Sunday, December 30, 2012
Five thoughts from Alamo Bowl
By Sean Adams
Not exactly the start Texas wanted ...
Fifteen plays for 23 yards was the first quarter of the play-calling career for Major Applewhite at Texas. The team committed three penalties. The initial first down for the Longhorns came on a penalty.
David Ash, historically, has not recovered well or was not given the opportunity to recover from these rough starts.
Linebacker Kendall Thompson (35) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) celebrate after the Longhorns stopped Oregon State in the fourth quarter.
Against Oregon State, Ash recovered and recovered well. He threw the off-schedule touchdown pass to Johnathan Gray, hit Jaxon Shipley on timely first-down passes over the middle and then pitched a perfect, 36-yard pass to Marquise Goodwin for the game-winner.
Ash, or any quarterback for that matter, grows in this kind of contest. Does he still have a lot of things to work on? Yes. Is he better right now than he was when he finished the Holiday Bowl win over California last year? Yes.
Texas did not get the start it wanted but finished in a way that will help it grow going forward. Kenny Vaccaro talked after the game about the team wanting to win for the seniors and the seniors wanting to win to set up the team going into the spring.
They were both successful. After being 10 points down, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win the game helped everyone grow going forward.
Major tried and succeeded at trying ...
Yeah, I think that makes sense. Bryan Harsin struggled to get the ball to his speed guys. For everything that he did well in his two seasons in Austin, he struggled with distributing the ball to his plethora of weapons in the Texas offense.
Applewhite did exactly that in his first game. While Malcolm Brown only had four carries in his homecoming, Goodwin and D.J. Monroe both got the ball in their hands, with Goodwin gaining 64 yards on a reverse when Oregon State was caught out of position and overpursued. Goodwin then caught the game-winning fade route for a 36-yard score. On both scoring plays, his Olympic speed was on full display.
Applewhite referenced his desire to get the ball to his difference-makers early and often, and at least in the first game, he was able to call plays according to his plan and it worked.
5A vs. 3A
Without being disrespectful to Oregon State, it was almost laughable how different these teams looked from a talent comparison. Oregon State was undersized everywhere on the field, save for the 354-pound, awkwardly built No. 98, Castro Masaniai.
Even on the field before the game, I felt like I was looking at a 5A team in Texas playing a 3A team. They don’t have the same numbers, the same depth, the same resources or the same support. All of that was true in the Alamo Bowl.
I wanted to make sure that I was not crazy, so I asked a few other people in the press box, and one national media member said, “Sean, try to find one position on the Oregon State team where they are more physically talented than Texas. You can’t find one.”
The defense came to play ...
Besides some ill-timed blitz packages, the Texas defense played well. The tendency is to say that running back Storm Woods gashed the Texas defense, but the fact is that he only ran for 122 yards as part of the Beavers' total of 103 yards on the ground -- the deductions came because of Texas' 10 sacks.
Led by 4.5 sacks by Alex Okafor, the Longhorns also had two interceptions and 14 tackles for loss. While those stats are incredible, the fact is that Texas could have had three more interceptions and close to six more sacks.
The Texas defense played so well in the second half that Longhorns fans finally got to see the defense they thought Texas would have all year. Texas was overwhelming in the fourth quarter to a point that Oregon State didn’t even want to use its timeouts near the end of the game.
Fundamentals on defense ...
While I am giving a lot of love to the Texas defense, there are things that will have to be in place in order for this defense to play football at a championship level.