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Monday, October 23, 2006

Texas Tidbits

I don’t have a lot to add to the commentary on the Texas game that is already out there, but I did want to write up something.

First, I spoke with several UT fans on the plane back to Houston Sunday night. The general consensus seemed to be that it was a hard fought game, and that the Longhorns had been lucky to escape with a win. One fan in particular was very impressed with his time in Lincoln, saying it was as enjoyable as the two UT Rose Bowl experiences. He also gushed about the Nebraska fans, and noted that Memorial Stadium in his estimation was louder than “The Horseshoe” despite the presence of 15,000 fewer fans. After the game he and his friends checked out Barry’s and evidently didn’t pay for a drink all night. He was particularly impressed with one group of Husker young ladies who offered congratulatory hugs and free martinis for the gaggle of Longhorns. Nice work ladies.

Onto the game…

Offensively we finally showed a gameplan that was reminiscent of the end of 2005. Last week I noted the game reminded me of OU 2005, and I think this turned out to be case. For those who questioned whether Callahan and company could make in-game or halftime adjustments, I think you have your answer. The offensive line made key adjustments at the break, and UT had less success collapsing the middle of the pocket around Taylor. Speaking of Zac, I wish he could find his rhythm. He seems to be struggling to get through his progressions while moving around in the pocket. He still does an amazing job of controlling the offense, but we need him at his peak if we are going to take the next step.

It is evident that we still lack talent and depth at certain spots, and this hurts our ability to match up with Top 10 teams. The offensive line didn’t have their best game, but they also won’t see another front seven that talented during the regular season. Our receivers had some drops and obviously a crucial fumble, but still performed well. I was very impressed with some of their downfield blocking, particularly on the Brandon Jackson shovel pass. The running game was pretty much nonexistent, but then again I didn’t have much faith in us moving the ball on the ground against a superior Longhorn D.

On the defensive side of the ball it appears Coz has changed his approach post the KU debacle. We are seeing a very aggressive defensive gameplan, that forces the issue via blitzes from all over the place. The progress of Thenarse and Wilson has enabled more nickel and dime packages that again make the defensive calls more flexible. And how about Steve Octavian? I’m not sure what all was keeping him off the field, but he made his presence felt early and often on Saturday. The safeties continue to improve, but clearly aren’t where we need them. The long pass to Sweed looked like a busted coverage as Shanle got caught in no-man’s land and didn’t give Jones any help at all. The corners did the best they could and this is the type of game that can only help their continued development.

Overall, I came away very impressed with our performance. I expected us to be 6-2 at this point and there is certainly no shame in losing to teams like USC and Texas. It would have been huge to pull off the upset on Saturday, but a Big 12 North title is looking more and more likely. It was great to be back in Lincoln for a game weekend and to have the opportunity to start drinking at 8 a.m. Extra special thanks to Sammy Vegas, Lobster Bob and A. Rose, for their help in pummeling my liver into submission.