On our UT Loss and the Invisible ninja.
Everyone Is looking for the "invisible ninja" that lost this game, and can't connect the dots. All of the efforts are fun, no doubt - but while you have your metaphorical noses in the rhetorical antfarm you can't see the forest for the trees. Pretty bold of me to sign up just to tell everyone that they missed the point, but indulge in my thoughts - just for a minuet. I have some provocative ideas for you.
Everyone around these parts at DTN have made some of the most excellent observations I never could have imagined myself-about the game. No one is willing to organize the tatters and stitch them together in the tedious process for a complete quilt. (Joly Roger pattern permissible, but not required.)
It's NOT the invisible ninja. If it was, it could dance south endzone with a boom-box and strobe lights, blowing on one of those stupid soccer horns, and it -still- would not matter if you could point him out, because it would be a red herring. Stop looking for him.
Zoom out with me:
It is not some silly combination of just-so factors, intangibles or nuances either.
Not the penalties, or the QB, or coaches or anything. It's not playbooks or practice performances or any of that - nope.
What we have here, is an elite, balanced longhorn team on a what? Bad day.*
Some of the wiser longhorn fans have pointed out (correctly) that it was an ugly win for them. They played rough enough their victory was never guaranteed. That day, on that field, knowing what we know now, the teams were a fairly even match, but- for one thing.
What we had that day was a good, balanced Red Raiders team that in hindsight could have won that game right up to the final moments, IF we had the basics right- possibly even with the penalties accumulated.
In this case, the basics I am talking about are NOT: good coaching, good arms, good judgement, sticky hands, routes, etc. That had all evaporated early on in the game and is superfluous. The how and why, of this evaporation, is the meat of the issue.
Everyone has gotten so close, and danced around it but lept up, off into the weeds at the last second. It's kind of frustrating for me to read all that stuff.
It was already apparent to me in the second quarter. I have never seen the Red Raiders in such a grinder. You could see it in the players faces (check your tape). They were totally out of their element in such a long-haul grind like that. They were beyond exhausted, and they all had their overtime faces on - and it wasn't even halftime yet, But they kept going and going. Something had to give, and, it was the Red Raiders.
Basic athleticism (lack thereof) lost this game. THIS is the difference between an elite* team on a bad day and the Red Raiders.
A funny thing happens, even to star athletes, when physical endurance gives way to total exhaustion. Once the body passes the threshold, exhaustion can not be willed, wished or or prayed away. The safety valves of your body start shutting down so you do not do serious damage. Pushing even farther is where you are dancing dangerously in obituary territory. (Several athletes a year don't get away with that encroachment.)
At or beyond this exhaustion threshold a significant amount of your sheer existence is narrowed down to things like breathing, walking upright, and only the most basic thoughts and communication.
They weren't all there in body or mind and you could see it. This is why we saw things descend from a good grinding football game into the keystone cops. That kind of exhaustion robs a player of significant mental horsepower, and there is simply not enough leftover to not only execute, but capitalize on a simple football play. The body is too busy with the basics like consuming oxygen and not falling over to let the players form coherent thoughts, communicate clearly and play competent football.
And yes, this can happen to any athlete/human. However, with good, or (in this case Better) endurance training, this threshold can be raised, up to a point.
Anyone who has - for example- hiked up a mountain all day with a backpack at significant altitude knows the feeling. You don't even need to go to Everest- 8,000 or 9,000 feet should be enough to get nearly any average person in trouble with exhaustion.
And with that we uncover the real mystery!
The Jones sits 3,000-4,000 feet above sea level.
Maybe we did lose this one on endurance and oxygen. Okay, so we can fix most of that with improved endurance training. (Clear to me- this is the root of all this. Needs fixed yesterday.)
The longhorns, however were at the altitude/oxygen disadvantage with not being acclimated.
They won on their basic athleticism outlasting ours, somehow. Otherwise the teams were pretty equal.
I would like to know how a group of sea level, soup breathing athletes can simply come up here and perform like that, when it's just another day at the ballgame for people who live here. (Supposedly...)
A championship team can handle a long haul ground grinder and/or the air raid, and look somewhat graceful doing it- But this time the Red Raiders were hurtin' WAY too early. The Red Raiders had a significantly lower exhaustion/endurance threshold than the Longhorns, and I point to this and call it the reason we lost.
Perhaps I picked the wrong things to focus on and went sled-doggin' off into the sunset with this tangent like Palin after a moose- but I know what I saw, and those were overtime faces in the second quarter on national television. It was enough for me to get here, to DTN, from there- in front of the TV that night.
*Note this was written several days ago, Before UT lost to UCLA. I claim ignorance on that game and of UT's status overall.