Culpepper's Commentary: Iowa State Game

The exit from the playing field by injured Brian Robison was one of the most emotional moments I have experienced in the last three years of observing and writing about Longhorn football.

I was glad to see coach Mack Brown come out to check on this fallen warrior. If Robison can return to the Texas defense for the Oklahoma game, as expected, it would be a significant spiritual lift for his teammates, coaches and everyone that wears Burnt Orange to the Cotton Bowl.

Even with Robison sidelined Saturday, there was no doubt the Texas defense came to play against Iowa State. Yes, the Cyclones gained some yards, but Iowa State is no North Texas or Rice. The 'Clones have very good offensive weapons: quarterback Bret Meyer, running back Stevie Hicks and wideout Todd Blythe.

It was a new one on me. With third and eight from their own 33-yardline, the Cyclones, because of a lightning delay, had 45 minutes of rest and meditation to come up with the right play. To its credit, Iowa State made the first down. What pressure on the Cyclone offensive staff!

But overall, with the game on the line, the Texas defense held. Rashad Bobino played a standout, knockdown game at middle linebacker as did Tim Crowder at defensive end. And don't you love the way Aaron Ross is playing at cornerback? He might yet prove to be the best of the great corners -- Quentin Jammer, Nathan Vasher -- of the Mack Brown era. It's also easy to see what Tarell Brown, MIA for the Ohio State game, means to the Longhorn secondary.

On offense, Limas Sweed needs the football. Not that I'm telling you anything you didn't know! The question is, where was Limas versus Ohio State? Oh, that's right, Texas was "concerned about throwing downfield."

Texas running backs Selvin Young, Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton have gotten the hang of running sideways and then cutting through holes that open with the Texas zone blocking scheme. In two weeks we will see whether their recent success holds up against a good-front defense. There are two defenses left on the Longhorn schedule -- Oklahoma and Nebraska -- that have the strength up front to possibly stop this running onslaught by Texas and its blocking scheme.

If the Sooners or the Huskers or anyone else, for that matter, succeeds in slowing that horizontal running game, that's when we all will find out if Colt McCoy is a top notch quarterback with a big-time arm. Despite an accurate two week run following the Ohio State game, that question is still largely unanswered.

I'll wait two weeks before determining whether Colt McCoy is the best man Texas can find at quarterback. No doubt he has improved and some of his passes downfield did in fact have more zip to them, but as a runner he is no threat to a more stout defense like the one the Longhorns will face in Dallas or in Lincoln.

Is Mack Brown whistling past the graveyard by continuing to rely on Colt without getting Jevan Snead ready for real action? Does Texas have a chance versus Oklahoma with McCoy at the helm? I just don't know.

I'm a little off balance by the early in the year comment by coach Brown comparing the McCoy-Snead situation to the Major Applewhite and Chris Simms soap opera. Applewhite was a proven winner; McCoy's list of victories has at the top Iowa State, and that's it versus a competitive football team. There's a big difference between the two situations.

Should McCoy throw ducks versus Oklahoma and the Texas running game get shut down because it's basically going sideways, I guess then Snead might get a chance.

Believe this, though: the Longhorn kicking game is excellent and before long there will be a blocked punt by the Texas special teams.

Lord have mercy on Sam Houston State; the Lumberjacks will pay for their $275,000 paycheck. Texas can name the score.

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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