Oct. 29, 2005
Oklahoma State 28
Savior In Stillwater
By Clendon Ross
STILLWATER, Okla. -- With Vince Young's program-record 506 yards of total offense in UT's 47-28 win over Oklahoma State Saturday night in Stillwater, one could say that the Texas QB schooled the Cowboys. But Young pulled out the red marker when grading his own performance.
Deduct points for an interception, a fumble, and some "floaters" in the passing game, and VY graded himself out at a B-minus. Actually, Young did credit himself with an A-plus in "managing the game" and "sideline leadership," but a look at the stat sheet shows that Professor Young may be much too tough on Student Young.
The junior Heisman candidate rushed for 267 yards on 21 carries, including two TDs, and completed 15-of-30 pass attempts for another 239 yards, including two more TDs. And, ho hum, he led his team to its eighth come-from-behind victory while under center.
"Give Vince credit," head coach Mack Brown said. "He's just a playmaker and an unbelievable performer. To get over 500 yards offense tonight is just phenomenal."
Even though Texas trailed 28-12 at the half, Vince already had 133 yards rushing (of the Horns' 141 as a team) when he stepped under center for the opening possession of the second half. And it took less than a minute to boost that rushing total to over 200.
After a no-gain on first down by Jamaal Charles (who suffered cramps throughout the second half) and an incompletion for Limas Sweed on second down, the Horns stared at not only a third down deep in Cowboy territory, but perhaps the play that would determine which sideline owned the second half momentum.
Young took the shotgun snap, scrambled right and, just before crossing the line of scrimmage, sent Donovan Woods, OSU's closest defender, skyward with a pump fake. With Woods in the air, VY streaked by towards the sideline, turning upfield, and when Sweed cleared out safety Chase Holland, the Cowboys' lost their last, best hope on the play and, as it turned out, in the game. Texas suddenly had 19-going-on-47 points, and all the momentum.
"It helped out a whole lot," Young said of his 80-yard scamper, the longest run of his career and the longest run by a QB in UT history. "It just changed the momentum and sent something out to Oklahoma State to let them know that we were gonna be here and turn it up a notch in the second half. It meant a whole lot to us."
The crowd, which minutes before had been at a full-throated pitch, fell largely silent. Although the Cowboys continued to have some offensive success (typically till they reached Texas territory), a sense of inevitability hung in the air, but particularly on the Longhorn sideline, where this sort of situation has become quite common against the Cowboys.
"When Vince stepped up, the rest of them stepped up," Brown said post-game of the team's reaction to Young's play.
Vince trimmed the Cowboys' lead to 28-26 with an eight-yard TD run, this time juking CB Calvin Mickens to the ground at the five before strolling untouched into the end zone, and he followed that up with his second TD pass of the day to a tight end, this time a 21-yarder to Neale Tweedie (a 20-yarder in the first quarter to David Thomas got the Horns on the board). Texas had its first lead of the night, 34-28, with 48 ticks remaining in the third. After falling behind 28-9 with just under six minutes before the break, Texas had reeled off 25 of what would eventually be 38 unanswered points.
"Give Oklahoma State credit, they came in with a good plan and they played with great emotion early in the ball game and made some great plays," Greg Davis said, "but give our team credit for keeping its poise and coming in at halftime and nobody panicking and being able to make the adjustments and go back out and play well."
Those adjustments came on both sides of the ball.
Texas employed a two-TE set for much of the final 30 minutes, thwarting the free safety blitz which had given the Horns fits in the first half, thus allowing Vince more freedom of movement in the backfield and more time to throw. And, with Young often operating from under center and play actioning to the lone back (a new twist, according to Davis), it also got Thomas and Tweedie into space. The two TEs accounted for five second half receptions for 117 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Gene Chizik's guys went with more of a five-man "Bear" front to slow the Cowboys' runaway running game of the first half, to get more people around the football and to put pressure on erratic but (in the first half, at least) effective QB Al Pena. OSU running back Mike Hamilton finished with 194 yards rushing on 31 carries (6.3 per), and even with the defensive changes, 80 of those came after the break, but the timing of Hamilton's yards were far less damaging, partly because Texas was finally able to get sustained pressure on Pena, forcing the Cowboys into several long yardage situations. OSU managed 162 yards total offense (but no points) after the break and 402 for the game.
Brown said he wasn't surprised by the Cowboys' level of play, but UT's struggles over the first 30 minutes came as a shock to just about everyone else. In recent weeks, Texas destroyed the Big 12's top tier teams, both offensively and defensively, while Oklahoma State came in on a four-game skid, including blowout losses to Texas A&M and Iowa State.
