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Culpeppers Commentary: Texas Offense ‘Ridiculously Soft, Fragile’

I didn’t see this one coming but as the morning went to afternoon in the Horns’ 28-21 loss to Iowa State I was bombarded with some interesting questions from fans sitting near me in section 29, row 4 at DKR:
1. “Why don’t we run some power football?”Texas does not have the patience or the commitment to run the football with power. A couple of factors regarding the Longhorns’ offensive set-up which make it next to impossible to be a physical, running team which would have beaten Iowa State: first of all, Texas dropped the tight end from their plans and there is never a lead blocking fullback, which allows some double-teaming upfront. With Tre’ Newton and Cody Johnson physically well, the Longhorns could have hammered this Iowa State defense early in the contest and made a real statement about the momentum they had gained in Lincoln, Nebraska the previous Saturday. Didn’t happen.2. “Why doesn’t Texas try a new quarterback?”Garrett Gilbert had a terrible football game. Once again he has no idea about the reactions by defenders to his throws. There could have been six interceptions instead of three. Without the Texas coaches drilling the youngster on how to run the football, protecting himself and the football, I don’t think he will make the remainder of the season. He took at least two unnecessary shots while running versus the Cyclones. Believe me, I am for him taking off with the football but he doesn’t know, or else hasn’t shown, how to lower his shoulder and slide down for first downs. 3. “Why can’t the Texas defense stop the dive play?”Tailback Alexander Robinson, at 5-9, 186, ran straight through the Longhorn defenders as did UCLA’s tailback. As I mentioned in Inside Texas after the UCLA embarrassment, the Longhorn defense is not sound against the quick dive off the zone read unless the front four linemen close the gaps like they did at Nebraska. In that game, there were three linebackers backing up the Texas front four. Against Iowa State, there were only two linebackers and Robinson punished Texas. 4. “Why aren’t we killing this team?”The only answer possible is Texas is a mediocre team, as I mentioned after the UCLA game. However, the Horns did play one brilliant game against Nebraska and got everybody’s hopes up. It happens, just like Iowa State’s win in Austin even though in the top 100 recruits for the last four years not one 4- or 5-star recruit went to Ames, Iowa! To make it pure and simple, coach Paul Rhoads outcoached Mack Brown. Believe me, it’s difficult being coach Brown, who’s been on the very top of the mountain and now must watch his first-rate recruits with first-class facilities become one of college football’s laughingstocks. Two straight losing-record teams have come into Austin and made the Longhorns and their coaches look like children.Perhaps on Nov. 20 when Texas plays Florida Atlantic, which now has a 1-5 record, will Longhorn fans see their team get a ‘satisfying’ victory.It looks like coach Brown has tried everything he knows to defend his team. Several weeks ago it was “fans who give up by the quarter” and “we’re being too careful with our young quarterback” after the Oklahoma game.The man’s a good coach but his offensive coordinator has finally brought him to ruin.It is difficult to imagine the Longhorns getting better with the performance shown by the team led by Garrett Gilbert. The sophomore quarterback is not improving because he can’t carry this offensive scheme that Greg Davis has saddled him with.Believe me, it’s a nightmare for Mack Brown and he has a ridiculously soft, fragile offensive team.5. “What would you do with this Texas team?”Tuesday afternoon, I would put one of those fine Longhorn offensive linemen between two long dummies with a defensive lineman opposite and a linebacker backing him up. Garrett Gilbert would get a snap from his center, turn and with a fullback candidate in front of Cody Johnson or Tre’ Newton, Gilbert would give the football to one of those tailbacks and see if that lineman could drive block, who could fill a fullback blocking spot and let Johnson and Newton try to find a hole between those three-yards-apart dummies.We would play Baylor from an I formation with a tight end and two wideouts using that power play as our base and add a counter play, a pitch sweep and a play action pass to go against the Bears.On defense, I would have Will Muschamp line us up in a 4-3 or 3-4 with no flip-flopping so we could stop the dive and fill the gaps (or at least know who was getting beaten).Oh well, that’s not going to happen. The only hope is that Mack Brown is tired of making excuses for this bunch of overrated athletes. I surely am. For sure, I was excited about the victories over Texas Tech and Nebraska, but this last Saturday was the pits.It wasn’t lack of talent that has brought them to such a humble state, it’s lack of heart. They proved what they could do at Lubbock and Lincoln but didn’t show the team character to defend their own home stadium! Baylor 24, Texas 10. I will be there because I am a Longhorn forever.

Hook ‘Em!

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.