Texas-OU is a special, unique-in-all-the-college-football-world game that we are all blessed to have.
For the players, if you're lucky, you get four chances to play in that game. Once you leave Texas, you realize it was ONLY four chances to walk down that shared tunnel at the Cotton Bowl in October - your blood boiling more with every step to get your hands on some Sooners.
You will always remember each game - for the rest of your life. I mean, I remember every game vividly.
As a fan, there is no other game-day atmosphere that matches it.
I've enjoyed the game from the perspective of player and fan. I appreciate the game more today after going as a fan and seeing what the atmosphere is like for the fans. What a special game!
As a kid, I dreamed of being introduced before the Super Bowl and running onto the field to play in the greatest football game of the year. I realized that dream in 1998 and Super Bowl XXXIII.
I would have to admit that I was a little disappointed afterward. Maybe I had built up the expectation, but the fact remained that it was not as exciting as the tunnel for Texas-OU.
The tunnel is much talked about and a special place for those who play in that game.
All I can say is only a few get the true privilege of experiencing the tunnel before Texas-OU, and I can assure you there is no greater experience in football!
Because of the tunnel and the emotions involved in this game, I thought Texas was going to find a way to win.
The players understood this game was for their coach and their season.
When you back someone up against a wall they will usually come out swinging.
I felt Texas did come out swinging, but could not overcome their mistakes and missed opportunities. I will say this team fought til the end and the game ended on the last play, as it usually does in this game.
This was another one of the special Texas-OU games that we should all appreciate watching and being a part of - regardless of the outcome. Both teams played the game the way it was meant to be played.
The question I had afterward was what happened?
Well, there are a lot of answers to this question.
OU came into this game determined to run the ball and expose the soft coverage Texas had shown all year.
They were going to try and force Texas to throw the ball by having their safeties play up and attack the line of scrimmage to stuff the run.
Texas was going to play aggressive defense and tackle. I think both teams did what they wanted to do.
What it came down to is missed opportunities by Texas: 3 points off of 4 turnovers is a missed opportunity. Simply compare that to OUs 14 points off 2 turnovers. The difference is 11 points.
OU was 4 of 4 in the red zone with three touchdowns. Texas was 4 of 5 with 2 touchdowns. There is another 7 points.
OU had 16 plays of 15 or more yards. Texas missed an easy touchdown to Burt in the first half. When you lose by 5 points it is easy to find missed opportunities for just 6 points!
When you watch the film it sometimes does not make sense.
You see effort out of Texas on both sides of the ball, yet the defense still gave up 672 yards to OU.
The stat sheet says the Texas offense was its usual self in gaining 425 yards, including 180 yards rushing, and scoring 40 points.
When you look at the film, however, you see an offense that struggled to consistently run the ball.
UT averaged just 3.9 yards per rush. It was tough for the Horns to get their rushing yardage because OU put 9 guys in the box by pulling up their safeties.
This leaves the secondary vulnerable to deep passes and double moves. UT attempted to connect on the deep ball, but missed a few opportunities and did not have the number of big plays OU had.
Basically, UT played a good offensive game, but still could not match their opponent again this week.
I feel like the first half UT struggled on offense because they could not run the ball.
Buechele was struggling reading the defense and getting the ball to the right spot.
In the second half, Buechele started hitting the correct receiver, connected on a couple deep-ball touchdowns, and the running game opened up. You see the result in the second half as Texas more than doubled its first-half output with 27 points.
The problem was OU scored 31 in the second half.
Texas has a good offensive unit, and it is fun to watch them run the ball. They just suffer from enough inconsistency - with a true freshman QB - that they can’t score enough to keep up with their opponents right now.
I’m not sure what enough is when your defensive gives up 672 yards of total offense and 45 points for the third straight game.
Texas’s defensive is still the problem.
Before I get into the problems I saw, I have to say I was impressed by the effort of 98% of the guys on the defensive side of the ball.
It was clear after the first half that these guys were playing for their coach and understood the importance of this game.
Unfortunately, it was too little and too late. It is hard to take a unit and get it to play hard and good.
Strong got these guys to play hard, but not good.
You still had DBs sitting on double moves and letting simple routes get behind them.
This is why this game takes all 11. You can have 10 guys playing their asses off on a play, and if one DB in man coverage turns around to look for the QB because he says he heard someone yell "run," and lets the route get behind him with no safety help, it's a 51-yard gain.
The defense needed to find a way to make a play - especially on third down - and instead gave up six straight third-down conversions to start the second half and gave up five touchdown drives from the end of the second quarter into the second half.
Not field goal drives. Touchdown drives.
Once OU started connecting on deep balls, the draw play opened up for Sooners' RB Samaje Perine, and Perine is an excellent draw runner and ran wild, finishing with 214 yards and 2 TDs on a career-high 35 carries.
This allowed OU to control the ball and clock in the second half. UT allowed Dede Westbrook to become OU’s all-time leading receiver in the Texas-OU series with 10 catches for 232 yards and 3 TDs.
You are not going to win giving up these numbers. UT played with heart in the first half and wore out in the second half.
I felt for Charlie Strong after this game.
You could see he put a lot of heart into this team this week, and his players on defense made plays for him in the first half, getting their first two INTs of the season and three turnovers total.
But in the second half the D still made the same mistakes they have made all year. This was a tough loss for this team, and it was a game I thought they would win.
I think this team has heart and thought it would show up the way it did in the OU game last year.
I was wrong. Heart was not enough, and this team could not match the production of OU on both sides of the ball.
UT held two third-quarter leads, but in the end let the game get away because the Horns couldn't get both sides of the ball to play at a high level at the same time.
And, for the record, the special teams criticisms I had last week got corrected this week. There were actually signs of life in the return game thanks to Armanti Foreman, and P Michael Dickson continues to be outstanding, pinning opponents inside their own 20 while K Trent Domingue hit both of his FG attempts.
Sadly, the numbers don't paint a picture that includes all of that. It ends up being yet another game lost when Texas is trailing at halftime under Strong (0-14). Texas is 1-6 in true road games dating to last season and 0-3 away from home this season.
Chip Brown reported that Armanti Foreman stood up on the locker room after the game and told teammates if they want to hang their head to take it somewhere else and to instead double-down on film study and attention to detail in practice. Armanti has earned the right to say that with his play, and I hope that locker room was listening.
I am still pulling for this team and hope they can finish the year with pride. What I mean by this is someday they will all look back on this season and they will either look back with pride or disappointment. I hope for them it's pride.
I can let you know from experience that every play and every season stays with you forever. That alone is why you play every play like it is your last.
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