Here are five thoughts from Texas’ 30-10 loss at Baylor in the regular-season finale.
The Mack Watch begins
Mack Brown looked beaten up in the minutes following the 30-10 loss. Beaten up like Rocky after the first fight with Apollo.
I saw a sense of bewilderment in his face as he addressed the media and I believe it was more a feeling of loss for his team than for his own coaching future, which hangs in the balance.
“There’s a lot of sadness in that locker room,” he said.
There was even more in the fan base, with a healthy dose of anger and frustration.
Brown has maintained that he wants to return to coach this team but Saturday’s blowout loss echoed a pattern for Texas teams in the last couple of seasons. Of the last seven losses, dating back to last season’s 63-21 embarrassment to Oklahoma, all but one came by double digits. The Horns lost those games by an average score of 39-17, which sends a message that Texas just hasn’t shown up at times, and is ill equipped to rally from big deficits.
Which brings us to back to Mack. He will likely be meeting with new athletic director Steve Patterson today as the two travel to New York but it’s not known if we can expect a decision on his future today.
Brown brought Texas back to national relevance in his 16 seasons and if this is the end of his tenure, he has nothing to be ashamed of. The Horns won a national title, played for another, and could have been in a third had they not gotten edged out in the final seconds at Texas Tech in 2008.
Brown still has some coaching left in him, but the question has to be, will he get to do it at the University of Texas in 2014? If the powers that be (pun not intended) don’t want him anymore, don’t look for it to be announced as some firing. It will be packaged as both sides agreeing that a change needed to be made and that Mack is stepping down. They respect him too much to publicly toss him aside.
A case can be made that Brown had one of his best coaching seasons in 2013, given the injuries at key positions. None of that will matter if the hammer drops.
Texas missed out on a huge opportunity
Texas fans could not have asked for a better scenario. The Oklahoma Sooners won in Stillwater and all that separated Texas from a third conference title under Mack was a win at Baylor, which had shown a vulnerable side early against Oklahoma and in the blowout loss to Oklahoma State.
They never got going in the second half.
The early run game provided a spark — Malcolm Brown ran for 118 yards in the first half — just couldn’t but the Horns seize their opportunities. The late punt touched by Baylor’s Levi Norwood in the fourth quarter rolled harmlessly out of bounds inside the five-yard line as three Texas players futilely grasped at the ball.
Two would-be interceptions were dropped. Linebacker Dalton Santos couldn’t corral what would have been a fumble recovery near midfield.
It was a microcosm of the season. Every time Texas took a step forward, it was knocked two steps back. You never got the feeling that this team was a world beater, even with that six-game winning streak. With that said, they still had a golden opportunity to make history. Didn’t happen.
Where was Tyrone Swoopes?
It became apparent early in the game that the Baylor front seven had its hands full with the Texas offensive line and the run game powered by Malcolm Brown, and that came even though quarterback Case McCoy was suffering through one of the worst performances of his career.
It would have been interesting to see if Swoopes would have provided a spark for a frustrated offense that that ventured into Baylor territory five times in the first half with only three points to show for it. Kirk Bohls asked offensive coordinator Major Applewhite after the game what limited him most with Case in the lineup and the answer was his lack of running ability from the position.
Then why not Swoopes?
The coaches horribly mishandled Swoopes redshirt by burning it in the TCU game. If they were going to play him, they should have given him a package of plays earlier in the season, which would have eased their fear of playing him in the Big 12 title game at the end of the season. Swoopes’ running ability paired with Mal Brown’s would have given the Bears even more to worry about in the first half.
Besides, it’s not like Case was lighting them up. It was a risk worth taking.
Congratulations, Baylor Bears
Congrats go out to the Bears and coach Art Briles for winning their first Big 12 championship and the third conference title in school history. Well deserved.
Baylor was the most consistent team in the conference this year and that consistency won the day at Floyd Casey Stadium, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where they held the Horns to one touchdown and only 3.1 yards per play.
Texas never got going overall, mostly due to the struggles of Case McCoy, who never found his rhythm in the cold air. Some of that credit has to go to the Baylor defense, which is the best of Briles’ career.
Baylor has closed strong of late with a 15-2 mark in the months of November and December dating back to the 2011 season. It was the Bears’ turn to make history. And they did it in style. Well played.
Another BCS-less bowl season
So another bowl season will commence with the Horns not playing in a BCS bowl game for the fourth straight year. Look for Texas to play in either the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (pass the parmesan garlic) or the Alamo Bowl (we remember it well).
It’s easy to rip into this squad for coming up short in 2013 but not to the point where a fan shouldn’t enjoy rooting for his team in a bowl game. I fully expect Mack’s status to be determined before the kickoff of either one of those games, and nothing that will happen on the field will be as big as the story surrounding the head coach’s office, especially if Mack has moved one.
I heard the Horns could square off against Oregon in the Alamo, which would be one horrible matchup nightmare for Texas, but given how poorly this offense performed in Waco, there may not be a good matchup available.
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