Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-OU

It happened on Oklahoma's 2 yard-line. Longhorn quarterback <B>Vince Young</B> had weaved his way through the Sooner defense for 59 yards and had 36,000 Orangebloods on their feet in anticipation of the tying the score. High above the South end zone, above the Sooner fans, the glittering lights of the Cotton Bowl scoreboard blinked Oklahoma 14, Texas 7, but that would soon change. Or so we thought.

Oklahoma's defense had already turned two wayward Texas passes into interceptions and scored from six and 35 yards out, but the Longhorns had fought back.

In fact, David Thomas had hammered Oklahoma punt returner Antonio Perkins, causing a fumble on the Sooner 44. Texas, after a nice scramble by Vince Young, scored its first touchdown on a power I formation run by Cedric Benson from that very same spot -- the Oklahoma 2 yard-line.

This time the Longhorns had no power formation and as Young went for the goalline he was hit by Oklahoma safety Brodney Pool and fumbled. Oklahoma football. Basically, game, set and match, Sooners, four years and counting.

The Sooners drove 73 yards, off their goalline, in 10 plays for a field goal right into the laps of the Longhorn band sitting just outside the North end zone.

Against Arkansas, the Longhorn front wall was knocked down and run through, but this time it was the Texas pass coverage that was turned inside-out. For sure, after halftime the Sooners cranked up their ground game, but in the first half with the issue still in doubt, Texas' defensive backs could cover neither the deep out or the crossing routes by Oklahoma. Texas was for the most part in man-to-man coverage and could not make a play. The Longhorn cornerbacks did not accelerate off the break on the 15-20 yard out cuts and the crossing receivers consistently got ahead of the Texas coverage for first down receptions. And Oklahoma quarterback Jason White had ample time to let these slower routes develop. It was a turkey shoot.

And without help from the Texas offense, the Longhorn defense was left without a life raft. And it drowned.

Make no mistake; nobody will feel sorry for Texas following this spanking. It has the best facilities in college football, it has a rich football tradition and it has recruited among the nation's best for several years. Lopsided winners always look more organized, in better condition and have more spark and enthusiasm.

Texas fans are getting used to being beaten by Oklahoma but will have a hard time accepting losses to Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State or Texas A&M, should they occur. Texas Tech and Nebraska look a step above the Longhorns at this point of the season. It makes for an interesting six weeks in front of UT football program.

In that time, the assistants at Texas need to come to the front and figure out how to win those games with this group of players. Their jobs are on the line.

Mack Brown wanted a hard-nosed running game but his staff could only deliver an offense that depends on a quarterback's scrambling ability.

Coach Brown has structured his coaching philosophy around a solid defensive effort, but his staff can't entice a championship-level performance against top competition.

But what's really of concern is that the Longhorns have not risen to the challenge and opportunity in two nationally televised ballgames. And only Coach Brown can answer why the players lack the mental toughness to compete for four quarters against Oklahoma.

My answer as a former player? Mack's only partially right when he says everything is his fault. It's the players' fault as well.

Prediction: Texas 45, Iowa State 17. The Longhorns are back in their comfort zone.

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary will appear regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.


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