FROM THE STANDS: ou Review

“It’s hard to take. You kick someone’s *** for the entire game but lose.”

That was the very brief conversation I had with an old friend at the fair on Saturday afternoon and it summed up perfectly the mood of everyone, on both sides, walking around. The sooner fans were obviously very happy they won, but they were very quiet. There was very little “boomer!” chanting and a lot of “You guys outplayed us.” conversations going on. I heard one guy say “K-State is going to kill us.” They left with the win, but little if any confidence in their team.

Texas fans had a wider range of emotions. There were some happy and excited, seeing a very young team that played very well and had a chance to win it. There were some that were angry and frustrated with the mistakes that cost Texas the win. Most were somewhere in between. I leaned a bit more to the frustrated side after the game, but it’s softened some as we get farther away from it.

But it is still there. Texas let this one get away and both sides know it.

 

TEXAS 26 No.9 oklahoma 31

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the stands that full as the final gun sounded. There have been close games in the past (2010 was the last one), but this one seemed to have both sides on the edge of their seats. It sure didn’t hurt that it was in the 60s instead of the high 80s like last year. There were a lot of momentum swings both ways, but too many Texas mistakes proved to be the difference.


Initial Reactions

Sloppy. Lots of penalties, a season-high 11 to be exact, and I think 10 of them were on the offensive line. I’ve never seen so many false starts. A third straight fumble at the goal line at the end of the first half, but Texas got it back this time. The Texas defense was outstanding. The Texas offense looked great at times. I am not at all impressed with oklahoma and Trevor Knight. I said last week he was looking less and less like the Sugar Bowl Trevor Knight and more and more like the guy that lost his job to Blake Bell last year, and nothing I saw from him on Saturday changed my mind. I don’t see ou beating Baylor or K-State at this point. If Texas could just get out of its own way, they’d at the very least be 4-2 right now.

When Tyrone Swoopes scored to cut it to 31-26, I thought Texas had it. I was impressed that Texas did indeed cut loose on offense and open it up, trusting Tyrone Swoopes to make some plays with his arm and his legs and he was successful. The Texas offense put 26 on the board and that, theoretically, should be enough for Texas to win; but the special teams once again let them down. Let’s post-mortem this:


The Good

Tyrone Swoopes. John Harris. The opening drive of the game. The final drive of the first half. The two 4th quarter touchdown drives. The Texas defense all day. Malcolm Brown. Jordan Hicks. Jason Hall. Jaxon Shipley. The fight the team showed in the fourth quarter rally. Boudin balls (soooo good).


The Bad

All those penalties, specifically the one on John Harris when Tyrone Swoopes kept the ball for a 64-yard run. Special teams. The fumbled snap. Marcus Johnson’s two drops. No turnovers forced. Adrian Colbert’s silly personal foul. Timeout mismanagement, highlighted by wasting one on the two-point conversion. (How does that game look if Texas has two timeouts instead of one on the last ou drive? Maybe no change at all, or maybe Texas gets the ball back with a minute to play instead of 18 seconds). Blake Bell’s headband. The hilarious ou students wearing ebola masks to the game. The facilities inside the Cotton Bowl (gross). Losing.


The In Between

Not much in between this week. I think Trevor Knight is pretty in between. He’s athletic and can move, but he throws absolutely awful passes. The Tyrone Swoopes interception for a touchdown was a bad read, which will be corrected with coaching and experience. He’s growing and learning and getting better. I don’t see that from Trevor Knight. I see bounced passes, throws that go 10 yards out of bounds on a sideline route and I see a guy that generally looks like he started playing quarterback early last week. He won the game, though, because he didn’t turn it over. Still, I’ll take our guy over him every time.

A tough day, because that was a win if the mistakes are not made. But they were made, so here we are. I saw some good things from the units, but some other things that were not so good. Here’s what I saw on Saturday:


Offensive Line: When I was in high school, a false start meant five striders (the width of the field). I imagine a similar fate awaits the ol this fine Sunday for all the jumpiness. It was jitters to be sure. There were a lot of kids playing in this game for this first time up front for Texas and it showed. They were nervous, and then they settled down some.

