October 23, 2010

Worst loss of the Mack Brown Era comes at home to Iowa State

1. Mack Brown was pissed off beyond belief after the game, and he should have been. This was the worst loss of the Mack Brown Era because he has built the program to a level in which losses to Iowa State are inconceivable.

This was Alabama losing to Vanderbilt. Ohio State losing to Indiana. Even worse, it happened in Austin. On the same field a month ago where Texas suffered the worst loss (by point margin) of the Mack Brown Era against UCLA.

Here are Mack's thoughts about the game before he took questions:

"I want to congratulate Paul Rhoads. They've had two really difficult weeks, and right when you think something can't happen, it does. He had his team ready to play today, and ours was sitting around thinking about how well we played at Nebraska and stood around and got beat.

"They were better coached than we were. They tried harder than we did. They definitely made more plays than we did. So I do not want to take away from him. He did the same thing in Lincoln last year. It scared me to death all week. And he got his ready to play. They were going to come in here and fight, and that's what they did.

"What we did was totally unacceptable. There will be some guys who played really well. I told them that in the dressing room. And I congratulate them, and it's a shame no one will ever know it except the coaches. We'll congratulate them tomorrow.

"We also told them we'll look at every play very closely and see what needs to be changed. Four turnovers for us and we only gain one from them. We're still not forcing enough turnovers. And we're not protecting the ball on a weekly basis. We've done it for two games. We haven't done it consistently for the year.

"To rush for 96 yards and give up 199 yards, the defense didn't stop the run. This game was very, very similar to UCLA with the arrogance we played with after we beat Tech on defense. Our defense didn't go out there and line up and stop 'em. And what our offense did for three quarters was unacceptable ? having six points in this ballgame, kicking field goals. We even missed a field goal.

"We had fourth-and-goal from the one, jumped offsides and didn't make it, which is unacceptable. We missed a field goal, which we haven't been doing. We threw an interception in the end zone, which we haven't been doing.

"We threw an interception in the end zone, which we haven't been doing. We get the ball back with a turnover at the end of the game with a chance to win, and we turn it back over to them the next play.

"We have a third-and-18, hit the quarterback's arms, and he throws it up. Their guy goes and gets it. Our guys stand there and watch it.

"It's tough. Didn't play well. We said during the week, this team is not good enough to beat anybody unless they all come out and play as a team, and they didn't. Coaches did a poor job, obviously. I told the players sometimes it's hard whether you blame coaches or players because the players didn't get ready to play, and it's the coaches' jobs to get them ready to play.

"It's my job to get the coaches ready to play. We've got a lot of work to do before we play Baylor next week. It's disappointing."


2. Losing to North Carolina State at home or even to a mediocre UCLA team is one thing. Mack Brown doesn't lose to the bottom feeders of the Big 12 - until today. Iowa State is not a good football team. The Cyclones play hard. But they're not any good.

And Greg Davis played right into the Cyclones' hands today by abandoning the run and going to a throw-it-every-down mentality once Texas fell behind by 14-3.

Where was the patience show last week in mixing in runs to Foswhitt Whittaker, Cody Johnson, Tre' Newton and even D.J. Monroe along with Garrett Gilbert. Down by 11, Davis, as is his tendency, went wholesale to the air and gave Iowa State life.

Iowa State's best two players on defense are DE Jacob Lattimer, who beat Britt Mitchell all day with his pass rush, and S David Sims. (Mitchell came out of the game briefly with an injury but returned. That was the only injury of the game.)

When you throw the ball, you play into their hands (Iowa State was plus-6 in turnover margin before the game and is now plus-9 with 12 INTs). Iowa State's linebackers are terrible. Run at them like everyone else has.

Iowa State was giving up 219 yards per game on the ground. Let that sink in. Texas ran for 96 yards on 29 carries (3.3 ypc) and threw it 57 times.
The more mistakes Garrett Gilbert made in the passing game, the more Texas had to rely on the passing game.

This game reminded me of the Holiday Bowl in 2003, when the only thing Washington State could do was rush the passer. So what does Texas do? Falls behind and starts trying to throw it instead of being patient and running draws and delays the way Texas did last week against Nebraska.

