I don't intend to pick up the egos of these young players for Texas and throw them off the top of a six-storied building, but this team has a lot to do if they want to keep their number four status in the rankings.
They did defeat Rice University 34-17, but lets be honest, Rice is not supposed to be that competitive against Texas.
This isn't the NFL where every team can beat the other team on any given day. This is college football and there are teams that have players that are going to go to the NFL facing teams with starters who probably lose inner squad games.
For a team that went to the National Championship last year, they are expected to go back and finish the deal. Is it fair? No, but that's the way of the world.
What needs improvement down in the Lone Star State capital? Well, lets start with the offense.
The big thing that I noticed about the Texas game was their struggle on offense. When the Longhorns had Colt McCoy last year, they routinely cut away at defenses like a surgeon's scalpel with accurate passes and then bore the viewers by making a running back like Cody Johnson run it in from the goal line.
However, this team has changed dramatically, because Colt McCoy, a 3,521-yard passer, and Jordan Shipley, a 1,485-yard receiver and wonderful return specialist, are now in the NFL, as are defensive standouts Earl Thomas and Sergio Kindle.
Now, Garrett Gilbert is the new quarterback for the Longhorns, and one of two things must happen: Either Garrett Gilbert improves his game to where he can sufficiently fill Colt McCoy's shoes, or the offensive gameplan must change to where the pressure can be transplanted to other players' shoulders.
This was expected, really. This is where a lot of people are saying, "No duh!" while they read my article, but that doesn't make it any less true.
I don't know if Texas does deserve its fourth overall ranking in the polls. I really think that this team has a good way to go before they can really call themselves contenders.
Aaron Williams, for instance, is not Jordan Shipley on punt return duties. In the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, a punt bounced off his facemask and Travis Bradshaw just picked it out of the air, and that lead to a Rice touchdown a few plays later.
Garrett Gilbert was 14-of-23 for 172 yards and no touchdowns with zero turnovers. That's the stat line of a managing quarterback, not a game-changing quarterback. There were games that Texas had when McCoy was under center where he was asked to make 50 plays, and if he doesn't make those plays, they lose.
A managing guy is asked to make maybe 20 plays at most. The other plays are made by the defense, by the running game, and sometimes by special teams, like a key punt return that leads to a win.
I see Texas having to rely on all parts to win ball games. You can't say to the defense that Garrett Gilbert will out-gun the other team and win 42-35. Not now, at least.
Remember that one of the touchdowns was a fumble recovery taken back, so this team only scored 24 points on offense. All three of the touchdowns were runs by Tre' Newton, and one time they tried on a fourth and goal to just bury it in, but were stopped short.
The defense really did a great job, though, but I do have some criticism for them about two interceptions they dropped that had a clear path to the house. They make those interceptions, and that is two more touchdowns on the board.
If you have a managing quarterback, then your defense may be required to make those plays, or you can lose those games. If this was against, let's say, Alabama, then those touchdowns would probably be required in order to win that game.
However, the Texas defense held Rice to 10 points until a muffed punt gave the ball to Rice in the red zone, so it became 17 points. That's a mark of a great defense.
The longest plays allowed by the defense were 47- and 30-yard pass plays. The longest run allowed was 14 yards.
In total, the Texas defense allowed 89 yards rushing and 131 yards passing for 220 total yards. Throw in the three sacks, the interception recorded, and the fumble returned for a touchdown, and that's a great defense.
Now, the big thing that needs to be improved is Gilbert. He has his moments, but there are some passes that he threw that resembled wounded ducks, that of course, became incompletions.
With the quarterback position, it is all about timing and knowledge. Gilbert needs more work on his timing of passes and position of the ball. I've seen him throw his passes too quickly—some just get away from him, and Colt McCoy was the exact opposite.
McCoy had tremendous chemistry with wide receiver and roommate Jordan Shipley, and McCoy had around a 70 percent completion rate.
If I had to rate the performance of the offense, I'd give it a six, while the defense gets an eight or nine.
At this rate, Texas will be a good team, and will compete for the Big 12 title, but as far as the National Championship, I don't think they are that large a threat yet.
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