Football

Culpepper Commentary: Baylor/OU thoughts

Pat Culpepper. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Pat Culpepper. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Since my seats are four rows behind the opponents bench at DKR, I could tell the Baylor offense was in deep discussion on how to generate yards against the Texas defense.

Twice Bryce Petty stood behind BU coaches lecturing the offensive lineman on how to block the Longhorn defenders. The UT secondary had Petty confused all day.

Baylor should’ve been concerned. The offense consisted of short passes and inside runs by Shock Linwood. The Bears came in with an offense known for prolific numbers but had a big zero against Texas for its efforts.

Reed, Brown, Ridgeway, Diggs, Hicks, and Edmond were shutting down BU like I didn’t know they could. Solid coverage, solid tackling, and lots of hustle were giving Texas the best chance to win. Even the Texas running game had life. By using 2-tight end sets, the Baylor front was stretched out as Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown were finally given enough daylight to do their thing. Brown started the game off running to the right side, and Gray twice broke into Baylor’s secondary as the 92,000+ at DKR rose to their feet in excitement. It was the very best UT’s running game has looked in 2014.

Just like at Kansas, kicker Nick Rose booted a low kick, which was blocked by Baylor’s Terrell Burt and run in for a touchdown, the only score for the game’s first 30 minutes.

Tyrone Swoopes had a terrible game as far as underthrown passes. Possible 1st down completions were on the backside of receivers, which makes them slow up to catch it,  where it makes it impossible for yards after the catch and BU’s secondary were able catch up. Instead of 8-yard gains, they were 2-yard gains. Swoopes was a lost ball in the tall weeds.

Just before halftime at the 1-yard line, Swoopes couldn’t handle the snap from Jake Raulerson, who is playing great, and unbelievably the half ends without a score. Baylor 7, Texas 0. Ridiculous.

To miss such a chance in such a game is foolishness at a program like Texas. It isn’t measurable how helpful for the Texas enthusiasm that would’ve been. UT didn’t try to stay with the 2-TE, 2-WR sets, where the BU defense was spread up front so the Horns could run. So the run gets shutdown and the offense is put squarely in the hands of Tyrone Swoopes. Not on this sunny afternoon.

Baylor got the edge in this game with another special teams play. Texas was trying for a Longhorn punt return and were peeling blockers back from the front rushers. Bears’ punter Spencer Roth took off for a key 1st down and then Petty lofted a beautiful touchdown pass. Both specials teams’ blunders were game-changers.

Darrell Royal’s chief assistant, Mike Campbell, always believed the best way to return punts was to jam up the blockers along the line of scrimmage, and have one outside defender go toward the punter while the other outside end got up the field looking for the fake punt. I know it’s old school, but it still makes sense today.

After that, Baylor turned to its offensive line and Linwood. They hammered the Texas front 7.

Despite the poor performance by Swoopes, it doesn’t appear that Texas will give freshman Jerrod Heard a chance. So the hope is that Swoopes and the Longhorns shake off his dismal performance, and get ready for OU. Texas has to learn from the kicking mistakes and lean heavily on this budding defense. How long they can hold up against these Sooners will be the question on Saturday morning.

OU got upset by TCU in Fort Worth. They were on their way to playing for the National Championship at AT&T Stadium. Talk about disappointment. TCU QB Trevone Boykin, who can run and pass, gave the OU defense fits. TCU picked off Trevor Knight passes in critical situations – Texas can do the same.

The only chance Texas has is if they can generate a running game and Swoopes can shake off his lob passes and grow up in his role as the leader of the Texas Longhorns. He needs to practice running full speed and hitting his receivers in stride instead of behind them.

I’ve been down that tunnel three times as a player in 1960, ’61, and ’62. It never changes. The stadium is split up so the noise surrounds you. It’s about emotion. I was Co-Captain in ’62 when the Sooners captain was crying at the coin toss. It didn’t help – Texas still won, 9-6. Yes, this is a huge challenge for the 2-3 Longhorns, but what an opportunity.

Hook’em,

Pat

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.