This is shaping up to be a very disappointing year for the Longhorns. I mean, home loss to Iowa fucking State? You gotta be kidding me. Here are my thoughts on what has led to the current state of affairs.
1. Bad luck/poor character evaluation: Marcus Davis, Andre Jones, Jarvis Humphrey, Robert Joseph, Brian Ellis, James Henry -- just on defense. Those guys could have been HUGE for the DT rotation (Jones, Humphrey, Ellis) and DB (if Joseph is less thug Gideon never sees the field at Texas, and Marcus Davis had a shot to kick Chykie to the curb). On offense you get Buck Burnette, JaMarcus Webb, Roy Watts, Josh Marshall, Brandon Collins, Ian Harris, Blaine Irby, Dan Buckner, and DJ Grant. This group would bolster the weakest units on the team. Collins and Buckner would provide two sure-handed receivers. Irby and Grant give you legit threats at the TE position. This does not take into account the poor talent/ability evaluation by the coaches.
2. Poor recruiting/development: Not sure whether the problem with this group lies in poor evaluation of the innate talent, or the inability to properly develop that talent.
- 2006: Chykie Brown, Steve Moore, Britt Mitchell, Greg Smith, Phillip Payne, Montre Webber
- 2007: John Chiles, Ben Wells, Russell Carter, Tray Allen, Aundre McGaskey, Ahmard Howard, James Kirkendoll (and Malcolm Williams only because he should be playing safety)
- 2008: Nolan Brewster, Blake Gideon, Dravannti Johnson, Mark Buchanan, Luke Poehlmann, Brock Fitzhenry, Jeremy Hills, Ryan Roberson
- 2009: Chris Whaley, Eryon Barnett, Tariq Allen, Patrick Nkwopara, Calvin Howell, Derek Johnson
This does not take into account the players that could have been on the roster in place of some of these dead weights.
3. Poor coaching, including recruiting decisions:
-The O-line is coached, I'm fairly certain, by Gabriel "Gabe" Solis. The penalties this year are ridiculous. The lack of development across the board at this position is embarassing. Recruiting at the position has been bizarre. It's like they're just throwing numbers at the position in hopes that the law of averages will give them enough decent players. That's great, except that 80% or more of the players recruited have been interior linemen rather than tackles.
-Wide receivers are clearly not taught the finer points of the position such as running beyond the first down marker on 3rd and 4th down. The current group has unreliable hands (to be charitable), gives poor effort blocking down field, and has no rapport with their QB. Texas has not offered a lot of incredibly talented guys at this position in recent years, and yet the roster is loaded with guys like Brock Fitzhenry and Greg Timmons who are unlikely to ever be contributors. The future at least looks bright for this position with Mike Davis, Darius White, and their redshirting classmates as well as Desean Hales.
-Running back is a huge mystery. Cody Johnson has proven, by this point, that he can be successful in the zone-blocking spread system, and yet he never gets the chance to establish himself and pound on the defense for more than 3 or 4 plays at a time. Fozzy has been consistent this year, the first time he's stayed healthy, and the last two games they've gone away from him, inexplicably. DJ Monroe is one of the fastest guys on the team, gets positive yards consistently, and can't get on the field. They promised Whaley he'd be the only RB taken his year and he's not even a RB anymore. There were better RBs available to the University of Texas in 2008 than Hills and Newton, namely Lamichael James and Jaquizz Rogers. In 2009 they could have had Christine Michael. In 2010 they took a single guy from 1A ball. He might be great, but it's a risk when you're not stocked at the position.
-Offensive coordinator refuses to develop game plans that highlight his players strengths and attack the opponents weakness (outside the Nebraska game). He appears willing to throw away the first two possessions of every game for the opportunity to see how the defense is going to react to his alignments. The internet is full of angry pixels burning on this subject, so I'm not going to belabor it. I'll simply say Greg Davis has not put his players in the position to succeed. All of the above complaints can be laid at least partially at his feet as well.
Not many complaints on the actual defensive coaching other than the frustrating inability of Chykie Brown to improve at all. He is the exact same player now as he was the first day he showed up on campus. The other issues on defense relate to the bad luck/recruiting decisions outlined above.
The good news is that recruiting, especially on the defensive side of the ball, has been impressive the last two years. If the defensive line can avoid the crippling attrition and bad luck of the last four years, they should be set. With Jeffcoat and Wilson showing up college-ready from day one the DE spot is secure. The four true freshman DTs provide depth even if none of them break out into stars (though I expect one or two of them will). Desmond Jackson in next year's class should be an impact guy early. On offense it looks like Adrian White and Adrian Phillips, and probably Demarco Cobbs are all keepers from this freshman class at DB and they've got 5 guys in next year's class who could play DB (Thompson might be WR, Diggs might be RB). RB is also looking up with Diggs, Malcolm Brown, and Joe Bergeron all showing the talent to potentially contribute early. Wide receiver has had some success as well with Mike Davis and Darius White contributing this year while Chris Jones could be Brandon Collins and John Harris provides a big target in the mold of Dan Buckner. Next year's class has Shipley junior which is nothing but good news, but the other guy doesn't really do much for me. They've gotten 3 Texas-good QBs in the last 3 classes, not to mention Colt's little brother who might make me look as silly as Colt did.
Offensive line recruiting continues to be a mystery. Last year they took zero tackle prospects when that was already the thinnest spot across the line. Next year they've committed six linemen, but one of them broke his leg (actually came to junior day in a wheelchair) and is about the 3rd best lineman on his HS team this year. Unless the coach changes, I don't expect to see a lot of improvement here.
Bottom line is Greg Davis has to go. He's not the only problem, but he brings nothing to the recruiting table, has no cohesive offensive identity, and does not game plan well outside of one game per year. Fire Greg Davis. Do it. Do it now. Or at least pull some strings so he gets the UNT head coaching job. Either way, make him disappear.
EDIT: I just saw Mizzou run a hook and lateral off a WR screen against OU. Let's get their guy. The WR screen gets overplayed against Texas routinely by opposing defenses, that play would make them pay for it big time.