Take all the emotion out of an outcome Saturday at the Cotton Bowl -including all the stats from the game that will only fuel Charlie Strong’s critics, and consider this:
Texas had a chance to win this game. (More on that in a second.)
* The Longhorns’ defense looked like it was having fun in the first half, when it created three of four turnovers, including UT’s first two INTs of the season (both by Dylan Haines).
“We had fun in the beginning of the game,” said linebacker Malik Jefferson.
* In the third quarter, the Longhorns led 20-14 and 27-21 after 63- and 45-yard TD passes from Shane Buechele to Devin Duvernay and Dorian Leonard, respectively.
* D’Onta Foreman, still fighting through an abdominal strain, blew up in the second half, when he ran 13 times for 127 yards (9.8 ypc).
D Foreman had runs of 18, 5 and a 22-yard TD burst as part of a 51-second, 5-play, 69-yard scoring drive with 1:45 left to cut OU’s lead to 45-40 and keep hope alive.
Foreman finished with 25 carries for 159 yards (6.4 ypc) and 2 TDs, and after the game he blamed himself for a lost fumble at the UT16 in the 1Q and for not doing more in the first half when he had 12 carries for 32 yards (2.7 ypc) and a 1-yard TD run that put Texas up 10-7 early in the 2Q.
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, down 14-13, D Foreman said, “I knew the game was close and I told myself, ‘I’m going to have to do something different than what I’m doing right now.’
“I knew with some of the runs I could do, it would get our tempo going. I feel like we didn’t have a lot of tempo going. We were kind of sluggish out there - even myself. I was sluggish at times in the first half, and that was our problem.”
* WR Armanti Foreman, D’Onta’s twin brother, posted UT’s first kick return of 30 yards or more (33) in the first quarter and went on to lead the team in catches with 5 for 28 yards, including a 10-yard TD pass from Buechele with 10:34 left, cutting OU’s lead to 42-34.
* After the game, Armanti Foreman, who would not be described as a vocal leader, did exactly that - telling teammates not to hang their heads but to double down on film study and determination because he was sure everyone is sick of losing.
Kent Perkins, who returned from a 1-game suspension after being charged with suspicion of DWI, also spoke to the team after the game, saying he vowed as a senior to do his part to help lead the team out of its current, three-game losing streak.
“They care,” Malik Jefferson said. “And there’s a lot of guys on this team that care.”
* Shane Buechele, after opening 9-of-21 passing for 79 yards and getting sacked three times in the first half, settled down and went 10-of-15 passing for 166 yards and 3 TDs (with 1 very costly INT … more on that in a second) and was sacked only once in the second half.
“Early on, we were inconsistent,” said Texas OC Sterlin Gilbert, whose offense didn’t pick up a first down until its fifth offensive possession and failed to score a TD despite first downs at the OU13 and OU9 in the first half (… more on that in a second).
“But we came back in the second half and threw the ball well, threw some deep balls well, ran it,” Gilbert added. “So it was good to have the guys come back and play the way they did in the second half.”
* Jacorey Warrick is back from a hamstring - with an 11-yard catch and run on third-and-4 in the 2Q.
*On an 8-play TD drive that put Texas up 10-7 early in the 2Q, Texas picks up 30 yards thanks to two OU penalties on the same play - a pass interference flag on OU’s Jordan Thomas against Dorian Leonard on a deep ball.
And well behind the play - OU’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was flagged for a personal foul after ripping Texas LT Connor Williams’ helmet off.
* Texas finally gets its first 1st down with 58 seconds left in the 1Q. Not until Oklahoma already has 8 first downs.
* Offense trying to get into a rhythm with consecutive passes to Collin Johnson and Lorenzo Joe.
* Was that signs of life from the Texas return game?!?!? … Armanti Foreman with a 33-yard kick return at the end of the first quarter.
* Malcolm Roach with a big hit on OU TE Mark Andrews and Dylan Haines grabs Texas first INT of the season. Roach makes big plays every game. Would love to see him get a look at middle/inside linebacker.
* Dylan Haines grabs UT’s SECOND INT of the season and returns it 38 yards to the OU 13.
Texas would only get 3 points out of that turnover as UT's next three plays went for minus-3 yards (Swoopes ran twice for 2 yards, then after a false start flag on Kent Perkins, Shane Buechele came in on third-and-13 from the 16, and Collin Johnson dropped a TD pass thrown slightly behind him but very catchable), resulting in a 33-yard FG by Trent Domingue.
* Anthony Wheeler, a Dallas (Skyline) native, making tackles. He finished with 13 to lead the team, followed by Kris Boyd, who had 9.
* Kris Boyd with a big fumble recovery on a muffed punt by Joe Mixon that gave Texas the ball at the OU23 in the 3Q.
* The Longhorns had an 18-play drive to a FG at the end of the 2Q that lasted 4:02 and included a 19-yard pass from Buechele to Collin Johnson on third-and-9, a 2-yard run by D Foreman on fourth-and-1 and a 6-yard run by D Foreman on third-and-5.
* Unfortunately at the end of that 18-play drive, Texas had first-and-goal from the OU9, trailing 14-10 and then:
1-Goal ... Buechele threw incomplete to Dorian Leonard
2-Goal ... Buechele was sacked for minus-4 yards by Okoronkwo
3-Goal ... Buechele tried to pass but was flushed and stuffed for 2 yards on third-and-goal from the 11.
