Dear Mike Riley,
I am writing in search of some answers that only you can give. I know you are upset, at least I have to believe you are, over the loss to the Texas Longhorns (31-27) on December 29th in the Alamo Bowl. Yes, definitely disappointing.
But I have to ask: What happened to you? Where did you go? You are a big time college coach, Division I. You have been in this business for over twenty years. Beaver hearts are bleeding. I know you didn’t tank it as a coach, you have too much integrity. Texas’ coach Mack Brown made you look like a Pop Warner coach. Please, tell me you have a reasonable explanation for the multiple coaching blunders you put on display that night. You were so outcoached in this game; it was shocking the game was actually close.
At the end of the first half, why didn’t you call timeout? The team only had a few seconds left even if the spike was successful to stop the clock. Or if you had got the first down, how many plays do you think you would have gotten off in five seconds? You had the timeout to use, time only allotted for a field goal anyway. What gives?
Texas is one of the worst teams in the country against the run. Not only are they bad in this category, they are terrible. In the first half you ran 22 times and scored 20 points. In the second half, 10 rushes and only seven points. The Longhorns defense can’t stop water from running uphill, so why did you abandon the run game in the second half? Storm Woods had 120 yards rushing and the third quarter wasn’t over yet. Furthermore, your offensive line was softer than toilet paper in this game, giving up a whopping 10 sacks. Yet you had your immobile quarterback, Cody Vaz, drop back incessantly. Along with those sacks came 13 incompletions and 3 turnovers by Vaz. You take away sack yardage and the rest of the team ran for 184 yards with only ten running plays after halftime. What’s the lowdown?
If you knew Texas was weak in run defense, why not stick with the attack? Texas knew the Beaver secondary was susceptible to giving up big yardage. Despite a lackluster first half, they stuck with attacking the Beaver defense and kept throwing it. As it turns out, the Longhorns winning touchdown came on a long pass play. If something works, don’t fix it. Why did you give up on the run?
And speaking of the quarterback situation, Vaz became a turnover magnet. This was the last game of the season. No holds barred. When the going gets tough, the tough get going as they say. Vaz didn’t have it. I’m not Sean Mannion’s biggest fan. But at least changing the pace in the passing game might have put the Beavers on the winning side. Would putting Mannion in made the difference? No will ever know now. But in the last game, why not chance it?
Looking back on it, it almost appeared you didn’t want a blowout. As if the player’s coach became the coach’s coach. You were more concerned with the backlash Texas’ Brown was going to receive rather than winning the game. The OSU running corps could have racked up 300 yards if you wanted to win going away. However, not even trying to run in the second half is a better description of the game plan. You were already looking toward next year by leaving Vaz in there. Your play calling was wrapped up in the decision of sticking with one QB or psyche of that player being shattered for next season if you dropped him mid-game. Is this what major bowl games are going to look like now for OSU, if the team gets there?
Now the season is over. Let’s briefly look at next year. I do not wish to pound on you like a quarterback in the pocket against a mediocre pass defense and nearly invisible against the run (oops, did that sound like the 2012 Alamo Bowl? Apologies), but where will the improvement be on offense? Unless the entire Alabama offensive line can transfer and lose no eligibility, is there going to be any protection next year in front of Vaz or Mannion (because I know it will be one of those two)? How are you going to replace Jordan Poyer? Will you be ready for the high expectations next year?
Okay, coach. I’m done. We can exhale for a while on football. It’s basketball season now. By the way, could you send me Coach Craig Robinson’s e-mail address?
OSU Beaver Fan and Devil’s Advocate,