Texas Falls in 'Game of Inches'

In what Texas safety Blake Gideon called a "game of inches", the Longhorns fell a few measurements, and a few plays, short in a 38-26 loss to Oklahoma State Saturday.

Looking for a few plays to sum up Gideon's frustration? On a fourth-and-goal from the 3, the Longhorns expected pressure from the Cowboys and made the play call accordingly. Quarterback David Ash fired the ball to his hot read, Fozzy Whittaker, but the throw came in a bit late, and a bit low, and Whittaker, making a diving snag, came up just a bit short of the goal line after attempting to contort his body. Turnover on downs.

Two plays later, Alex Okafor bull-rushed his man into Brandon Weeden, who threw the ball up for grabs. It was picked off by Gideon and returned into the end zone. But Weeden just stepped out of bounds, meaning that instead of a seven-point touchdown and extra point, the Longhorns earned a sack, a safety, and two points. And more specifically, instead of cutting a two-score lead to a one-score deficit at 38-31, Texas simply moved a 14-point margin to a 12-point one.

"It was a rush of emotions," Gideon said. "You are thinking the game is turned around and you just scored a touchdown, but you turn around and everybody stops. It's one of those deals where it's a game of inches. He stepped out by a couple of inches, so it turned out in a positive way for them."

Indeed, much of the game went that way for the Longhorns, who generally found themselves just a day late and a dollar short. The Longhorn defense held Brandon Weeden to an uncharacteristic off day, when the quarterback — completing 76 percent of his throws on the season — hit on just 56 percent of his throws, but failed to generate an interception despite getting their hands on several passes. And the defense stymied Oklahoma State by holding the Cowboys to 77 yards on 20 of its 24 carries — not counting kneel downs or sacks — only to allow 131 on Oklahoma State's other four, including two long touchdowns. One, a 30-yarder, came after the Texas defense held and forced a fourth-and-one.

"We had a couple of self-inflicted wounds that have to be corrected, and that's on me," said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz before adding, "our trouble defensively is going from good to great."

Offensively, the Longhorns rode the running game, and specifically freshman running back Malcolm Brown, until they didn't. After amassing 130 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns through three quarters, Brown carried the ball just twice in the fourth quarter, and no times after the 12:12 mark. That included two downs at the Oklahoma State 3, one of which was the aforementioned pass to Whittaker. In fact, the Longhorns carried the ball just once — an end-around to receiver Jaxon Shipley — after the last Brown carry at 12:12, not counting a 17-yard scramble by Ash.

After the game, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said that the Cowboys were packing the box, leading the staff to feel like they might be able to hit for a big play on the edges in the passing game. But Ash, starting his first game as a Longhorn and going the whole way without former co-starter Case McCoy taking a snap, completed 9-of-15 for just 47 yards, was sacked three times for minus-24 yards and committed two turnovers, one fumble and one interception.

The Longhorns did show a heavy helping of resilience, never really losing track of a game against a top-six team just a week after losing to Oklahoma 55-17 in a contest the Longhorns never really threatened. In general, other than late, when the Cowboys surged, the Longhorns responded, like when Whittaker answered a 100-yard Justin Gilbert kickoff return for a touchdown for a 100-yard return of his own on the very next play.

And so, despite the loss, Texas coach Mack Brown said he was proud that the Longhorns responded and fought their way back. It represents the next step for a Texas team (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) that will now get a bye week before hosting Kansas.

"You can see the guys aren't quitting, they continue to hang in there and fight in the fourth quarter," Brown said. "We didn't get the breaks, or make the breaks we needed to in the second half to win the game."



SCORING SUMMARY

Oklahoma State — Joseph Randle 1 run (Quinn Sharp kick), 8:32 1Q

Texas — Malcolm Brown 15 run (Justin Tucker kick), 14:46 2Q

Oklahoma State — Justin Blackmon 15 pass from Brandon Weeden (Sharp kick), 8:34 2Q

Texas — Tucker 34 FG, 3:09 2Q

Oklahoma State — Jeremy Smith 30 run (Sharp kick), 0:38 2Q

Oklahoma State — Justin Gilbert 100 kickoff return (Sharp kick), 14:48 3Q

Texas — Fozzy Whittaker 100 kickoff return (Tucker kick), 14:36 3Q

Texas — Malcolm Brown 24 run (Tucker kick), 10:43 3Q

Oklahoma State — Sharp 22 FG, 6:53 3Q

Oklahoma State — Smith 74 run (Sharp kick), 4:14 3Q

Texas — TEAM safety, 11:20 4Q


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