When Greg Davis has to go off his scripted plays or game plan, it just starts to feel like you're in a three-hour airplane ride through wind shear and you're banging your head on the top of the airplane cabin.

D.J. Monroe gets one carry? The guy who is averaging 11.8 yards per carry, gets one carry and runs for 10 yards and then never carries it again? This is getting indefensible.

On Monroe's lack of playing time, Davis said: "We just felt like, especially as the game went on, that it was a game that we were playing from behind. As we talked about before, there are some limitations there, but obviously he got in there on one play and gave us an 11-yard run. We have to do a better job of getting him the ball."

I asked Davis why he got away from the run once Texas went down 14-3, he said, "Sometimes you can hang in there with it. Sometimes, you feel like you need to stretch the field a little bit more. Obviously, it didn't work. We didn't get the ball in the end zone."

I asked Mack if the offense got away from the run too early, and he said, "I don't know. You'll have to ask Greg (Davis). He calls the plays."

Texas had never lost to Iowa State in seven previous meetings, winning those games by an average of 20 points per game.

Iowa State beat its first ranked opponent on the road since beating No. 16 Oklahoma, 33-31, in 1990.

"We imagined doing it," said Iowa State RB Jeff Woody. "But when you see that scoreboard it is still a little disbelief you have beating a team with as much history and status as Texas. It is an incredible feeling."


3. Mack threw his offense and defense under the bus with equal force.

"I thought we started last week with the running game," Mack said. "Obviously, we didn't play well today for three quarters - at all - on offense. Really disappointed. This is as disappointed as I've been in our offense."

Mack said his defense didn't answer, either.

"It shifted when the defense went out there and stunk after we kicked the second field goal," Mack said. "They drove it the length of the field and went up 21-6.

"Then at the end, when the defense got a turnover, the offense goes out there and Garrett had the ball pop out of his hands because one of the linemen didn't block. And they get it right back. We just kept killing ourselves. I never thought we'd lose the game.

"I even thought with a minute left we'd still get it because they weren't stopping us at all. But we didn't answer. We're just not a team that answers very well."


4. Mack hated the 2007 season because he said he couldn't ever get a handle on that team. Today, he compared this year's team to that one and brought up some very damning concerns about a lack of trust on this team.

"This team is 2007 all over again," Mack said. "You don't ever know who is going to show up. Scares you to death. Felt it in pre-game, like I said. Scared to death all week.

"Kept telling everybody Iowa State's going to play as hard as they can. Kept telling everyone if we sit around and act like we're as good as we played against Nebraska and listen to it all week, then we'll stink, and that's what we did.

"I'm fighting my guts out to get 'em turned. That's what I did in 2007. I fought my guts out every day. Gotta stay after 'em. Can't trust your team and can't trust your coaches when they are not getting things ready to go. You have to go back and every day look at every little thing you're doing and figure out where it can help."


5. Mack said his team had a good week of practice but then gave him a bad vibe in pre-game warm-ups.

"Tuesday, I thought was a little slow," he said. "We had some soreness. The linebackers didn't practice all week, so I expected them to have some trouble, and we did. Wednesday's practice was really good. And Thursday's practice was great.

"I was worried out there in pre-game because I thought they were standing around with an arrogance. And it really worried me. And then we started the game that way and seemed to play that way until we decided we were going to win with about 12 minutes left to go."

Mack said of his team's problems right now, "I don't' think it's talent. I think it's attitude."

"Iowa State tried harder (than us). They had more confidence because we let 'em," Mack added.

"If the other team is a whole lot better than you and you fight your guts out, you can go home and try to get better players. We were better than them, and they played better than we did. That's what's disappointing. There's no way to hide from that. It's a fact."


6. Mack said he doesn't have the answers right now.

"I haven't seen the film yet," Mack said. "You all are asking me to wave a wand to fix it, and if I could do it that easily, I would have done it before today.

"If you all want me to say I'm going to have a boot camp, that will sound better tonight because it's not good. Tell them I'm going to have a scrimmage here in the stadium in a minute. Tell them that's what I feel like doing."

Mack was asked if he's going to make changes in his lineup.

