Wow. What a day. I had a hectic time getting to the game, but I made it just in time to watch one of the most amazing games I've seen. I sat in at around the five yard line and in row 22, so I was pretty close to the action. Let me tell you: That game was INTENSE. It's really hard to describe the mixture of excitement, elation, disappointment, and nervousness you feel during a game like that. I'm pretty sure my voice will be gone tomorrow.
I am utterly exhausted, spending the rest of the day at the State Fair and then hanging out with friends, but I'm not sleeping. Nuh uh. While I still have leftover adrenaline coursing through my body, I'm going to write about this game. Normally, when I write such long posts on games like this, I post them on another blog so I don't clutter this place with crap, but this time I don't care. It's too long to read, but I'm writing it.
I'll just go ahead and start looking at particular groups/persons:
As PB wrote, this is one of Mack Brown's most important victories. His first two wins against Oklahoma were before Bob Stoops got there and then Stoops' first year. His next two came when Texas clearly had superior teams, a great 2005 team and then a 2006 team with a lot of leftovers from that championship group. This was the first time he defeated OU when the odds were stacked against him, and props to him and his coaches for getting these kids ready. Make no mistake: We just beat a fine Sooner team. Sam Bradford is the real deal.
During the our streak of five losses, Stoops seemed to have become a larger-than-life figure, impossible for Mack Brown to beat. Brown came in uptight while Stoops came in coolly confident. Even though we blasted an inferior Sooner team in 2005, that win was important because the VY magic destroyed that aura. The next year we won and even last year we stood toe-to-toe with OU in a tough loss. It seems Mack has truly thrown that monkey off his back, and I would say the same thing if we lost this classic game.
Davis has been ripped by the Texas fanbase many times, sometimes justifiably so. This time, he deserves his credit. Now, I certainly had a few problems with him this game, so I'll get that off my chest now. I was annoyed we tried to use Chiles in at tailback. I thought it was a bit too cute and it merely wasted downs. Furthermore, there were a couple bad playcalls that I thought killed good drives, most notably that third and one on which Colt was lucky not to have thrown a pick. Instead of using our big boy Cody Johnson to gain that yard and continue the drive, Davis tried to be cute and we sent Johnson in motion... out wide. He happened to be the guy Colt was trying to throw to, which may have been an okay pass if that was Shipley but it was freakin' Cody Johnson. Dumb play call, Greg.
Other than that... a great game from Davis. He spread the field well and he attacked the middle of OU's defense. Without Irby, Davis did a very smart thing, which was to line up Shipley in the slot as some sort of pseudo-tight end. That presented a mismatch problem that the Sooners didn't solve all game, and Shipley simply gutted the middle of Oklahoma's defense.
Here's one thing that I will point out that was absolutely key in this game: Time of possession. In this regard, Oklahoma's explosive offense may have bit them in the butt a little, because when they moved the ball, they moved it fast. If they didn't score, it seemed like they punted pretty quickly. Only one of their scoring drives lasted more than four minutes, while we had four such drives, including two over six minutes. Davis knew had little chance trying to stay as explosive as OU, but he knew we could move the ball methodically and likewise keep their offense off the field. We held the ball 37:10 while Oklahoma had it 22:50. Let me tell you, their defense looked EXHAUSTED by the fourth quarter. They pretty much had to hope for a costly turnover by us, because they weren't going to stop us regularly.
Well, he earned his pay. We struggled, no mistake about that: Our DB's and linebackers got burned in coverage and OU moved the ball easily on a few of their drives. Yet the defense kept fighting, playing with a fire that Muschamp brings. His second half adjustments were great and we brought pressure on Bradford on key moments. I was annoyed a bit that OU ran that same dang jailbreak screen play like four times and it worked every time, but hey, OU has a great offense. They'll get you sometimes, and ultimately, we held them 12 points under their scoring average for the year. Props to Muschamp and this young D.
Now to the players:
Colt McCoy was terrific. He got pressured a few times and went down for four sacks, but like the tough guy he is, he kept fighting. He threw the ball accurately and nearly always made the right decision, with the exception of that one play mentioned above. He also ran the ball generally well and forced OU to devote defensive resources to stop his legs. That didn't bode well for the middle of OU's D, where linebackers were often caught staring at McCoy as he zipped a pass right by them. He was cool in the pocket and made some great reads against some blitzes OU sent at him, converting key third downs and keeping the ball moving. I've never been particularly wowed by the Heisman trophy, but there's no question Colt deserves to be among the top contenders for that award.
All apologies to Chris Ogbonnaya. I was among many who thought that there was no way Chris O. could run like he did against Colorado again, particularly against Oklahoma. Well, he finished with 15 carries and 127 yards.
I said in an earlier post that I felt that we needed to have a consistent run game, not as a main weapon but as a tool to make sure OU's defense stayed honest. Well, I have to honestly say that this really wasn't what I was talking about. We actually struggled for much of the game with running the ball, as usual, and had negative yards rushing after the first quarter. But these explosions by Chris O... well, I'll take them. Ogbonnaya is not that fast; on his two big runs, there's no question a guy like Jamaal is taking them to the house. Yet being a RB is much more than that; his vision and decisiveness is so much better than our other backs right now. He's more than earned his starting position now.
Cody Johnson is just awesome in short yardage situations. Good luck keeping him away from the endzone or first down marker when it's only a yard away. McGee barely played and Whittaker was again gone, so no big news there.
McCoy was great, but I think the gameball has to go to Jordan Shipley. My childhood friend destroyed OU's middle, gaining 11 receptions for 112 yards and a TD. He picked up several first downs and may have been robbed out of another touchdown on his key 3rd and 8 catch, but we scored anyway so it didn't matter. What a game from Shipley.
