Mack Brown, the embattled Texas football coach, did Sunday what struggling coaches do: He made an irrational move two games into the season. For the first time in his 29-year head coaching career, Brown fired an coach during the season. Brown canned his defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, after the Longhorns gave up 550 yards rushing to BYU in an embarrassing 40-21 loss.
Brown, one of the highest-paid coaches in the country, is in trouble. His shell-shocked Longhorns host a feisty, young and talented Ole Miss team Saturday. Also, the Rebels like to run the ball: 32nd in the country on the ground, averaging 239 yards per game.
Replacing Manny Diaz will be TV analyst Greg Robinson, who had been working for the Longhorn Network. (And before that, failing miserably at Michigan and Syracuse.) This report from Orange Bloods makes it sound like Robinson actually made defensive suggestions prior to the BYU game (on Longhorn Network or to the coaches during interviews?), but they weren’t heeded:
A source close to the situation told Orangebloods.com Robinson’s suggested game plan for BYU was to put 8 and 9 defenders in the box, play man coverage on the outside and dare BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, a much better runner than passer, to beat Texas through the air.
One of the biggest problems against BYU – in addition to Diaz basically playing a 4-2-5 scheme (this is what Texas opened in) and even a 5-1-5 scheme – was that the defensive line continued to shoot gaps instead of a base, read-and-react, gap control defense.
So when BYU would slant its offensive line to the left or right, and the Cougars did that a lot, it allowed BYU to get the Texas front flowing in one direction. Then, BYU would counter or cut back with Hill or a running back in the opposite direction with nothing but open field.
This is the same stuff that got Diaz’s D in trouble last year. His D-linemen needed to hold their ground, engage blocks and shed blocks to protect their gaps. Instead, they were out of position all night.
Texas is a 4 1/2 point favorite Saturday night. Should the Longhorns lose at home, Nick Saban chatter will go into overdrive. It seems like a good time to post this Mack Brown buyout chart (thanks, Darren Rovell), which explains just how expensive it’ll be for deep-pocketed donors in Austin to kick Brown to the curb:
To ensure the Longhorns get their guy, I’ll take a stab at the week after the Oklahoma State loss. Happy Thanksgiving, You’re fired. Enjoy your $687k for the next four years while also being a talking head on Fox Sports 1.
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