Brown: It Came Down to Five Plays

Texas is "five plays away from being the No. 1 team in the country," head coach Mack Brown said Monday.

The difference in Texas' 24-7 loss to top-ranked Ohio State Saturday boiled down to five "plays" or "situations", Brown believes.

"The rest of the game we played our tails off," Brown said. "But those five (situations) are keys that we have got to make plays to change games."

In Brown's estimation, here they are:

1). WR Billy Pittman's goal line, returned to midfield.
Texas could have drawn first blood, but Pittman fumbled while straining for extra yards just inside the two-yard line. Linebacker James Laurinaitis forced the fumble which Donald Washington returned 48 yards to midfield.

"When you're 1st-and-goal from the seven and get no points in a game like this, it really costs you," Brown said. "We got nothing, and that was critical."

The seismic-shift in momentum led to a five-play scoring drive that took all of 82 seconds for the Buckeyes.

"Not only does it cost us a touchdown, they return it to the 50 and get points. That's a 14-point swing."

2). OSU's drive just before halftime
The Horns knotted the affair courtesy of with a 13-play, 78-yard drive, capped by Pittman's two-yard scoring reception. With 1:55 remaining until intermission, QB Troy Smith orchestrated a five-play, 66-yard drive punctuated by Ted Ginn Jr.'s 29-yard TD reception when he just ran past CB Aaron Ross.

"That just took all the momentum away from us going into halftime," Brown said, before adding, "The drive before the half was critical. We have got to play better the last 1:55 of the half. To me, that was a huge difference in this ballgame.

Ginn finished with 97 yards on five grabs, 46 of them coming on the second play of the game. "We did as good of a job on Ginn as you could do," Brown said. "That (first) catch that he had was an underneath pass where we over-ran it. We had everybody in the right place. We handled him on kickoffs and on punts, but (Antonio Gonzalez killed us. Troy Smith had an All-American performance. You can not let a quarterback like him get his rhythm. We had three sacks. We put prssure on him, but he's fast enough to scramble away from pressure. He made some great throws and they made some outstanding catches, but none bigger than the drive right before the half."

3). QB Colt McCoy's INT on opening drive of the third quarter
RB Jamaal Charles stepped off 11 yards on two carries to open the second half but then McCoy tossed his first INT of the season. The bad pun going around Austin these days is that the Horns suffered from a bad case of Laurinaitis. The same MLB who forced Pittman's fumble dropped back deeper in coverage on 1st-and-10 from the 31 than McCoy had seen him all night. He picked off McCoy at the 46 and returned it the Longhorn 25.

"We turn it over and give them a short field and they get points," Brown said.

Ohio State DBs typically employed a soft-zone on a night when McCoy finished 19 of 32 for 154 yards.

"Colt did not an outstanding job at the line of scrimmage and the majority of his throws were really good. He had five or six drops. We had nine shots (deep balls) called and we completed two.

4). No points on 1st-and-10 from 29
The defense forced a three-and-out to open the fourth quarter as the offense operated from the Texas 39, its best starting field position of the night. An 18-yard completion over the middle to SE Limas Sweed, a five-yard screen pass to FL Quan Cosby and Selvin Young's nine-yard run gave the Horns a fresh set of downs at the Buckeye 29. But two incomplete passes, bracketing Laurinaitis' stuffing Young at the LOS for a one-yard gain, forced a 45-yard Greg Johnson FG attempt. It was wide right.

"We have a chance to score and get it back to 17-14," Brown said. "Not only do we not score, we miss the field goal."

5). OSU's final score
The Buckeyes rode the momentum of the missed FG to tack one more on the board.

"Our defense needed to answer when it tied it at seven, and our defense needed to answer when we missed the field goal. Other than that, I thought the defense played great."

RB Antonio Pittman's two-yard plunge up the middle made it 24-7, the final dagger of 10-play, 72-yard drive.

"They score with six minutes left and, with the new clock rules, the game is pretty much over. Kids have got to understand that comebacks aren't going to be as easy as they used to be. You just run out of time now. I wish we would re-look at that rule."

Save for the final score, Saturday's setback was "so similar" to Texas' season-shaping 25-22 win in Columbus last year, Brown said. Texas trailed, but with a chance to win, entering the fourth quarter in both games. The Horns produced nine explosive plays (runs of 12+ yards, receptions of 16+ yards) last Saturday and nine explosives against the Buckeyes in 2005.

"The difference (Saturday) is we didn't score," Brown said. "We ran the ball much better this year and we stopped the run much better this year."

Statistically, that is correct. However, the Buckeyes often dropped their linebackers to clog passing lanes on Saturday (thus, allowing room to run) while the Buckeyes stacked the LOS last season to feather out Texas' running game. As it was, it marked the first time in Brown's 73 games at Texas that the Horns outrushed an opponent and still lost. The Texas D-line held OSU to 79 yards on 29 attempts, but surprised UT coaches by going to the air, and going with empty sets, as much as they did. Ohio State registered 12 explosive plays on Saturday and seven last year in Columbus.

"The difference is we scored touchdowns last year and held them to field goals," Brown said. "That was the only difference in the game."

Do you think is this the silver lining from Saturday? Or, just sunshine-pumping from Monday?

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