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Saturday, November 19, 2011
Offense costs Texas again

By Carter Strickland
HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Welcome to Texas where a leather-helmet offense evidently is in and simple mathematics are out.

It doesn't happen often, but making a field goal cost the Longhorns (6-4, 3-4) in a 17-13 loss to Kansas State (9-2, 6-2) Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Case McCoy
Case McCoy came off the bench to provide a spark, but could not pull of the win.
"We knew they were going to stop them [on defense], we just had to score," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

On fourth and 8 from the 10 yard line, Brown's logic was this: Kick a field goal with 4:23 to play, let the defense again stop Collin Klein and the Wildcats' offense and the offense will get the ball back with around two minutes to play.

Here is where that logic crumbles: Texas still needed a touchdown. After the kickoff following the field goal, Kansas State started its drive at the 34 instead of taking over at the 10 had the Longhorns not converted a first down or scored.

Texas has had two drives of more than 36 yards in two games. And this would be its best opportunity of the game.

As it turned out, due to the stellar play of the defense and a slippery punt return by Quandre Diggs, Texas was in position to at least threaten again. The Longhorns went backwards five yards on four plays.

"When you get the ball at the 49 yard line and with enough time to score and four downs you need to go score," Brown said.

That's a reasonable assumption, but Texas' offensive struggles are beyond reason. And by now, the coaching staff should take that into account when deciding what plays to call and strategies to deploy.

Instead, Texas has become a team that tries to bluff with a pair of twos and wait for its full house defense to take the field. That defense, which is arguably the best in the conference, is the sole reason Texas has even been within shouting distance these past two weeks. Kansas State had 121 yards. Total.

"We were relentless," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.

"If you would have told me we hold Collin Klein to four yards rushing and 83 yards passing, I would have said we would have won the game," Brown said.

Instead, Texas lost its second consecutive game. More alarming are the continued questions surrounding the offense.

Freshman quarterback David Ash missed on several throws and had two interceptions that turned into 10 points for the Wildcats.

"They made a big difference," KSU coach Bill Snyder said. That might be a bit of an understatement.

They made Texas reach to the bench and pull Case McCoy into the game. McCoy started hot. He hit his first four and led Texas on an 81-yard scoring drive.

"I like what Case did when he came in," co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. "He provided a spark there."

More like a flicker. McCoy missed four of his next 12 as the offense sputtered to the end.

"There is not enough good things [on offense]," Harsin said. In the first half, Texas put together drives of 17, 0, 36, 13, 7, 5, 17 and minus 2 yards. All this happened while the nation's top uncommitted recruit Dorial Green-Beckham watched from the 50 alongside the nation's top running back, Johnathan Gray, who has already committed to Texas. Not that they were alone. There were 100,000 others fighting back the yawns. Or stifling harsh yells.

Either way Texas fans have to be getting restless.

Now there were a few shining moments for McCoy at least. Mainly due to McCoy's third quarter drive, Texas was able to put together 310 yards. McCoy was at quarterback for 199 of those.

"I just told them when I got in there we came to the University of Texas to play in big games," McCoy said. "There is no telling how many touchdowns we throw in practice so it should be just as easy out here." Practice is one thing. Big 12 road games are something entirely different.

Texas' next two opponents, Texas A&M and Baylor, combined to score 106 points Saturday while Texas has scored 16 on offense the last two weeks.

So to stop the losing skid, Texas might have to start going for touchdowns when it has the chance. Kicking field goals and leaning on the defense might not do it.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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