Game Observations

Poison cheese, a Denver-style running back, impressive audibles, improving backups and more. Inside Texas’ Ross Lucksinger gives his observations from the Horns’ 56-31 win over Missouri.
Apparently, no, Texas is not going to eat the poison cheese.

The importance of “not eating the poison cheese” comes from an odd turn of phrase Texas head coach Mack Brown likes to use about a team getting a big head because of the hype that comes with being No. 1, but whichever way you slice it the Longhorns have had no problem handling the attention that has suddenly been heaped upon them.

The defense was fired up and the offense was calm, cool and efficient, moving the ball with ease. As I watched Colt McCoy maneuver the team down the field, I had a thought that I haven’t had since 2005.

“Dear Lord…they can’t stop Texas.”

Do you remember that feeling, Texas fans? It was the feeling you got when the Longhorns stuffed USC on 4th and 2 late in the national championship game. What did you think? Did you think, “Wow, now we have a chance to win the game.” No, you didn’t. You didn’t think that Texas might win…you knew it. You know it because you knew that no one was going to stop Vince Young from putting the ball into the end zone.

It may be different personnel, it may be a different style, but the efficiency and the explosiveness is there again. Texas fans can only hope the result will be the same.

Onto the observations…

Game Observations

-Texas certainly started the game off with a bang. After a solid kickoff return from Jeremy Maclin, Missouri tried to get something going with a reverse to the do-everything wideout. But as soon as Maclin received the hand-off he was met with all 300 pounds of Roy Miller. The senior DT pushed straight through the Tiger O-line and sniffed out the reverse. The big defensive stop really set the tone for the game helped get the crowd, which was already juiced coming in, even more excited.

-Will Muschamp was plenty willing to move his linemen around to put them in the best position to get to the QB. For example, we saw a lot of both DT Lamarr Houston and LB Sergio Kindle at defensive end. What was most impressive about the D-linemen is how quickly they were getting through, especially Brian Orakpo. They were getting through so quickly that they were putting pressure on Chase Daniel all night, which is not something that’s supposed to happen. Occasionally, yes, on a longer, more developed play a defensive lineman might have a chance to hit him, but not all the time because in a quick-strike offense like the one Missouri runs, there’s not supposed to be enough time for the D-line to get there.

Texas Tech has to be awfully concerned after seeing what the Longhorns did on Saturday (almost losing to Texas A&M should also concern them).

-Chris Ogbonnaya looks like a Denver running back, which is exactly what Texas needs.

The Longhorns employ a similar zone-blocking scheme that often has the running back moving sideways and looking for the hole. It’s a one-cut scheme, essentially. Move with the line, find the hole, hit it. Ogbonnaya’s long run against OU is a great example of that exact concept.

Last season, it seemed like Jamaal Charles wasn’t looking for the hole, but rather attempting to beat the offensive linemen to the edge. It worked because he just happened to be fast enough to do it, but it was something that gave him trouble in the early goings. Ogbonnaya, while not nearly as fast as Charles (few are), is much better at finding the hole and making the cut. Because of that, Ogbonnaya went over 130 all-purpose yards for the third straight game and has clearly established himself as the starter…though the return of Foswhitt Whittaker will make things interesting.

-McCoy’s audibles are impressive. His favorite is the quick-shot to Jordan Shipley in the slot, which should be his favorite because defenses apparently haven’t figured out how to stop it. It puts the defense in a tough position just having Shipley there. What do you do? Do you move one of your better corners inside to position he’s not as used to? Do you use your third corner, or a safety, or (Heaven forbid they be so foolish) a linebacker? The play is something that Texas has exploited repeatedly over the past few games and, as of yet, no defense has had a truly effective answer.

-On the flip side, one of the concerns on defense for Texas is that Horns don’t have an answer to an effective tight end, as Chase Coffman finished with 140 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. This comes a week after Texas had some struggles with OU’s Jermaine Gresham. In defense of Texas’ defense, a great tight end is the biggest mismatch in football and it’s encouraging that those two are by far the best the Horns will face all regular season, but it’s still a concern. Texas was forced to double Gresham for most of the game against the Sooners and that can limit your options on defense. If Texas plays another great tight end (or the same one they played on Saturday again in the Big 12 Championship game), doubling him with both Roddrick Muckelroy and Earl Thomas may still be the best answer.

-Something very encouraging for the Texas offense is the play of the young receivers. Against Oklahoma, Shipley and Quan Cosby accounted for 84 percent of the Horns’ receiving yards. But this time the other receivers stepped up and made some very key catches. The best overall performance amongst the younger wideouts goes to Brandon Collins, who caught six balls for 76 yards, while the best individual catch, obviously, goes to Malcolm Williams for his leaping grab over two defenders in the end zone. Add onto that a 51-yard TD from Dan Buckner, who just plain beat his man up the field, and the future at the position looks a lot brighter than it did a week ago.

-Yeah, I chuckled when the fans booed Derek Jeter. Apparently he’s not popular ’round these parts.

-John Chiles is looking much, much better than he has in any game this season. He ran much more confidently, had great balance and made people miss. He ran the zone read well and his pass to Buckner was a very nice throw (it’s also worth noting McCoy’s support, as he was the first guy running off the bench to celebrate with Chiles after the play). Now, keep in mind, this doesn’t mean Chiles is suddenly a great quarterback. He’s still got some more work to do and he’s still got to show he can operate under pressure, that he can make that throw into a bit closer coverage, but Texas fans can be at least a little less apprehensive about McCoy getting injured, as Chiles is showing improvement.