Senior defensive end Alex Okafor, on the message to the offense before the last drive...
"Go win it."
A touchdown late by Oklahoma State would have put the Longhorns down by 40-34, requiring another touchdown to win the game. After a long completion from freshman quarterback JW Walsh to junior college transfer Blake Jackson and two significant gains by junior running back Joseph Randle, it looked like the home team was poised to do exactly that.
Instead, the Texas defense stuffed Texas native Desmond Roland twice and Randle once to force the field goal.
After that, following Okafor's statement to the offense, sophomore quarterback David Ash led his team down the field and did exactly as the senior leader commanded.
Simple as that.
Head coach Mack Brown, on his words to the team late...
"I told them that this was perfect. We told the defense that if they held them to a field goal, we would win the game. We told the offense the same thing. You're going to hold them to a field goal, and you're going to win the game."
Perfect. Probably not the word that came to the minds of most Texas fans, as they watched with pounding hearts and no small amount of trepidation.
But, yeah, it was the perfect situation to prove that this Longhorns team is much more advanced than the previous two versions. And so it was proven.
Junior wide receiver Mike Davis, on his words to Ash after dropping a would-be touchdown...
"I told him that it wasn't over and to put it behind us and give me another chance, and I'll make a play like I've been doing."
David told Ash, essentially, to trust that he had some Magic in reserve after yet another drop in a long line of missed opportunities during the last year for the oft-maligned wide receiver.
Ash heeded the advice, targeting Davis on 2nd and 5 from the Oklahoma State 37 as Texas tried to get deep enough into field goal range to give true freshman kicker Nick Jordan an easy, high-percentage opportunity. You know, assuming that such a kick in such a high-pressure situation could even exist for the kid who has gone 3-for-7 to start his Longhorn career.
Ash, on the pass to Davis...
"I didn't throw him a great ball so he made the play for it."
It was a go route down the sideline to Davis and Ash put plenty of air under the ball, with Oklahoma State junior cornerback Justin Gilbert in good coverage, but unable to make a play on the ball as Davis elevated to target the football above the Cowboy defender, hauling it in for one of the most significant catches in the last decade of Longhorns football.
Ash clearly has a fantastically high standard for what a "great ball" looks like. Or he's just really, really humble.
Gilbert, on Ash during gameweek preparations...
"If he slings it my way, I’m going to try to make him pay."
As Yoda would say, "Do or do not, there is no try." Guess that puts Gilbert on the "did not" side of the ledger. Gilbert also said during the week that everyone would "really see what they're made of," referring to the Longhorns, pretty much unproven after three victories over three overmatched opponents.
The answer? Well, it seems the Longhorns were made of some material sturdy enough to walk into a hostile road environment, against the defending conference champions, and come out of the game with a hard-fought, clutch victory.
Don't worry though, Mr. Gilbert -- there's still plenty of time to buy on the Longhorns this season.
Brown, on his starting quarterback...
"Give David credit. He will not be under any more pressure than this. He couldn't have done this at the same time last year. He has really grown up. He's the leader of this football team. The throw to D.J. Grant was unbelievable. I thought David played great throughout the night. He did a good job managing the crowd. I was really proud of the way he played."
Ash himself mentioned how big the game was for him after performing poorly in his first career start against Oklahoma State last season. It was a chance to measure his improvement over the course of the year and he took advantage.
"He's the same all the time. I'd stick my head in the huddle and tell him, 'Let's pick it up.' And he'd look at me with the same look and say, 'We got this coach.'"
Brown closed those comments by noting that Ash "doesn't rattle." In last week's press conference, Ash talked about maintaining the same confidence level whether things are going well or going poorly. After throwing his first interception of the season and seeing his team go down late, it was clear that Ash did maintain the same poise that he's carried through every part of all four games this season.
All aboard the David Ash bandwagon, with a hearty welcome to all the new folks.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, on the team's overall effort...
"You just went into the defending Big 12 champion's house and won in an instant classic style game. We knew it was going to be hard. We talked about that. We talked about persevering throughout the game and when it comes out like that, these are the types of games that a young football team has to know that they can win. We had a couple similar type situations last year and now our players look around and know that they can win this type of game."
Not to get into the realm of coach-speakish cliches, but that type of unflappable confidence was sorely missing in the Longhorns last season. And in 2010. Now, it appears to be back.
By the time Texas travels to Manhattan to end the regular season, if Kansas State gets up early and the crowd starts going wild? If Ash needs to take the Longhorns on a late touchdown drive to win the game? Well, the players might well just look around, look into the eyes of their teammates, the eyes of their quarterback, and think, "Yeah, we've been here before. We got this."
And know that it's true.