"This can't be happening. Not again..."
It happened again.
I grew up with a younger brother three years my junior, which made him close enough in age to play with me, but far enough behind developmentally that I was the stronger, superior player in just about everything we played -- which meant winning just about everything that we played. That I dominated my brother in competition was hardly surprising when I was 13 and I was four inches taller, a lot stronger, and more developed, but even when the size/strength/skill gap between us eventually closed, I still largely maintained my dominant position.
My edge was mental -- a matter of attitude and approach. Although my brother and I were now evenly matched, the message my attitude conveyed was, "I'm better than you and I'm going to beat you, same as I always have." I was confident, assertive, and attack-oriented, while my brother was uncertain, passive, and defensive. As a result, I was in his head, he was on his heels, and the competition was over before it even began.
That's where Texas and OU are under Mack Brown and Bob Stoops. Dominance isn't about outcomes; it's about power and control. Under Bob Stoops, OU has attacked Texas from a position of dominance no different than the way I used to take it to my little brother. Some of Mack's teams have had players that stood tall and pushed back, but when Texas doesn't have extraordinary players providing that leadership, the Longhorns have been dominated like a little brother. Stoops and OU come out of the gates confident, assertive, and attack-oriented, while Texas is uncertain, passive, and defensive.
When it happens, you can see it right away, and by the end of the first quarter you know, "It's happening again."
Four. That's the number of times during the Mack Brown era that Texas fans have slunk out of the Cotton Bowl embarrassed by the Sooners under Bob Stoops, who today ran his record against UT to 9-5. So in other words, across the 13 games between the two coaches, Stoops has almost the same number of blowout ass whippings of Texas as Brown has total wins over OU. Take out the win over Stoops when the Sooners were still recovering from the John Blake era, and it's even.
That's absolutely devastating, and don't think Mack doesn't know it. His $5 million salary may be good reason to withhold any sympathy, but you could see the pain and humiliation that he felt today. Mack Brown does a lot of things well, he really did commit himself to trying to rebuild things after 2010, and to have it all not only fail to come together, but to do so like this -- with yet another ass kicking at the hands of Stoops and OU, breaking the spirits of even his most ardent of his supporters -- is beyond humiliating. The fans were humiliated today. Mack Brown looked devastated.
It's a bitter pill to swallow, and it'll be interesting to see how he handles it, but even if the rest of the 2012 were to go well, it wouldn't address the fundamental problem on display today: Stoops and the Sooners have bullied Texas so often because they can.
There are games and sports where you can be successful playing from a protective shell. Football is not one of them. And for every 45-35 bounceback after taking an initial blow, there are now four games where the first punch is one from which the team is virtually knocked out. It happened again today, and after today there is absolutely no reason to doubt that it will happen each and every time Texas enters this game hoping to avoid a bad outcome rather than kick the shit out of Oklahoma.
Four. Four is a pattern.
The Defense Bottoms Out
I don't know that there's much need to add insult to an injury like today's, but so long as we're bloodletting, consider the following:
1. Texas had never lost a game in which it scored 45 points... until last week, when West Virginia's second-string tailback managed to wash away a century of history.
2. One week later, the Texas Tech Red Raiders thoroughly whipped the same West Virginia offense in a 49-14 mudstomping of the Mountaineers.
3. In 106 previous meetings between Texas and OU, no team ceded as many yards (677) as the Longhorns did today.
4. Including today, Texas' last four opponents have run 298 plays for an astounding 2,112 yards, or an average of 7.1 yards per play, the worst mark in the country over that span.
Today was the most painful yet, and you know you've got a dark sense of humor if like me you laughed watching Damien Williams 95-yard touchdown run, which hilariously captured each component of our defensive fail machine in one play: (1) Manny Diaz sent Kenny Vaccaro on a kamikaze mission with a dreadfully conceived run blitz; (2) Demarco Cobbs ran directly to the nearest Sooner blocker, politely asked to be engaged for a few moments while Mr. Williams ran by, left a thank you note and crumpet, and then provided the rear escort for Mr. Williams on his sprint to the end zone; (3) the safety -- Myke Thompson in this case -- ran up to make the tackle, made sure he had his weight on his heels as the ball carrier arrived, and promptly got juked out of his jock to set up a perfectly executed useless arm tackle; and (4) Quandre Diggs, upon seeing Thompson sprinting up to cut off the ball carrier, relaxed for a half of a second, presuming the play was handled, only to find that it wasn't... and that his letting up now put him a step behind Williams. Touchdown.
Hooray, everybody was right! It's the players and the coach.
I'm honestly not sure I've seen anything like this, and I was one of those who loved Diaz as an ideas guy. From beloved to rejected in six games. Incredible.
Dissecting Diaz and his future is probably a separate post for another time, but for now, suffice it to say that the failure on display right now is spectacular. And thorough.
In Part II
It's late, and that's more than enough depression for one sitting. Still to come in Part II:
* David Ash's big heart (and injured wrist)
* Losing the battle on the line
* Why our running game is stalled
* Where to go from here