Mike Davis, meet Limas Sweed.
Davis' snare of a David Ash bomb put Texas in position to beat Oklahoma State Saturday night in Stillwater, 41-36, with Joe Bergeron scoring the game winner on a two-yard touchdown run with just 29 seconds remaining.
And from a UT
perspective, after two years of mediocrity, this will be seen as - possibly - a
historic win, a victory on the road against a good opponent in a hostile
environment that shows the Longhorns are back. How far back, Mack Brown's team
will know for sure in seven days, when Geno Smith comes to town fresh off an eight-touchdown, 70-point masterpiece against Baylor.
Yes, Saturday was a
monumental win, thanks to Davis' Sweed impression vs. Ohio State near the
Cowboys' goal line. But Brown has undoubtedly told his Longhorns to not bask
too long, or the memory of this game could get buried in a Mountaineers'
barrage next Saturday. And despite the win, Texas also showed some worrisome
tendencies against the Cowboys.
Perhaps first and
foremost, the Texas tackling was awful, which once again caused the Longhorns
to give up multiple big plays. If the Longhorns tackle next week as they did
Saturday night, can you envision a scenario by which West Virginia cannot score
a minimum of 40 points? Neither can I. Give Texas a little bit of slack here,
however, considering their best linebacker, Jordan Hicks, missed the game with
an injury. But with or without Hicks, if you're a defensive player don't you
learn to "wrap up" the opposing ball carrier when you are about 10
Secondly, here are
some suggestions for the Texas running game: play Johnathan Gray more, and Joe
Bergeron less until he is healthy. Bergeron had a few plays where he was effective, and otherwise
he looked as though his injured shoulder was still injured. He looked slow and
tentative, didn't he? It was a heroic performance while injured, perhaps, but
with Texas' depth at running back, there was no reason to continue feeding him
the ball when it wasn't working. Bergeron carried the ball about 15 times, but should've carried it about a third of that. The Longhorns should've let him rest Saturday, and I
think the offense would've benefited from that; Bergeron has to be healthy to
help this football team.
about the kickoff coverage team already. Fix this, please.
But also, enough
with the negative: there was a ton of positive to emerge from Saturday night's
Ash drove the
Longhorns 75 yards in eight plays on a drive that Texas had to have to win. He
made all of the throws he needed to make Saturday night - save for one
interception - and completed 30 of 37 passes for 304 yards and three
touchdowns, all to Jaxon Shipley. Ash was everything he needed to be and more.
Game manager? No - game winner. Without him, Texas loses.
As for the running
game, Gray ran the Wildcat like he was 25 years old, and rushed 12 times for 68
yards; he was the best back on the field for Texas. And though Davis dropped a
touchdown pass in the first half, he certainly redeemed himself with his
last-minute grab. I thought it was 2005 in Columbus.
And now, West
friend you had in high school, the guy you loved being around but you knew was
bad news? He liked to wing it, he liked to "just go with the flow."
When he'd come over to your house and ask you to jump in the car and go for a
ride, you'd ask him where you were going and that friend would say, "I
don't know, let's just drive."
West Virginia - and
a slew of other Big 12 offenses, including Oklahoma State - is just like your
friend. The question, if you're Texas, is this: do you really want to get in
Texas answered yes, and fortunately the
Longhorns survived the spin in Stillwater. But can they continue telling their
daddy Mack goodbye and ride away with these fun but dangerous league
gunslingers? Maybe. And maybe not. Brown said before the season that he wanted
to run the football and stop the run and be more SEC-like in his mentality for
the Longhorns. Forty-one to 36 is not the SEC, and you have to wonder if this
is the style that Texas really wants to employ long-term. I suppose if the result is a win, that's just fine, but West Virginia is much better than 2-2 Oklahoma State.
Before the season,
the Longhorns were tabbed as an all-defense, keep-it-simple offense. Then the
games started, and the Longhorns became known for giving up big plays on
defense. Then they were a power-running juggernaut.
And then Saturday
night, the Longhorns became just another in a long line of shotgun formation,
spread'em out Big 12 offenses, travelling to Stillwater and beating the Cowboys
by a sliver. Maybe the key to winning football games this season is not
"establishing an identity" after all. Maybe the key is to approach
every game as its own separate entity, and figure out how to win that game
accordingly. So far, that seems to be the Texas MO in 2012, and at 4-0, it's
hard to argue with the results.
So who are these
Longhorns? Four games in, no one is sure; but one thing is for sure - the
Longhorns 4-0, and probably need to score a four and oh again next week - at the
very least - to have a chance at upsetting West Virginia.