The Longhorns and Cowboys both had a lot to play for as both programs were one win away from becoming bowl eligible.
But Texas was clearly the team that came out wanting it more. That seemed to start when Charlie Strong told the players, in particularly the offensive linemen, to shed some of the extra clothing they had on.
“It was our focus,” Strong said. “They thought it was cold. I told them it wasn’t cold. I made the linemen take off their sweats. Up front is where we were going to win the game so I told them to take that mess off. The skilled guys had their little pouches on. I told them to take it off. We were going to go out there with the right mindset and the weather wasn’t going to be an issue.”*****
A simple look at his stat line would lead you to believe that too: 24-of-33 for 305 yards and two touchdowns. In his last three games prior to OSU, Swoopes was 37-of-79 for 458 yards and two touchdowns.
But Watson was much more pleased with what he was doing at the line of scrimmage, than anything.
“Tyrone played exceptional tonight,” Watson said. “He did a lot of good things and handled a lot of things well at the line of scrimmage.”
It started early for Swoopes, who was 5-for-5 for 49 yards and a 19-yard TD pass on Texas’ opening drive.
“It’s always good when you get your quarterback off to a good start,” Strong said.
Getting off to a strong start on offense was something Watson preached to the offense all week.
“Starts are always big,” he said. “We challenged our guys this week to do just this. We’ve got to start fast when we come into an opponent’s home. We’ve got to be efficient in the way that we manage ourselves on the field because our defense has played lights out all year. We’re growing to become like them. We wanted to leave no doubt what we were doing here to get done.”
Swoopes’ maturation on Saturday started with a 1-on-1 film session he had with Watson last Sunday.
“I wanted to do that away from the other players because I wanted him to see the teacher. There were things he was leaving out there that he doesn’t leave out in practice. When I walked out of that meeting I thought we had a really good meeting. He practiced all week how he played tonight.”
Swoopes, forever soft-spoken, acknowledged that he took some positive steps forward.
“It feels good. The past couple of weeks we didn’t play too well, and then we come in and play with confidence. This was a good confidence booster.”
Kevin Peterson is easily one of the top defensive backs in the country.
While he wasn’t tasked with covering John Harris all game, he was on him quite a bit. But it didn’t make a difference for the Texas receiver who finished with a game-high nine catches for 117 yards and a 19-yard touchdown reception.
His touchdown grab came on a back-corner route on Texas’ first possession, which he said was a route he hadn’t run all week in practice. It was a read that he and Swoopes communicated on at the line of scrimmage.
The Longhorns made it a point to get Daje Johnson involved early by throwing him a swing pass on Texas’ first play, and also got him two rushes for 16 yards. It was a nice wrinkle to an offense that has missed his play-making ability.
“We wanted to get him involved early in this game and get him going,” Shawn Watson said. “So it was a part of the plan. His speed alone is a factor.”
The coaching staff has said that they wanted Johnson to get more familiar with the base offense so he could be out on the field more. His presence alone causes problems for defenses. It did at times on Saturday.
“You have to account for him,” Watson said. “It opens up other things. We use him to open runs. Using him on sweeps opens up things for the running backs.”
Johnathan Gray continued his to run the ball incredibly well.
With his 81-yards on Saturday, the junior has now rushed for 259 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games.
While I continued to see the Gray of old, making open-field cuts, etc., the thing that really stood out to me was his receiving skills out of the backfield. That was one of his strong suits out of Aledo and has been something this staff has tried to implement more than the old staff.
Coming in, Gray was fourth on the team with 13 receptions for 57 yards. He had three catches for 35 yards against OSU.
Malcolm Brown only finished with 31 yards on 15 carries, but he inflicted plenty of pain when he did square up his shoulders and head down field.
On Texas’ first possession he bowled over OSU DB Kevin Patterson, and did it again to another defender in the second quarter, drawing plenty of “Ooo’s” from the press box.
Texas still hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in the third quarter of Big 12 play this season.*****
This game was never in doubt for Texas in large part to the statement its defense made early on.
Three of OSU’s five possessions in the first half were three-and-outs.
“Their front is really good right now, and it’s not a good matchup for us,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “When you get whipped, you can’t run the ball and you struggle in pass protection.”
Texas out-gained OSU 138-29 in the first quarter and 263-51 in the first half. The Longhorns had the ball for 21:16 of the 30 minutes.
In total, Texas outgained the Cowboys 430-192 and had the ball for 17 more minutes. The Longhorns sacked Daxx Garman seven times and held him to just 158 yards passing (97 in the second half).*****
One of the things that Charlie Strong stresses most to his team is third down. He wants his offense completing them, and his defense getting off the field after them.
The Longhorns have struggled with doing that at times this season, and some games could have swayed in their favor because of missed opportunities. They came in having completed 50-of-153 (33 percent) third downs and giving up 36 percent completions.
It was an entirely different story on Saturday.
In the first half alone Texas completed 7-of-10 while OSU was unable to move the chains on five attempts. For the game the Longhorns were 11-of-19 compared to OSU’s 2-of-13.
