33 seconds into the game, linebacker Robert Killebrew recovered a blocked punt in the end-zone and the Longhorn Band fired up "Taps-in-One," the half tempo version of Texas Fight that is played when a game is essentially over. In truth, this game was over from the first snap as Texas dominated throughout.
"This is a week that no one outside of this team talked about and they (the players) could have very easily lost their focus," said Texas head coach Mack Brown.
It was a fluid and, what appeared to be, effortless day for quarterback Colt McCoy, who saw little pressure and was done by halftime. McCoy's completion percentage was raised to over 70% on the year, after going 13-of-15 for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
"I felt comfortable today," said McCoy. "My offensive line was playing great."
With 9:47 to go in the first, the Texas offense took the field for the first time. In an unusual move, Henry Melton got the start at running back. In a usual move, the Longhorns began with a quick screen to Quan Cosby, good for 7 yards.
Jamaal Charles, along with every other player with injury concern (Charles, Brian Robison, Selvin Young, Myron Hardy), was held out of the game to rest up for next week. The common theme for Texas was grinding the ball on the ground with Melton. The M-Train finished the game with 19 attempts for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
The Longhorns worked their way down the field, primarily through Melton runs, and put the ball on the Sam Houston State one. That's when disaster almost struck…again. Melton dove over the pile on an off-tackle run and had the ball knocked free, but only after he broke the plane, scoring the TD. It was almost the Horns' fourth fumble inside the five-yard-line on the year, at which point probably would have changed their team motto from "Just do what you do" to "For the love of God, don't reach out."
Turnovers were something that never went Sam Houston State's way. On the next drive, TE Blake Martin fumbled the ball after a catch on a quick out, giving the ball back to Texas, who quickly responded with a McCoy touchdown pass on a slant to WR Nate Jones.
"The passing game was really successful," said senior right tackle Justin Blalock. "They (Sam Houston State) made adjustments to stop the run and we adjusted."
RB Chris Ogbonnaya also received significant playing time, subbing in and out of the game with Melton, rushing 7 times for 25 yards and catching the ball 3 times for 23.
The Bearkats finally started to make some noise on their next possession, as QB Brett Hicks hit Blake Martin on 21-yard pass, taking them to the Texas 48 and their first trip across the 50. But the momentum was halted again, this time by a Marcus Griffin interception.
"We've been talking about turnovers for weeks, when the come, how they come," said defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. "It seems they come in bunches."
The Longhorns finished the game with 4 turnovers (2 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries).
With 10 seconds left in the first quarter, QB Jevan Snead came in for the first time for the Longhorns and immediately fired the ball downfield…into the hands of a Bearkat defender, who dropped a sure pick, resulting in an incompletion and a sigh of relief. It was Snead's only incompletion of the game, as the freshman QB finished 7-of-8 for 122 yards and a TD, while playing a good chunk of the contest.
"They're doing a great job of getting me in and I'm happy every time," said Snead.
Snead also finished with a rushing touchdown off of an 8-yard TD run, breaking a tackle on his way to the end zone.
After an SHSU three-and-out, McCoy rejoined his teammates on the field, but players from further down the depth chart were starting to appear. The obvious progression during the game was starters, then back-ups, then freshmen and finally walk-ons as the game crept into the fourth quarter. At one point, the Texas defense fielded six true freshmen at the same time (Ken Beasley, Robert Joseph, Jared Norton, Sergio Kindle, Ben Alexander and Lamarr Houston). All-in-all, 68 Texas Longhorns saw playing time in this game.
Oklahoma is the typical midway point in the season where Mack Brown decides which freshmen will play and which will be redshirted, barring a massive number of injuries. Basically, if they didn't play in this game, they aren't going to play.
The blowout of the Bearkats also represented a coming out party for Kindle. The true freshman led the team with nine tackles, eight of them solo and flew all over the field.
"Our goal was to get him in the game early…and he showed up tonight," said Chizik of his freshman linebacker. "He's really progressing at a fast rate."
WR Limas Sweed also enjoyed solid game to go along with the career year he's having in 2006. Late in the second, McCoy entered the game for the final time and heaved a 42-yard touchdown pass as Sweed. The ball initially appeared to be overthrown, but Sweed displayed his long arms and soft hands.
"I just stuck out my arms and caught it," said Sweed.
Not to be outdone, Snead had a deep ball of his own ready to go. On the Longhorns next drive, Snead fired the ball down the field to a wide-open Jordan Shipley, who blazed past the deep safety for a 56-yard touchdown, driving the score up to 49-0.
"The safety bit on Jermichael Finley and Shipley beat 'em deep," said offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
On Sam Houston State's next drive, with 9:12 left in the third quarter, the Bearkats scored their only points of the game on a Taylor Wilkins field goal. The kick was low enough that you had to wonder, if Robison was playing, whether or not kick would have been be blocked. Regardless, the shutout was eliminated.
As the game continued, more and more players entered the game for Texas, including the back-up at punt returner, Quan Cosby. After a three-and-out, Sam Houston State once again sent their punter out. Punter Curtis Parks got the ball away this time, but had it taken back for a 55-yard TD return by Cosby.
"(Aaron) Ross was joking that I'm going to take his job," laughed Cosby after the game.
At this point the Texas offense started to make frequent use of non-scholarship players. Matt McCoy (no relation to Colt) came in at quarterback, his brother Mark McCoy came in at wide receiver, walk-on Antwaun Hobbs (all 5'7" of him) came in at running back, just to name a few.
Overall, the game was like an open practice. Everybody got involved, the Texas coach's showed little and most of the crowd was gone by halftime (however, an impressive number of fans did stick around, which Brown noted after the game). It will be quite a turnaround for the Longhorns to go from a D-1AA opponent to their heated rival, but that exactly what's going to happen when the Longhorns take on the Sooners at 2:30 on Saturday Oct. 7th.