Penalties aside, I thought they did a pretty good job against a stout ou front seven. On the day Texas rushed for 148 yards and one score and while he was sacked twice, the ol gave Tyrone Swoopes time on most of his 44 pass attempts. Sure it could be better, but it’s a work in progress and I thought they held well. Actually they were better than I thought they’d be.

What in the world is going on at the goal line at the end of the half? This week it was not on Swoopes, but squarely on center Taylor Doyle. He snapped the ball before the quarterback was ready and Texas was lucky to get it back. That has to stop.


Wide Outs/Tight Ends: It seemed like John Harris was open all day if Texas wanted to go to him. He finished with two touchdowns on five catches for 90 yards. The first touchdown was a beautiful throw from Swoopes on a crossing route that Harris took in stride for a 38-yard score, racing to the pylon to avoid the tackler. The second was a fade route from Swoopes that he caught going out of bounds, dragging his feet in bounds to get the score. He’s the big play guy and Jaxon Shipley is the workhorse, leading the team with 9 catches and 115 yards. He was working the sideline well, finding holes in the zone and beating the coverage to move the chains. A great day from both.

Marcus Johnson had his best day stat-wise with seven catches for 93 yards, but there were two big drops, one on 3rd & 19 that would have been a first down. And then on his 41-yard catch he looked he was going to walk in for the score after a great open field move, but then it seemed he hurt himself because he sort of pulled up, completely losing the defender and really having no idea where he was. He was tackled at the ou five. He limped off, which I thought explained it all, but then he came back on the field two plays later, so he wasn’t hurt. It was strange, and even though Texas scored later it cost them a crucial minute or two they would desperately need later on.

I thought we’d see some tight ends in the game plan, but the only time their names were called were on false start penalties.

A great day from Harris and Shipley, and I like getting the kids involved with the screens and end arounds.

 

Running Backs: It was Malcolm Brown’s day. The senior led the team with 88 yards rushing on 19 carries, averaging 4.1 per carry. There were times when he was just mowing defenders down, especially when he got to the edge. I know a lot people around me were frustrated with what they thought was a conservative game plan, but you have to rely on your horse, and Brown is that horse. Texas needed to keep the sooners honest and not able to commit to defending the pass exclusively, and Brown did that well. He didn’t get in the end zone, but he was running hard and physical.

It was not a Jonathan Gray day as he had just 24 yards on nine carries, but I thought Brown was very good.


Quarterbacks: It was the best game of his young career. Tyrone Swoopes had 11 carries for 50 yards and a score (he also had that 64-yard run negated by a penalty) and was 27-44 for 344 yards with two scores. There was the occasional bad throw and the interception was a rookie mistake he can’t make; but overall I thought he was terrific.

Against Baylor he looked a little tentative and rattled, but he looked confident and comfortable against the sooners. I’ll take that output and effort (pick-six aside) every time.

I think the Horns have their quarterback going forward.


Defensive Line: ou likes to be physical and run the ball and Texas absolutely stuffed it all day. The sooners managed only 103 total yards on the ground and while Samaje Perine had a touchdown, Texas completely made him a non-factor for most of the game. On the day the Big 12’s leading rusher had 63 yards on 18 carries. This was due in large part to the dl for Texas. No one had a 10-tackle day or anything, but Hassan Ridgeway, Malcom Brown, Cedric Reed and new starter Naashon Hughes combined for 13 tackles and a deflected pass. It wasn’t flashy, but it was effective. Ridgeway led the way with six tackles and the pass deflection came from Brown.

Looking to get a hybrid linebacker/end on the field that could drop or rush, the 6-foot-4, 233-pound redshirt freshman Naashon Hughes got the start. He finished with three tackles, including a half for loss, and a qb pressure as he chased Trevor Knight into an incompletion. A good start, and someone you can expect more from.

A good day from dl.


Linebackers: And another good day from the linebackers. Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond combined for 16 tackles, with 10 from Hicks, and were vital in helping shut down the vaunted ou running game. It seems in the last two weeks these guys have found their groove and understand what the defense wants and needs from them. Hicks seemed like he was everywhere, sniffing out screens, filling holes and making tackles. Last week it was Edmond leading the way, this week it was Hicks.

