Football

Culpepper: Headed to Ames

Anthony Wheeler. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Anthony Wheeler. (Will Gallagher/IT)

​Let’s start this back on the first series of downs. QB Jake Hubener of K-State tried to run the ball and sophomore safety Jason Hall absolutely hit him like a guided missile. With the rain falling for every second of this 60-minute Big 12 battle, it became a struggle against the elements and in football that means who can run the ball the best and play solid defense. That’s why Texas won this game and gained their third victory against four defeats – two blowout losses and two games that should have gone to overtime.

​No doubt the mixing of freshmen and sophomores with upperclassmen had something to do with the inconsistency but as it holds true in dealing with young men and tough coaches, this football team has become a fighting unit. They have gotten better, not shattered.

​I’m not sure Texas could have only used the power formation with Tyrone Swoopes and won this game. Passing in the rain was a serious gamble. Texas safety Dylan Haines should have had three interceptions with one of them a possible 70-80 yard touchdown return. To his credit, he did make a game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter.

​Swoopes is a load when he makes up his mind and ended the game with a 49-yard series in which he ran the ball every play. I got a chance to meet his dad in the stands before the game. We shook hands in the rain and I told him how proud Texas fans were of his son, the way he has played the role given to him. He smiled and said “He can do that.” His son proved his father’s confidence during the afternoon.

​I like DT Paul Boyette Jr. It was his rush on Hubener that caused the interception ball with Texas leading 16-9 in the fourth quarter. The junior from Humble, Texas has an aggressive personality and sells out or he has sold out in his efforts in the last two games – Texas victories. His effort set up Haines important pick.

​Peter Jinkens is having a great year at middle linebacker. Every game – particularly these last two he has made key stops with passion, which ignites the Texas sideline and the Texas fans.

​Then there was punter Michael Dickson from Sidney, Australia who saved the Longhorns holding that slim 7-point lead. On fourth down the center’s snap sails over his head – it’s the break K-State needed and the rain was pelting down on everybody. Dickson scrambles after the loose tball, gathers it up and hits a beautiful rugby-style kick which rolls dead at the Wildcats 8-yard line! Talk about a momentum shift. It was “Here we go again (OK State)” to “What a play!”

​I thought our kickoff coverage was just average since the rain and sideways wind kept Nick Rose from booming his kicks deep out of the back of the end zone.

​Jerrod Heard needs to learn to throw the ball away on the plays when he is chased into the sidelines – those valuable yards lost do and will make a difference.

Caleb Bluiett. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Caleb Bluiett. (Will Gallagher/IT)

When Texas did allow Heard to pass, he did well. He would have had a passing TD but the Texas receiver didn’t turn around in the end zone! Caleb Bluiett at 6-foot-4, 258, made another important catch off a Heard pass in the fourth quarter.

​It was good to see Daje Johnson back in action. He is a real weapon on the jet-sweep and returning kicks.

​Finally Johnathan Gray took his place as a playmaker. The burst was there and the toughness on the end of his runs. He not only ran for over 100 yards but had a real effect on the game. No doubt he is a team leader but something has been missing. Against a tough K-State run defense, Gray went over the century mark for the first time this season. He was one of the keys to victory.

​True freshman Chris Warren from Rockwall High School had a nice 14-yard run. It was a vast improvement over the last time he was on the field. At 6-foot-2, 232 he has a future.

​As I stood in the rain for some reason, I began to focus on Taylor Doyle, the senior Texas center who had to make accurate snaps to both Heard and Swoopes as well as make his blocks on a tough K-State defensive lineman. He came through like a champ. I know it’s not easy because his snap goes in the air 7-8 yards every offensive play. Doyle doesn’t have a hand on the ground and can’t just come off the ball like his teammates – he’s got to get that snap on target to the Texas QB as he begins his block.

​Having Kent Perkins back at OT was a plus for the Longhorns, and by the way, this make up of seniors and freshmen on Joe Wickline’s offensive line has put two solid games together. This group has held up well and are particularly good when the Longhorns run the football.

​Driving home I listened to a caller on a postgame talk show claim how “average” the Longhorns are as a football team. Really? Was he in that stadium with the rain pouring down? Was he watching that Texas team stop the Sooners, who could very well win-out, turn the ball over to the Longhorns in the fourth quarter?

​This I believe, a bunch of seniors and freshmen got their butts whipped versus Notre Dame and TCU and the TCU loss was so embarrassing they had to become a team that depended on each other to give their very best. K-State gave a great effort trying to win this game.

​I’ve been to a Texas-Iowa State game before in Ames, Iowa. The fans will be there early. They are proud to be in the Big 12. It saved their athletic program. The Big 10 wouldn’t take them – so they had no options. They have a top notch coach in Paul Rhoads, five starters in the OL, and a newly renovated 61,000-seat stadium, the third largest in the Big 12, larger than TCU’s and Baylor’s by almost 20,000 seats!

​It will be full and loud early for Texas. The last two trips to Ames for the Longhorns have been shootout, fourth quarter wins for Texas.

​This I know – Oklahoma and Kansas State don’t believe the Texas Football team is average and that is what is important. Next up, Iowa State.

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.