In the previous two games, it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Longhorns even got off the bus and started playing football. But against Texas Tech, the Horns were firing off from the get-go, even holding the Red Raiders to a three and out on their first possession, quite a rarity in this high-scoring series.
Tech was actually the team that made the biggest shift in the fourth, scoring 23 in the final frame after scoring only 20 in the first three quarters. Of course, Texas even topped the Raiders in that quarter as well, scoring 24 points to end the game. It was the best offensive showing from the Longhorns all season. The defense...well, not so much, but Colt McCoy and the O moved the ball all day.
One of the main reasons for this was Texas' success on third downs. UT is at just under 50 percent on the year (80-of-162) and on Saturday the Horns converted on 66 percent of their third down tries (12-of-18). In addition, on four of those six fourth downs, the Longhorns went for it and got it, going 4-for-4 on the day.
When Texas was just "surviving the surge", it was still winning games, but a team can't keep doing that without eventually getting bit. It wasn't even a concern against Tech, as the Horns flew up and down the field.
-Inside Texas was informed by a source that Longhorn left tackle Tony Hills suffered a broken fibula and is the third Texas senior this season to have his college career conclude because of an injury. With both Hills and senior center Dallas Griffin out, the offensive line of 2008 has become the offensive line of right now. This is where playing those freshmen in the early games will pay off.
-Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach must be a big fan of getting fined. After the game, the ever-vocal Leach said: "The officiating of this game was a complete travesty." He even called out a specific official for living in Austin. Whiny? Petty? Oh yeah, but I'll give him this, the officiating wasn't great. It wasn't a "complete travesty", and the plays he was most upset about were actually good calls, but there were a few that should have gone the other way. Rashad Bobino's interception sure looked like pass interference to me, for example, but Leach is in no position to complain. None. You are not allowed to complain about officiating if your defense gave up 59 points. Handle your business.
-Speaking of missed calls, I'm honestly impressed with Michael Crabtree's ability to hide his shoves. He's already got a Limas Sweed-level push-off move that is just enough to get separation, but not so much that he gets flagged. It usually takes a receiver a couple years to figure out that in college they're usually not going to call that. Crabtree, and his nine catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns, showed that he's not just a product of the system. He's the real deal.
-And speaking of receivers, Jordan Shipley is back. I noted after Texas' win in Stillwater that the move he put on Oklahoma State defensive back Jacob Lacey on his 60-yard reception was something I hadn't seen him do since high school. Just like on the toe-tappin' touchdown to start the game against Texas Tech, Shipley is finally doing the things that made him the second-leading receiver in the history of American high school football. Shipley's recent performances, like many things we've seen from this team recently, sets up well for next season...if he can stay healthy, that is.
-I was not in the press box for this game, that honor went to IT lead writer Bill Frisbie. I was instead in the seats, sitting with a friend who happens to be a Sooner. He commented on how impressed he was with the atmosphere at DKR, which is unfortunately not a comment that's given often. But he'd never seen Godzilla-tron and the last time he went to a Texas home game, the north end zone seats were a mile away from the field. The fans were (mostly) excited all game and it really did feel like a senior day. It's not perfect, of course, but the feel is improving, in my estimation, anyway. I did, however, get my first "Hey, sit down" from a Texas fan. That was nice. All-in-all, though, not bad.
-With 174 yards on the ground, Jamaal Charles moved up into sixth place on Texas' all-time rushing list. He now has 3,075 yards, passing Roosevelt Leaks (2,923 - 1972-74). He also got his 174 being hurt for a good portion of the second half. If Charles runs all of next year with the same speed, power and attacking style that he has these last three games, he'll leave Texas considered one of the best running backs to ever wear the Burnt Orange. It's a big 'if', but it's looking more and more like a possibility each game.
-Junior running back Chris Ogbonnaya is settling nicely into his role as the Longhorn's third down back. His time spent as a wide receiver has helped his hands for catching the ball out of the backfield. His time spent as a fullback has helped his blocking. His role, finally, is starting to define itself.
-It was good for McCoy that this offensive line was playing poorly at the start of the season. It wasn't good for the Longhorns, but it was good for McCoy. During his record-setting 2006 season, the then-freshman quarterback got quite comfy behind a senior-heavy offensive line. At the start of this season, McCoy looked bewildered and not sure how to handle the pressure. Now, he's become much more savvy in the pocket and a very legitimate running threat. I commented last week on the spin move he threw down against Oklahoma State, but I wasn't ready for the double spin move he gave this week on one of his two touchdown runs. The additional pressure felt behind a developing offensive line has forced McCoy to learn how to be almost Brett Farve-like to get himself, and the Longhorns, out of jams and keep hope alive for Texas.