The last two games hinged on breaks. A call here or there and we might be looking at 8-2 istead of 6-4. How a team responds to negative situations in a football game is, well, often the difference between coming up roses or making excuses.
The fact is that both Missouri and Kansas State capitalized on Texas mistakes when presented. And Texas did not create enough, or any, to give themselves opportunities to win.
And that is how the cookie crumbles in this game. For years Texas rode high on creating opportunities on the misfortunes of others.
The tables, it seems, have turned.
In both back-to-back losses, the outcomes pivoted on a sequence of plays that put too much pressure on the talented Texas defense. In the Missouri loss it was a bad luck penalty call against Vaccaro on the perfectly executed form tackle personal foul resulting in the 35 yard touchdown scamper the defense gave up on the very next play. In the KSU loss, with Texas facing a 4th and 1 on the Wildcat 39 yard line and showing signs of life, it was a false start by Trey Allen forcing a punt resulting in the head-scratching punt receiver interference call putting the ball out to mid-field and ultimately resulting in the go ahead for good touchdown.
Coincidentally both of these sequences occurred late in the 2nd quarter, shortly before the ever important Mack Brown decreed end-of-half/beginning-of-half part of ball games.
And thems are the breaks.
Game balls to Ahco, Robinson, Jeffcoat, Okafor, and Randall. They combined for 5 sacks and 36 tackles. Blake Gideon also had a great night with 6 tackles of his own. What a tremendous effort on the part of the defense to keep the game within spitting distance. Time and again the Texas defense rose to the occasion to thwart the KSU offensive attack. Some notables:
The Longhorns gave up a couple of critical throws (the 24 yarder on 3rd and long in the waning minute of the first half followed shortly after by the back-shoulder throw for a touchdown, also on 3rd down). Both of those accounted for almost half of KSU's passing yards. Klein finished 9 of 17 for 83 yards.
While the offense showed signs of life, they continued to be ineffective on the scoring downs, could not sustain drives, and shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and untimely mistakes. Bottom line of this group is that injuries have taken out the playmakers and rendered helpless its ability to score. Pretty cut and dry deal. More experience and getting well is the prescription. With only two games remaining in the regular season, that is probably a reach too far.
I thought the players played hard and about as well as should be expected given the talent gap. Give KSU some credit defensively as they did not lay over. They gave as good, if not better, than their counterparts on the Texas defense. The Horns were just overmatched and that's the truth of the matter.
A small side note on the play calling. There were a couple of head scratchers in the game but I thought that overall Harsin had a good game plan and made the right calls. Would I like to have 3 or 4 back? Sure. But you can say that in every game. At some point the playmakers have to get the job done. That did not happen consistently enough to scoreboard enough points. Just have to go back to work.
Special teams consisted of a couple of old-school football players in Justin Tucker and Quandre Diggs. I can't think of anyone else on the team I would rather have in my corner during a back-alley brawl. Tough as nails is the best way to describe them. Justin continues to do it all in the kicking game continually giving the team the best opportunity to succeed. And he is all man on kick returns looking to physically punish runners who escape the second line of defenders. He's got whatcha call moxie. And Quandre really is a downhill punt returner. He finishes his runs with power and is sneaky quick.
It's Lone Star Showdown week and it appears our last time to play A&M for a very long time. Mack Brown will discuss the history, what it means to showcase Texas football to the nation, and a big shout out to Texas high-school coaches. He'll downplay the fact that the outcome of the game is no more, or less, important than the next one. But I don't buy this one bit. The University of Texas needs this win in a bad way. In that regard, there is a significant amount riding on the outcome.
Don't look for any bulletin board material coming from Bellmont. With the short week, there is too much to do and too little time to dwell on all the storylines surrounding the historic match. They'll let the fans and media worry about that and stay focused on getting ready for the game.
This is the end of 117 consecutive years of annual football played between the Horns and Aggies. The first meeting occurring in 1894, the same year Robert Louis Stevenson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. passed away. Let that sink in for a few seconds.
I hope we beat Aggie. I really do. But it's not the end of the world should we not prevail. Because either way, we'll still be Longhorns and they will still be Aggies.
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