We've all done it, that is, put something in the microwave, set it for two minutes and press 'start.' We pull it out, take it to the table, sit down to eat it and discover it needs to cook a little longer. And when it does, it is really tasty.
The football analogy of that is occurring with the 2001 Longhorns offense. With the notable exception of some veteran linemen, this is an extremely young unit. It has shown flashes of brilliance, and at the same time, misses a beat or two.
The past two weekends were classic examples. Last Saturday in Stillwater, Chris Simms used eight different receivers in hitting 18-of-30 passes for 235 yards and a school record-tying five touchdowns. The running game accounted for 241 yards, led by true freshman Cedric Benson's 131 yards and sophomore Ivan Williams' 70.
Simms is a junior who played little as a true freshman and the Oklahoma State start was only the 13th of his Texas career. There is not one senior among the heralded stable of receivers and tight ends Bo Scaife and Brock Edwards are both sophomores.
In the Oklahoma game in Dallas, despite posting more total offense yards than the Sooners, the Longhorns offense was inconsistent in a whale of a defensive struggle. Benson, who was a workhorse with 31 carries against Oklahoma State, played on only one snap. Brown said the freshman, who was a legendary rusher in Texas high school history, needed time to learn the blocking protection necessary to function in an offense that includes a passing attack.
Ivan Williams had started only two games going into the Red River encounter, but he had shown potential as a power runner. The young sophomore struggled against the Oklahoma defense. Victor Ike, the only veteran in the running back corps, suffered bruised ribs against the Sooners and didn't make the trip to Oklahoma State, so Brown and his staff decided it was time to put Benson in the microwave.
Away from the practice field, running backs coach Bruce Chambers and Benson spent every available moment looking at film and discussing blitz packages which opponents might throw at the Longhorns. In practice, Benson took most of the snaps, with Sneezy Beltran, a redshirt freshman, and Ivan Williams working hard as well.
It worked. Benson was superb as expected as a runner, Williams looked like his old self and Beltran proved he, too, could be a factor.
With a running game to keep the defense off balance, play action passes opened up for Simms and the Longhorns offense rolled.
The Longhorns have come full circle heading into today's Colorado game. A year ago, coming off the embarrassing loss to Oklahoma, Texas had a character check as it went to Boulder and defeated the Buffaloes, 28-14. Dating back to that game, the Longhorns are 11-2, with the only losses coming to Oregon in last year's Culligan Holiday Bowl (35-30) and to the Sooners in Dallas two weeks ago (14-3).
On the line this weekend is an 11-game home winning streak at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium which dates back to a 1999 loss to Kansas State.
The positive thing about the 2001 Texas team is that it is learning and growing every week. Even in the disappointing loss to Oklahoma, there was value in what this young team was able to understand about itself.
It is important to recognize that this team, despite that loss, has a chance to become one of the best in Texas history. History will tell you that.
Every year, Mack Brown's goal is to win all the games. That's why he came to Texas. Brown, his staff and his team will give you every ounce of effort they can to make that happen, but the reality is that it is not easy to win all the games.
Today, Colorado and Texas will bring two really good football teams into this stadium. That is the norm in the Big 12 these days. The Buffaloes need to win to keep their dream alive to win the North Division and UT needs a win to stay in the top 10 and in contention for the Big 12 South title. Texas will try to do it with a blend of wonderful veterans and blossoming youth.
To paraphrase the young boy in the Broadway musical Les Miserables, don't ever kick the dog because he's just a pup and you better run for cover when the pup grows up.