"Guys behind them need to step up," he said. "If the one that's playing is better than the one behind him, it's hard to put another player out there.

"You can blame whoever you want. It doesn't matter. Everyone's at fault. It's called a team for a reason and it's called a family for the same reason. It's everybody's fault. I come in here and blame me. Obviously, it's all of us. We can blame players. It doesn't do any good. All we can do is bench them."

Mack, who yelled at the offense in a minute-long rant in the first half on his sideline, said he'll watch the game film three times Saturday night to try and find the answers.

"I'm disappointed," he said. 'You can go scream at all of 'em. Some of them played well, so you have to be careful that you don't scream at all of 'em.

"What I'll do is go home, take a shower, clean up and try to watch the film about three times tonight and put some sense to it. Figure out who didn't play well and who did.

"It's really confusing about how to fix it. A team like UCLA and a team like Iowa State that came in without confidence, we didn't jump up and keep their confidence down. We let them gain confidence during the game. It's a weird sport. It's a momentum sport. In both of those games, they were very similar."

Mack said he's "mystified" by this year's team.

"Played great last week and it mystified me," he said. "This week, they stunk and it mystified me. I get mystified. Coaches get confused because there's a lot of things going on, and you have to go figure out what it is and fix it. And it's always a group of things.

"That's why coaches can't tell you what went wrong until they see the film. I know what you all know. I know we lost the game, and I know we stunk. That's what I know. I don't know who played good. I'll figure that out tonight."


7. One of Texas' biggest mistakes in the game occurred on a punt by Iowa State from its own 24 with 13 minutes left in the second quarter.

The Texas defense had just held Iowa State without a single yard as the Cyclones went three-and-out, but UT's Aaron Williams allowed a punt by Kirby Van Der Kamp to bounce on the field instead of catch it in the air.

The ball hit and rolled to the Texas 2-yard-line for a 74-yard punt. UT then went three-and-out, and John Gold had horrible punt of 32 yards that was fair caught by Iowa State's Josh Lenz at the Texas 37. Iowa State mixed the run and pass to perfection in driving to a touchdown and 14-3 lead.

"I thought we should have caught it in the air," Mack Brown said of Williams' decision to let the ball bounce on the 74-yard punt.

After that, Curtis Brown fielded the rest of the punts.


8. LT Kyle Hix was called for a false start on fourth-and-goal from the Iowa State 1 yard-line with Iowa State leading 7-0 in the second quarter. The penalty negated what would have been a Cody Johnson touchdown run and forced a 23-yard field goal.

"I was just trying to come off the ball," Hix said said of his flag, one of only three (for 25 yards) on Texas for the game, but a costly one.

"We have to grow up as an offense and have to play better fast. Very fast," Hix said. "We have to play better than we did today at every position. The offensive line has to play better. We didn't come to play today.

"I really can't tell you. We just have to grow up as an offense and come together and not blame each other. We just have to go back to work."
Hix said he thought the running game was available early, but he touted the company line after the game.

"I thought it was there, but when you get behind, you have to start throwing the ball to catch up," he said. "We got behind too fast and we had to start throwing the ball. But I thought the running game was there."

In Texas' first four trips inside Iowa State's 20, the Longhorns came away with 6 points.

--There was a 23-yard field goal after having first-and-goal from the Iowa State 10.

--There was an interception thrown by Gilbert into the end zone from the Iowa State 17.

--There was a missed field goal from the Iowa State 19 (a 37-yarder) right before the half.

"We put an emphasis on finishing better in the red zone, and that's something we just have to continue to work on," Tre' Newton said.

UT finished with two touchdowns on its last two trips inside the Iowa State 20. For the season, Texas has scored TDs on just 14 of 30 trips inside the opponent's 20 (46 percent). UT's opponents, meanwhile, have scored touchdowns on 13 of 19 trips inside the Longhorns' 20 (68 percent).


9. This season, a 14-3 deficit to Texas seems to feel like a 41-3 deficit. The defense can't seem to separate from the negative energy that comes from the offense when it starts off slowly. Instead of being able to go out and lock people down, the defense seems to sag when the UT offense sags.

