OSU vs. Texas Report Card

The Pokes had a lot good and some bad come out of a 38-26 victory against the Longhorns on Saturday in Austin. Here are some quick grades on the heels of the victory.

First quarter defense — A-

The defense did a great job of getting the Longhorns off the field on their first drive and instilling a feeling of doubt in the Texas' offense. Texas got one first down and then looked ineffective on their next set, punting on 4th-and-9.

On the ‘Horns second drive, Texas was moving the ball effectively until linebacker Caleb Lavey intercepted a David Ash pass to set up the Cowboys' first touchdown.

The Longhorns again moved the ball effectively in their third drive until the Pokes stiffened up and forced them to turn it over on downs at the 31-yard line.

On UT's fourth and final drive of the quarter, they gashed OSU for one 27-yard burst by running back Malcolm Brown but that's all the D was having of that. UT was forced to punt to open the second quarter facing a 4th-and-26.

Despite some ineffectiveness from the OSU offense early, the Pokes took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter.

Gutsy calls — A

It's always tough to grade a gutsy call. If it works, it looks brilliant and if it doesn't, well, it doesn't. That said, Gundy and Monken's decision to go for 4th-and-9 in the second quarter looked brilliant as a slant to Justin Blackmon went for 16 yards and the Pokes ended up scoring on almost the exact same play with a 15-yard slant to Weeden to go up 14-7.

The second time the Pokes went for a fourth down in the first half, Jeremy Smith burst through the Longhorn defense for a 30–yard score on a 4th-and-1 to make the Cowboys' lead 21-10 going in to halftime.

Jeremy Smith — A+

I feel like I need to use the copy/paste feature when writing about Smith. All the sophomore does is score and he does it every week. Dating back to last season, Smith has scored at least one touchdown in 10 consecutive games. His 30-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1 gave the Cowboys' a 21-10 lead and extended his streak. Then in the third quarter, he tacked on another for good measure with a 74-yard burst that gave the Cowboys a 38-24 lead. It was OSU's longest play from scrimmage this season. Smith finished with 140 yards on just seven carries; good for a 20.0-yards per carry average.

Justin Gilbert — A+

Gilbert had a career-high 11 tackles against Texas but that's unlikely to be what is remembered about his performance. Gilbert tied Perrish Cox in career kick returns for touchdowns with his fourth on Saturday. Gilbert's 100-yard return showcased his speed and gave the Cowboys a 28-10 lead.

It took a little wind out of the sails when Texas returned the very next kick for a touchdown but that's out of Gilbert's hands. And speaking of that…

Kick coverage — D-

Coach Gundy addressed Texas' kick return that answered Gilbert's the play before by saying that he wished he could blame it on the players taking it easy after getting a big lead but really, "we've just got to get better at it."

Kick coverage has been an ongoing issue for the Pokes the past few years and nothing changed in Austin. The Cowboys kicked the ball off eight times and surrendered 524 yards. That's 65.5 yards per return and that's not good enough.

Brandon Weeden — C+

The senior quarterback led his team to another victory so it's hard to knock him too hard but he looked lost at times on Saturday. Weeden, and this could also have been a part of the gameplan, focused in too much on Blackmon and routinely overlooked wide open secondary options. He played a turnover-free game (except for the safety) but the Cowboys' drives were oftentimes short enough to feel like turnovers as the defense got winded and started to give up big plays on an otherwise stellar day from Bill Young's troops. A lot of that blame has to be put on Weeden's decision making and how he went through his reads. His stats aren't bad with 23-of-41 passing for 218 yards and a touchdown but it was obvious he wasn't as sharp in Austin as he's been. That said, he's undefeated in his career as a starting quarterback on the road and has never lost to Texas. Not many people can say that.

OSU's traveling contingent — A

The announced crowd of 100,101 in Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium seemed a bit optimistic but the OSU gathering was impressive by any measure. OSU fans traveled to Austin in force and made thri fair share of noise as their Cowboys became the first team to beat Texas in Austin in consecutive years since 1910-11.

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