When the 2007-2008 season came to a close, Texas fans could only be bewildered by the roller coaster-like season they had just witnessed.
A sorry excuse for a victory against lowly Arkansas State in the season opener; a poor defensive performance against Central Florida two weeks later; a blow out twenty-point loss to Kansas State at home; and a close loss to hated rival OU set the fate for the Longhorns—they were to be merely average.
Fans were often disgusted by the lack of creativity on offense and the shockingly poor play of the defense, specifically the linebackers, for the second straight year. Nothing was going right for the 'Horns. The offense was stagnant, the defense was slow, and special teams flat-out stunk it up.
I attended the Kansas State game with my family. I saw firsthand how miserably the 'Horns were capable of playing. It didn't help that the game was also being played in a driving rainstorm.
I still have nightmares about Kansas State phenom Jordy Nelson running up and down the field on punt/kick returns. Watching our defense try to tackle was more ugly than my eighth grade musical.
The point is, Texas never seemed like they had their heads in that game, or the four games they played prior (Rice being an exception of course).
Sophomore QB Colt McCoy was coming off an unbelievable freshman year in which he threw for 29 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, amassing over 2,500 yards in the air. His numbers took a nose dive in 2007.
It was partly his fault for trying to force too many plays, but inexperience and injuries on the offensive line doomed him as well. McCoy was brilliant at times, but fans were left with a bitter taste after some lousy performances.
Texas improved from the OU game on, but still lacked an offensive identity and a defensive pulse. One of the bright spots of the year was the rebirth of RB Jamaal Charles.
Charles sprinted onto the scene when Texas was down to mediocre Nebraska at home. In a dazzling display of speed and agility, Charles put up 290 yards rushing and three touchdowns. 216 of his yards came in the fourth quarter, setting a UT record for most rushing yards in a quarter.
The following week, down 35-14 to Oklahoma State with less than nine minutes left, Charles came to the rescue again, scoring twice in the fourth quarter to help Texas to another improbable comeback win over the Cowboys.
The season would however take one more bad turn...a VERY bad turn. In College Station, Texas fell prey to the upstart Aggies, losing 38-30 in yet another embarrassing defensive performance. Stephen McGee, a run-first QB, torched the defense for 362 yards through the air.
In the weeks following, fans began to question Mack Brown and his coaching staff. Familiar cries for offensive coordinator Greg Davis' head and talk of the team being "soft" arose in Austin.
Coach Brown put in place a new policy of discipline, setting up team practices every morning at 6 a.m. to prep for their upcoming appearance at the Holiday Bowl.
Brown wanted to erase the team's label of being soft and restore the respect Texas football has earned in his 11 years of coaching at the university. He left every position up for the taking, forcing his starters to prove they belonged.
Obvious changes were made at linebacker. Starters Rashad Bobino and Scott Derry were replaced by Jared Norton, Sergio Kindle, and fan favorite Roddrick Muckleroy.
It is safe to say Mack made his point. In a stunning offensive and defensive performance in San Diego, Texas rolled over No. 11 Arizona State, 52-34. The offense was fluid and consistent, led by the sharpshooting accuracy and nifty mobility of Colt McCoy.
The defense was ferocious, sacking Sun Devil QB Rudy Carpenter five times. It was the most complete game Texas had played since the 2006 Rose Bowl. There was an offensive fireworks display, a mean pass rush, and raw emotion that fuled the 'Horns.
This game was also a rather sad reminder of how good this Texas team could have been all year, but it's in the past now. There is no going back.
Here's one Texas football fan who hopes he gets to see that kind of performance in every game they play next year. Hook 'em.
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