Missouri Game Turning Point

<B>turning point</B> - <I>n.</I> The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

What do you get when you combine a pair of three-and-outs, a quarterback who badly misfires six times on eight attempts, and a 61-yard touchdown run nullified by a penalty?

The answer: the first 13 minutes of the third quarter by the Texas offensive unit against Missouri. What a woeful performance. There’s no way to sugar coat it. It was just plain awful. Then came the final drive of the quarter, the final two minutes of the quarter, and the turning point.

After an abysmal first three offensive series in the quarter that amassed an overwhelmingly unimpressive 22 yards on 12 plays, Texas started its fourth drive on its own 29-yard line. Two plays–a nine-yard run by Cedric Benson and a three yarder by Will Matthews–and the Horns had mustered their second first down of the quarter. Following another Benson run and a quick pass to Limas Sweed for five yards, Texas stared at a third and 4 from its own 46. That third and 4 turned into a third and 9 faster than you can say, "delay of game" or "know the snap count." There was some confusion on the field as the Longhorns did a two-for-one. Two penalties but only one was called. To the fans, it appeared Justin Blalock was one step ahead of everyone else. Actually, in Blalock’s defense, he appeared to be the only one with any sense of urgency as the play clock neared zero. Nice try, Justin. Blalock didn’t get called for the false start but Texas did get called for the delay of game. With the penalty it appeared to be more of the same for the Texas offense. No yards forward, five yards back.

With Texas now facing third and 9 from its own 41, everyone in DKR knew the Horns would go airborne. The question was to whom and how far off target would Chance Mock be this time? O ye of little faith. Mock, in shotgun formation, took the snap from center, took a few steps back, and then fired a rocket to Limas Sweed on a quick slant route. The redshirt freshman caught the ball at the Texas 47-yard line, made a quick move up field between a pair of Missouri defenders and got to the Missouri 48. First down Texas.

The precision pass, good catch, and more impressive run resulting in a first down were just what the doctor ordered for the sputtering Texas offense. After the catch and run the Longhorn offensive coaching staff obviously recognized that one completion does not a solid passing game make and went with a steady dose of workhorse Benson the rest of the drive. With five consecutive variations of Benson left and Benson right, the Longhorns found pay dirt on the sixth run, a tough 14-yarder by what has become the Horns' lone offensive threat and took a 28-14 lead to cap off an impressive 11-play, 71-yard drive. Missouri responded with a touchdown of its own but the two-touchdown deficit proved to be too much as the Texas defense prevented any further damage to secure the 28-20 victory.

A victory all made possible by a clutch pass from a quarterback who appeared, at the time, to be unable to hit the ocean from a boat, and a catch and run from a receiver who has shown flashes of Roy Williams-like greatness in what otherwise has to be considered an inconsistent season.

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