FROM THE STANDS: Top 5

I am in a glass case of emotion!

  • Case McCoy and Jordan Hicks have been reinstated to the Texas football team. Both players were suspended for breaking team rules (curfew) before the Alamo Bowl. An investigation into an alleged sexual assault ended with no charges being filed, so both players have been cleared of any wrongdoing, other than extremely bad judgment, which they paid for via suspension. Mack Brown said “… discipline will be handled internally …” meaning Mr. McCoy and Mr. Hicks are about to find out how many steps it is from the field to the press box and beyond in DKR. Many times over.
  • A few guys have decided to hang it up: Trey Graham, Thomas Ashcraft and Kyle Kriegel are leaving the program. All three are graduating this spring and have decided to move on. Thanks for your efforts, fellas.
  • Brandon Moore, the junior college defensive tackle with 18 tackles and two sacks, decided to forego his senior at Texas and enter the NFL draft. Okay, then. Well, good luck.
  • LSU lost 10 underclassmen to the NFL draft. That’s 10% of the ENTIRE roster leaving early, not to mention seniors and other guys that might transfer. What’s going on in the Red Stick, Leslie?
  • We will have at least one Longhorn in the Super Bowl: Tarell Brown, off a sensational game for the 49ers, will face off against Justin Blalock of the Falcons to represent the NFC. Now if only Justin Tucker can kick the Ravens (and Chykie Brown) to the Super Bowl in the AFC, I know exactly who I’ll be for.
  • Anyone else know that Sergio Kindle was cut?
  • 32 weeks from right now we are in game week. Yes, I know that and, yes, I have it circled.

Texas just got back to school Monday so the guys are about to jump knee deep into the off-season as they prepare for spring practice in late February. And with the coming of off-season it means no football. It’s right in there in the phrase “off-season.” We will get well into what Texas will look like, what they need to do and what they will do for 2013 as we get to spring ball, but for now we will take a look back at 2012.

We will do this the next two weeks and then dive into recruiting as National Signing Day 2013 arrives. For now, let’s take a look back.

Texas Longhorns: 2012 Football Season

It’s weird that it’s over. Is it just me? Seems like yesterday I was trying to decide who I hated less, A&M or ou … I mean, I was trying to decide that yesterday, but I mean as it related to the Cotton Bowl … Nevermind.

We get to this time of year and I start rehashing and re-watching the season, wondering where things could have gone differently. I am an equal opportunity over-analyzer, however, as I spend as much time looking at what could have gone wrong as what could have gone right. Two examples of that:

  • Vince Young gets tackled on that run and doesn’t pick up the 4th & 18 at Kansas. A loss means Texas doesn’t make the Rose Bowl to end the 2004 season. The white hot light on VY in 2005 was put there in large part by the performance in that Rose Bowl against Michigan. A 10-2 Texas team probably plays in the Holiday Bowl. No doubt their efforts in the 2005 season got them to the National Championship, and I doubt that changes. Is Young still the hottest commodity on the market after that game if it was his first big game experience? Does he slide in the draft projections far enough to return for 2006? Does he go elsewhere and circumstances are different for him now? What happens to Colt McCoy if he comes back? Lots of possible ramifications in that 19-yard run.
  • Blake Gideon holds onto the interception at Tech in 2008 (or Texas runs the clock down to under 10 seconds before Vondrell McGee’s go-ahead touchdown run in the fourth quarter). Texas wins that game and the Big 12 South and makes quick work of Mizzou in the Title Game. Colt McCoy wins the Heisman Trophy (instead of Sam Bradford), and Texas has a shot a Florida for the National Title. Who knows if they win, but you have to get there to find out. Does McCoy leave early if that happens? What about Sergio Kindle? Does Mack Brown retire in 2009 if Texas’ season is the same? Is he the new analyst on Game Day with Kirk and Chris as Muschamp roams the sideline?
  • What if Colt McCoy doesn’t get hurt, in 2006 or 2009? What if that ball doesn’t hit the railing in Cowboys Stadium in 2009?

See? This is what I do all the time. I know I have a problem; I don’t need you telling me that … Sorry, automated response. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad a team does, there are always single moments that could have changed everything, both good and bad. That means there were moments in 2012 for the Texas Longhorns. This week we will talk about five plays that went Texas’ way that could have changed everything.

