Football

Culpepper Commentary: Texas vs TCU

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

Nobody saw this coming. A perfect snap to punter Michael Dickson who had an outstanding afternoon before the deciding play occurred. The youngster who was an Australian football player previously had a 55-yarder early in the game, dropped the snap which gave the Cowboys a chance to kick a game-winning field goal with six seconds left instead of taking the game to overtime.

​Two weekends in a row I’ve see Texas fail in its efforts to take games longer than four quarters and give them a chance to win.

​How did the Cowboys shut down the Longhorn offense in the fourth quarter? That is the question since the Texas defense played their very best of the year in that second half?

​Start out with the NFL prospect Emmanuel Ogbah at 6-foot-4, 275, at defensive end against Texas freshman left tackle Connor Williams. Since the Longhorns don’t play the game with a tight end, it was quite an assignment for the young man from Coppell, Texas. The mismatch to the left gave Oklahoma State a chance to gamble on defense from the right of the Longhorn offensive set and they came with outside rushers which made QB Jerrod Heard have to work left-handed to get away from the pressure. No, he could still throw right handed but the heat was coming from that right side and the Longhorn inside running game was weak to say the least. The Cowboys loaded man-to-man coverage to the right knowing Heard would have to be moving left. Texas tried the down-the-line option to that left side to no avail – remember Mr. Ogbah was over there and what was sad for Texas is they couldn’t hammer inside on the Cowboy defense even though its own defense was playing solid.

​It’s too bad D’Onta Foreman and Johnathan Gray couldn’t generate enough firepower. It didn’t help that the Texas right offensive tackle Kent Perkins was hurt in the fourth quarter.

​The game started with OSU using TCU-Baylor fast paced offensive snaps and QB Mason Rudolph threw a strike to Brandon Shepard for a 17-yard touchdown. Looked easy!

​Nick Rose came back like a champion, kicking field goals of 41 and 46 yards in the first quarter – into the wind at that. The Texas defense couldn’t get settled and the first quarter ended, OSU 14 Texas 6. Things did not look good for the Longhorns under the hot Texas sun.

​Since the departure of defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, the Longhorn coaches have been waiting for their pair of 300+ pound interior tackles to dominate an offensive line. Hello – Desmond Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway. They finally played an exceptional game.

​The Cowboys running game came to a grinding halt with the Longhorn front led by Jackson and Ridgeway in fact the whole OSU offense in the last two quarters was 46 plays for 150 yards.

​OSU’s Rudolph, who made his exit later in the game, let the football get away from him on a drop-back pass and Ridgeway picked it up and rumbled for a 34-yard touchdown.

​Tyrone Swoopes comes in the game in the second quarter running the football in a power setup like Cardale Jones from Ohio State and scores on a key 7-yard touchdown run as well as picks up two key first downs. It’s really a shame the 6-foot-5, 244-pounder didn’t run with such force and passion in 2014 at times to really help his team – he did in this game, good for him.

​Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford went to freshman Holton Hill from Houston Lamar in the second quarter, who jumped on the Cowboy receivers and challenged them from running routes through the secondary for easy first downs. It paid off when a fierce Texas pass rush resulted in a throw in which Hill picked off and took to the end zone 41-yards away making the score, Texas 27 OSU 24.

​Because of those right side blitzes, poor field position, and lack of inside attack by Foreman and Gray, the Texas offense was ridiculous in the fourth quarter.

​There were 16 penalties against Texas in this game – 15 on their play and one on Charlie Strong, which set up the OSU game-tying field goal. It came about on a holding call flag against Texas DT Poona Ford who was knocked downfield on a running play and was trying to regain his balance. I, like coach Strong, have never seen such a ridiculous call and on Ford’s behalf I thought it was by far his best game of the season.

​For the record, some of those calls kept Texas from putting this game in its win column. No doubt. Other defenders I noticed with very good plays were senior linebacker Peter Jinkens and junior safety Dylan Haines who made a key interception and had solid tackles from his safety position.

​So now the Longhorns are 1-3 and must go to Fort Worth and face the TCU Horned Frogs. They are ranked near the top of the polls as they should be. They pulled off a 55-52 thrilling win in Lubbock and could well be the very best offensive team in college football. Heard could become another Trevone Boykin one of these days but not today. Boykin could make us all believe he is the most dynamic college football player since Vince Young in 2005. Reciever Josh Doctson had 18 catches versus Texas Tech, three touchdowns, and 267 total yards. The Texas corners Holton Hill and Duke Thomas will be tested for sure.

​Nobody will give Texas a chance to win this game – it’s even TCU’s homecoming. It’s an 11:00am kickoff and I will be there to see which Longhorns take the challenge to heart. I realize I played at Texas at a different time (’60,’61, and ’62) but getting ready for the really good teams like Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma, Baylor with Ronnie Bull, Alabama, TCU, A&M with Leroy Caffey, and of course Arkansas, I loved every minute of it. Studying the film, the excitement in the crowd, and dedicating myself to making them pay for every yard.

​This Longhorn team could very well be 3-1 but they haven’t gotten over the near-miss hump yet.

​The last time this team played a top ranked team was at Notre Dame – have they grown up enough to put up a real fight???

Hook’Em,

Pat

Pat Culpepper played for The University of Texas 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.