out six times either.
On the night, the Longhorn defense got to Mariota twice and forced four field-goal attempts in the red zone. Had Texas actually moved the ball on offense, that was good enough to make things interesting.
Mack Brown is officially done coaching at Texas, but that shouldn't necessarily mean the same for Robinson. His defense held all but two Big 12 opponents under four yards per carry, and he coached Jackson Jeffcoat to a first-team All-American selection.
He has earned the right to stay, even if somebody decides otherwise.
Malcolm Brown Is Texas' Best Offensive Player
Malcolm Brown was the only offensive player who showed up for the Longhorns on Tuesday. That was to be expected from the team's best player over the second half of the season.
The junior tailback carried his team through the first half. On the Longhorns' lone touchdown drive, their 225-pound bruiser turned eight handoffs into 56 yards. Brown finished with 130 yards on 26 carries, highlighted by a 40-yard burst late in the second quarter, to lead the team in total offense.
A forgotten man early in the season, Brown emerged as Texas' most reliable player after Johnathan Gray went down with an Achilles injury. This was his third straight 100-yard rushing game, and his fifth consecutive game with 25 or more carries.
Gray will return in 2014, but Brown should still expect 15-20 touches per game. His ability to soften the opposing defense is irreplaceable.
Geoff Swaim Needs to Work on His Hands
JUCO transfer Geoff Swaim proved to be a valuable asset as a blocker for Texas. To build on his first-year success, he needs to emerge as a receiving threat.
Swaim started eight games this year, but only had two catches for 12 yards in the regular season. Major Applewhite decided to give him a look in the passing game on Monday, and the tight end responded by dropping two catchable balls in the first half.
He will certainly see action as a blocker next season. But if Swaim can't make routine catches that a tight end should make, he will see his snap count drop considerably.
Daje Johnson Needs to Get His Head on Straight
Let's hope Daje Johnson's third suspension of his two-year career is what he needed to get his head on straight. The alternative would be bad for both him and Texas.
Blessed with 4.34 speed, Johnson is as explosive a player as Texas has on its roster. The sophomore can score from anywhere, scoring 70-yard touchdowns as a runner, receiver and returner in his career.
Unfortunately, Johnson has had trouble staying on the field, missing the Alamo Bowl for violating team rules. It is his third missed game due to suspension, and his second in the last three games.
Against Oregon, Texas could have really used a player with the ability to change the game with one play. He has got to get himself under control.
Missed Recruits Continue to Haunt Texas
Josh Huff is no Heisman Trophy winner, nor is he the best receiver in the nation. But he is another player from Texas who made the Longhorn coaches look silly for not recruiting him.
Prior to playing Texas in the Alamo Bowl, the Houston native tweeted, "I will never forget the day that Major Applewhite said I wasn't good enough." Of course, Huff would prove that he was good enough with five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown on Monday. Texas' wideouts combined for 46 yards on seven catches and three drops.
Granted, there are two caveats to Huff's told-you-so performance. First being that receivers depend on their quarterback to get them the ball, which Case McCoy couldn't while Marcus Mariota could. Second is that the state of Texas is loaded with talented kids, and not all of them get to be Longhorns.
Still, Huff proves he belongs on the list of good players that the 'Horns passed on during their down years. And he proved it against them on national television.
This will remain a trending story until Texas starts winning conference titles and big-time bowls again.
It Wasn't Meant to Be
None of it was meant to be for the Texas in 2013. Not the rebound season, not the improbable comeback for a conference title and not the happy ending.
Texas fans found out their team wasn't going to be a national power after back-to-back blowouts against BYU and Ole Miss. That was okay, because they still could win the Big 12.
That aspiration took a major hit in a 38-13 pasting at the hands of Oklahoma State. Then the dream of a BCS berth died with a 30-10 loss to Baylor.
After that, all Texas could hope for was a win to honor Mack Brown's departure. Instead, the Longhorns were outclassed in a 30-7 defeat at the hands of Oregon.
The once-promising 2013 season is over, and Brown's 16-year tenure along with it. Every hope he and the fans had for this team has been smashed to pieces by five 20-point losses. It just wasn't meant to be for these Longhorns.
At least they beat Oklahoma.