Top 5 “Saved Our Bacon” Plays for the 2012 Texas Longhorns

No.5: The Non-Call

Texas’ first big road test was at Oklahoma State and, as history has shown us, a trip to Stillwater for the Texas Longhorns is as eventful as it gets. This game was no exception. Texas couldn’t stop JW Walsh, Joseph Randle or anyone else on the Oklahoma State offense, but the good news was Oklahoma State couldn’t stop Texas, either.

Texas drove 75 yards in nine plays to take a 34-33 lead with 5:48 to play, but a kick out of bounds — IT WAS TOUCHED. I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS. IT WAS TOUCHED — set up OSU at the 35. They promptly drove down the field, inside the 10, before the defense held them to a field goal and a 36-34 lead. Texas took over with 2:34 to play and the place was ROCKING. Facing a 4th & 6, David Ash made the throw of his young career when he hit DJ Grant over the middle with a PERFECT pass for 29 yards. Two plays later he under threw to Mike Davis for 32-yards to the OSU five. If he leads him more, we don’t have any of the following drama. All Texas needs to do is hang on to the ball and they probably win. They almost didn’t.

The Horns went to the hammer on two goal line plays, giving it to Bergeron twice. On the second one he seemed to get into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Or did he? Fox’s NFL official expert Mike Pereira said the officials made the right call when they made no call, because they couldn’t see it. Daytawion Lowe, OSU defensive back, sort of crawled in the pile after the fact and pulled out the ball, and said after the game it was a fumble, but one time I said after a game that the defensive tackle mimicked the snap count and that was why I jumped. It was a complete lie, but it didn’t stop me from saying it. You be the judge.

It was a hard-fought, exciting game (they always are when you win) and certainly wouldn’t have ruined Texas season, but it wouldn’t have helped.

And more highlights!

No.4: Joe Bergeron picks up Joe Bergeron vs. Baylor   

Texas led Baylor in a shootout, 56-50, with 1:51 to play in the game. Facing a 2nd & 3 at their own 39, Joe Bergeron took the handoff. The line was stacked up, and as he was fighting for the first down line and going to the ground he lost the ball. You can see that clear as day in this image: and, from this image, it looks like a serious dog pile is about to ensue as the two Baylor defenders see the loose ball. The good news is the ball bounced right back to Bergeron, who recovered his own fumble and one play later, on 3rd & 1, got the first down and Texas ran out the clock. Whew.

Had the ball bounced any direction but right back to him the Baylor game likely ends in disaster for Texas. The Longhorns lost an exciting game to then-Big 12 frontrunner West Virginia, 48-45, and was hammered by what many thought was a struggling ou team, 63-21, the two previous weeks. If the two-game losing streak wasn’t enough, West Virginia had been exposed at Texas Tech, 49-14, and was getting hammered by 40 points (55-14 final) by K-State at the same time Texas was playing Baylor. After giving up 111 points in the two games prior, many experts had Texas losing to the high-powered Bears. Mack Brown shook up the starting lineup, inserting Daje Johnson at tailback, where he produced immediate results with an 84-yard touchdown run on the game’s opener and Texas outslugged Baylor to take a 56-43 lead … But they couldn’t hold it. After cutting the lead to 56-50, the Bears needed a stop to get the ball back, and Bergeron almost gave it to them with that fumble. Had they gotten it back, you have to think with 50 points on the board they score again. And with only 1:40 or so left in the game, Texas would have been in dire straits. How ugly would a third straight loss, both in the season and to Baylor, have made things? Very.

But he got the ball back, Texas ran out the clock and won, 56-50, getting some much-needed confidence and momentum. Nice recovery, Joe B, but don’t fumble and you don’t have to get your own back.

And now for fun, the Baylor highlights.

No.3: Quandre the Giant in San Antonio

There weren’t a lot of people out there that thought Texas had much of a chance against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. The Beavers were one of the big stories of 2012, going from 3-9 in 2011 to 9-3 on the back of a turnover-forcing defense that was sixth nationally in interceptions with 19. Texas, on the other hand, was a turnover-giving machine, throwing seven picks in the final two games, which were both losses. Mike Riley had Oregon State going in the right direction while Texas appeared to be stuck in idle. And with the players suspended and sent home (the day before the game) with ominous allegations surrounding them, many wondered if Texas was even interested in playing. It was not a hard argument to make after the first half.

