Moral Victory?

Changes on defense, Charles' gaffs, Jermichael Finley's breakout half, his subsequent disappearance and more. Inside Texas' Ross Lucksinger gives his observations from Texas' 28-21 loss to Oklahoma.

Moral victory isn't a term I'm fond of using, ever. But there was much of Saturday's game that can be taken as one. It was a loss, but it was also the best four quarters of football we've seen from the Longhorns all year and indicates that Texas could very well go on a run in the Big 12 conference and end up back at the Cotton Bowl on January 1st, in all likelihood.

None of this changes the fact that the Horns have now lost four consecutive conference games for the first time in Mack Brown's tenure at Texas and are hanging on the precipice falling from the Top 25, which UT has been in for a 115 straight weeks of football. But the Longhorns get to take the next two weeks off to reevaluate and work through things (sorry, I mean play Iowa State and Baylor) and they very well could make the Big 12 Championship game. This has been an astoundingly crazy year in college football and it's not impossible that a team with two conference losses could still make it to San Antonio. Of course, the Horns aren't in the driver's seat, nor do they deserve to be, but there is hope.

I'm just telling you there's a chance.

Game Observations

-We saw more of Roddrick Muckelroy, Jared Norton and Sergio Kindle, which is a very good thing. In general, we saw Texas, from a coaching standpoint, not make a lot of the mistakes that it normally makes against Oklahoma. The Kansas State loss might have a lot to do with it. Typically, after the Horns suffered a loss to OU, a lot of changes that need to be made before the game finally happen. A couple examples of this are Cedric Benson getting his first start the week after Oklahoma and the annual opening of the playbook against a hapless post-Sooner opponent. On Saturday, we saw many young players who should be playing actually playing. There were even ones that didn't get a lot of notice but who still helped the Horns, like when Michael Huey checked in a guard to give a different look on the offensive line when the protection was having issues. K-State was a wake-up call for Texas in many respects. True, Arkansas State, TCU and Central Florida should have also been that wake-up call, but we did see some necessary changes. Not all that we needed to see, but some good changes.

-All-in-all, a solid game from a play-calling standpoint from offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Kansas State was a game that started out well-called, but the Texas coaching staff quickly disappeared into its shell from an offensive stand-point. We sew inventive, well-called drives that built momentum. There were too many execution problems (holding onto the football, for example) that killed that momentum, but Davis didn't do a bad job of getting his players in position to be successful.

-Speaking of inventive, I really liked the use of offensive tackle Tray Allen on kick-offs. One of the reasons he was ranked as the top offensive lineman in the country coming out of high school was his quickness, so he can move, and putting him in the middle makes it a lot harder to bust the wedge. I do not envy the gunner that has to run down the field and throw his body into the 310-pound OT. It's a simple matter of Newton's laws of motion:
1.An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by a net force.
2.Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration.
3.To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Something tells me Allen will be the object that remains in motion.

-Jamaal Charles...oi. Hate to say it, but he took at least seven and probably 14 points off the board. You can be the fastest running back in the game, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't hold onto the football. I'm not saying he should be removed from the position, but he's not a 20-25 carry back. He's more effective when both he and the defense are fresh than we both he and the defense are tired because he starts to have even more trouble holding the ball (although he also had a fumble on the first play against Rice). If he's fresh, he can hit his top speed more easily and out-run defenders in the open field. Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya need to start taking more of the load.

-Get Jermichael Finley the ball. A lot. Perhaps the most effective mismatch in all of football is a great tight end. Too big for a DB, too fast for a linebacker. Finley had four catches for 149 yards and a touchdown, becoming the first tight end in the history of Texas football to have two catches for 50-plus yards...ever, not just in the same game. But Finley disappeared after halftime. He had a vast majority of Texas' yards in the first half, but Texas stopped throwing the ball to him, which seemed very strange, even given OU's adjustments in coverage. However, there is a justification for Texas going away from Finley. If a defense is doubling down on the tight end, that opens up a lot of other options. In that situation, Finley splitting out or moving out on a pattern could potentially take both a safety and a linebacker out of the box, which could make things much, much easier for the running game. Although Texas should have gone to Finley even with the tighter coverage -- we've seen him take the ball away from multiple defenders plenty of times before -- it was more a matter of Texas not being able to take as much advantage of its other weapons.

-Frank Okam's statistics cannot do him justice. He only registered four tackles, but he had an absolutely dominant game. The only time the Sooners could get any rushing yards is when they got to the outside. Every time they went up the middle, the OU runner was staring a charging Okam in the face. Even on plays when he didn't get the tackle, he redirected the runner to another Longhorn (assuming that player was in position). He made a lot of money on Saturday because he'll be moving up a lot of teams' draft boards when their scouts bring back film of this game.

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