Thursday, January 17, 2013
Season report card: Texas Longhorns
By David Ubben
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Oklahoma State Cowboys.
OFFENSE: It was obvious from the start that this offense would only go as far as David Ash would take them, and the offense looked really, really strong in the first four games, including wins on the road against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. He played well against West Virginia, but the wheels came off for everything in a blowout loss to Oklahoma. Ash was benched against KU and Case McCoy rescued a win, and McCoy got some run against TCU and K-State when Ash suffered a rib injury. Ash was OK this year, but has to eliminate the rough outings. The receivers were solid, but the running game still has yet to become the force that the raw talent at running back suggests it should be. It's been good, but the Longhorns still keep their backs healthy. The offense was better this year and earned Bryan Harsin a head-coaching job at Arkansas State, but there's a lot of room for improvement for this unit. GRADE: B-
DEFENSE: This is where it could get ugly, considering we generally grade these units on a curve relative to the talent present. Texas looked like a runaway candidate for the Big 12's best defense. The defensive line was beastly and deep at defensive tackle, and the linebackers were young, albeit promising. The secondary returned all of its best talents and Kenny Vaccaro and cornerbacks Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs could arguably be considered the Big 12's No. 1 and No. 2 corners. That was in the preseason, though. Texas never found much ability to slow the run, and Diggs and Byndom were disappointments compared to their 2011 seasons. The linebackers had to deal with the loss of leader Jordan Hicks for most of the season, so they get somewhat of a pass, and the defensive line recovered well from the loss of Jackson Jeffcoat. Alex Okafor was one of the Big 12's best defenders, but that inability to stop the run cost the Longhorns. GRADE: C-
OVERALL: That 4-0 start had plenty of folks, myself included, thinking Texas was back. The loss the following week to a top-10 West Virginia team (back then, anyway) was nothing to be ashamed of. That Red River loss, though, cast a huge shadow over the season and even a late four-game winning streak and a big win on the road at Texas Tech couldn't erase that. A Thanksgiving night disastrous loss to TCU might have repercussions on the recruiting trail in the future, and the Longhorns weren't ready to play 60 minutes with Kansas State, who ran away in the second half. The bowl win over Oregon State was Texas' best win of the season, but in a season in which Texas hoped to be back, it simply wasn't enough. Nine wins doesn't cut it at Texas. GRADE: C+