Alex Okafor and Marquise Goodwin singlehandedly kept Texas in the game with a long touchdown run and fumble forced, but everyone else looked … something. And that “something” was not good. The Longhorns (aside from Goodwin’s reverse for a touchdown) had about 60 yards of offense through the first drive of the second half and trailed, 20-10. The crowd was getting agitated as the Horns just couldn’t get anything going. After forcing a Texas punt and giving up a sack, Oregon State had a 2nd & 18 at their own 39. Quarterback Cody Vaz dropped back to pass and tried to hit superstar Markus Wheaton down the right sideline on an out, but Quandre Diggs had terrific coverage, saw the pass and broke in front of Wheaton for the interception and was tackled at the Oregon State 46. It seemed to breathe new life into the entire Alamodome and the Longhorns moved down the field for the first time of the night. Facing a 2nd & 10 from the Oregon State 11, David Ash kept the ball on the quarterback draw and leapt into the end zone for the touchdown. I’ve never seen Ash so animated and the stadium was rocking. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard a Texas crowd that loud not in Austin or Dallas. Texas was back in the game, trailing 20-17, and you guys all know how it ended. But were it not for Quandre Diggs’ huge interception it might never have happened.

An ugly loss to Oregon State in the bowl game is something I’d rather not think about. It wasn’t setting up for an ugly loss, but who wants their weekend in San Antonio ruined by some thoughtless jerks from another school? That might have been harsh. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about whether it was a bad loss or a good loss, because it didn’t happen. Highlights!

No.2: The Block

Headed to Lubbock, once again, not many people expected Texas to win the game. This was the No.18 Texas Tech Red Raiders, who whipped West Virginia and had the 12th ranked defense in the nation. And this was Tech, where better Texas teams have come and lost. Tommy Tuberville’s team was on a nice roll and whenever the Longhorns are on the schedule in Lubbock, it’s a mad house.

With a senior quarterback and a three game losing streak to Texas, it was setting up for a big day for the Red Raiders. They even had special uniforms for the game. In short, this was a big day for Tech and one many thought Texas couldn’t overcome.

Well, think again. The Horns came out firing as David Ash was red hot, going 8-8 for 221 yards and two scores, and the defense was playing over their heads as the Longhorns took a 24-13 lead to half.

Tech rallied, as they do, to cut it to 24-22 (a super play on a 2-point conversion kept it from being tied) and a Mike Davis 25-yard touchdown catch with 9:14 to play pushed the lead to 31-22. But Tech wasn’t done. The Red Raiders mounted a 12-play drive that had them at the Texas six-yard line before it stalled out. A field goal would cut the lead to 31-25 and a defensive stop, aided by a rabid home crowd, would give Tech the ball back with a chance to win. With 5:15 to play Tech lined up for a 23-yard field goal, but Carrington Byndom, looking very much like my man Rod Babers coming off the edge at Nebraska in 2002, blocked the field goal. The energy and excitement was gone for the home crowd and home team and Texas ran the clock out for the biggest regular season win for the Longhorns since 27-25.

There would have been no shame in losing that game, and there was no guarantee that Tech would have even gotten the ball back with a chance to win that game had they made the field goal, but the block sealed the deal and crushed the Red Raiders and it gave Texas its first win over a ranked opponent since the Nebraska game in 2010.

And with highlights!

No.1: The Catch(es)

Trailing 17-14 at Kansas with 2:22 to play, Case McCoy replaced a completely ineffective David Ash and looked awful on his first three passes. On 4th & 6 he pulled it together and hit Jaxon Shipley for 18 yards and a first down at the KU 48. Two plays later he found Mike Davis streaking down the sideline for a 32-yard gain to the Kansas 3 and on 3rd & goal he found a wide open DJ Grant for the touchdown with 8 seconds left to win the game, 21-17.

It saved the football team and the city of Austin from a massive riot and despair and misery for the land. I am not even so happy that happened as I am relieved it did not.

Highlights, if you must.

There you go, the good from this year. Next week we will take a look at the bad.

See ya!

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