It only took one play.
With Colt McCoy's 58-yard TD strike to Jordan Shipley on Texas' first play of the game, the Longhorns started rolling and never slowed down in a 56-3 blowout of Gene Chizik's Iowa State Cyclones. Texas threw early and often, racking up 138 passing yards in the first quarter, compared to only five yards on the ground in the first frame. Texas head coach Mack Brown said that he doesn't care how his team gets the yards, he just wants to score points.
"We've decided we're going to do whatever gets points," said Brown. "If everybody's going to spread out, we're going to run it. If everybody's going to wad up, we're going to throw it and we're going to throw it every time and not worry about it."
With the win over Iowa State (1-6, 0-3 Big 12), Texas (5-2, 1-2 Big 12) snapped a four-game conference losing streak, but Brown said the four "consecutive" losses aren't a concern for him or his team.
"That's a farce because it's two different teams," said Brown. "You talk about last year's team and this year's team. We're just glad to get back on track."
Texas got back on track with a conference win against an Iowa State team that's still searching for a Big 12 victory of its own. The storyline heading into the game was how much of an impact Chizik's knowledge of Texas would have on the outcome.
Not much, it would seem. After the game, Chizik thanked his former boss for not making things worse.
"I knew he (Brown) didn't enjoy today. He means everything to me. He could of made that a lot worse. He's all about class and character," said Chizik of his former boss.
Brown said he, indeed, did not enjoy pounding his friend's team into the turf at Jack Trice stadium.
"The only thing that's bad about today is Gene Chizik was on the other side. We care a lot about him and want him to do well," said Brown.
Brown also attributed Iowa State's loss to the Longhorn's focus after losing to Oklahoma the week before.
"He (Chizik) caught us today right after Oklahoma when we needed to get back on track and we had a hot hand and we played today better than I've seen us play in a long time," said Brown.
McCoy had his strongest outing of the season, completing 23-of-30 for 298 yards and four touchdowns and also churning up 55 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The sophomore quarterback echoed his coaches' comments about the need for focus after a loss to the Sooners.
"Last week we felt like we played really well, had some bad breaks, and to come out this week and not turn the ball over and get turnovers on defense was really important," said McCoy.
Texas finally won the turnover battle, recovering a fumble and snagging two interceptions while not turning the ball over once in the ballgame. One of the biggest plays of the game came in the third quarter on a Bret Meyer interception, when cornerback Brandon Foster jumped the route and took the ball 39 yards to the house.
"They'd been running a lot of short routes all game and as the game goes on you get a feel for the receivers," said Foster. "I just felt it and looked at the quarterback's eyes on the receiver and he threw it and I was able to make a good break on the ball."
Iowa State's senior QB had a rough game, completing 17-of-33 passes for only 111 yards. Along with his two interceptions, Meyer, known for being a dual-threat quarterback, was held to only three yards on two carries. Defensive coordinator Duane Akina said generating turnovers was the primary focus in practice this past week and his D converted on some opportunities, but still needs to create more.
"I've always thought those takeaways come in bunches, many times, and I still felt we had a lot of opportunities today that we have to finish," said Akina
Brown agreed that the "bunches" of turnovers need to start happening.
"They say they come in bunches and we're sure ready. We've got plenty of room for them," Brown.
Akina also told Inside Texas after the game that he made some adjustments to stop Iowa State from converting on third down, something the Cyclones were having relative success with in the first half, and it shows in the stat line. ISU had 11 first downs before halftime, but only three the rest of the contest. Akina credited much of that to his defensive backs taking the Cyclones' star receiver, Todd Blythe, out of the game.
"We played a little more Cover Two so we didn't have people in one-on-one situations as much and had some guys over to help, understanding that when you're 6-6, everybody's a smaller corner," said Akina.
Blythe was held to 37 yards on only three catches. However, it was a great day for the Texas receivers. Shipley, Quan Cosby and Billy Pittman all had big catches in Limas Sweed's absence, but the biggest day of any receiver on the field was had by senior Nate Jones.
Jones, who's been a favorite target of McCoy all season, churned up the Cyclone secondary to the tune of seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came on Texas' first drive of the second half and it was on one of the most impressive and unlikely plays you'll ever see.
It was 2nd and 15 from the Iowa State 20. McCoy dropped back to pass and found an ISU defender immediately in his face. The quarterback took a hit and fell, but caught himself with his left hand before his rear touched the turf, spun away from another tackle as he was getting up and hit Jones on a 20-yard TD pass with the senior wideout standing flat-footed in the back of the end zone.
"Somebody leaped through and got me and I'm not sure how I stayed on my feet," said McCoy. "That's a blur. I don't remember really anything after that. And I was on the ground and I heard everybody cheer and I thought I threw an interception and I thought, 'Man, I'm gonna get chewed out when I get back to the sideline.'"
The game also presented a huge opportunity for Texas to get some playing time for its freshman back-ups and they got in very early. Midway through the second quarter, with Texas only leading 14-3, an offense comprised entirely of freshmen marched out onto the field, led by true freshman QB John Chiles.
The freshmen made occasional appearances throughout the game and the fourth quarter was entirely a youth movement. With the game so out of reach and Texas wanting to kill the clock, Chiles didn't get to show off his arm much, throwing one pass, which fell incomplete, but the freshman QB led Texas in rushing, carrying the ball nine times for 58 yards and a touchdown.
The Horns ran the ball very little in the first half and gave starting running back Jamaal Charles the rock only seven times. Charles got 44 yards and a touchdown in the blowout, but Brown said that Charles, and every other play on the Texas roster, better not be worried about stats.
"We told our players we're not going to have any selfishness, so don't start looking at their stats because one game you may have 200 yards rushing and the next game you may not touch it. We're into winning. We're not into who's getting the ball," said Brown.
Texas continues conference play next week at Baylor. Game time has not yet been set for the Horns' contest against the Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
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