Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-Oklahoma

At the start of Texas-OU week, when the Longhorns were installed as 13-1/2 point favorites by Las Vegas oddsmakers, the carping began: Mack Brown, Greg Davis and Vince Young were put in a bag by sports writers and Sooner fans and burned as reasons for an OU upset.

As mentioned by yours truly last week, Coach Brown never had to make a tackle and Greg Davis was high above the Cotton Bowl in the press box. But the Sooners and their scribes were most wrong about the one that ultimately counted the most -- Vince Young. A close friend in Cleburne has a daughter in a class with the Texas quarterback. Since the school year started, Young has never missed a class and since last season's Texas Tech game he has never entered a game and not been the physical and spiritual leader of the Longhorn football team. He is a Bobby Layne and James Street all rolled into one.

Oklahoma's defense was determined to stop Young from beating them on the keep from the zone read, which meant early on Young could fake to Jamaal Charles and throw to wide open receivers. On one pass in the first quarter, the Oklahoma cornerback was still turned toward the Texas quarterback when Young's pass sailed over his head to Limas Sweed on the Longhorn sideline.

It's not that Greg Davis was afraid to call for Young to get on the corner; he tried, but the Sooners manned the outside rushing lanes. They would pay for their defensive strategy. With the score 7-6, Jamaal Charles darted, bounced and sprinted 80 yards to shock the Sooner Nation. In fact, Charles finished his run right into the middle of the Oklahoma South end zone. The loudest yells of the day from that end of the stadium were "boos" for official's calls. "Boomer Sooner" had a decidedly bad day.

Credit the Texas offensive line for manhandling Dusty Dvoracek and his teammates, allowing Vince Young to rip apart the Sooner secondary. Those were bombs flying through the blue Dallas sky and Billy Pittman, David Thomas and Ramonce Taylor are names Sooner secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright won't soon forget.

Selvin Young should not have seen the field early in the game, a fact borne out by another contact fumble from the junior running back. He is a tip toe runner and, with the emergence of Jamaal Charles, has no business with the football when the game is on the line. And you say, "Jamaal Charles might be hurt for the Colorado game!" True, and if so, it's time for Ramonce Taylor to start at running back. Selvin did make some good runs later in the game (with the game no longer in doubt) but he stutter-steps too much and ends up giving ground. And Henry Melton is too slow getting to the line of scrimmage. He was good versus out-manned defenses like UL-Lafayette and Rice but against the Oklahoma defense he was ineffective.

I told you last week Adrian Peterson couldn't play and it did effect Oklahoma's offense. Same for Texas if Charles is out. Believe me, there should be real concern if Charles can't go at running back this weekend vs. Colorado and the problem won't be solved by Selvin Young. Decisions must be made by the Texas staff early this week. Back to work.

This game was a defensive masterpiece. The Longhorn defensive staff of Gene Chizik, Duane Akina, Mike Tolleson and Oscar Giles are at the top of their game. Their players play with passion, pride and God-given speed.

I have never seen a Texas secondary play a better football game. Aaron Ross and the Longhorn cornerbacks defended the deep ball in outstanding fashion all afternoon.

And this was the best linebacker play Texas has experienced in the Mack Brown era. Aaron Harris, Robert Killebrew and Rashad Bobino covered receivers -- like Killebrew's great play against the Sooners' 6-3, 242-pound senior tight end James Moses -- and they tackled like heat-seeking missiles. They aren't big but they are fast, smart and getting better by the game.

The Texas defensive front -- the big men with hands on the ground -- denied Oklahoma the inside running game and put pressure on Oklahoma's quarterback.

If you watched this game on television you couldn't see or feel all the hits Rhett Bomar took. Four times he was leveled -- both feet went in the air and the first thing that hit was his back on the ground. (I prefer to call them "Mack Brown hugs" since he and his father said they were put off by the Texas coach's show of affection while be was being recruited.) The very best one was Brian Robison's smashing knockdown, popping the ball loose from Bomar which Rod Wright picked up to run 67 yards for a touchdown.

I must paraphrase what Darrell Royal said about my 78-yard interception return in 1960 against the Sooners in a 24-0 Texas win: "It looked like Rodrique was trying to run out the clock."

Write it down: Texas beat Oklahoma physically, the only way to win the second Saturday in October.

The negative? The Texas kickoff coverage team started the game in top shape but digressed to absolute chaos in the second half. Never in 34 years of coaching have I seen a group get three penalties on a single kickoff! They put the Sooners in position for their only touchdown. As I said earlier, back to work!

But on Saturday, the State Fair midway was full of Burnt Orange after an hour of celebration inside the Cotton Bowl at game's end. The Texas fans and players had their pep rally after the game. The freeway from the Cotton Bowl wasn't crowded for the first time in six years. All the cars were headed north because Longhorns were still celebrating.

Credit Mack Brown for putting this all together and getting out of the way enough to let it happen. I hope he puts the trophy that he raised at midfield on his desk to remind himself of what it means to send the Sooners back across the border early. It will always be the Longhorns' biggest game.

But now for the next big game. Colorado will be a severe test in Austin. Last year, Colorado's quarterback Joel Klatt wasn't well in the 31-7 Texas victory in Boulder. This year, with Jamaal Charles well I call it Texas 42, Colorado 10. Without Jamaal, it will be Texas 28, Colorado 21.

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

Horns Digest Top Stories