Even with the loss, the Buffaloes still control their own league destiny (if they win out they will win the North and play in the conference championship game) while the Horns must hope for two OU losses along with their own season-ending four-game sweep to win the South and play in Texas Stadium in early December.
UT's chances of pulling off that four-game sweep, starting this weekend in Columbia vs. Missouri, are greatly enhanced if the team continues to play on both sides of the ball as it did last weekend in Stillwater and this weekend in Austin. The Texas offense easily surpassed the 400-yard mark in both games and the D totaled eight turnovers (four in each game) in those contests.
Brown said on offense, where Greg Davis dug deep into the playbook for multiple misdirection, play action and even "trick" plays, Texas needs to remain balanced between the run and the pass and "to continue to run (those off-schedule plays) because they make your fundamental plays work better."
The shovel pass to Cedric Benson, which worked to near perfection late in the second quarter, is a play that the Horns have carried throughout the year, Brown said, and will continue to carry in the offensive arsenal. The play is blocked exactly like a draw and is used in place of the draw vs. teams that do not blitz much (like Colorado). Against teams that blitz, the Horns are more likely to go with the draw because it doesn't require the running back to turn his back on a defense that may be bringing a blitz.
Brown attributes the defense's improved play since the Houston game largely to Carl Reese's unit "doing a better job of mixing zone and man coverages and thus giving quarterbacks more problems." The head coach said the game vs. the Cougars "kinda woke us up" and forced the defenders to "understand the urgency" of creating turnovers specifically and simply playing great overall defense generally.
Finally, the special teams play -- with solid coverage on both punts and kickoffs, Nathan Vasher's near-TD punt return and a perfect day from Dusty Mangum -- returned to form after a disappointing performance against Oklahoma State, the coach added.
"I'm really, really pleased with the way the guys played and their effort and their confidence," Brown said. "Now we've got to get ready for Missouri."
Notes: The Horns suffered no major injuries in the Colorado game. Neither of the Horns' walking wounded, back-up DE O.J. McClintock and projected starting rover Lee Jackson, played, although the coaches said late last week that O.J. would see his first action of the season against the Buffs. Instead, converted LB Marcus Wilkins continued to take the back-up snaps behind LDE starter Cory Redding while Jermain Anderson spelled Kalen Thornton. Thornton returned to the starting line-up after missing the Oklahoma State game with a sprained knee. The coaches have said that they believe they need McClintock in the line-up to win the rest of the games, so even though he's now missed the season's first seven games, he is likely to return to action for the final five (four regular season and probably one post-season) games. Jackson, on the other hand, is a probable redshirt who could return for a fifth year next fall. . . . Against the Buffs, according to Brown, the Horns won every aspect of the WIT chart battle (turnovers, explosive plays and first down, third down and red zone efficiency) except for third down conversions on offense, where Texas was just three of 12.