Before we even get into the details, consider that you could easily argue:
|OSU D-Line vs Texas O-Line||Oklahoma State|
|Texas D-Line vs OSU O-Line||Oklahoma State|
|Linebacker Play||Oklahoma State|
|Special Teams Play||Oklahoma State
Texas won in large part because Colt-Shipley-Cosby-Ogbonnaya are near-unstoppable in the short passing game. Though our historical superiority over OSU makes it hard for some Texas fans to admit, in truth--given that Texas was outplayed in several key aspects of the game by an impressive Cowboys squad--this turns out to be quite a win to appreciate. Really. I'm comfortable saying that's the best team Texas has played this year.
Game thoughts after the jump...
Close call... Reviewing the pregame prediction post and the three variables for an OSU win: (1) The Cowboys didn't get a special teams touchdown but took two kickoffs into Texas territory; (2) Kendall Hunter didn't break that long touchdown run but torched the 'Horns for 161 yards; (3) OSU ended two Texas drives by turnover.
Don't crucify the defense... Is our defense as good as they were in the first half against Missouri last week? No. Did Mike Gundy do a phenomenal job of making our defense defend the entire football field today? Absolutely. Did Will Muschamp nonetheless have a solid day today? I'd argue yes, for the following reasons:
- The defense was without Chykie Brown today--a huge loss.
- All anyone talked about this week was OSU's offensive balance, which was definitely on display today. And which meant that unless the opposition has a phenomenally elite defense, they've got to strategically pick their spots. Muschamp bet his wad on "No big plays." It was the right move.
- Dez Bryant before OSU's final desperation drive: 4 catches, 37 yards.
Put another way: one big play collapse by the defense today and Texas is probably 7-1. As it was, Earl Thomas forced a fumble in the red zone, Dez Bryant was doubled all day (forcing Robinson to go to the excellent-but-less-explosive Pettigrew), and the defense held the Pokes to a field goal in the 4th Quarter. Ballgame.
With that said... The tackling was suspect, the middle linebacker play was at times phenomenally bad, and OSU provided the blueprint for how to attack this unit: Be physical and aggressive with our line, always assign a blocker for Muckelroy, ignore Norton-Bobino, and attack Beasley-Palmer where you can. Granted, most teams don't have the personnel to do what the Cowboys were doing, but Longhorns fans need only look ahead a week to see what may be the defense's toughest test of the season.
Shannon Woods and Baron Batch provide enough of a rushing threat from the tailback position to keep a defense honest, while the Tech passing game at its best is a tour de force. Above all else, however, the Red Raiders will have to hope their offensive line can perform as well as OSU's did today: If the Cowboys had emerged victorious, I think they may have been the MVPs. This, from a group I thought would see their success-to-date stymied. Wrong.
Colt McCoy's almost brilliant day. We saw two mistakes from Colt in the red zone today that were straight out of 2007: the pass off his back foot that Cox intercepted (mercifully nullified by a late hit penalty) and the fumble after holding the ball too long in traffic. If nothing else, it was a reminder (to him, to us, to the team) that he can't do everything, all the time.
Amazingly, however, outside those two plays he nearly was freaking perfect. Oklahoma State spent the entire first half playing zone and, with our running game in the toilet, Colt worked the gaps with surgical precision, hitting Shipley, Cosby, and Ogbonnaya over and over and over. Though OSU made some excellent second half adjustments on defense, McCoy was so good that Texas was able to hang on, chewing up clock with one improbable third down conversion after another. Even though it didn't result in points, the 7-minute fourth quarter drive won the game for the 'Horns. At that point, we needed to keep OSU's offense off the field... and we did.
McCoy finished the day completing 38-45 passes for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns. At least four of his incompletions were drops. He had absolutely no help from the running game. And he wasn't derailed by any of his mistakes. The kid's a winner. When it's all said and done 14 months from now, the bar room debates about whether McCoy or Vince Young is Texas' all-time greatest quarterback will be fun. And appropriate.
The offense beyond McCoy. I honestly thought the offensive line had turned a corner against Missouri--so much so that I expected the Longhorns to wear out OSU's defense a bit with the run. Wrong again. We ran our zone stretch play for a grand total of about 3 yards, Ogbonnaya was frequently running towards the sideline searching for somewhere to cut up field, and McGee--despite doing a great job trying his damndest to cut up the field in what was his best effort on the season in many ways--was constantly swimming upstream.
Fozzy? Nowhere to be found. I'm done making any predictions about the guy. If he was available, the coaches must not have trusted his ability to pass block, or... something. I have no idea. I'm just gonna assume he's hurt again and leave it at that.
Texas on third down. The difference in the ballgame:
Coaching? Even after asking Texas fans not to be unfairly harsh on Muschamp and the defense, I thought the staff as a whole didn't have its best game today. The special teams were incoherent (A high, tweener kickoff that Cox still gets to field? Really?), the outside run support was embarrassing, and Greg Davis didn't respond terribly well to halftime adjustments made by the Cowboys.
On the whole, everyone seemed a little tense today and for a while it really felt like things might end as they did two years ago against Texas A&M--with a game winning drive by the visitors that we can't answer before the final gun. I didn't think it was a poor performance by the coaches... More like, hmm... I guess I'd say it felt like we played to survive. The flow too often seemed reactive, in contrast to the Cowboys, who I thought were both exceptionally well prepared and playing to win throughout.
At the end of the day, though... Texas won. The Longhorns were just good enough where it counted and the team moves to 8-0. Oklahoma State is a damn good football team. I'm thrilled the team survived today.
The crowd? I'm interested to hear some reports from those in attendance today. Impossible to tell for sure from the telecast, but it sure seemed like a passive, often shellshocked fan base. Frighteningly reminiscent of T+1 2006. Yes? No?
Awards. It wouldn't be a post-game wrap without some awards:
- Offensive MVP: The roommates. McCoy-to-Shipley was a scene to remember today. From the fade in the end zone, to the beautiful double move on the fake screen, to the numerous third down conversions, these two were incredible.
- Defensive MVP: Earl Thomas. With each game, he's more and more aware of where he's supposed to be. Which, as the team's best playmaker in the back seven, is most excellent.
- Play of the Game: Earl Thomas strips Kendall Hunter. On 3rd and 10 from the Texas 27, OSU tailback Kendall Hunter breaks free for a first down and maybe a score but loses the football when Thomas manages to pop loose the football, which Sergio Kindle recovers at the Texas 9.
- Stat of the Game #1: Texas 1 penalty, 10 yards. When you're not at your best in several other areas of the game, the importance of a near-penalty free day is amplified.
- Stat of the Game #2: Texas Time of Posession 33:38. With no running game to speak of, Colt McCoy keeps OSU's offense off the field for the majority of the game. Huge.
- Stat of the Game #3: Oklahoma State 1-for-5 on 3rd Down (2nd Half). Just enough to win. Just. Enough.
Hallelujah. Texas, #1 for at least one more week. Congratulations...