Football

Dazed and confused

Jeffrey McCulloch (Will Gallagher/IT)
Jeffrey McCulloch (Will Gallagher/IT)

Austin has kept it weird for decades, and recently this ever-growing hamlet of the bizarre celebrated the 25th – yes, 25th – anniversary of the Capitol city-produced classic movie, Dazed and Confused.

Not sure if this was the pre-game movie the Texas football team watched the night before losing to Maryland – again – but there was certainly some dazed looks and confusing football Saturday.

Consider…

The fact that Keaontay Ingram had such an auspicious debut, followed by an extended period on the bench while the Longhorns played inferior running backs, left me both dazed and confused in my recliner.

Maryland had a talented freshman who either scored or facilitated a score on three occasions Saturday in Washington, D.C. The Longhorns simply had a talented freshman back who spent a large amount of time on the bench because he was deemed not to have as much valuable experience as others who did, in fact, play that position in crunch time. The Longhorns need to stop looking at birth certificates. I’m no Mensa, but I believe the smartest thing to do is play your best players.

As for Dallas Cowboy Blaine Nye once famously said, “the uncluttered mind triumphs.”

No one, however, should be either dazed or confused about what happened to the Longhorns’ best defender – and possibly best overall player – Gary Johnson. He was removed from the game after a helmet to helmet hit, and frankly, I felt truly sorry for him seeing him react to being tossed out of the game. The punishment is too harsh.

However, I’m tired of hearing folks complain about the rule, and I’m ready for coaches and players to stop whining about it, too. Whether you like the rule or not, it is a rule that’s in the books and will, obviously, be enforced. Since the rule is in the books, then coaches need to coach tackling accordingly and players simply must – must – remove their heads from the fundamentals of their tackling.

Yes, you’ve been taught and coached to hit and tackle a certain way your entire life. Yes, the game comes at you in split-second intervals. Yes, the punishment should not be so severe, especially on a first offense. But these are the rules, so either learn to coach and tackle within the framework of the rules, or continue to get tossed out of the games; these are your only two options. Don’t want to wear a seatbelt? Fine. But then don’t complain when you get a ticket.

And can we just tamp down all talk of strength and conditioning? All off season, all we heard was strength, conditioning, etc. I am convinced that the new strength and conditioning coach is awesome. So was the one before him; and the one before that. Remember Bennie Wylie? He used to do all of the workouts WITH the football team. He was the one who was going to transform the program, change the mindset, alter the culture and make everything right again.

So was Pat Moorer.

I’m both dazed and confused by all of the time we spend in press conferences talking about conditioning and weight lifting. I recognize that these players can dead lift a truck and run 40s in less than four seconds.

I’ve heard enough. UT can dead lift a truck, but can’t move opponents enough to run the football. UT players can run the 40 in 2.7 seconds and yet daze-ingly and confusedly I see receivers running free. The words I hear are bludgeoning me into a punch-drunk stupor. (Insert smart aleck comment here). But seriously, I’ve heard enough. I feel like Karl Childers: I’m old and give out.

Finally, I am most dazed and confused by the Texas quarterback play. Do the Longhorns have a quarterback? Do they have four of them? Two? Three? All of these guys are awesome young folks, all with tremendous back stories, all have character and class and ability. Maybe it’s simply a matter of getting better offensive line production before one of them pulls away to clearly become the bell cow, the man, the Bevo at this position. Until then, the state of dazed confusion continues behind center.

It’s been a long time, and I’m weary. I’m dazed. And confused.

I get older, and UT football stays exactly the same…