Five Things I Think

Five things I think about Texas's 28-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout Saturday.

* For the second consecutive game, mistakes doomed the Longhorns. Aaron Williams's muffed punt represented Texas's third muff in five games.

But penalties were the major factor. On four separate occasions, Texas gave Oklahoma new life on a drive where the Longhorns earned a stop on third down. Three of the penalties were silly (Kheeston Randall's hold, Eddie Jones's lining up offsides and Jackson Jeffcoat's personal foul). The hold and the personal foul continued Oklahoma drives that allowed the Sooners to put the ball in the end zone. Jones's penalty ended a play where Texas sacked quarterback Landry Jones and recovered a fumble at the OU 19. That's a likely field goal, if not a touchdown, and would have changed Texas's approach late.

The fourth penalty, a Chykie Brown pass interference call, also led to an Oklahoma touchdown, though 1) it wasn't a sure penalty and 2) if Brown doesn't commit it, the receiver makes the catch for a first down anyway.

Still, take out those four penalties, and you can probably wipe off 21 Oklahoma points, and add 3-7 to Texas's side as well.

* After the game, the Texas coaches and players seemed to want to downplay the effect that Oklahoma's high-tempo had on the Texas defense. But while the tempo didn't necessarily win the Sooners the game, there's not really any doubt that it affected Texas in a major way early on. Visibly, it was obvious. The Sooners called multiple first quarter plays with the Longhorns still running to get lined up correctly.

It also showed in the stat book. In the first quarter, Oklahoma ran 34 plays to Texas's eight. Over those 34 plays, Oklahoma put up 159 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per play. The rest of the game, with the plays more equal (over the remaining three quarters, Oklahoma ran 57 plays to Texas's 56), the Sooners had just 201 yards, averaging 3.5 yards per play.

The aggressive tempo also allowed the Sooners to make an early statement on the scoreboard, marching on drives of 83 and 75 yards to score touchdowns and take an early 14-0 lead. That lead allowed the Sooners to keep the Longhorns at arms' length for the rest of the game. In the remaining 50 minutes, Texas outscored Oklahoma 20-14.

* The Longhorns missed Mike Davis. I'm not saying that Davis would have swung the game in Texas's favor, but you'd like to have your biggest play-making receiver when heading up against an inconsistent secondary.

Malcolm Williams has great size and can run well. Marquise Goodwin has blazing speed. And James Kirkendoll is a savvy route runner and consistent threat.

But Davis has outstanding elusiveness and the ability to generate a big play. He had 16 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns over the last two-and-a-half games. Not only would he likely have shined on Saturday's stage, but he also allows for a stronger four-wide lineup with the preceding three receivers.

Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills had five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, and one can't help but wonder whether Davis's production might have been similar.

* Brown is right. You can't blame Williams for the loss. Sure, his gaffe was the one most easily pointed to at the end, when Texas had a chance to drive down and tie. But several other errors accounted for why Texas was in that position in the first place. In a game of 155 plays, one play doesn't make the difference. There's always something else (in this case, several something elses), that you can point to.

And Williams was a big part of the reason the Longhorns were still in the game at that point. He played brilliantly, making six tackles and breaking up a pass, while helping to hold Oklahoma star wideout Ryan Broyles to 36 yards on five catches.

Beyond that, what really were the odds that Texas would be able to drive down the field, score a touchdown (remember, they only scored two to that point, one of which was on a 60-yard run) and grab a two-point conversion?

You would have liked the chance to win at the end, but you'd have to assume a lot to say that Williams cost Texas the game.

* Linebacker Keenan Robinson might have been everybody's honors candidate out of the Texas linebacking group heading into Saturday's game, and with good reason. The über-athletic junior brings nastiness against the run and rare range and running ability against the pass.

But on Saturday, Emmanuel Acho looked like the best linebacker in the Big 12. Acho was everywhere, making 17 stops, including 4.5 behind the line and a sack. He also made what was almost the game's biggest play, stripping Jones and forcing what could have been a potential game-changing fumble, though Jared Norton couldn't quite pull it in.

That's not to say that Robinson was a slouch in the Red River Shootout. He finished with 19 tackles (best in the game), with 1.5 stops for loss.


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