Culpepper's Commentary: Kansas State Game

One thing about this football game is that Texas made thousands of people happy!

The thousands in purple that flooded the field when Wildcat quarterback Josh Freeman took a knee with seconds left on the game clock, thousands of Oklahoma fans who suddenly and unexpectedly have a legitimate shot at the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 2, and thousands of Texas A&M supporters who saw the Longhorn defense cut up like John Mackovic had returned as head football coach on the Forty Acres.

In just over three minutes of playing time in the third quarter, Texas bowed out of national championship contention for the season. With the score tied at 21 and the Horns driving for the possible go-ahead touchdown, the football was knocked loose from Jamaal Charles and three plays later K-State threw a, get this, tailback pass for 28 yards that was followed by a wide receiver reverse pass for an 18-yard leaping touchdown grab to make it 28-21. Two Texas offensive plays later, Selvin Young was stripped of the football and Limas Sweed stood like a statue watching the hungry Wildcats recover. The very next play Freeman goes deep to a wide open Yamon Figures 30 yards into the Texas end zone to make it 35-21. Then, the Horns went three and out and on fourth down a rusher came free up the middle of the Texas punt protectors and blocked the punt. Two plays later, a 20-yard pass put the Wildcats at the Longhorn 1-yardline, allowing Freeman an easy sneak on the next play to make it 42-21.

Texas fought back but a 51-yard K-State field goal with the wind at the their back turned effectively put the game out of reach the Longhorns into losers for the second time this year.

I had predicted before the season that Texas would lose two games, but my guess was Ohio State and Nebraska or Texas Tech, not K-State!

After the convincing win over Oklahoma State, I thought that Texas was on a roll of top-notch football, and the first drive in Manhattan -- 80 yards in 14 plays taking up 6:58 of the game clock -- was a masterpiece engineered by Colt McCoy. A masterpiece except, of course, when Texas got inside the K-State 3-yardline.

The Longhorns power game was non existent. The smaller Wildcat linemen and linebackers denied Selvin Young a touchdown and it took a fourth-down Colt McCoy sneak to get the score. Trouble is, McCoy took a helmet to the right side of his neck as he stretched across the goalline and it would be his last play of the chilly night.

I talked to Colt's father Brad after the game and he said his son had a "stinger" (a diagnosis confirmed by the UT trainers Monday). Most of the time these type of injuries last only a short time and then you're ready to play but this one seemed to keep Colt from being able to take a full release when he threw the football.

Did losing McCoy after such a fine drive hurt Texas?

Absolutely, but this was a football game and that means contact; it was not a badminton match.

Jevan Snead wasn't ready for this type of pressure -- how could he be? The Texas staff had seen fit to leave him on the bench in games where he could have gained valuable experience leading the Texas team. To his credit, Snead did enough to lead Texas to a victory had it not been for turnovers and a defensive secondary turning to Jello again.

Tony Hills at left offensive tackle got out-quicked by the defensive ends of K-State and wrecked havoc on Snead. It was interesting watching Hills back up and then get pushed and beaten to the inside. First time I've seen it this season.

I couldn't understand why the Longhorns didn't go with their I formation offense with two wideouts for Snead, using a fullback lead blocking with the O-line coming off the football to set up easier play action passes as well as run the ball more effectively. I don't think K-State could have put two defenders on Limas Sweed and it would also have given Texas max pass protection with Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young running downhill.

The complex throwing game which Colt McCoy could and was operating was too much for Snead in his first time in such a role at the college level.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what has happened to the Texas secondary. Aaron Ross dropped a sure touchdown interception with the score 7-7. Michael Griffin has to be driving the Longhorn coaches nuts with his inconsistent play. In the first half he seemed lost on the deep passes and missed several tackles but in the second half he blocked a punt and intercepted a pass.

If it was up to me, I would have the four secondary players back pedal on the snap determining run or pass before they commit so quickly. The play action stuff that is killing Texas is designed for overly aggressive play from the secondary. Kansas State scoring 45 points in unacceptable. The Texas defense handed this game (and any opportunities for a repeat trip to the national championship game) to Kansas State on a silver platter.

Except for Griffin's punt block, Texas' kicking also game helped K-State's miraculous victory efforts. Cornerback Ryan Palmer ran into the Wildcat punt returner twice and drew 15 yard penalties. A 54-yard punt return was also thrown in the mix by the Longhorn punt coverage team.

At tailgate parties before the game, Wildcat fans were subdued in their outlook, a "good game" was all they hoped for. The football game wasn't a sellout because K-State fans expected a blowout!

There are simply no excuses for this Texas team playing so badly; don't blame the coaching staff. When Colt McCoy went down, the Texas team didn't pick up their intensity. End of story.

There is a week and a half to rest, prepare and dedicate themselves to the best effort of the year against Texas A&M. With or without Colt McCoy, it makes no difference -- at least it shouldn't -- to the Texas defense.

To have worked so hard and come from behind against Nebraska and Texas Tech as well as Oklahoma to achieve such an opportunity and blow it is an indictment of the leadership on the football team, the players themselves, and particularly the Longhorn defense.

The Friday after Thanksgiving will be a game about character and it will take everything the Texas team can muster to beat this Texas A&M team. I call it 24-21 Texas.

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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