This is the bittersweet victory.
The OU win? No matter the context, beating the Sooners leavees not even a hint of sour taste in the mouth. It's pure sugar.
Tonight's win, however... man, it's hard not to engage a round of what ifs after this one.
What if Texas had replaced Diaz in January instead of September?
What if the team had navigated the non-con season without a loss?
It's a senseless exercise, but Texas' 30-7 victory over TCU in Fort Worth on Saturday night begs the questions. The Longhorns smothered TCU as a superior team would, dominating a struggling Horned Frogs offensive line on defense and wearing down TCU's defense with an effective blend of solid rushing and big play passing. The Texas defense turned over the TCU three times, allowing just a single big play while shutting out the Horned Frogs from the red zone, while the offense converted 5 trips into the red zone into 4 scores -- a pair of touchdowns and two Anthony Fera field goals.
The defense set the tone early when Quandre Diggs strip-sacked Anthony Boykin deep in Frogs territory, and Adrian Phillips recovered the fumble on the 3 yard line, setting up the first of two Malcolm Brown rushing touchdowns on the game. On TCU's next possession, Gary Patterson decided it to look for a spark from Casey Pachall, who returned from injury for his first action since the season opener and for a short while he was fairly effective, leading the Horned Frogs on his second drive to a touchdown that cut UT's lead to 10-7. After Pachall moved TCU 32 yards with three completions, the Horned Frogs found the end zone on a double pass, beating safety Josh Turner with an excellent play call that was set up by hurry up tempo and a wide receiver screen a play earlier.
That was all TCU would get, however, as the Longhorns bottled up Pachall and the Horned Frogs offense the rest of the way, and ended the game having forced TCU into a punt or turnover on each of its final 9 offensive possessions. The Frogs managed just 246 total yards for the game, averaging a meager 1.9 yards per rush and 5.2 yards per pass attempt, and other than the big play strike on the double pass to pull within 10-7, TCU never even threatened the Texas defense.
That Texas controlled TCU's struggling offense wasn't particularly surprising, but there were reasons to feel nervous about how well the Longhorns' offense would move the ball against the Horned Frogs' stout interior rush defense and excellent secondary. The Texas offense built on its OU performance with a performance that, in many ways, was even more impressive than the Cotton Bowl. As expected, TCU didn't make it easy for Texas to run the ball, and they did an excellent job bottling up Daje Johnson before he could get free and make a big play, but Texas still managed to grind out 187 rushing yards on 52 attempts, and they took advantage of Patterson's commitment to trying to stop the run with timely big-play passing against single coverage, as McCoy accumulated 228 yards through the air on just 9 completions, averaging an exceptional 25.3 yards per completion and 12.0 yards per attempt. Over half of those receiving yards went to my boy Marcus Johnson -- I told y'all he was a gamer -- who racked 120 yards on 3 receptions, including a 65-yard touchdown on a well designed play that sprung Johnson free on an out and up from a Trips Left formation, using his underneath receivers both as bait and screeners to get behind the defense.
All in all, it was a satisfying win that provided a clear answer to the question of whether the Texas team that routed OU in Dallas would show up this week in Fort Worth. The Longhorns soundly beat a TCU team that is flawed but dangerous enough to make you nervous, and did it with a complete performance similar to the one we saw in the Cotton Bowl a week ago.
I really like this Texas team. These kids have shown a ton of heart in the way they've rallied from a desperate situation, when it would have surprised nor offended anyone if they'd crumbled in the ugly atmosphere that surrounded the team after falling to 1-2 with a blowout loss to Ole Miss. They showed heart in finding a way to get a win over K-State (finally). They didn't let the narrow escape in Ames defeat their spirits. They ass whipped OU in a way that this Texas fan base badly needed. And they continued the positive trend this week, building on the win over the Sooners with a strong showing on the road tonight.
I love Ced Reed, Malcom Brown, Malcolm Brown, Quandre Diggs and Marcus Johnson. I love Daje's swagger, and as much as I'm disappointed for David Ash and the scary injury he's dealing with, I've enjoyed watching Case McCoy come off the bench to play his role to perfection. He's played within himself and though his warts are still plenty evident, he hasn't let that get in the way of playing to his strengths. And last but not least, after such a long, horrible trek through the desert of rushing incompetence, it is so, so nice to see this offensive line play well and Texas run the ball like it has the past two weeks.
After a start that portended a long, ugly, and truly unpleasant season for me as a fan and a blogger, the past two weeks have been nothing short of a revelation.
With the win, Texas stayed with Baylor atop the conference standings, improving to 4-0 in conference play. Unfortunately, the win improves their overall record to 5-2...