Culpepper's Commentary: Texas Tech Game

Just last week a well-meaning Longhorn fan came up to me and said, "John Chiles is the man. He should be the Texas quarterback." I asked him if he had watched the Oklahoma State comeback and he admitted he had left his television set with four minutes left in the third quarter.

I told him that was like church without the sermon. Minus Colt McCoy, Texas would be sitting with at best a 5-5 record. The Horns lose to Central Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and the Oklahoma game wouldn't have been close.

There are A&M fans that believe the Aggies have Colt McCoy's number. What they have in their minds is the confused, frustrated and physically brittle No. 12 that lost at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium last November.

Sooner or later the doubters will see past their preconceived notions about McCoy and realize that Greg Davis and Mack Brown have finally hitched their wagons to another star Texas high school winner. Colt's abilities are not as breathtaking as Vince Young's, and most probably the Longhorns won't make the big show (BCS) this season, but McCoy is, at this point in the Big 12 season, equal with Chase Daniel of Missouri as a playmaker at the signal caller position.

What I mean is Colt McCoy can not only pass like Harrell but he can make important rushing yardage. It has taken two years (23 games) of football for Greg Davis to realize Colt might not have the speed needed for the zone read but he should have the green light to run for first downs if openings in the rush lanes appear. Colt ran for 1,575 yards and 21 touchdowns in high school on 206 attempts. He's proven over the last few games that he is no stationary Chris Simms, and he's West Texas tough. It's when he's blind-sided in the pocket that the potential injury trouble comes.

What is fun to watch is how McCoy can maneuver and find an open receiver – sometimes throwing across his body. Give coaches Bobby Kennedy (wide receivers) and Bruce Chambers (tight ends) credit for their charges working back to Colt and getting in the clear. It is teamwork at the highest level.

Coach Brown is trying his best to make a case for Texas being a BCS team but the huge shadow of a 20-point home loss versus Kansas State is following him around like a cat with a tin can tied to its tail.

I agree with Brown that the Horns seem to have finally hit their stride. Against Tech, it was a tried and true Texas formula that took the Longhorns to a 28-20 halftime lead. Jamaal Charles ran inside and outside 20 times behind an impressive, physical offensive line charge. Twice Harrell had to warm up again on the Tech sidelines as Texas meticulously pounded the ball down the field.

For the second straight week the left side of the Texas line – Tony Hills and Charlie Tanner – hammered the defensive front. When Hills was injured, Chris Hall stepped in his place and continued the onslaught.

Coach Mac McWhorter's liberal use of substitutes on the offensive line has paid off. Tony Hills can't be replaced as far as size and experience but Chris Hall doesn't have time for worrying about that. Can Hall hold up against Texas A&M's defensive end Chris Harrington on Nov. 23? To be decided in the arena!

When you run 92 plays on offense and hold the ball for 40 minutes it is difficult not to win. Greg Davis and the Texas offensive staff must be credited with a solid game plan that started with the first half pounding followed up by a highly effective throwing game when Tech brought down its safeties in the second half.

I thought Texas Tech got two bad calls: a roughing the quarterback on Colt, where free safety Darcel McBath slung the Texas quarterback down as the whistle blew, that was questionable; and, from where I sat, Henry Melton's hit on Graham Harrell on the Texas sideline just after he had released the football. But that was on the same holding call play where Sergio Kindle was tackled by a Tech offensive lineman while rushing the passer. At the time, the score was 35-20, and a touchdown would have brought the Red Raiders again to within eight points.

Tech coach Mike Leach has in his estimation suffered for two years of bad officiating in games against Texas. That should make for an interesting game next year in Lubbock where it will be McCoy vs. Harrell, Round 3.

But I'm not sure Texas Tech can beat Texas under Mike Leach again until the Red Raiders solve their defensive problems and discover how to run the football with those wide line splits. Derek Lokey and Frank Okam, with a cast of a thousand substitutes it seemed, did a credible job of making Harrell move out of his comfortable pocket. Duane Akina did everything but use seven defensive backs to try to corral the red ant bed offense that Tech runs. The tackling was better except when freshman Michael Crabtree touched the football – he is Kevin Durant in shoulder pads! After Crabtree sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown after taking a 10-yard pass from Harrell, I had to remind a fan sitting directly behind me that he will be in Lubbock next season and not the NFL because college football coaches roadblocked that play-one-year-and-go-pro deal years ago.

Texas (9-2) and Texas A&M (6-5) relinquish center stage for a week and watch to see if Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and, for that matter, LSU and Oregon can remain in the top ranks of the BCS.

I'll have lots to say about UT vs. A&M next week.

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

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