It's hard to describe the important of his kickoff return (this after all of us here at BON complained that we needed other players to do this job). OU just zipped down the field again and made the score 14-3, and you could feel the dread among the Texas fans. Were we really going to get embarrassed again? Then Shipley caught the ball, found an opening, and coolly raced for a 96 yard touchdown. Electricity and emotion shot up and down the Texas fanbase. That may have been the most important play of the game. While OU scored on the next possession to make it 21-10, that play sparked our team into believing that they belonged on the field. From that point on, they knew that they were just as fast and just as strong as those OU players.
All this gushing about Shipley leaves me little room for Cosby, who only caught 9 catches for a 122 yards and a funny 2 point conversion. I was wrong in my earlier post: I was skeptical that we could simply rely on Shipley and Cosby, because I felt that OU would divert a lot of resources to stopping these guys. Well, while we did get some help from other receivers, Shipley and Cosby stole the show and constantly found holes in the Sooner coverages. Thanks for proving me wrong. I couldn't be happier.
Did they get beat sometimes? Yes. Did they have a rough time run-blocking sometimes? Yes. But I'm happy with the way they played. For most of the day, they actually handled the OU rush fairly well, and they did block well enough to being springing Chris O. free for some decent runs before his 60 yard explosion. They were facing a Sooner defensive line that had all its players return, so it was no easy task. Props to them.
Just like the O-line, it wasn't always easy. There were times that Bradford camped in the pocket and rifled an accurate pass downfield. Melton had two costly 15 yard penalties. However, we brought the heat when it mattered, and we completely destroyed OU's shaky run game. Murray had 7 carries for 6 yards.
The standout player was obviously Orakpo, who seemed to have reservations in the Sooner backfield. He brought the heat on Bradford and sacked him twice, forcing one fumble. On one play, he forced Bradford to step up which allowed Kindle to nail him. Melton, other than his two penalties, had a good game, as did Acho. This was probably the toughest line they're going to face all season, and they took the challenge well.
Roy Miller was a beast up the middle, as was Lamarr Houston. Good luck trying to run up the middle against them. I will mark down Roy Miller for dropping that easy TD pass that would have allowed us to rub it into OU's face that one of their recruits who defected to us caught a TD pass on them... and he's a defensive tackle.
An all around strong game. We messed up coverages a few times, but man, Muckelroy seemed to be everywhere, and Kindle kept coming after Bradford like a crazed man. I thought even Norton and Bobino did reasonably well. Again, not always perfect; I can't think of specific examples off the top of my head, but we did screw up in coverage and I think we missed a couple tackles. But hey, who's complaining. They showed up to play against a darn good offense.
Things were tough at first. OU moved the ball quickly and easily, and our DB's always seemed a step behind. Heck, OU is so good, they can even bobble a pass and have it fall into the hands of a teammate (/sarcasm). Gresham was a big problem for us, and on his big catch down the sideline, our safety bit on an underneath route and let him free. Tackling also was a problem, and I remember on one drive in particular, missed tackles gave OU a couple first downs. All in all, Bradford threw for nearly four hundred yards and had five touchdowns.
But what can we say? They fought. Earl Thomas had a sweet pick, Gideon was everywhere hitting the ball carrier, and our corners seemed to slowly get stronger as the game went on. We've got to give them credit, particularly Aaron Williams who had to step in for Ryan Palmer. They have a lot of work to do, to be sure, as the pass-happy Big 12 schedule continues, but talk about a trial by fire that they bravely endured. Bottom line, we stopped them when we needed to.
Well, Shipley zipped off for a TD, so that was obviously nice. Hunter Lawrence nailed all three field goals and Gold punted the ball fairly well. Coverage itself wasn't very good; a missed tackle by Beasley sprang one big punt return, and Murray had some success returning kickoffs as well. Kickoff coverage is definitely something we need to keep an eye on, but I'm comfortable with our kickers and Shipley just showed that he can take it to the house. OU started kicking to Quan after that.
I called that fake punt by Stoops. I turned to my brother and said, "They better watch out; it's classic Stoops to try that at this part of the field." And that little, slow punter almost made it. HUGE stop. Big momentum swinger.
We scored 45. Forty-five! And we came from behind on several occasions. This team is most certainly not as good as 2005, but they are impressing us every week. They have grit, toughness, and teamwork. Dare we start thinking of this team as legit contenders? It's a long season, and we shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves. Mizzou is coming, and then we get OSU and Tech. It won't be easy, but man, we should enjoy this one as much as possible. What a fantastic game. A lot of people thought we were going to get blown out, and by halftime, I knew we were good enough to trade punches with this OU team.
-Wow, LSU. Wow. Really?
-Missouri, you disappoint me. I'm a bit annoyed with them for losing. It kind of makes next week lose a bit of its luster.
-Auburn lost to Arkansas, showing that it's normally not a good idea to fire your offensive coordinator in the middle of the week before a game.
-How far Wisconsin has fallen. Top ten team upset by Michigan, lost a close one to Ohio State, and now got blasted by Penn State. Ouch.
-Anyone else annoyed that we couldn't seem to get the fumbles we caused? I was thinking OU seemed to get all the lucky bounces.
-Screw that OU punter. Seriously. I knew there are always bad calls both ways, but FAKING your injury? What are you, a soccer player? I was really hoping that he'd run the ball again on a fake punt so we could take his head off. How completely unmanly. Bogus call that really gave OU some momentum.
-It is now 2:55 a.m., and OU still sucks.
End of the long post written through bloodshot eyes.