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FROM THE STANDS: Oklahoma State Review

3 things from the weekend:

1. Will Muschamp is done at Florida. Sunday morning the news broke that he would be stepping down at the end of the season. That’s a monster job coming open that has national prestige and attraction. It’s a destination job and No.1 on just about everyone’s list of best jobs. They will be able to talk to any coach they want to see. Who do they want to see? A few guys jump to mind. One is Dan Mullen, the head coach at Mississippi State. He was Tim Tebow’s coordinator at Florida in the Urban Meyer days and he’s turned Dak Prescot into a Tebow-like quarterback at Mississippi State. Mullen surely sees that an 11-1 Florida team is still a playoff-contending team while the now one-loss Cow Bells are all but out of it. And looking at the power in the SEC, it’s all in the west with Bama, Auburn, LSU, the Mississippi schools and even Arkansas, who is looking close to turning the corner. Who’s in the East? Georgia. Maybe Mizzou. That looks far more appealing. But what if Mullen says no, or the boosters want someone more exciting offensively or they just aren’t that wowed by him? You’ll see NFL names like Jim Harbaugh. The problem with NFL guys, head coaches in particular, is if they are playoff teams their seasons aren’t over until well into the critical part of recruiting and you can all but kiss the class for the following year goodbye. Better theory than application, but it’s an option. I think Art Briles is a guy they will call. Kevin Sumlin’s mentor, Briles has created Baylor as a football program from scratch. Imagine what he could do at Florida with their resources, reach and national reputation? Sumlin showed you can wreck shop in the stubborn SEC with the spread attack, and I think Briles’ run-based spread (similar to Oregon) could be a nightmare for the SEC East. His ties to Texas would be great, and as long as he kept/got some coaches from Florida, he could own the offensive side of recruiting in the southeast. But he’s a Texas guy and he might not want that job, or they might not want him. And he’s old. Who else? I think Bob Stoops will get a call, after all he was the original hotshot coordinator that ou took a chance on in 1999. What about Gary Patterson? He’s the defensive version of Art Briles, and the turnaround at TCU is pretty remarkable. That’s just a few. What about Charlie Strong? He was there, too.  Kevin Sumlin? Lots of options, and whoever they hire will have an impact and everyone (if Briles goes, who goes to Baylor, etc…), in fact Muschamp himself on the open market will impact everyone. He will have a job by the end of the day if he wants one. He’s a helluva defensive coordinator and there are plenty of schools looking for a great dc. What if Stoops kicks Mike to the curb? I could see Muschamp in Norman as the dc for ou. What if A&M makes him a big offer? What if Kliff Kingsbury makes him assistant head coach and defensive coordinator? What if Phil Bennett retires at Baylor? That’s just the schools that impact Texas directly. Lots of things will change with this Florida job coming open.

2. Florida State is the villain. I was talking to some people at game-watching party for the Texas game Saturday and the very small line in the Miami/Florida State game came up. Why was it so small? What did Vegas see that I didn’t? My son chimes in with “it’s just time. Everyone is ready for them to lose and go away.” I don’t think that affected the betting line, but that’s completely true. I am a lifelong Florida State fan, and I’m done with this team. It’s bad guys doing bad things with a coach that doesn’t even pretend to care. About any of it. It’s a university police force that is allowing these bad guys to do whatever to whoever wherever with no repercussions. Of course not everyone on that team is a bad guy, but the ones who are get all the headlines since they are Heisman Trophy winners and playmakers. I know some programs like Notre Dame (and possibly Texas) are pretty polarizing, but right now everyone is rooting against Florida State. Unlike the other polarizing schools, however, Florida State has brought this all on themselves. As a Florida State fan from the early 80’s, I will be rooting for Muschamp in his final game.

3. The Final Four. The top four right now, according to projections, would be: 1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4…. Ohio State. I don’t get that at all, but they didn’t ask me. Fortunately it doesn’t end today, and when it all finishes and Baylor wins out with a win over Kansas State and wins the Big 12, I think Baylor gets that No.4 spot.

Raise your hand if your team is going to a bowl game? Are you raising your hand? Good, because we are. That was a pretty fantastic night in Stillwater, wasn’t it? Oh, and with Aggies gagging and losing at home to Missouri, even better.
TEXAS 28 OKLAHOMA STATE 7

Texas was Mike Tyson and Oklahoma State was Michael Spinx as the Horns jumped all over the Cowboys from the first play of the game and if they could get out of their own (special teams mistakes, penalties) way it’s an even bigger blowout and even smaller crowd at the start of the game/halftime/start of the fourth quarter. There was no doubt who was winning that game from the first snap. Texas wanted that coveted sixth win and they went and got it.
Initial Reactions

Beatdown. Beat. Down. The Texas defensive absolutely smothered the Oklahoma State offense and the offensive line took control of the game in the first quarter and gave the backs room and Tyrone Swoopes time to knife right through the Cowboys defense and score 16 straight points in the first quarter. After that, it was done. Actually, before that it was done. To steal a quote from my man John Madani when talking about how Texas and ou looked pre-game in the 2000 Cotton Bowl disaster: Texas looked excited, Oklahoma State looked cold.

It was the second straight week Texas started off red-hot offensively and it was the third straight week the defense slammed the door in the opponent’s face. Texas seems to be getting better and is starting to take shape for the future.

Who went to the game? With the exception of the frat paddle-wielding students, there didn’t seem to be much energy in the crowd. Am I wrong?

The Good

The defense, Malcom Brown in particular. John Harris. Tyrone Swoopes. The (first half) offensive line. The (first half) running game. Daje Johnson. The 51-yard field goal. Armanti Foreman. Kickoff coverage. BOWLING!

