Commentary

Sloppy play dooms Texas

The Longhorns had six turnovers and 12 penalties in the loss to the Bears

Updated: December 3, 2011, 10:06 PM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

WACO, Texas -- At the end of another disappointing regular season, Mack Brown tried to find the positive.

"It was better than last year," the Texas coach said.

[+] EnlargeBlaine Irby
Jerome Miron/US PresswireBlaine Irby caught a 2-yard pass from Case McCoy for Texas' first touchdown.
Barely.

On a rain-soaked day, Texas slid to 7-5. Compared to last season's 5-7 collapse, there was some improvement somewhere along the way. But not Saturday against Baylor.

For the second year in a row, the Bears beat Texas. That hasn't happened in nearly two decades. And this one, 48-24, was worse than the last.

"Hell, it don't feel very good, especially with the winning tradition we have at Texas," senior David Snow said. "We don't lose to Baylor."

There were 46,543 fans at Floyd Casey Stadium who would beg to differ. When you turn the ball over six times and have 105 yards in penalties, it's pretty easy to lose to Baylor.

Case McCoy, nine days removed from being the hero, looked like he was ready to finally secure the quarterback job.

He connected on three first-half touchdown passes to stake the Longhorns to a 21-17 lead. From then on, he threw four interceptions and was part of a mishandled shotgun snap.

Those five turnovers led to 27 Baylor points.

"There were certain balls that I shouldn't have thrown," McCoy said. "There's no excuse for that."

What was so implausible about those interceptions is that McCoy hadn't thrown any this season, or in his career for that matter. After 122 attempts without a pick, McCoy threw three in six attempts. Those picks allowed Baylor to take control, 38-24, in the third quarter.

"That's number one with us," Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. "You can't turn the ball over."

That doesn't explain what happened to the Texas defense.

That one's easier to figure out.

Robert Griffin III, the quarterback Texas passed on during recruiting, passed all over the Texas secondary on his way to, at the very least, an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. Griffin had 320 yards passing and touchdown throws of 59 and 39 yards to go along with 32 yards rushing and two more scores.

"He's a world-class sprinter and has a world class arm in a program that ain't done nothing," Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro said.

Griffin has done something now. He has led that nothing program to nine wins for the first time in 25 years. In the first seven plays, Griffin directed two touchdown drives and had passes of 59 and 48 yards. He also left the Longhorns' defenders a little bewildered.

"When you're in a zone, it's ridiculous. How do you let people get over the top of you?" Vaccaro asked.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Jerome Miron/US PresswireRobert Griffin might have secured his trip to the Heisman Trophy ceremony with his performance against Texas.
Good question. The next one might be, when a team hasn't allowed a touchdown pass of 20 or more yards, how does it allow two of more than 35? Or, how does a defense that through the past five weeks had given up just 245 yards per game, third best in the country, give up 511 yards?

"It just kind of snowballed on us," Brown said.

For a program feeling much better about itself a little more than a week ago, this was more like an avalanche.

Texas again will have to try to find its identity before it heads to Southern California or Tempe, Ariz., for a bowl game.

For a few weeks, it was thought this was a team dominated by running backs. All three one-time starters -- Fozzy Whittaker, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron -- spent the last four games hurt.

During that stretch it was believed this team was a defensive juggernaut, so much so that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz's name was being bandied about for head coaching jobs. Again, Texas gave up 511 yards to Baylor.

Texas can't even lean on the image of its coach for an identity anymore. Brown's reputation has been damaged by these past two seasons. At no other time in his tenure would anyone even consider throwing out retirement rumors. Even before the Baylor loss, that was the situation for Brown.

"When I do retire, it won't come from a twit, uh Twitter, in Topeka, Kansas," he said.

It also won't come anytime soon.

"I plan on coaching a long time,'' Brown said. "I like the fight out of these kids. I saw enough good things. We have enough good things to build on. It was a year where we had to grab and hold on and build and start over."

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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