It happened again on Saturday as the Texas D gave up 199 yards rushing on the ground, including 120 to Alexander Robinson (on 24 carries, 5.0 ypc), who had two TD runs of 1 and 20 yards. QB Austen Arnaud also provided a spark on the ground by running 10 times for 40 yards.

"We have to be more consistent," Muschamp said. "You can go back to focus and coaching. You can go back to a lot of different things. But I don't think you can put your finger on one thing and say this is the reason."

Iowa State's last TD drive in the fourth quarter covered runs of 6, 7, 7 and 20 yards. The tackling was poor, and Muschamp was asked if his guys were giving maximum effort.

"We'll look at the tape and see," he said.

There's no doubt the defense missed LB Emmanuel Acho, the team's second-leading tackler, who warmed up before the game but couldn't run on his injured left knee (suffered at Nebraska). DE Jackson Jeffcoat was also unable to play Saturday because of a right ankle injury suffered in Lincoln.

Jared Norton was also slowed by injury this week.

The reason Jordan Hicks wasn't in the game as much despite the injuries at linebacker was because Hicks really only knows the weakside spot where Keenan Robinson plays. And Robinson and S Kenny Vaccaro were both able to play against Iowa State despite separate helmet-to-helmet collisions against Nebraska last week.

Mack Brown made sure the questions asking where Jordan Hicks was Saturday got directed to Will Muschamp.

"You'll have to ask Will. He makes those decisions. I'll see it on film, but they make those decisions," Mack said.

Safety Blake Gideon said the defense should be able to rise above player injuries.

"Whenever you lose a starter, he's a starter for a reason," Gideon said. "But there shouldn't be any drop-off. It's one guy every play. It's me or someone else not doing their job on a play, and they are making us pay for it."

Kheeston Randall said he thinks this team has a problem with staying focused.

"There's probably some arrogance in that this is Texas and people think teams are going to lay down for us," Randall said. "But we have to know better than that. We just have to put forth a better performance next week."


10. The students didn't show up for the Iowa State game, so there were empty seats all over the stadium for Saturday's game. (Attendance was announced at 100,142, but it wasn't close to that.) Mack Brown even made a plea on the texassports.com web site on Thursday saying he needed the Texas students to show.

"Students didn't get in until late," Mack said. "We sent that out for the students. But I don't blame the fans. I thought the fans stayed and really fought and tried to help. I thought they were much better than UCLA. I was surprised they hung in there and fought like they did. I was proud of them."

But many fans began to boo when Garrett Gilbert threw his third interception of the game (his fourth turnover overall).

"It comes with it when we started like we did," Gideon said of hearing the boos.

Gilbert said his turnovers are unacceptable. For the season, Gilbert has 6 TD pass and 8 interceptions.

"It comes down to just making mistakes," Gilbert said. "There's no excuse for that. Turning the ball over killed us. We're going to have to go back to work and look at it."

The players had no answer for why they came out flat for the game.

"We didn't come out with energy and that's on us as a team. And that's on us as leaders," Gilbert said.

"We tried to stay positive and tried to find a spark somewhere. And offensively we didn't do that.

"Disappointed we didn't come out with the energy we would like to and it cost us. Forcing too many balls and making too many mistakes."

Added OG Michael Huey, "It's very apparent. There was a lot of arrogance and complacency, and we just sat around and didn't go full force with it."

Said WR John Chiles, who had 5 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in one of the only bright-spot performances for the Horns, "We're frustrated. We win a lot, and we get used to winning, so I think we just took it for granted.

"I'm not sure exactly what happened. But we have to look at the film and figure it out and get it fixed.

"I thought after UCLA and Nebraska, the team kind of grew up and gelled a little. So I thought we were going to get the ball rolling and finish the season the right way. It didn't work out like that so we need to get prepared for next week."

Gideon was asked if the season is lost.

"No. There's still games to play. There's still opportunities for us to go out there and play Texas football. We're never going to stop or give up.

"We felt like the last couple years, since I've been here, we've always been a team that comes out and fights hard from start to finish. We're not going to come out flat and we're going be able to finish games.

"Great teams are going to be able to put together four quarters. We've yet to do that. We have to start over this week (against Baylor)."





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