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The SMO: Minor setback aside, all realistic goals are still attainable

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Obligatory reminder: The Sunday Morning Optimist does not deal in logic or reason. It does not care about facts or figures. It is an emotional overreaction to the preceding game.

I am partly to blame for this.

As someone who sees the Texas Longhorns lose almost exclusively when I attend games, it probably wasn’t smart to book a last-minute flight to Stillwater for a night contest on prime-time television — a sure sign that Oklahoma State Cowboys would win.

I should have learned during the Red River Rivalry that I belong nowhere near Texas when they play in big games. My official record for the last seven games I’ve attended is now 2-5.

That’s on me and I am truly sorry.

And while I showed up for the game — I’m not sure Todd Orlando did.

The Texas defense was thoroughly embarrassed by Mike Gundy and fifth-year senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius.

With the Horns’ best two corners out through the first quarter for a violation of team rules, the Oklahoma State offense sliced through the Texas defensive backfield with relative ease. And while the Cowboys set off on a monumental first quarter, Texas didn’t fare that much better when the starters entered the game.

Cornelius finished the game completing 23-of-34 passes for 321 yards and a rushing touchdown that put the game out of reach.

His top target, Tylan Wallace, had 10 receptions for 222 yards and two touchdowns alone.

And when the defense had the opportunity to step up and make a stop, they didn’t. The Cowboys converted on 50 percent of their third downs (10-for-20, my God) and 100 percent of their fourth down attempts (2-for-2).

Oklahoma State was balanced in its attack against the Longhorns, rushing the ball 51 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns. All in all, it was a less-than-impressive game for everyone on the defensive side of the ball — many of whom looked like they had never defended the zone read before.

I have less qualms with the offensive performance. Outside of a few drops and a slow start, my only other complaint was the run game suffered by using Ehlinger too conservatively.

Ehlinger finished with 47 yards rushing, but a lot of those came on scrambles and not designed runs. Obviously he is dealing with some injuries and his health is more important — but looking back it does feel like he was handicapped a bit.

Texas finished with more than 400 yards — 119 rushing and 283 passing. It was a strong enough performance to win. And while the offense stalled at times, it also had some impressive drives and scored on 100 percent of its red-zone trips (4-for-4).

Driving out of Stillwater and listening to Oklahoma State radio, they made an interesting observation about Collin Johnson — saying he is one of the most talented wide receivers in the country but doesn’t seem very competitive and left some catches on the field. While I disagree that he isn’t competitive, there were certainly balls he didn’t go for that I felt like he had the opportunity to catch.

I am still encouraged with the future of the offense behind Ehlinger and phenom freshman running back Keontay Ingram. Ehlinger now has 21 touchdowns on the season (13 pass/eight rush) to just two interceptions. That’s fantastic.

It was an ugly game, but not a sloppy one from a turnover perspective.

Texas has been able to beat teams this season by winning the turnover battle. This game featured zero (0) turnovers.

Ehlinger’s streak of passes without an interception was in jeopardy on a few throws, but is still intact. The true sophomore has now thrown 210 times without an interception.

It was sloppy from a penalty perspective. The 11 penalties called against Texas represent the most in a game all season — many of them coming on critical plays.

Obviously, some of those calls were very questionable, and the no calls were just as blatant, but Texas needs to clean this up because good teams will exploit you when you give them free yards.

In my opinion, Texas made the wrong decision when they deferred the opening kickoff.

Hindsight being 20/20, I think Texas needed to take the ball and set the tone — deflate the electric homecoming crowd and kill the clock a bit so Texas wasn’t without it’s two starting cornerbacks more than it needed to be.

Of course, we can all criticize in retrospect. That being said, Texas coaches should have known Kobe Boyce and Anthony Cook weren’t ready for that atmosphere and spared them some embarrassment by scoring first, killing some of the stadium energy and building a cushion.

There is a faction of Texas sports media that is — perhaps unintentionally — dishonest with you in their evaluations of players from certain regions of the state. They are somehow more partial to Texas players than those of us who wear burnt orange to games and don’t sit in the press box.

This is extremely apparent in the propaganda around Kris Boyd — who was nothing short of awful against Oklahoma State. Boyd, no matter what outlet you read, is not one of the best players in the conference. He is the best corner on the team, however. A bar, currently, that is not set all that high.

I’ve said it all year: Boyd has a high ceiling but has not lived up to his potential. Perhaps more disappointing than his play — however — was his absurd Instagram clap-back at Lifetime Longhorn and current ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho.

This very stupid back-and-forth was extremely avoidable. Boyd, who might be intentionally trying to get suspended again before Will Grier picks him apart, should not have sent what basically reads as a threat to an ESPN analyst.

Boyd, a senior leader, needs to let the Texas media relations team handle this. No need to make it a bigger story. His inability to do so is more embarrassing than his on-field play.

Of course, Acho isn’t blameless here either. The Texas Ex, who was a much better player than he is an ESPN analyst and whose broadcast speaking cadence is migraine-inducing, should work on his critiques instead of calling a player ‘trash’ on Twitter.

Everyone in this situation looks bad. There are no winners here.

In all honestly, Texas was never making the playoff, so there is no real setback caused by this road loss.

Texas still controls its own destiny in the Big 12. Winning the conference — hell, just making the conference championship game — would be a massive step in the right direction for this program.

We see a lot of young talent that flashes every week. They weren’t ready for their first appearance in the national prime-time spotlight, but that’s a learning experience for everyone. Next time, they will be.

Texas is still one year away from the national conversation. This season is about winning the conference and spoiling Oklahoma’s chances while cleaning up in recruiting.

That starts by beating West Virginia on Saturday. The bad news? I’ll be there.