What a game.
My stomach was so upset before the game I couldn't eat or drink. After the game I was so full of adrenaline that I had to drink. Sailor Ripley began to feed me vodkas while he pounded Mexican beer (to his credit, the moment he opened his beer we went on a 25-7 run). My voice was hoarse from screaming at the television, the 7/10 parts vodka drinks stripped the remaining skin from my larynx, my hand was pulsing red from high fiving, and I was experiencing something approximating restless leg syndrome. I had also been threatening to throw various objects into Sailor's koi pond if we didn't win; when we won I continued to threaten to baptize objects in his koi pond. Vandalism is one of the few mechanisms by which a man can both grieve and exult. I appreciate the full range of catharsis provided by property damage.
Soon I began to methodically call friends and relatives to have the same conversation over and over:
TEXAS! Yes! What? No. I can't hear you either. Let's just yell at each other. I'm hoarse too. How did it look on TV? Uh, kinda like the game did in person...but we had replay. Exactly. Colt! Amazing! Yes, amazing. We never quit! No, we never quit - we had so much heart. Dude - what about Shipley and Cosby? If Jordan doesn't bring back the kickoff we, we....we....uhhhh. We lose? Yes! I think so! Absolutely. Orakpo! The dude dominated and they held him two dozen freaking times. Yeah, Bradford did really play well. Dude's a stud. So is Gresh...what? Oh, yes....absolutely...screw 'em. Shouldn't have left the home state. Except they're both from Oklahoma, actually. Still. They should have gone to Tulsa. Muckelroy! Best LB since DJ. Yeah, our defense got worked a little, but they never quit. Earl's INT was swee.....what? Oh, yes. Colt! Colt. Colt was awesome. Yes, and Shipley. Didn't we already talk about them?
I had this conversation a dozen times with a sense of euphoria coursing through my body that mocked heroin. Next week, I'll require another hit. Once I sobered up, I drove home to read headlines, watch ESPN, and confirm that we did indeed win. We did.
Oklahoma wasn't unmasked. That was a good football team. We - our team, our fans, our staff, the nation - just had our eyes opened. We're pretty damn good, OU has no mystical hold over Mack Brown, and the staff changes we made have raised the bar for every member of our staff and the accountability level of all of our players.
I came into this game with a pretty clear idea of how we'd have to play on offense and defense to beat Oklahoma. I wrote a prescription for victory found here and here. Chris Applewhite also had some really good thoughts, the primary summation of which is: attack OU in the middle of their secondary relentlessly. Good call. At the risk of immodesty, I freaking nailed it as well: the necessity of putting the game in Colt's hands, going four wides, playing Chris O all game, encouraging Colt to run, using the passing game to set up the running game, how OU's OL was overrated in run blocking, the necessity of keeping Quan and Shipley singled up by simple alignment tricks. What I didn't remotely nail was my ability to trust this staff to plan and implement same. In fact, I bricked. Mine was a crisis of faith. Doubting Thomas had to feel a resurrected Christ's wounds when he should have had just a little faith.
I've felt the wounds now and am fully committed.
It's time to witness. Let's start the revival.
Word to Greg D. This was a good game plan. A good game plan executed at near perfection by Colt McCoy. We spent 80% of the game in four & five wide and Shipley and Cosby abused Oklahoma's defensive backs. We involved Collins, Williams and Kirkendoll just enough. We took long shots a half dozen times and though we only hit two of them, that's all you need to get respect and create operating room. It's not an easy thing for a grown man to place his job in the hands of a twenty one year old but we trusted Colt. Additionally, GD's understanding of when to go to the running game was outstanding. The goalline call to Roy Miller (shades of Lokey in the Holiday Bowl) was an outstanding call. Greg can't catch it for them. It was also pretty clear that Davis instructed Colt to do some cadence work on OU's overly aggressive defense to draw them offsides. It worked and converted a couple of 3rd downs for us.
This was center Chris Hall's best game as a Longhorn. Nice job, Chris.
Colt was placing the ball through windows that belong on a doll house. I had a tremendous appreciation for Colt's play during the game. Rewatching the game late last night and today with a clearer head cemented that this was one of the best games I've ever seen from a Texas QB. Even two of the sacks I bemoaned were made comprehensible. Ball placement, ball placement, ball placement. Three inches right on Quan's 2nd quarter (6:47 mark) out route and it's a pick six. Two inches further up on Quan's two fly routes in the first half and they're incomplete. Time and again he hit receivers where they want the ball so that they can catch, turn, and head upfield for another five yards. His second half scrambles snapped OU's collective spine. Chris Ogbonnaya's final long run was the bloody coup de grace on Street Fighter II.
Our running game was set up by our passing game...and by Oklahoma's own offense. The pace of their no-huddle is a fantastic weapon but it cuts both ways. A friend of mine who was a Seal once told me that an instructor who taught them knife fighting told them,"Everyone gets cut up in a knife fight. It's a bloody mess. You have to be willing to get cut to inflict your own." This is an appropriate metaphor for Oklahoma's no-huddle. Except that their line depth is a switchblade and ours is a giant fuck-off machete. The pace they push is incompatible with the motor of some of their big OL when facing top flight competition and if your offense can stay on the field it places a lot of pressure on OU's defense - specifically their DL. Unfortunately for Oklahoma, the dropoff in quality from OU's DL starters to their subs is significant. Ours is not.