But this worst vs. first match-up turned topsy-turvy early when the Cowboys, in a zero-zero game, completely suckered the Texas defense on a fourth-and-one near midfield. QB Pena faked a handoff into the line and tossed to a wide open D'Juan Woods, who had slipped past UT's stacked, 11-man line, for a 49-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
But after two weeks of watching Pena turn the ball over, and over, and over in the passing game, and after two near picks by the Horns on OSU's first series, the Cowboy coaches obviously developed a new strategy: run, and run, and run some more. Out of 20 first quarter offensive plays, Pena went to the air just four times, completing two, and most importantly for OSU, none to the guys in the white jerseys. In the second quarter, he matched those first quarter totals, including an even more improbable Woods' TD.
Following a Vince Young fumble recovered by OSU at the Texas 29, Pena misfired over the middle just inside the 20, but the ball ricocheted off of Longhorn SS Michael Huff and into the arms of Woods, in a full sprint, who took it into the end zone to put Oklahoma State on top 28-9.
At that point, Young said talk on the sideline was "Here we go again." But thanks to the ever more amazing exploits of the Texas QB, in the second half the talk turned to, well, Here we go again!
Oklahoma State Turning Point
For the third straight year, Texas made Oklahoma State think it was a better team than it actually is, only to come out of the locker room at halftime and dismantle the Cowboys in the second half en route to a blowout victory. Here is an interesting stat. Over the last three games versus Okie State, the Horns have outscored the Cowboys 118-0 in the second half after being down going into halftime. Texas seems to be showing USC that the Horns can trail at half as well and come back to win in dramatic fashion.
The Longhorn offense started out slow with a couple of early miscues. A blocked field goal on the first drive prevented the Horns from striking first, as they usually do. Then, after a beautiful David Thomas touchdown reception, another blocked David Pino kick prevented the Horns from squaring it at 7 apiece. The Horns' third drive of the evening ended after only one play when Vince Young was intercepted. Oklahoma State quarterback Al Pena immediately made Texas pay, scampering 17 yards on the first play to put the Cowboys up 21-6, and leaving the Longhorn nation scratching their heads. Could this be the end of the dream season happening right before their very eyes?
No. Any true-blooded Longhorn fan knew this was not the end. It was just a matter of time before history would repeat itself, largely because of No. 10 in the Orange and White. And Vince Young indeed gave the Longhorn offense the jolt of life it needed to get going.
Just before halftime, Texas added a field goal to close the score to 28-12. The Horns knew they would be getting the ball to start the second, so any points they could muster were welcomed. And after a touchback on the 2nd halfs opening kickoff, Young and the Horns began to do their thing. After a Jamaal Charles rush for no gain and a VY incompletion, Texas faced a 3rd and 10 at the 20 yard line, and the game's turning point. Young dropped back to pass. OSU brought a blitz off the left end, but VY saw it coming, stepped up to elude the rush and then scrambled out to his right, pump-faking Cowboy safety Donovan Woods in the process. He took off for the sideline, turned the ball up field where he picked up a text-book block by Limas Sweed (taking the DB and turning him inside away from the play creating an alley along the sideline) and then just did what weve seen him do so many times. Eighty yards later, Vince had his first rushing TD of the day and the Longhorns had silenced the crowd. It almost seemed that the OSU fans knew what was going to happen at this point. And they were right, the rout was on.
The Longhorns went on to rack up over 600 yards of total offense, with Vince accounting for 506 yards. That says Heisman to me, ladies and gentlemen. With several Texas running backs sidelined with injuries or cramps, Ramonce Taylor stepped in and helped take the load off of VY. A 57-yard TD run through the right-side of the line put the Horns up 12 with just over 8 minutes to play, deflating any Cowboy hopes of a late comeback.
Do not think this was all an offensive effort. Take nothing away from the defensive effort, particularly in the final three quarters. After giving up a couple of long drives in the first quarter, the defense buckled down and did not allow a drive over 38 yards in the final 47 minutes of play. A couple of inopportune turnovers put the defense in tough situations early, but Gene Chizik's guys did what they knew how to do and stood strong after the break, keeping the Cowboys off the board while the offense got rolling. The University of Texas State of Oklahoma Football Champions.
Culpepper's Commentary: Oklahoma State
By Pat Culpepper
All this is is Cowboy poker. Six at a table and a bull is turned loose. The last one to leave his chair wins. Georgia got up this weekend and now there are just five.
The bull almost hooked Texas. Forget the spread the next three football games, Longhorn fans. The effort by opposing teams against the No. 1- or No. 2-rated team in the country is nothing like what their fans have seen before. Believe me, Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M will be difficult. Instant fame comes by beating Texas, USC or Virginia Tech this season. Alabama and UCLA will get their just rewards in the coming weeks but to defeat any of the big three would be a stunning performance.