4-Goal ... 28-yard FG by Trent Domingue
* What’s happened to the confidence of CB Davante Davis?
His regression on the field may be the most frightening thing about the state of this defense.
Davis looked like an All-Big 12 corner in the making last year.
But he got beat by OU's Dede Westbrook on a 71-yard TD pass that put OU up 14-10 in the second quarter - and Davis was benched the rest of the game.
He kept his helmet on, staring at the ground. Even when the coaches waved the defensive backs to move to another bench late in the second quarter, the other DBs moved. Davis stayed right where he was, helmet on, staring at the ground.
* The 71-yard TD pass to Westbrook seemed to be a turning point for the Texas defense, causing doubt to creep back into the secondary, leading to a rash of big plays given up the rest of the game.
Before Westbrook’s 71-yard TD, Texas had given up 7 plays of 10 yards or longer, but NONE of them contributed to an OU scoring drive.
After the 71-yard score by Westbrook, Texas gave up 7 plays of 10 yards or more IN THE 3Q ALONE, and every single one of them contributed to scoring drives.
There were runs of 28, 22, 22 and 16 as well as TD passes of 42 and 47 yards to Dede Westbrook (on his way to 10 catches for 232 yards and 3 TDs) as well as a 51-yard pass to Dahu Green when Kris Boyd looked back at the QB and lost coverage on Green.
* After cutting OU’s lead to 8 with 10:34 left, the Texas D gave up 3rd-and-8, 3rd-and-5, 3rd-and-2 as OU went on 15-play drive to a FG that ate 7:58 off the clock and put the Sooners up 45-34 with 2:36 left.
* No doubt #OU the more physical team today: 614 total yards - 257 on the ground. And #Sooners' D has limited #Texas to 3 pts off 4 #OU TOs.
* Kris Boyd turned around and slowed down in one-on-one coverage with OU WR Dahu Green, and Green ended up wide open for a 51-yard pass that set up a TD run by Baker Mayfield with 8:13 left in the 3Q.
Boyd told coaches he thought he heard a teammate yell "run" - signifying that Mayfield had started to run, so he turned to find Mayfield and instead lost coverage on Green.
* Texas had first down from the OU 13 after Dylan Haines’ 38-yard INT return, and the Horns ran four plays for minus-3 yards.
Kent Perkins false start in the red zone - pushing Texas back to a third-and-13 from the 16 on the possession after Dylan Haines returned an INT 38 yards to the OU 13.
Collin Johnson drops a TD pass from Shane Buechele thrown slightly behind him but right in his hands in the first quarter, forcing Texas to settle for a 33-yard FG.
OU’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo forces the fumble by D Foreman at UT’s 16 with a great hit. OU converts it into a TD.
The Texas D forced 4 turnovers, but the offense could only convert them into 3 points. OU, meanwhile, converted the two Texas turnovers it forced into 14 points.
The second TO forced by OU was HUGE. Trailing 35-27 in the 3Q, Buechele was intercepted by SS Will Sunderland on a pass Armanti Foreman also got his hands on - but officials ruled Sunderland had possessed the ball first, before A Foreman’s got on the ball.
That turnover was a killer, because OU’s Joe Mixon had just muffed a punt that Kris Boyd recovered at the OU23.
Three plays later, Sunderland got the ball back at the Sooners’ 7, and OU went on a 13-play, 93-yard TD drive that took 6:27 off the clock that included 12 runs and one pass (for 29 yards to TE Mark Andrews), putting OU up 42-27.
It was the biggest swing of the 2H, because Texas had finally gotten momentum after giving up four straight TD drives dating back to the 2Q.
* The offense had first downs at the OU13, OU9 and OU23 and came away with only 3 points.
And the offense's two turnovers occurred in UT's red zone (UT16 - fumble by D'Onta Foreman) and OU's red zone (Buechele INT at OU's 7).
* After holding OU to 86 yards on the first 21 plays of the game and not getting hurt by any of the 7 plays of 10 yards or more given up in the first half, the D gave up a 71-yard TD pass to Dede Westbrook on OU’s last offensive play of the first half and then gave up 11 plays of 10 yards or more in the second half - all of which contributed to scoring drives.
* After giving up 444 yards and 47 points to ND... 507 yards and 50 points at Cal ... 555 yards and 49 points at Ok State ... Texas gave up 672 yards - just five shy of the record 677 Texas gave up to OU in 2012 and 45 points.
* The psyche of this Texas Longhorns' team is an egg shell.
Right down to Charlie Strong being asked how important a win over Oklahoma could've been to his future and Strong responding, "I need 'em all."
* But remember this … after reading all of the above ... Texas put itself in position to win the game.
Even after giving up five straight TD drives, 11-of-12 passing for 233 yards and 2 TDs by Baker Mayfield in the second half, 6-of-6 third-down conversions by OU to start the second half and falling behind 42-27 with 11:53 to play, it was still a one-possession game (42-34 and again at 45-40) after two, quick scoring drives by the Horns.
But a fumble near midfield by Baker Mayfield with just more than a minute to play didn’t end up in the hands of a defense that created four turnovers (including UT’s first two INTs of the season by Dylan Haines).
* Texas now prepares for a home game against Iowa State. Maybe the Horns will get the ball to bounce their way back at DKR.
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