If someone missed the loss to Iowa State on Saturday, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s demeanor and mood after the game could have told the story.
In answering post-game questions, Muschamp first resorted to barely English football jargon; his way of trying to evaluate what happened.
“Poor zone reads [against Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud], conversions on the third down in the second half,” Muschamp said. “We had opportunities to get off the field and we didn’t. We only created one turnover for our team.”
But after that answer, Muschamp must have had plays from the nightmarish defeat already running through his mind. After shutting down Nebraska’s running game, second-best in the country, and looking like a genius last week, Muschamp’s defense let the worst offense in the Big 12 run train on its own home turf.
“We talked the whole week about how we didn’t want to be the team with the hangover, but you could definitely tell that was there today,” said safety Blake Gideon. “We’re just as stunned as everybody is right now.”
With the cardinal and gold flashing up and down the field, a casual fan might have thought Texas head coach Mack Brown had scheduled USC. But no, this was Iowa State, the team that had never beaten Texas and the same Iowa State that had been shut out twice this season, once by Oklahoma last week and once by Northern Iowa a month ago.
“I think our consistent play has got to improve, that’s the bottom line,” Muschamp said, with his answers slowly making their way to one-word grunts.
Texas’ defense entered the game as one of the best rush defenses in the country, and it played with that arrogance. Iowa State’s offense ranked 104th in the nation, but churned out 335 yards, including 199 on the ground.
“The defense didn’t stop the run, and this game was very similar to UCLA with the arrogance we played with after we beat Tech on defense,” Brown said. “Our defense didn’t go out there and line up and stop them.”
Maybe it was the rare 11 a.m. start time that gave Iowa State the advantage. Texas played with no interest and no motivation. The leading tackler was little-known linebacker Dustin Earnest, who finished with nine filling in for Emmanuel Acho. Even Acho’s brother and defensive end, Sam, who usually plays like he just drank a case of Red Bull, struggled to motivate his defense.
“We did not come out excited,” Acho said. “They got up early and we just were not ready to play.”
With the consistent offensive struggles all season, the 2010 Longhorns have lived or died by their defense. On Saturday, the defense was unable to win the game for Texas, and as a result, Brown is 4-3 and off to his worst start ever at Texas.
“I was scared to death all week,” Brown said. “I’m fighting my guts out. You can’t trust your team and can’t trust your coaches when they’re not getting things ready to go.”
The man in charge is truly angry at his franchise, and his players knew it after the game. After hearing the fire in Brown’s voice, the team was confused by how everything could go so wrong in a game they expected to dominate.
“Everybody is just ...” said cornerback Curtis Brown, trying to grasp the failures. “I don’t know. We’re just so much better than this.”