Monday, December 10, 2012
Scars of 2012 season will remain for Horns
By Carter Strickland
Texas continues to produce seasons that warrant backward glances, if only to make sure the past stays put. No one wants to relive that again. But the time has come to look over the shoulder and the damage that 2012 hath wrought, where it all went wrong and why it might get better in 2013.
Over the next four days, HornsNation will take a look at the 2012 program. Up first is the view from the top and how expectations cleverly disguised an 8-4 team, how the staff did nothing to stop it from happening and the introspection required to make sure it doesn’t happen yet again.
Tuesday, the offense, which vacillated between inept and unstoppable, will be in focus. Wednesday the worst defense in Texas history hits the chopping block. On Thursday, room will be saved for punter Alex King, arguably the most consistent and reliable player on Texas, and the special teams unit.
Before the season, Texas coach Mack Brown said the Longhorns had the talent to win every game.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The past does not have to be a harbinger for things to come.
That’s the beauty of college football and why, at the beginning of each season, so many drink in the possibilities espoused by their respective coaches. Things can and do change.
Texas needs to look no further than Valero Alamo Bowl opponent Oregon State for proof. The Beavers went from 3-9 in 2011 to 9-3 in 2012. The six-game turnaround was tied for the best in college football this season -- although the four-game improvement made by Notre Dame (8-5 to 12-0) is undoubtedly a turnaround Texas fans believe would be more befitting of their program. In fact, by this point in Texas' long, ungracious and stagnant turnaround, much less would be deemed unsatisfactory by most.
But there is tangible proof, albeit not provided by Texas, that change, quick change, can and does happen. And, while the past need not be an indication of future results, it does have to be picked apart and studied in an effort to eventually achieve better results.
Consider then that each offseason is an archaeological dig of sorts. To that end, right now at Texas it is time to pass out the shovels and sifting screens. The Longhorns have to unearth what went wrong where and, most importantly, why.
True, it does not take high-powered inspection to understand the leader of Texas’ expedition into 2012 borrowed the wrong page from Ernest Shackleton and as a result vastly underestimated his abilities, that of those who surrounded him and what lie ahead for Texas.
Mack Brown’s prediction that Texas had the talent to be in and possibly win every game put the onus squarely on a team that had plenty of talent in 2011 and 2010 but did not comes close to competing in every game.
To think things might change was fine and even expected. To come out and say it, even with the increasing questions and pressure, was a mistake. Ah but humble never does play well in this state. After all, that is why there is just a Lone Star above it.
That Brown was so out of touch with the team and coaches allowed observers to believe that he too was out of touch. Surely, the prevailing opinion became, there were hints in the spring and fall practices of things to come.
The incompetence put on display by Texas’ defense from the start did not just arrive overnight. Neither did the porous blocking provided by the offensive line. There must have been signs.
It became apparent early -- the first missed tackle of the season occurred in the first quarter of the season against Wyoming when two Texas defenders collided in a Keystone Cop moment and allowed Robert Herron to go 82-yard for a touchdown -- those signs had not been neither seen nor heeded.
Instead, even after Texas was beat by Oklahoma by 42 points, the coaching staff appeared dumbfounded in the boy-we-sure-didn’t-see-that-coming sort of way that falls more than just a smidge short of inspiring.
Brown called the offense inept following that game. But it was the entire team that proved to be clueless. Sure, a four-game win streak followed. The combined record of the opponents was 21-27 with Baylor and Texas Tech being the two teams at better than .500 with 7-5 records.
But losing the final two games of the seasons -- one at home on Thanksgiving to a team that had not beaten a ranked opponent all season or Texas in Austin since 1967 -- and changing quarterback at the 11th hour and in the 11th game, only provided more evidence that Texas was clueless in what it had on the field and how it should go about coaching those players.
Now, as painful as ripping off the band-aid applied by a bowl berth might be, Texas must inspect the self-inflicted wounds of 2012 in order to heal properly before 2013. If not the Longhorns will find themselves standing on shifting sands again in 2013 and no shovel will prove big enough to dig them out of that mess.