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Texas beats Iowa State; we are the hollow men

Welcome to 2013 Texas football, where last-second wins don't even really matter.

David Purdy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

-- TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

A hapless, rushed play from Iowa State resulted in unblocked Texas Longhorns defensive end Cedric Reed deflecting a pass from Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson into the waiting hands of fellow defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat to seal a hollow 31-30 last-second victory over the Cyclones on the road in the odd surreality that is Ames football on a weeknight.

After the play, Jeffcoat stood and jawed with the Iowa State running back who had brought him down, just as Bryson Echols had earlier in the game, apparently letting the Cyclone punt returner that he was lucky he wasn't personally fouled.


It wasn't just the hollow eyes of Mack Brown in the first half, those eyes staring into the infinite, headpiece filled with straw, it was Case McCoy pushing into the end zone after two plays during which Johnathan Gray fumbled or nearly fumbled the football and definitely lost it on the previous play, when the officials incorrectly ruled Gray down on contact as he was stripped, reviewed the play, then said that the call on the field was confirmed, which it clearly was not.


Gray's forward progress might have been stopped. Was probably stopped. Was it a bad call? Not having an explanation makes it more difficult to assess that fact, but it was certainly unfair. There should have at least been an explanation. The type of critical call that would increase the hollowness of any victory.

Sure, call it terrible -- wouldn't blame any Iowa State fans for saying that. Or anyone else for that matter.

Whatever one might believe about the fumble that wasn't, there's no dispute about the dirtiness of this play by Mike Davis after Joe Bergeorn had already walked into the end zone:



Sickening. Hey, at least there's something that isn't hollow.

There should be a booth review of personal foul penalties like this, because Mike Davis absolutely deserved to be ejected from this game and deserves to be suspended next weekend against Oklahoma for this cheap shot that fortunately didn't cause anything significant damage. If the Big 12 doesn't do, Mack Brown needs to, because there's no way that Davis deserves to play in the Cotton Bowl after that.

And made Davis still being on the field to pick up the crucial first pass interference and catch another pass on the final drive rather hollow. Cheap like a dingy, flea-ridden motel.

At the end, when the Longhorns defense had to stiffen, to show some violent souls to those who might remember this team, it did just enough to force a game-saving field goal. So, there was that. Insert cliches about rising to the challenge.

And there was just enough of that signature Case McCoy magic left, just like Texas A&M to close the conference rivalry and a similarly hollow victory against Kansas last season, which may not have saved Mack Brown's job, but it certainly didn't hurt.

Bomani Jones summed it up pretty well heading into that final drive:

And McCoy came through, somehow, with the help of two 15-yard penalties, one on a Hail Mary deep pass from McCoy and the other on what could have been the game-winning touchdown pass, at least. He also nearly threw an interception that went off the hands of two Iowa State defenders and took a sack, though the latter was a better decision than the former, by far.

So, pretty typical Case McCoy. Boy, that kid sure has moxie.

Which somehow has saved two potentially serious meltdowns for Mack Brown. Case McCoy is like his guardian angel, pulling him back from the brink, sprinkling a little moxie dust on the moment.

It also took a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half that looked much like any Case McCoy deep ball (he gets more game reps on those than most quarterbacks), except with more players in the area and the Texas receiver winning the ball as the defenders completely failed to attack it all.

It was that little bit of extra moxie that simply stunned the Iowa State defenders into not playing the ball -- there's simply no other explanation.

McCoy must have sprinkled some of his moxie dust on the Texas play caller, too, as Major Applewhite's decisions were stunningly terrible, completely abandoning the run through large stretches of the second half, even though Gray had been successful early running the ball. Cowboys-esque.

The first McCoy Hail Mary of the game came in the midst of the drive from Gray that resulted in this touchdown run sandwiched around the arm punt:

Here's the superlative run from Gray, which showed of his vision and ability to cut suddenly and blow up some angles to find pay dirt.

The type of run and run blocking that should have resulted in more carries for Gray instead of Hail Marys from McCoy, though he was certainly effective getting pass interference penalties. And missed a wide-open Mike Davis streaking down the field in the second half.

After Gray's touchdown run early, McCoy got sacked on a 2nd and 2 when he held onto the ball too long.

Here was the explanation offered from Mack Brown about why Texas didn't run the ball:

In the third quarter, 14 of the first 16 plays were pass plays and when the Longhorns finally ran the ball, Joe Bergeron picked up 12 yards twice and then rumbled into the end zone while the cheap hit from Davis happened to his right.

Then Texas picked up a first down on penalty on the first play of the next drive -- passing the ball -- and then promptly called a pass play and a failed screen, leading to a pass short of the first down and a punt. Then Begeron fumbled on the first play of the next drive.

Cosmic justice for Applewhite calling a run play, it seems.

For the defense, it was mostly more of the same hollowness in execution that defined the losses to Ole Miss and BYU defensively.

Iowa State broke off the longest pass from scrimmage in history, as Quenton Bundrage beat Duke Thomas in coverage as the sophomore tried to undercut the route and couldn't play the football, leading to some futile, inexplicable movements from Mykkele Thompson and it was all over, as he was the only other player who had a chance at him. Somehow.

Lack of discipline on third down and long that allowed numerous scrambles by Richardson through massive running lanes. The typical missed tackles. The failure to properly scrape exchange by Steve Edmond, the most basic way to defend the zone read that he still doesn't understand, somehow. Linebackers otherwise getting blocked, taking bad reaps, and missing tackles.

Jackson Jeffcoat getting too far upfield as a pass rusher and then half-jogging in pursuit on numerous plays.

Iowa State going 7-of-11 on third downs through the first half and should have been better, as Bundrage dropped an open catch on third down that could have led to a touchdown before the half and probably would have kept Texas from having a chance at that miracle Hail Mary.

The re-appearance of the bumbling Keystone Kops routine by Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips, 2011 style, with this particular version featuring Phillips hanging on Aaron Wimberly

Oh yeah, and there was Byndom earlier, getting trucked by Wimberly.

Texas won the game and Mack Brown will be able to say that Texas can still win the Big 12. That Texas is 2-0 in conference play, that all the goals are still in front of the team.

The mistake is in believing that the outcome of this game matters, that Mack Brown would have deserved to go more if Richardson had gotten into field goal range and Iowa State had pulled out the game. If Luke Knott or the Iowa State defensive back would have come up with that interception. Or if Gray hadn't been ruled down or whatever he was ruled as being.

It doesn't matter, because it doesn't change the fundamental calculus of what needs to happen, the fundamental calculus that is now clear to almost everyone. The outcome of this game doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because this team still doesn't get it defensively and injuries and Applewhite's play calling are hurting the offense massively.

The outcomes of some games coming up, like next week against Oklahoma and Baylor to close the season? Those will probably be ugly enough to move the needle for whatever stragglers there are to the fundamental truth of what needs to happen at Texas, but they don't really matter either because they are but the stragglers, the ones with the dried voices that whisper together as quietly and meaninglessly as wind in dry grass or rats' feet over broken glass in our dry cellar.

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.