And Oklahoma State had everything going its way for an upset.
At Eskimo Joes before the game in Stillwater, from 12:30 until leaving for the stadium at 5:45 p.m., the Texas fans were excited about Florida's play against Georgia and how many points the Longhorns would score against the Cowboys. And compared to the crowd that followed the Longhorns to Ohio State or Missouri, this Texas group of fans seemed much smaller in number than any other out of town game.
"I'll just watch it on TV" seemed to be the feeling, but at 1:21 left in the first quarter, it was Oklahoma State 21, Texas 9. I imagined the thousands of Longhorn fans that had stayed home to get ready for Halloween's reaction to what the magical box was showing them.
The Longhorn defense was being taken apart by the bounce-out running of Cowboy tailback Mike Hamilton and a fourth-and-one slick play action 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Al Pena to D'Juan Woods.
Yes, the Cowboys were using junk formations that for some reason got the Texas linebackers mixed up and Hamilton would take a straight handoff and bounce outside where absolutely no Longhorn was in position to contain. But it looked easy.
On the game's opening series by Oklahoma State, no drive, only four plays. Fourth and one from the Longhorn 49 yard line, the Cowboys are in a two tight end power I formation and the Longhorns give up a "cake for a cookie."
That analogy is what defensive coordinator Mike Campbell, who served 20 years as Darrell Royal's top assistant, used to say about gambling on short yardage. The "cookie" would be stopping the fourth down try, and the "cake" is what happened when Texas committed its secondary to stop the short yardage effort. Nobody was in coverage, nobody backpedaled to check a fake and it was the perfect call for rookie head coach Mike Gundy.
Talk about a crowd getting excited! The thrill of being in the stands the night ol' Bevo got branded would be one Oklahoma State fans would tell their grandchildren.
The Longhorn offense was stalled for the first time all season on its opening drive when Ramonce Taylor dropped a sure first down and possible touchdown-type reception over the middle on third down.
As the Texas defense tried to figure out what was happening, Vince Young connected with David Thomas for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Now, here is how teams get upset. On the extra point try, Oklahoma State's Xavier Lawson-Kennedy breaks through Texas' alternate offensive linemen and blocks David Pino's attempt. So, you have 48,000-plus Cowboy fans back in the game emotionally. Extra Point and field goal protection failures will get you beat as quickly as bad offensive and defensive execution. The Texas staff gives these alternates their chance, it's up to them to perform.
At halftime, it is Oklahoma State 28, Texas 12. I wish I had a dollar for every Texas fan that was upset that they hadn't driven to Stillwater. "I thought we were going to blow them out" was now forgotten by those present and those absent.
To be sure, the Texas fans in the corners of Boone-Pickens Stadium were not giving up, but every one of them knew the third quarter first possession was HUGE for Texas.
The clock showed 14:14 when Vince Young started to his right, faked a pass which made Cowboy defensive back Donovan Woods break his individual vertical leap record, then took off 80 yards right past the Oklahoma State bench.
After halftime, the Texas defense knew where to align its safeties and linebackers to stop the bounce outs and began to shift linemen after the OSU quarterback called plays in the Cowboys' no huddle offense. Rod Wright and Tim Crowder kept the pressure on the OSU attack and the Texas secondary was excellent against the pass.
Several weeks ago, I suggested Ramonce Taylor was the answer at running back for the injured Jamaal Charles. At a desperate time, the Longhorns needed someone to step up and take the pressure off of Vince Young. Someone to be a threat again in the running game besides the Texas quarterback. Finally, in the fourth quarter after the Longhorns had taken the lead for the first time 34-28 when Vince Young passed to Neale Tweedie, Ramonce got his chance.
With 9:26 left to play, Taylor popped outside on a zone run and out-ran what seemed to be the entire Oklahoma State defense 57 yards for a touchdown.
To make a point, Ramonce did it again from 12 yards out with 3:39 left to play
A tough win doesn't tell half of this story as the Longhorns suffered a laundry list of injuries and cramps -- Brian Carter, Crowder, Jonathan Scott, Charles, Selvin Young, Brian Robison, Robert Killebrew and even Michael Griffin was looking to me hobbled by game's end.
Don't believe anybody will feel sorry for Texas. Baylor is a well-coached, aggressive, dangerous football team. The Bears missed an extra point two weekends in ago in Norman or there would have been no overtime vs. the Sooners. I believe they will come after the Longhorns with a strong running game and a gambling defense. This could be another come-from-behind win for Texas. The bull is loose on the five undefeated teams at the table. The Longhorns stay another week, 31-17.