It was bound to happen at some point early in the season. A young Texas squad made its way out to Berkeley, California to take on a potent Cal Bears offense for its first road game at night of the season and came out of the shootout on the losing end with several questions going forward defensively.
Adversity always strikes at some point for every team and especially for young ones still trying to find their way early on in the season. For Texas it hit early on in their matchup against the Bears when true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele was knocked out of the game briefly after taking some big shots early and was taken back into the locker room for what looked like concussion protocol testing.
With Buechele out many started to wonder if Buechele would return to the game at all with Tyrone Swoopes taking over under center. While the Texas offense was able to run the ball on the Cal defense at will all night, they still wanted to take some shots down the field in the passing game to keep the defense honest regardless of who was at quarterback. Swoopes only attempted six passes during the game, but one of the was a deep ball that was under-thrown to Armanti Foreman who was able to come back and make a play on the ball, and another was a high pass to the 6’6” Colin Johnson that tipped off his fingertips to a Cal defender. That interception — along with another Buechele threw later on — put more bullets in the chamber for the Cal offense that would eventually prove costly.
The Texas defense had a forgetful day at the office trying to slow down the Bear Raid offense in Berkeley. Senior grad-transfer quarterback Davis Webb tallied up 396 yards and four touchdowns to zero interceptions through the air on the night, as the Texas defense struggled to apply pressure and create turnovers on the pass happy offense. Coming into the matchup, Texas was well aware that Cal’s leading receiver Chad Hansen would be Webb’s go to target and he still burned the Texas secondary to the tune of 12 catches and 196 yards. It didn’t really matter who was in coverage throughout the night, as just about everyone on the back end of the Texas defense was victimized or blew an assignment at some point. On top of that, the screen defense that proved to be less than stellar early on against Notre Dame showed its face in California on Saturday and needless to say there is still plenty of work to be done.
The end result was a disappointing loss to the Bears for a second year in a row and for the second time in two years the game was winnable despite the defense having a rough night defending the Bears offense. For Texas fans I can see how this one will be a tough pill to swallow after the big season opening win against Notre Dame, but this is something to keep in mind going forward about this team. This team was never going to go undefeated in 2016 with the amount of youth on the team, especially at quarterback. I predicted an 8-9 win season coming into the year and that was with me predicting a 2-1 start in the out of conference matchups; I predicted a loss to Notre Dame and a win against Cal.
While I know many are still upset about how things played out on Saturday, the focus should be getting everyone healthy during the bye week and getting geared up for conference play. How this team responds to the adversity that struck on the West coast is going to be far more important going forward than anything that happened on that field. The season can’t be won in week three, but it certainly can be lost if you allow one bad game result into several more if the team and coaches don’t learn and grow from their experiences. In the long run this team still has a chance to win several ball games this year. It’s time to go back to work and see how they will bounce back.