Culpepper's Commentary: Texas Tech Game

I was wrong. I predicted an overtime win for Texas but after the first 15 minutes even overtime looked out of reach with the score Tech 21, Texas 0 to the utter delight and amazement of the record-breaking crowd of 56,158 red and black-shirted fans at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.

It could have been worse! The Longhorn defense was, as Darrell Royal would say, cut up like a "boarding house pie."

Playing a two-deep safety scheme which on the snap of the ball at times had the cornerbacks backpedaling making it a four-deep secondary, or "quarters" in defensive coaching terms, the Horns were absolutely ripped apart by inside crossing routes and deeper out patterns by Texas Tech.

The Longhorns tried to blitz but Tech quarterback Graham Harrell would dump the ball off. It was like the old Run and Shoot, 63-point wildfires of the Houston Cougar days.

A fumble by Jamaal Charles and a poorly thrown interception by Colt McCoy when Charles ran a read route off the Red Raider linebacker Fletcher Session helped Tech. Session was inside of Charles, so Jamaal turned outside but Colt, looking directly at what was happening, threw the pass right to Session who sprinted 19 yards into the Longhorn end zone with 1:04 left in the first quarter!

From the stands you could see that Texas could move the football but the big scoreboard at the south end didn't show any results. The "zero" by Texas looked huge.

The wind was a factor in the first half for sure. It allowed both teams to throw the deeper passes with accuracy, and as the clock ticked down at the end of the first quarter and the teams traded ends of the field, my buddy Max from Louisiana, who along with me and former Cleburne Longhorn Fred Sarchet were getting pounded by Texas Tech fans, had a chance to say, "Now, it's our turn" (in so many words).

Sure enough and just in time, Colt McCoy, whose Texas Tech girlfriend was in the stands, took the Longhorns on a 13-play, 80-yard drive in which the biggest play was a nine-yard third-and-seven pass to Quan Cosby from the Texas 23 yardline. Why was so big? Before the snap, the noise factor from the Red Raider faithful was at an all-time high. Bells ringing, stomping up and down and arm waving stuff.

Texas began to use short sprint out action and bootleg passes to move Colt around and it seemed to unlock the redshirt freshman, who has only lost to the No. 1 team in college football, Ohio State.

Max, Fred and I were happy for less than five minutes because Tech marched by air 77 yards, the big play being a 40-yard pass from Harrell to Jarrett Hicks from the Tech 20 yardline.

Our threesome had met Hicks' mother before the game on our way to the stadium after a tailgate where two bartenders were on hand to serve drinks in the beautiful 70-degree sunshine.

Mrs. Hicks was wearing her son's number on a jersey and told us she was proud that her son would graduate from Tech and was a very hospitable and sweet person in her own right toward Max, Fred, and I.

Perhaps we were like the Texas defense -- fooled by Tech's softness against TCU, Missouri and, of all teams, Colorado.

Tech fans during the tailgate were subdued and at best hoping for a good game, even after being served at the table by the bartenders!

I was beginning to think it was a set-up; they knew Mike Leach and his mad scientist ways better than we did and wanted to spring the trapdoor on Max, Fred and I, along with the Longhorn defense. It worked!

With 2:15 left in the half, McCoy uncorked a beautiful arcing pass to the Longhorns' home run receiver Limas Sweed for a 45-yard touchdown to make it Tech 24, Texas 21. Max, Fred and I are high fiving among the enemy.

"Not so fast," Mrs. Hicks must have said as Tech mounted a furious six-play, 80-yard drive with her son making an over-the-shoulder catch on a 30-yard bomb from Harrell. Tech 31, Texas 21 at halftime and Graham Harrell has thrown for 284 yards in two quarters of play!

Where have Max, Fred and I sinned to be hit with this kind of game for the second week in a row? Perhaps it was those margaritas in the Lubbock afternoon?

The only difference in the second half by the Texas defense that I could pick up from my viewpoint was a pre-snap defensive line shift which allowed the Longhorns to overload one side of the Tech protection, and some man-to-man with Michael Griffin deep as a free safety. Rather than wholesale adjustments, maybe it was simply an embarrassed and determined Longhorn defense that caused the second-half shutout.

On offense after the break, Texas used I-formation downhill running by Charles and Selvin Young to bleed the clock, some aggressive scrambling by Colt McCoy as well as a nice 28-yard touchdown pass from Colt to Cosby to end the scoring at Texas 35, Tech 31.

After the game, Max, Fred and I found Lyle Sendlein and buddy Kasey Studdard. These men have been in a two-week war and it showed.

To make it through the next three ballgames it will take lots of prayer, guts and hard play from veterans and substitutes, as well as loyal Texas fans working in the stands showing their support.

There will be no runaway victories versus Oklahoma State, Kansas State or Texas A&M.

It is all hands on deck, damn the torpedo action at Texas.

Forget the BCS. Beating Oklahoma State, coming off a sensational and impressive win over Nebraska, will be another fight to the last. I call it Texas 28, Oklahoma State 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 InsideTexas.com.


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