More Than Circumstance

A lot of crazy things happened on Saturday that ended up costing Texas the game, but those crazy occurrences have much more to do with the quality of the team the Longhorns faced than sheer luck and coincidence.

Just like last season, a lot of crazy coincidences transpired to hand Texas a loss to Kansas State.

Despite scoring only two offensive touchdowns the entire game, the Wildcats put up 41 points on the Longhorns thanks to an interception return, a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown, as well as a couple of field goals. Texas actually had more rushing yards and more passing yards than K-State. The one stat where Texas was hurt the most was interceptions and two of those were on tipped passes.

But a closer look shows that these apparent crazy coincidences aren't just coincidences.

As a defense, the Wildcats played together. When the ball was picked off, 11 hats were turned downfield, looking for someone to hit. The defensive linemen had a great push off the ball, closing the walls around Colt McCoy and allowing them to keep their eyes up, looking for an opportunity to get a hand on the football. The defensive backs and linebackers stuck to their assignments and never gave an inch, breaking passes that looked like sure catches.

As an offense, the biggest advantage Kansas State had over Texas was in the offensive line. The Wildcat line certainly didn't play like the greatest to ever grace a football field, but they played together, moved the offense down the field and look awfully good when put up against the comparatively inexperienced and comparatively thin, made thinner by the loss of Adam Ulatoski for the second time this season, Texas O-line.

On special teams, kick and punt return played like precision units. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson and running back James Johnson did a spectacular job of following their blocks. Nelson was especially good at this, following behind two blockers with two men to beat and picking the right hole to allow his teammates to get in front on the right defender.

In all three phases of football, offense, defense and special teams, the Wildcats played as one team. When a team plays smart in all areas, those crazy breaks tend to fall their way much more often. Footballs seem to get tipped more and end up in their hands. Holes open up on offense. Receivers are make catches. A seam in the opposing coverage appears on a kick or a punt return.

It was a bad break for Texas in 2006 when McCoy was knocked out of the game with a neck injury, but that neck injury doesn't occur if Texas can manage to punch the ball into the end zone on first, second or even third down. It was another bad break this game when McCoy was knocked out, temporarily this time, with a concussion, but that concussion doesn't happen if the offensive line can keep him upright.

When you play as a team and each player executes his job, those bad breaks start happening a lot less often. Texas has the talent, but on Saturday Kansas State was the better team.

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