“That’s really key because u have to win third downs,” Strong said. “Offensively you have to convert. We got stops. It was great.”*****
One reason the Longhorns were so efficient on offense was because of the job the offensive line did on OSU DE Emmanuel Ogbah, who came in leading the Big 12 and was No. 6 nationally in tackles for loss (14.5) and No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 7 nationally in sacks (9).
He finished with four tackles and one sack, but all of that came in the first half.*****
Everyone knew that Texas was going to have to contain OSU speedster Tyreek Hill in order to come out victorious.
Not only did UT shut him down, the Longhorns practically made him irrelevant.
The JUCO transfer, who has been clocked at 10.19 in the 100, has two kickoff returns for touchdowns and came into the game leading the Big 12 in all-purpose yards (had 278 all-purpose yards in loss to Florida State).
He finished the game with 8 carries for 16 yards and had four kickoff returns for 108 yards (27 yard average).
Nick Rose did a nice job of kicking the ball deep enough into the end zone as to not give him a chance to return it. Credit Texas’ kickoff coverage for doing a nice job of containing him when he did get a chance to return.
Quandre Diggs made one of the nicer plays you’ll see anyone make on him early in the first half when Hill tried to get to the outside. Diggs was having none of it though, squared his body up and drilled him to the ground. When he came off the field two plays later after a failed third-down attempt by OSU, Charlie Strong and Chris Rumph gave Diggs a pat on the backside.*****
Nick Rose, Nick Rose, Nick Rose.
The moment you think he’s finally figured it out he’ll do something that makes you think otherwise.
First, Rose absolutely nails a 51-yard FG with 9:33 left in the second quarter to give Texas a 16-0 lead. He had enough leg to make it from 60-plus, easily.
Then, on the next possession, Rose clunks the ball off the right upright from 21 yards out! Incredible.
He did redeem himself on the following possession, though, with a 34-yarder and also crushed a 44-yard FG in the third to make it a 22-0 game.
But that miss of a chip shot simply can’t happen, especially if the Longhorns want to upset TCU on Thanksgiving. He’s missed six FGs this season.
Jordan Hicks came to Rose’s defense and said that the team hasn’t lost any confidence in him.
“What did he make today, a 51-yarder? Come on,” he said.*****
Will Russ once again made his presence felt for the Longhorns, but in a way that he’d rather forget.
One week after being replaced as Texas’ starting punter, Russ muffed a perfect snap on UT’s first extra point attempt and got lit into by Charlie Strong.*****
You have to give credit where it’s due and for those that haven’t given credit yet to Texas’ fullbacks and tight ends for the job they’ve done in helping the Longhorns control the line of scrimmage over the last three weeks, now’s your chance.
Geoff Swaim, Andrew Beck, M.J. McFarland and Alex De La Torre might not get much publicity but their hard work definitely doesn’t go unnoticed by their teammates, who rave about their importance whenever asked.
“They are great,” Swoopes said. “We run a lot of lead football with them. With them doing the dirty work, it means a lot for the team.”*****
“He’s made a big difference being able to step in at a position he hadn’t played before,” Swoopes said. “He’s making the proper calls and sometimes saving me in protection. He’s doing a really good job.”
“Moving to Taylor to center really helped us,” he said.*****
If you’ve ever been inside a middle school gym you’d know that they leave little room around the court. Boone Pickens Stadium, while nice, is similar in space around the playing field.
There is hardly any, which Jaxon Shipley found out first hand in the second quarter. He almost made a spectacular catch just inside the back-left pylon, but was unable to haul it in as he nailed the semi-padded wall.
Shipley was taken to the locker room just before half time and didn’t return in the second half. He finished with four catches for 33 yards.
Strong said he thought it was more his hamstring than anything head related.
I did see Shipley walking around after the game and he looked fine to me. The week off should certainly help him return to full health for TCU.*****
Tyrone Swoopes said he wasn’t sure if he could out-throw Armanti Foreman, who could challenge Daje Johnson for fastest player on the team.
Swoopes said he thought he did late in the fourth when he heaved a 45-yard pass high in the sky, but Foreman found his way under it for the game’s final score.
Foreman also hauled in a 29-yard over-the-shoulder pass from Swoopes on a third-and-long midway though the third quarter. He finished with those two catches for 74 yards, second only to John Harris’ 117 yards and a touchdown on nine catches.
Asked if this game was indicative of what Foreman can do for UT, Harris said, “You saw that speed. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Foreman came in off the bench after Shipley went down and made the most of his opportunity.
“He did a really nice job for us,” Watson said. “He made some great catches on some great throws by Ty. He ran a great route and god himself open. He’s got Daje type speed. He can put the fear of God in you real fast.”
Watson’s biggest issue with Foreman was getting him to be assignment sound. Foreman took a big step forward on Saturday in proving he was.*****
This week, OSU’s James Washington drew the short straw.
By the numbers you might not think that he would have been the ideal candidate for Diggs, given his 17 receptions for 265 yards rank fourth and third on the team.
But he’s a big-play threat whose three touchdowns are tied for the team lead. Diggs made sure not to let him improve on those numbers.
Washington did end up with OSU’s only touchdown, but it happened away from Diggs. He was held to just three catches for 19 yards.
Washington was not even targeted in the first half except for one time when he went in motion away from Diggs and caught a short pass.
*****Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights
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