As I write this, Texas is down 31-0 against Kansas State, and all manner of statements are flying around Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere. “Fire Greg Davis” “Bench Garrett Gilbert” “Fire Mack Brown” etc. Here, I offer my personal commentary on the Texas football season thus far. I don’t have all the answers, but I think what I have seen and my analysis is better than just hearing “Fire Greg Davis” repeated over and over.
Right off the bat, Texas is having a bad season. I think that is obvious. But why is Texas having a bad season? Many people are quick to point to Greg Davis any time something goes bad in the world of Texas football. The man has been a punching bag for years. Hell, I used to be one of those calling for his head.
Greg Davis is not an idiot. You don’t have to look very hard for all of my opinions on the matter, but the bottom line is, he’s not stupid. His playcalling is near perfect most of the time. I don’t want to focus too much on why Greg isn’t the problem with this Texas team, I’d rather focus on the problems.
First problem is the defense. You have a defensive scheme that doesn’t work well with your defensive personnel. Using the “Buck” position might have worked with Sergio Kindle, but it isn’t working with this crew. Muschamp hasn’t made enough changes on defense to account for the loss of Kindle, Houston, and Thomas. Hopefully this changes over the offseason. In addition to scheme changes, I feel like the defense could have used more changes from a personnel standpoint during the year. There is a wealth of talent sitting on the bench that could have perhaps provided a spark this season to a defense that was lacking in inspiration. Tariq Allen, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jordan Hicks, and others are the future of this team. Why not stick them in and see if they can bring something different to the table?
The next problem comes at special teams. Not sure who to blame on this one, because its partially a problem of player execution and perhaps poor coaching. I thought Duane Akina was the special teams coordinator, but apparently he is no longer in that position. It looks like they have solved some of the problems by putting a different return man back for punts, but we will see if that continues to be true. Either way, special teams has certainly contributed to the downfall of Texas this year.
Third problem is Garrett Gilbert. Now, I’m not going to jump out and say he needs to be benched. I think he has potential. However, I don’t think he has come close enough to meeting that potential to warrant trying to carry this whole offense. Mack Brown and Greg Davis both knew this going into this season, hence why they wanted to focus on running the ball more. When it turned out that the running backs and offensive line couldn’t produce a great running game, they had to go to plan B. And plan B has resulted in more pressure on Gilbert that he doesn’t seem to be able to handle. Hopefully this gets ironed out over the offseason as well. If not, look for Connor Wood, NOT Case McCoy, to be your QB. Yes, Case is the second string QB. However, Wood is getting the coveted redshirt. That means they plan to use him in the future and want him to have an extra year. If Case was the better QB, he would be the one redshirting.
Finally, the biggest and most troublesome problem is a lack of leadership. There are no well-defined leaders on this team. Most of these guys have played for years with big vocal leaders, who are now in the NFL.
On offense, you lost Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley, who were leaders for their entire careers. None of the current recievers ever had to be a leader while Shipley was around. How could you expect them to step up this season? Many people hoped that Gilbert was going to be a leader after the way he played in the BCS Championship last year, but that hasn’t panned out either. Personally, I believe that Mike Davis will step up as your leader on offense. He has been the most outstanding new-blood on the offense, and has the characteristics of a leader. Gilbert may or may not step up. We shall see.
On defense, you lost Kindle, Thomas, and Houston, which all combined to lead the defense mentally and physically. Sam Acho has tried to step up to replace Kindle and Houston, but he hasn’t been able to. Gideon has tried to replace Thomas as a leader in the defensive backfield. Neither have been able to step up as the leader. As with the offense, you will need new leadership to step up from the new blood on the team, like Jeffcoat and Hicks. I look for them to take the reins in the last few games and over the offseason, and become the new leaders of the defense for the next couple of years.
All in all, Texas isn’t a dead program. There are problems, yes, but they are all fixable. The biggest issue is with the fans. If Texas fans can’t see that Greg Davis isn’t the problem, they will continue to call for his head and will be upset when he isn’t fired at the end of the year. The fans need to wake up, see the real problems, and then look for the solutions to come over the offseason. Don’t be stupid, because Mack sure isn’t. He knows how to handle a football program, unlike the vast majority of fans who are upset with this season.