Culpepper's Commentary: Oklahoma Game

It took six football games to put this team together but it finally happened. The Longhorns looked and played like a good football team Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.

In the October issue of the Inside Texas magazine, my article pointed out the maturing of both Bob Stoops and Mack Brown as coaches and how the Oklahoma-Texas football games would become close, hard-fought, classic battles in the coming years and this one most certainly was.

I applaud the Texas team, the coaching staff, the Texas band and the Texas fans for putting forth such energy and effort versus the Sooners. It was the best-played Texas-Oklahoma game on both sides I have seen in the Mack Brown era.

The Texas offensive line stepped up and gave Colt McCoy time to throw. The Sooners got to McCoy several times but not enough to stop the Longhorns from putting Oklahoma's No. 10 ranking in serious jeopardy.

Texas tight end Jermichael Finley was the key in beating the Sooners cover two secondary scheme. Greg Davis finally decided to throw deep into the middle of that coverage using the wideouts to spring up the field, occupying the twin safeties. Finley versus the Sooner linebackers was no match during the first half.

But an injured Limas Sweed couldn't match Oklahoma receivers Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias. Sweed's biggest contribution to the game was forcing a safety to overlap on him and blocking downfield; those things will be missed for the rest of the season.

Quan Cosby is the Longhorn that set the standard for this game with his outstanding effort on kickoff and punt returns. His three pass receptions were in heavy traffic and he took big hits as he held onto the football.

And Credit Davis for simplifying all those hand signals from Colt McCoy to the Texas receivers; it was wasted motion and costs momentum.

Texas even tried to run the football but face it, Jamaal Charles doesn't compare to either of Oklahoma's backs, Allen Patrick or DeMarco Murray. It's not his fault since Jamaal is not a bruising runner and that's the role he is put in by the Texas run scheme. And his fumble on the Oklahoma four yard line was a great defensive play by Sooner linebacker Curtis Lofton. It was the defensive play of the game and was the reason this wasn't an overtime football game.

There were great defensive plays in this game by Texas from Frank Okam, Derek Lokey, Lamarr Houston; even linebacker Scott Derry played hard and mad. And Aaron Lewis is a warrior in the Brian Robison mold who will be missed until he's able to return from his fractured elbow.

But Rashad Bobino's missed tackle on DeMarco Murray's 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter which broke a 14-14 tie game was a crucial play that a middle linebacker must make. Bobino had played with a solid effort up to that point but he dove at Murray's legs and missed and the big back outran the Texas secondary to the end zone.

The Texas secondary was hurt early when safety Marcus Griffin took the wrong angle on deep passes but as a group the defensive backs fought their hearts out to keep Texas in this game.

And what a difference punter Justin Moore makes for the Longhorn defense. The punt coverage team was excellent and it affected the field position that the Sooner offense had to go for scores. Why didn't the Texas coaches try Moore in the Central Florida and Rice games?

Finally, radio station WWLS out of Oklahoma City set up their broadcast headquarters near the area where the bands march down the street to the Cotton Bowl and Mack Brown was castigated by the radio talking heads for his intention of playing Colt McCoy. The headset-wearing talkers even described Colt as a fragile athlete who had seen his better days. "He's a mental case now" is the way they put it.

Let's be clear here: Mack Brown is just like any other coach; the medical staff informs him of the situation on a player and the coaches follow that advice. And Colt McCoy was no "headcase", throwing 26 passes with 19 completions for 324 yards into one of college football's best secondaries. (Note: Colt did not throw an interception; Jamaal Charles had a mid-air miscue of a perfect checkdown pass that because of Charles, not Colt, was intercepted by Oklahoma's outstanding defensive back Reggie Smith.)

So I believe Texas now has it together as a football team and their goal should be a 10-2 regular season record. And I also believe they'll take the first step this weekend versus Iowa State. I call it Texas 38, Iowa State 17.

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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