Don’t get carried away – this Texas team has miles to go before they can compete with Oklahoma or Missouri.
For sure Florida Atlantic had a first rate passing attack and an NFL-type quarterback but defensively the Owls had poor discipline and couldn’t match the outstanding offensive line of Texas. That group plus Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby along with tight end Blaine Irby give the Longhorns a chance to win 10 games again.
But believe me, if Texas is to beat either Oklahoma or Missouri, the entire defense and the running backs must make drastic improvements.
FAU quarterback Rusty Smith could have played the game without pads; there was only a couple of times that Texas got any pressure on him. That is a major problem.
The Owls picked on cornerback Ryan Palmer like a yard dog and it looked for a half like Florida Atlantic from the prestigious Sun Belt Conference would throw for over 500 yards against the Texas defense. Fortunately for the Longhorns, the defense picked it up in the second half and Colt McCoy enjoyed an error-free day passing and running. From where I sit at near field level, Colt is faster and stronger from last season and there is no doubt that the Texas front is the strongest unit on the team. From Adam Ulatoski to Kyle Hix, this group came to play. Charlie Tanner was injured (high ankle sprain) and will be missed at left guard, although Michael Huey filled in admirably. Tanner is a warrior, though, and hopefully he’ll be back by the Colorado game.
Running backs Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya had their moments but both can be brought down by arm tackles at this time. Coach Major Applewhite has his hands full turning them into threats running tough enough to take pressure off of McCoy.
I was very concerned Colt McCoy was left in the game with the score 42-10. Get him injured and this team would struggle to beat Colorado, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech or Texas A&M, much less Oklahoma or Missouri. So why not hand it to John Chiles and Sherrod Harris and see which one can both run and pass like the Texas offense has to have in the quarterback position?
That isn’t running up the score, that is preparing your team for the possibility of an injury to McCoy, pure and simple.
If you are concerned about my lack of worry about a comeback by the Owls to make it close if Colt were substituted for with the lopsided score, coach Howard “Texas is talented but not physical” Schnellenberger had already pulled his quarterback.
I like the way Lamarr Houston plays on defense, but his off-the-field actions will rightly keep him from playing defense indefinitely. His dumb-ass DWI arrest at 3:15 a.m. after the win over Florida Atlantic thins UT’s already thin depth at tackle and gives all the downcast Aggies something to divert their attention from their team’s embarrassment at the hands of powerful Arkansas State. I hope coach Brown includes in Houston’s punishment scout team duty against the first-team offensive line. When you act like a dummy with no regard for your teammates, you need to be a blocking dummy.
Roy Miller and Brian Orakpo looked to me like they were not giving outstanding effort up front.
But for the first time in a long, long time the Texas linebackers made plays. Roddrick Muckelroy shot through a gap in Owl blockers and made a couple of nice stops. Jared Norton had the hit of the day and served notice that he can be a big time player.
True freshman safety Blake Gideon saved a possible touchdown by recognizing a throwback screen and knifed through a couple of blockers to make a sure tackle.
Will Muschamp and Duane Akina must be upset with the lack of pressure on the quarterback and missed tackles in the secondary. If they are, and are able to fix it, Texas will improve on defense.
Kick coverage, extra point and field goal protection and kicking plus a stunning blocked punt sent an excellent signal to future opponents about the positive nature of the Longhorn kicking game.
This is a young team that must improve. I think they will in El Paso.
Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.