Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-Ohio State

After UT's 25-22 win over Ohio State in the 'Shoe, there is no doubt the Longhorns deserve the nation’s number two ranking in college football.

And as yours truly predicted, Texas found its running back before the 105,000 plus assembled in Columbus, Ohio. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better performance by a true freshman.

Jamaal Charles blocked blitzing Buckeye linebackers, caught crucial third down passes swinging out of the backfield and refused to go down on first contact. On a brilliant effort just before halftime, Charles darted back to the inside and broke an Ohio State defensive back’s arm tackle to put Texas in field goal range. The freshman got Texas back in the game!

Limas Sweed finally broke through the "potential" barrier. He made big catches all night and the last one was a classic that won the football game.

Sitting high in the south end zone surrounded by a handful of Texas fans and covered up by Ohio State fanatics, one fact that came through loud and clear is that Texas has excellence in the offensive and defensive lines. At the start of the game it was the zone read that scrambled the Buckeye defenders but what was spectacular was the protection in front of Vince Young, allowing receivers to come open. Kasey Studdard, Lyle Sendlein and Will Allen refused the Buckeyes rushing lanes and Justin Blalock and Jonathan Scott forced Ohio State defenders outside Young’s throwing sight lines.

Tim Crowder played the best game of his life at defensive end and Brian Robison wrapped up the Buckeyes' only turnover of the game. Rotation by the Texas defensive interior and coach Tolleson getting max effort from Rod Wright, Frank Okam and Larry Dibbles was outstanding.

At linebacker Aaron Harris played good early in the game and Drew Kelson, after getting burned on an option pass when he came off the tight end too soon, won his strong side linebacker spot. Kelson's strip tackle on flushed quarterback Justin Zwick after Texas took a slim 23-22 lead with two-and-a-half minutes to play was a defensive highlight.

The end zone hit by Cedric Griffin on Ryan Hamby was the defensive play of the game for the Longhorns. As the Buckeye tight end juggled the pass in the back of the end zone, Griffin came off coverage and delivered a lick that sent the ball free and incomplete. A touchdown at that point most likely puts the game away for the Buckeyes

Texas left the huge Horseshoe with its dreams and goals still in place... but no thanks to its kickoff coverage team, which is ranked dead last in the nation.

Those eleven players have almost cost Texas losses to both Michigan and Ohio State. Get this, in the very clutch moments of those games, Texas kicked the ball off to Steve Breaston of Michigan and Ted Ginn of Ohio State! And both of them took it to midfield and to the last Longhorn defender!

Mack Brown fixed the extra point and field goal situation last week by demoting Richmond McGee and elevating David Pino, who came through in outstanding fashion. It’s time for Coach Brown to take direct action against this keystone cops kickoff coverage and the coach(es) responsible.

It is not time to be nice on this matter. If the Texas Longhorns plan on beating Rice, Missouri, Oklahoma and all the rest, this element of the Longhorn football team must be fixed.

But mark it down — Coach Mack Brown won a BIG game. Actually, another BIG game. He is on top of this football team. He has team leaders like Vince Young and Rod Wright in place. He has a top notch coaching staff and will not let this team pull a TCU versus SMU like what happened in Dallas last weekend: Texas 55, Rice 3.

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 appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.


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