Stepping Up

Trailing 10-0 at halftime against TCU, things were looking bleak for the Longhorns. But then Texas was finally able to do what separates the good football teams from the great ones.

This is what great football teams do. They adjust.

For four and a half games, including the wins over Iowa and Arkansas State, Texas looked flat. In the first half against the Horned Frogs, it was more of the same and the collective grumbling from Texas fans was starting to get louder. Colt McCoy, who had only seven interceptions all of last season, already had four midway through the second game. Texas couldn't move the football in the first half. The Longhorns had less than 100 of total offense and Jamaal Charles only had 41 yards rushing. And the penalties, oh Lord, the penalties.

At this point, the Horns looked like they weren't going to be anything more than a mediocre football team.

But Texas, and especially the reinvigorated McCoy, came out guns blazin' in the second half. It started with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Nate Jones and ended with Texas walking off the field at DKR 34-13 winners in a battle of the top two teams in Texas.

There were plenty of indications that the Horns were not going to be able to pull off the turnaround, chief among them being injuries. Charles hurt his shoulder on the last play of the second quarter, but bounced back to finish with 136 yards on 22 carries, becoming the first player to rush for over 100 yards against TCU in 21 games. Adam Ulastoski broke his arm (pending examination it is listed as a right elbow injury, but it sure looked broken to me), but sophomore Chris Hall, who has now played center, guard and tackle for Texas this year, moved over to tackle and gave McCoy sufficient protection to get the job done. Tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a severe leg cramp and was forced to leave. In stepped Peter Ullman, who provided great blocking and sure hands on a key out route. True freshman Blaine Irby also got into the mix and showed some great fire.

And that fire was also key in Texas' comeback/blowout. True emotion and fire was something that we just weren't seeing from the Horns on a consistent basis. That changed in the second half against TCU. This was especially true on the defensive side of the ball, where Longhorn defenders provided some of the biggest hits we'd see in a while from Texas. Roddrick Muckelroy, Jared Norton, Erick Jackson...heck, even freshman Sam Acho joined the heavy hitters club.

The second half of the opener against Arkasnas State was troubling, to say the least, because there was no change in performance, whether it be from the players or the coaching staff. But this game Texas showed both intelligence and heart in the second half. On three of Texas' first four possessions in the game, the Longhorns went three and out. On three of Texas' first four possessions in the second half, they scored.

Even the special teams looked sharp. In the first half, Ryan Bailey had his first field goal miss at Texas, bouncing a 42-yard kick off the left upright (or was it the right upleft? No, I had it right. It was left.) In the second half, Bailey nailed two field goals and hit all of the Horns' extra points. Brandon Foster scored a touchdown off a muffed punt. It wasn't your typical muffed punt, with the punter muffing the snap, but Texas capitalized. The Longhorns also capitalized when James Henry recovered a fumbled ball on a kickoff. The ensuing drive ended with a one-yard Vondrell McGee touchdown.

The Texas coaching staff made the necessary adjustments at halftime and players came out and executed brilliantly with fire and emotion. That's what great football teams do and in the second half against TCU, Texas was a great football team.

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