I’ll take that every time.


Secondary: Quandre Diggs got beat by Sterling Shepard on a 24-yard touchdown pass. The reason I bring that up is it was the only thing ou did through the air all day. There were some short passes to Blake Bell, but Texas seemed okay with that. When ou had to throw, there was nowhere to go. Diggs had a good day, finishing with eight tackles, a sack and another tackle for loss. Also having a good day, freshman safety Jason Hall. He finished with six tackles, highlighted by his big hit on Perine, who he met in the hole, lifted him off the ground by his legs and planted him on his back, much to the delight of the Texas side of the Cotton Bowl. It was awesome.

Duke Thomas, Dylan Haines and Mykkele Thompson were also terrific. Trevor Knight was 12-20 for 129 yards. That’s not a good day. While I was hoping Texas would turn him over, he didn’t offer much help as almost all his incompletions were so bad neither team had a chance to catch them. I guess that’s one way to limit turnovers.

Excellent day from the secondary.


Special Teams: I don’t have any more words. The kickoff return for a touchdown gave all the momentum back to ou and then Texas almost gave up another one later in the game, Adrian Colbert drilling the punt returner before he caught the ball was unbelievably absurd and then calling time out on a two-point conversion, it’s awful.

I’ve never seen a special teams unit this bad. Ever. I don’t mean at Texas. I mean anywhere. Special teams cost Texas this game, the UCLA game and were huge contributing factors in the losses to BYU and Baylor. Again, even average special teams play and Texas is 4-2 and wearing that golden cowboy hat after the game on Saturday.

A special teams coach needs to be hired. Right now there is not one. There needs to be one. Like, today. Right now. If that means someone gets let go, then someone gets let go. The defense played lights out and the offense began to click, but the anchor weighing this team down is special teams. That is unacceptable.


So …

See my special teams rant above. That has to change. The good news is the offensive line is coming together and Tyrone Swoopes is emerging as a dangerous, play-making quarterback. The defense just has to keep on keepin’ on as the offense catches up.

Get the special teams fixed and Texas will be in every game they play from here on out. Heck, even with terrible special teams they have been in (almost) every game they’ve played.

I hate losing to oklahoma. Boo.

Back on Thursday with Iowa State stuff.

 

LAST WEEK IN THE BIG 12

No.16 KANSAS STATE (4-1/2-0)   IDLE

Saturday, October 11th

No.12 TCU 58 No.3 BAYLOR 61
I will watch and be excited about basketball games with less points than this. I said “Petty over Boykin in a high-scoring affair,” but this was not what I meant. Baylor rallied from down 21 in the fourth quarter to tie at 58 with 4:42 left to play. Yes, 58-58 with 4:42 to play. After a really questionable non-call on a deep fourth down pass by TCU, Baylor got the ball back with about 90 seconds to play and drove from midfield into field goal range, aided by a really questionable pass interference call against TCU, and kicked that game-winning field goal. Bryce Petty jumped feet first into the Heisman race with six touchdowns and 510 yards passing and Baylor survived.

No. 16 OKLAHOMA STATE 27 KANSAS 20
The Jayhawks brought it and nearly upset Oklahoma State. Tied at 20, Oklahoma State returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score with six to play, and it held up. This is what I was talking about. How good are they? Everyone was freaking out about Texas not blowing out KU, but the Jayhawks held the Cowboys to just 275 total yards.

WEST VIRGINIA 37 TEXAS TECH 34
It wasn’t a blowout like I expected, but it was all offense. The teams combined for nearly 1,100 yards of offense, including a surprisingly high 466 yards rushing. WVA was down 14 in the fourth quarter but rallied to tie it and then kicked a 55-yard field goal with three seconds left to win it.  Yes, 55 yards. On the road. That’s clutch. Tech is 0-3 in Big 12 play for the first time since 1990 and have lost four straight. They led at halftime, 21-10, and it was their first halftime lead in over a year. What a mess.

Toledo Rockets 30 IOWA STATE 37
I told you they would win. Anyone ride that train thing?

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