If we played Oklahoma ten times, we'd lose the first quarter eight times. We'd win the fourth quarter all ten. Oklahoma's pass rush died at the 5:00 minute mark of the 3rd quarter. Watch it and you'll just shake your head. Colt has a perfect pocket from then on and they lose containment every time he scrambles. They're just done. Cody Johnson's last two touchdown runs are similarly instructive. Each time, Huey and Hix cave in the entire left side of Oklahoma's defensive line. Every single OU player is pancaked. Every one. Cody strolls in like it's a spring constitutional. Demarcus Granger and Jeremy Beal are both buried and the LBs behind them end up in the back of the end zone. Consider Ogbonnaya's long run: he is led by Chris Hall and Cedric Dockery pulling. Uh, let me repeat that: center Chris Hall pulling. Folks, you can't pull your center on an outside run unless the defense is walking on legs made of boysenberry jelly. That play should go for -4. Davis saw what was happening to the OU defense and made a great call. Hall and Dockery leveled their assignments and Chris O made the football equivalent of a layup. That Oklahoma defense was done. If there was a fifth quarter, we would have scored four more touchdowns.
Let's talk about the interception where OU was robbed. Apparently, no one got robbed. It was upheld post-game by the Big 12 director of officials, despite what Lisa Horne and a number of Sooner fans think. The only difference is that Lisa understood the play was not decisive and some bad calls went both ways. Here's the deal: if you catch a ball in the air, you must demonstrate possession even after you land by holding on to it. By contrast, if you catch a ball, land on your feet, "make a football move", and are tackled and the ground causes the ball to squirt out, you're fine. You demonstrated possession. The key is that someone in mid-air cannot make "a football move." So the call was correct. That's not how it worked my backyard as a kid, but apparently them's the rules. See Drew Kelson's interception that wasn't in the Rose Bowl against SC.
Oklahoma's passing offense was impressive and Kevin Wilson's gameplan was excellent. Sam Bradford isn't the statue he is made out to be and OU had great success bootlegging Bradford and moving the pocket with half rolls. This is a nice way to deal with our DL's pressure - if you stand in a spot, we're going to calibrate our rush and unload. We also respected their running game early and it placed an impossible burden on our LB corps: check run, frozen by play action, sprint to flat to cover a TE or RB. Untenable. As we adjusted, OU murdered us in the interior WR screen game. Now at least of three of them were completely illegal, but if the officials aren't calling it, then we should have been running our own the same way.
What Oklahoma couldn't do was run the ball. 26 carries for 48 yards. DeMarco Murray had 7 carries for 7 yards. Their longest run from scrimmage was 13 yards. What we learned about Oklahoma's OL is something I've been saying since my pre-season preview: if you're talented, keep your pad level down, and have some depth, they're just a bunch of fat guys leaning on you. Center Jon Cooper is also a major weakness though he'll be 1st team All Big 12 in all of the postseason awards. Lazy ass writers. Although the list of players who played well is long, I'd ask that you watch Lamarr Houston, who will get no post-game press. He was going against a guy 50 pounds heavier than him who is 1st team All Big 12 and Houston won the day. Some of the plays he made from DT position (1st qtr 6:33 mark, 13:44 4th qtr) were just money. If it's possible to have a quiet but crucial five tackles, Lamarr had them.
My defensive players of the game are Brian Orakpo and Roddrick Muckelroy. Orakpo cost Phil Loadholt about four million dollars over three years and around one million in guaranteed signing bonus. Six tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, and at least a half dozen holding calls that could have been whistled. Now that we won, I could go back and view them for the comedy that they were. At the time, I was less inclined to laugh when Loadholt would tackle him. Muckelroy had another amazing game. This is the best LB we've had since DJ (he's actually a purer LB than Derrick) and his 14 tackles may have been underreported. He also has a real tendency to not just tackle so much as rearrange a person's entire brain function.
I can also go on about Blake Gideon's fearlessness, Earl Thomas' freakish athletic ability, Roy Miller's abuse of Jon Cooper, Sergio Kindle's knockout blows in the 4th quarter, or Aaron Williams getting in another of his signature slams (12:55 mark, 2nd qtr) and playing beautifully in relief of an injured Ryan Palmer, but the key point is that no one ever quit. We battled and we grew and the defense we'll see next week will be better than the week previous. 35 points did nothing to shake my confidence in Muschamp or the direction of this group.
Upon review, Deon Beasley does not welcome the more physical aspects of the game. On special teams or defense. If he's hurt I apologize for the observation. If he's not, he may be shocked to see how quickly guys who relish contact like Aaron Williams take his job next year.
Total domination. Aside from OU punter's Emmy nomination, that is.
The fake punt hustle exhibited by Curtis Brown, the Shipley KOR for a TD that restored our confidence, John Gold's consistent punting, and Hunter Lawrence extending his perfection to 7 of 7 on the year on field goals. Great effort all around.
We've got a rough road but a great team to make the journey with. Our flaws are obvious, but so now are our strengths. This team has a huge heart, an improving secondary, a dominant front 7, a Heisman level QB, and two of the most annoyingly shifty wide receivers in college football. Should be fun.
Trips has sobered up and opined.
Huck makes some friends from the north.
And PB @ BON has these post game thoughts.