Football fans have long memories but I can’t remember a time when I have seen a Texas team on fire like the first half of the Missouri game. The Horns could do no wrong because they were playing so hard, so aggressively that any mistakes were covered by their hustle and second effort.
Colt McCoy under the guidance of coordinator Greg Davis is performing surgical bombing of defenses. Davis has had more critics than George W. Bush but now he has a terrible, swift sword that wears No. 12 and is an on- and off-the-field leader and it is fascinating to watch.
All of Colt’s passes aren’t perfect – the targets are moving, he’s moving – but they are thrown to a good spot and the receivers are making sure and sometimes outstanding catches.
Colt dropped back to pass about 36 times and by my count ran on three of them while only being sacked once. That is a testament to the Longhorn offensive line and the running backs that protect Colt. He has time to make up his mind. At one point, he completed 17 straight, which is like rolling and holding the dice for 17 straight passes. At the dice table, it means somebody gets rich, and at DKR, it means ball possession (36:26) and points for Texas.
But the most remarkable transformation is the Texas defense. Roy Miller’s first-defensive-play-of-the-game tackle on a Missouri attempted reverse set the tone for the Longhorn defense and 98,000-plus Texas fans settling in for a tough game. The second half was what I thought the whole game would be but the damage had already been done to the Tigers during the first 30 minutes.
I just love the spark, the hustle and the way the Longhorn front, linebackers and secondary play. Sergio Kindle’s role as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end is a stroke of coaching genius by coordinator Will Muschamp. It is fun watching how Sergio moves around before the snap of the football, gliding into place at the last second and then exploding into action.
Jared Norton left the game in the fourth quarter with what looked to be a shoulder injury trying to make a play downfield on a pass completion, and Texas fans can only hope he will be back for Oklahoma State. The linebacking corps has turned into a fierce attacking unit that doesn’t need a chink in the armor at this point.
Chris Oh-buh-nigh-yuh. We can all pronounce his last name by now, and he deserves our respect. He is a journeyman that has become a prince. Blocking, running, receiving – you ask for it, you get it. The consummate team player. Ditto for Brian Orakpo. He spends the entire game against huge offensive tackles fighting to make plays. He never stops; it’s usually into the last part of the first quarter when one of the giants he goes against takes a moment to catch his breath when Orakpo strikes home.
Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby combined caught 15 passes, laser strikes from McCoy that eat up the confidence of any defense. But two new faces brought the crowd to their feet. Brandon Collins caught six passes, including a 38-yarder. His specialty seemed to be the underneath variety that is the “in” route versus the blitz. And credit redshirt freshman Malcolm Williams for making the catch of the night on a 32-yard leaping touchdown to make the score 21-0. We might see this again.
For the past two seasons, Texas fans have been left as confused as the Horns’ secondary played. But in 2008, they might be short and they might be young but brother do they hit and hustle. Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon may not be NFL material at safety but they are hitters from the old school.
All this can come to an end on any Saturday if Texas decides there is another way to win games rather than busting their butts on every play – offense, defense and kicking game.
Oklahoma State brings a 7-0 record to Austin with the best receiver Texas has seen in Dez Bryant, the most mobile quarterback in Zac Robinson, an improved defense and many, many more fans than Missouri. It will be a football war.
Here’s what I like: enough Texas fans are getting off their stadium seats and making noise when opponents have the ball that it does bother the visitors and encourages the Longhorn defense. It must continue; we owe it to the efforts by the Texas football team and coaching staff. Texas 38, Oklahoma State 28.
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.