We were wrong. The Nebraska comeback wasn't a fluke derivative from the nation's absolute worst run defense being tired in the fourth quarter, it was a turning point.
He's running different. He's running stronger and more confident, holding onto the football and making much better cuts and reads. Yes, he once again had just one huge quarter, but even heading into the fourth, Charles was already averaging 6.1 ypc in the game. Of course, his 125 in the final frame took that average up to a sick 11.2 for the game (180 on 16 carries) to go with his three touchdowns.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's 341 yards and five TDs on 20 carries (17.1 ypc)...in just the fourth quarters of the past two games.
Again, Texas came back, but Chalres also did it in a game he wasn't supposed to. Oklahoma State had the nation's 116th ranked pass defense heading into the contest. This was supposed to be the Texas Airshow, yet the Longhorns didn't have any real offensive success until they started running it.
Think about it, if Charles doesn't step up in the fourth these past two weeks, Texas is an unranked 6-4 football team.
Perhaps it wasn't just one great game. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come.
-Charles wasn't the only one who got it going on the ground. Colt McCoy had his first-ever 100-yard rushing game, running for 106 on 16 carries. 29 of those yards came on a play where it looked like McCoy was going to be pushed out of bounds, but instead he, astoundingly, throws a spin move and continues up the sideline. A spin move! Didn't know the boy had it in him.
-Oklahoma State came out fighting hard immediately. Texas head coach Mack Brown does talk about "surviving the surge", but it was more than just a "surge". It looked like the Cowboys wanted it more. Apparently, Brown noticed. After the first quarter, he went into a screaming tirade at his defense. It's the angriest I've ever seen Mack Brown, at least the angriest I've seen him at players. His screaming at the refs was reserved for the end of the second quarter, when the officials put two seconds back on the clock and OSU scored on the next play. That's college football, though. Those calls happen to you when you're on the road. You've got to deal with it and move on and the Longhorns did.
-Robert Killebrew received more playing time than any other linebacker. This is just getting stupid. And I like Kill. He's a genuinely nice guy, he just should not be a starting linebacker for the Longhorns, much less receiving more playing time than any other 'backer. He should be a fired-up senior backup who fans like because he's intense and fights hard, but just isn't that good. He should be Beau Trahan. He should be Michael Ungar. Instead, he's been turned into a vilified character in the Texas fan base. Much like Chris Simms, Killebrew isn't hated because of who he is, he's hated because of who he's starting in front of.
-Speaking of poor tackling, Texas must not really be into that whole tackling thing. It's probably just a fad anyway.
-At the start of the observation piece, I gave a lot of love to Charles, but it's also important to notice that there are finally holes to run through. But why would the offensive line be run blocking so much better? Simple: They're getting it. I've noted previously that zone-blocking schemes, which Texas uses almost exclusively for its run game, can open up some big runs if the team has an experienced offensive line that knows how read defenders and move them where they want to, but the problem with zone-blocking is if it's run by an inexperienced line, it can be disastrous and disastrous is what it was earlier in the season. Now, they're getting it. This line, which came into the season a very unseasoned unit, is getting zone-blocking.
-Here's a really random observation: the Oklahoma State ROTC was responsible for the T-shirt cannon. It did seem odd to see these guys in military fatigues running around with a T-shirt launcher, firing up the crowd, but it ended up being a marvelous idea because of their efficiency. Normally it's a mascot who can't see that well or some random skinny person who apparently lacks the motor skills required for properly loading the thing, resulting in the occasional misfire. These guys looked like they were loading mortar shells with precision. Quite amusing.
-The Texas linebackers got abused by Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The big TE led the Cowboys in receptions with eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, but the Longhorn's also found their tight end as well. Jermichael Finley led Texas with six catches for 79 yards and a TD of his own. Finley had the kind of impact that he needs to have for the Horns to keep winning.
-Late in the game, after yet another dropped center-quarterback exchanged, Texas replaced Chris Hall at center with Buck Burnette. Hall returned to guard, but he was visibly upset at himself for the miscues each time he had one. After Ryan Bailey's game-winning field goal and the Texas players stormed the field in celebration, center Dallas Griffin limped up to Hall on crutches. Hall turned to Griffin and had big tears streaming down his face. Griffin embraced his teammate and said, "way to keep fighting, way to keep fighting, Chris." Matt Nader put his hand on Hall's shoulder as the sophomore guard let it all out. It was an emotional win and you could see it in the faces of the players. They gave every last stinking bit of themselves to win that game.
Injuries: Dallas Griffin left the game in the first quarter with a right knee injury and was replaced at center by Chris Hall. Griffin initially went to the sideline, but later in the quarter a cart was brought over to the Texas sideline and trainers drove Griffin off the field. He eventually returned to the sidelines on crutches. Safety Drew Kelson left the game late in the second quarter with a leg injury. He was taken into the locker room and also returned in crutches. Linebacker Robert Killebrew left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, but returned. Defensive tackle Roy Miller left in the third quarter under his own power due to what appeared to be a leg cramp.