Taking Stock: Who's Up, Who's Down

This is the fifth in a series of post-game reports throughout the season that will evaluate players, positions, units, coaches, and any other thing that is worthy of scrutiny. No, it’s not your typical player X did well, so his stock is up. We will touch on some of those, but we want to provide a closer look at some of the less obvious and explain why the subject received a certain grade. Check back each week for the latest report. You might be surprised.

Stock Up

Richmond McGee and the punt coverage unit — The Texas defense gave up a lot of yardage in the game and in particular the first half (234 to be exact), but it only surrendered three points going into the intermission and that’s thanks in large part to the right foot of Texas punter Richmond McGee. McGee kept the Sooners pinned deep in their own territory with three kicks downed inside the 15, which gave OU a long field to work with. Average starting position for the Sooners on their six drives during that first half — 12-yard line. And what about the best punt return man in college football, Antonio Perkins, who has had eight punt returns for touchdowns in his career–the most ever in college football? Perkins was effectively shut down with three returns for 19 yards.

Derrick Johnson — There are no more adjectives to describe this guy’s performance. He leaves you speechless making hits, tackles, and this year, forcing fumbles. Johnson forced his seventh fumble of the season against Oklahoma. And this was more impressive than last week’s against Baylor. After fighting off a block to the inside by OU’s Adrian Peterson, Johnson took off in a sprint chasing OU quarterback Jason White who had a 5-yard head start. Johnson easily caught White at the 18-yard line. Instead of tackling him, Johnson grabbed White with his left arm and violently swung around White’s body with his right hand. The ball came shooting out like a rocket and could have easily gone 30 yards downfield had it not been for the heads-up play by UT safety Phillip Geiggar who stopped the ball, then pounced on it for the recovery at the OU 34. As ABC’s Brad Nessler said, "That’s one of the best defensive plays you’ll ever see." No argument here.

Michael Huff — Mark Who? Coming into the game everyone was talking about Mark Clayton and why not? The pre-season All-American had a career game a year ago in Dallas with 190 yards on 8 catches against the Horns. Oh yeah, he had a touchdown reception as well. This year the same was expected against a relatively untested secondary. Not even close. Granted, OU didn’t have to pass as much because of some running back named Peterson, when the Sooners opted to do so they did so with very limited success. Huff, along with the rest of the defensive secondary, had a stellar performance and limited the OU passing game and Heisman Trophy winner Jason White to 14 completions on 23 attempts for 113 yards. And what about Clayton? He had a paltry three catches for 19 yards. Huff, by himself, had one interception, and kept alive another for Derrick Johnson to get an interception deep in Texas territory, and had 11 tackles including the most important of the day, the touchdown-saving stop of Peterson on his long run out of the OU end zone early in the game. If Huff doesn’t make the tackle, Texas could have gone into a tailspin, setting up something eerily similar to last year.

Aaron Harris — Quite simply stated, Harris was all over the place. Fending off blockers, taking on the ball carrier, putting pressure on Jason White or covering receivers crossing the middle of the field, he did it all. The numbers bare it out. Harris finished with 11 tackles, nine unassisted, and had three quarterback pressures. The MLB has been solid throughout the season, but against OU he proved that while he might not make the jaw-dropping hits like D.J.–no one does by the way–he’s an excellent complement to his weakside counterpart and a crucial factor to the success of the Texas defense.

Texas Defense — This was the ultimate in bend-but-don’t-break performances. Yes, the Horns gave up 414 total yards to the OU offense and huge chunks at a time to stud running back Adrian Peterson, but it only gave up 12 total points. There’s no doubt the defense could have been better. The Horns could have wrapped up and tackled better. They could have put more pressure on OU quarterback Jason White. But when it mattered most, they held OU to 4 of 14 on third down and most importantly kept the OU offense out of the end zone until late in the game after they had spent an inordinate amount of time on the field. The defense also forced three turnovers. All you can ask of a defense is for it to keep your team in the game and give you a chance to win. The Texas defense did just.

Stock Down

Mack Brown — Let’s start at the top. Okay, so when is enough, enough? Every year following the OU game Brown has explanations/excuses of why the Horns didn’t win. With all those explanations–and there’s been plenty of them over five years–there’s been one common thread and he readily admits it, he didn’t do his job. "It’s on me," are the words of choice this year. The question then becomes when is he going to do his job? Making millions of dollars a year that are, in pure numbers the highest in the country (this season), shouldn’t he be doing his job especially that one week he has failed miserably for five straight years? Just ask your boss. If you make the same mistake five times that loses a client, blows a mega-deal, or ruins the company’s bottom line, would he or she keep you?

Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis — Where was the pass to the tight end that has been so successful all season? Where was the I-formation using fullback Will Matthews leading the way? The list goes on and on. Admittedly, Vince Young didn’t have the best of performances, but he didn’t have to. All he had to do was lead the team on one touchdown scoring drive and that might have been the difference. But we’ll never know because Davis was insistent on his vanilla play calling and going with the same plays without making adjustments, just as he has been for the last five years. At one point do you realize that calling the same plays against the Baylors and Rices of the world doesn’t work against a coaching staff that not only knows the offensive schemes you’re going to run, but has the talent to stop it?

Vince Young — This game has to be considered a setback for the redshirt sophomore quarterback. Young never got it going, missing badly on numerous pass attempts, but you can’t put all the blame on him (see Greg Davis above). When you complete only one pass to the tandem of tight ends that have been your most reliable assets all season, you have major problems. Young didn’t help his cause fumbling twice, both in Oklahoma territory. These two turnovers were definitive shifts in momentum and devastating to an offense that was looking to anything for a boost of confidence.

Texas Receivers — Where were they? Did they make the trip to Dallas? It’s a bad sign when the leading receiver for your team, a) has only 33 yards, b) is a running back, and c) is a running back that’s very rarely thrown to out of the backfield. Limas Sweed led all receivers with one catch for 26 yards (nice catch, by the way). Nate Jones and Tony Jeffery had two catches for 14 yards. Yes, some of the passes were horribly thrown, but there were more than a few that should have been caught including one by Sweed, who couldn't haul in one that Young miraculously got away with a defender all over him midway through the third quarter, and another one late in the fourth quarter dropped by Jones in the end zone. This group needs to grow up–and quick!

Horns Digest Top Stories