The Bad

We can’t get a hold down on an extra point? We miss extra point-length field goals? I thought the fair catch by Jaxon Shipley at the end of the first half where the defender hit his legs was a penalty; but that non-call wasn’t as bad as the roughing the passer call Texas got when the OSU defensive lineman fell into Swoopes’ knees. Bad call. Can we just skip the third quarter? Brutal.

The In Between

Nick Rose, you have to make ALL of the kicks, not just the sensational ones. Taking the entire game into consideration, the offensive line falls right into the in between.  The crowd. Again, it looked very much un-Oklahoma State on TV.

TEXAS IS GOING BOWLING! The Horns took care of business. Here’s what I saw on Saturday:

Offensive Line: See West Virginia. In the first half they were running the show, opening holes for the running game and giving Tyrone Swoopes time to throw the ball… But once again, like last week, the second half adjustments by the defense seemed to completely counter all the first half success. Some of that was the staff playing a bit more conservatively in calling plays, but the holes just weren’t there. They are young and growing, but right now there are too many inconsistencies in the second half. But I’ll take it, because for the second straight week they completely dominated the defense in the first half and allowed Texas to race out to the lead.

Wide Outs/Tight Ends: Texas got Daje Johnson involved very early in the game (2 carries, 16 yards, 1 catch) and you could see his explosiveness. I can’t wait to see him in two weeks lined up opposite John Harris, because Harris is the legit No.1 wide out and commands No.1 wide out attention. Even with all that attention, Harris was outstanding on Saturday, leading the team with nine catches for 117 yards and a score. There are rumors he could return for a 6th year, but if he can show decent speed he’s an NFL wide out. Another great day from the biggest surprise on the team.

Jaxon Shipley got run into that stupid wall that’s about three feet from the corner of the end zone and is dinged him up. I think he got hurt on that punt return as he came back the next series, but after that punt he went to the locker room and spent the second half in streets on the sideline. Hopefully it was precautionary and he’ll be fine, because Texas needs him in the season finale.

In his absence, Armanti Foreman stepped up. The freshman finished with 74 yards on two catches and a touchdown; the 45-yarder in the fourth that shut the door on Oklahoma State. He’s Daje-quick and with Shipley banged up, expect to see him get a lot of reps in the next two weeks of practice.

Great game for Marcus Johnson, who had a monster third down catch and held onto the ball after getting drilled over the middle. That catch took the momentum away from Oklahoma State, who had just scored and was looking for a way to get crowd back in it. And two catches for Jacorey Warrick was nice to see as well.

Everyone did a nice job blocking downfield as well, including Geoff Swaim and MJ McFarland.

Running Backs: In the first half Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray looked almost unstoppable; but the lack of push up front in the second half totally dragged the totals down. Even still, Gray finished with 81 yards rushing on 16 carries with one score, averaging a whopping 5.1 per carry. He also added 35 yards receiving on three catches. Slowly but surely as he completely heals from that Achilles injury, he’s returning to starting tailback form. A great day. Brown didn’t have Gray’s numbers, but he still ripped off a 31-yard run that flipped the field.

When these guys have time, they are devastating. When they don’t, they are not.

Quarterbacks: The best game he’s played. He made good decisions, good reads and dynamite throws, like the one to Harris on the opening drive for a 19-yard touchdown on 3rd & 10. Tyrone Swoopes finished the day with 305 yards passing and two scores, going 24-33.

I know it he isn’t completely healthy, but keeping the ball JUST ONCE on the zone read opens up the running lanes for the backs so very much. Just once. He didn’t want to run (or they didn’t want to run him), but he was lights out throwing the ball.

Defensive Line: Just beast. It was the best game I’ve seen the Texas dl play all season. Malcom Brown had two sacks and three tackles and set the tone for the game by personally holding OSU to a 3 & Out on the opening drive. They could do nothing inside, nothing outside and Daxx Garman was sacked seven times. Outstanding.

Linebackers: I was concerned Tyreek Hill would get loose outside against the lbs in coverage or in space, but there was nowhere for him to go. Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond combined for nine tackles, three for loss and a sack and made sure anything that escaped the dl (there wasn’t much) never got anywhere. Outstanding.

Secondary: Same with the safeties regarding Hill. Nothing. The wide outs for OSU are not elite and Texas made them remember that, holding them to one score when the game was out of hand and a total of 158 yards passing. Dylan Haines had a pick and a fumble recovery and there was just no space. At all. Once again, outstanding.

Special Teams: There needs to be a special teams coach. Someone needs to be let go or reassigned to make room. I have some thoughts on who that should be, but that’s for happy hour.

So…

Bowling! The importance of this win, and the pending bowl, cannot be overstated. I’ll get into that in the coming weeks. Enjoy the week and the win, peeps!

 

This Week in the Big 12
No.7 BAYLOR (8-1/5-1)   BYE

No.13 KANSAS STATE (7-2/5-1)   BYE

WEST VIRGINIA (6-4/4-3)   BYE

IOWA STATE (2-7/0-6)   BYE
oklahoma 42 TEXAS TECH 30
I love stand up comedy. Love it. Two of favorites are no longer with us: Patrice O’Neal and Greg Geraldo. Two of my new favorites are Kurt Metzger and John Mulaney. Who else you got? I am always open to suggestions.

No.4 TCU 34 KANSAS 30
Kansas almost ruined everything. That happened to us, too, TCU. 2004. So close. I am glad you escaped unscathed, because I want your playoff party to come crashing down in Austin… I’ve said too much.

We will talk on Thursday.

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