The Texas Longhorns won that football game yesterday afternoon. That’s the way I prefer to think of it even if newly named starting quarterback David Ash does not get that privilege.
Texas won nearly every statistical category you can win, except two: turnovers (Texas lost 3 to OSU’s 1) and points scored (Texas 26 - OSU 38).
Yes, I understand those are the only two that count in the end; still, it would be wrong to pass quickly by the game, chalking it up as yet another frustrating loss in a frustrating two seasons since the Horns were last in the 2010 National Championship game.
This game is meaningful, especially coming off of the beat down Texas got at the hands of OU last week. The young Horns did not curl into a fetal position and wish it all away as they did last year. No, this Texas team manned up. (Which is more than you can say about the embarrassing UT fans who couldn't fill the stadium for a game against the 6th ranked team in the country.)
"I thought in fact, this one was more disappointing for the players, because they were in it with a chance to win it in the fourth quarter," said Head coach Mack Brown after the game. "And they saw opportunities, so they'll be more hurt. Last week, we weren't ever in it. Even though we thought we were, but we weren't."
Chew on these stats for a minute:
- Yards rushing: Texas 231, OSU 202* (* 102 of those yards came on 2 defensive breakdowns)
- First downs: Texas 24, OSU 21
- Time of possession: Texas 39:18, OSU 20:42
- Third down conversions: Texas 8 of 19, OSU 2 of 12
Usually, when you see those stats weighted that heavily in favor of one team, you can predict who won the game—except this game.
Texas should be able to score 26 points and win any football game at home. Giving up 38 points to any team at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium is unacceptable.
It’s the first time a Mack Brown team has ever rushed for over 200 yards and lost… ever. When you own the ground game and you own time of possession, you generally own the game.
"We're obviously better at running it than we are at passing it, and Malcolm's a big part of that," said Brown. "I think you can see that in time, we can go and accomplish the things in the running game we need to. Right now we're not near where we need to be in the passing game."
Defensive breakdowns and untimely turnovers led to the difference in this one.
And that is why I am blaming the coaches, which will make Mack Brown happy since he hates to blame the kids.
No, this is on the coaches and I’m going there—why did new co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin allow former offensive coordinator Greg Davis to start calling plays again? Davis has been in retirement all season, but I swear the Texas offense is starting to look a lot like a Greg Davis offense. Sure, we ran the “Wild Fozzy” a few of times (where tailback Fozzy Whitaker takes a direct snap from center instead of the quarterback), and I think I remember seeing a reverse or two, but outside of that, where is the razzle-dazzle that defined this Texas offense through the first four games? No deep passes, no flea flickers, few reverses and a lot of poor offensive line play (as in sacks - five). Where was Jaxon Shipley all day? No catches in the first half? How does that happen?
At least Malcolm Brown ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He’s already run for 516 yards this season and is on track to become the first 1,000-yard Texas running back since 2007. It’s the most quiet success story in Texas history. And anointed starting QB David Ash looked very much like a 2006 freshman quarterback we remember playing No. 1 ranked Ohio State in his first game. His name was Colt McCoy and he turned out OK.
Also, give some credit to senior tailback Fozzy Whitaker. Foz entered this season a favorite son lost to injury and to his small stature. He's come on like a cannonball this season; leading the offense, mentoring Malcolm Brown, running the "Wild Fozzy", and returning kick-offs for touchdowns in two consecutive games. You expect him to run every kick back don't you? Admit it.
While a Big 12 Championship is out of the conversation, a very good bowl game and a top 10 national ranking is still not out of the question if Texas can win out.
Back to the criticism, where is that nasty defense we’ve heard so much about? I saw a lot of missed assignments and some glaring errors (a 30 yard run up the middle of the line on 4th and 1? Isn’t that the one play the defense is ready to stop? Ugh.). While there were some issues with the offense, Texas should be able to score 26 points and win any football game at home. Giving up 38 points to any team at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium is unacceptable.
Credit goes to Carrington Byndom who played one hell of a game against the best receiver in college football, Justin Blackmon, and he usually did it alone. Blackmon had 7 catches in the first half and was a force, but he was shut down completely in the second half. I cannot understand why Byndom was left on an island so often against Blackmon in the first half. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was effusive with his praise. "He [Byndom] was fearless.... He has a great future and did a great job holding Blackmon to seven receptions for 74 yards. Sometimes we gave him help and sometimes we didn't give him help, and he really responded and I think it gives him a lot of confidence going forward."
The Longhorns had a chance. Down by just a touchdown through most of the third quarter, the offense squandered opportunities with turnovers and missed a touchdown by inches on 4th down; and the defense did the unthinkable, allowing a 72-yard run straight up the middle, breaking Texas' confidence and blowing any chance at winning the game.
Again, it would be easy to write off this loss to a young team with a new freshman quarterback and a young defense. But that lets Mack Brown’s recruiting prowess and this coaching staff off too easy in my opinion. These are not bad players; in fact, many of them have crazy potential. Still, after 6 games this season, we should not be seeing the breakdowns and tentative play so often. That's on the coaches.
Texas gets a week off now to reset, and then gets a confidence building game against lowly Kansas.
It’s possible, even likely, we will not see Texas lose again this season. If that happens, we have the Oklahoma Cowboys to thank.
Texas won enough of this game to walk away with their heads high and their pride intact. Now the coaches need to do their jobs and coach up these players, bringing every ounce of potential to the surface.
While a Big 12 Championship is out of the conversation (it should never have been in), a very good bowl game and a top 10 national ranking are still not out of the question... if Texas can win out. The Big 12 is full of nationally ranked teams ready to be beaten.
The Horns have the talent. Do they have the will?