I can't think of a more dominating half of football. Let's get into it.
Our QB is a 28 year old Joe Montana Quantam Leaped into a Texas uniform. There, I said it. When your QB goes 29 of 32 with two batted balls and a drop, throws with the accuracy of an English dart pro, uses his mobility in a way that suggest bored contempt for the frenetic blitz trying to thwart the pre-determined certainty of a 14 yard gain, and runs the offense with the ruthless calculation of Jackie Onassis on a honeymoon with a Greek shipping magnate, I'll play the Joe Montana card. He's completing over 80% of his passes on the year. I don't even know how to respond to a statistic like that. It's like a major league baseball player hitting .477 at the All-Star break; a NBA guard shooting 65% from the floor. It's like Doperbo showering on consecutive week days. Barring disaster, Colt McCoy clearly deserves the Heisman. Throw in the hot girlfriend and I'll go out on a limb and suggest that Colt is enjoying his college years.
This year our WRs have been doused in Lester Hayes' levels of stickum the way Henry James sports CK One. Before this particular game our WRs bathed in industrial adhesive like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel luxuriating on a decomposing squirrel carcass. You can't complete >80% of your passes in the short and intermediate passing game without studs willing to take the hit and make their QB look good. Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby were their consistently awesome selves, but the stat lines contributed by Brandon Collins (6-76), Malcolm Williams (1-32-1 td) and Dan Buckner (1-51-1 td) are the reason we're about to go from dangerous to illegal as a passing offense. Collins has turned in his pledge pin with Phi Kappa Ketcha and he's fully active. Colt trusts him. His 38 yard hot route against the Tiger blitz was a Tijuana hot plate served up on Missouri's last vestiges of hope. I'm sure opponents are looking forward to covering one more sticky-fingered shifty sonofagun. Malcolm Williams and Dan Buckner represent something different entirely. They are the artillery to our snipers. You can roll them up and blow stuff down. And you only need to fire them a couple of times a game to feel their impact. If the light continues to turn on for either - or both - defenses are going to get it.
Who knew that one of the great benefits of the 4 WR set was that it would substantially increase the quality of our running game? Quality is the key word here. Teams are terrified to load up the box on us and when they do, it's clear that Colt has the autonomy to get us into a good play. We've created space, our zone play can breathe, Colt is running the zone read with confidence, we ran a beautiful little counter trey(ish) that sprang Vondrell for 20 on his carry, DL penetration has been throttled to sporadic, and our backs are running with decisiveness and effort. It's plant and go and that's what running the football is all about.
One observation: if you want to impress your friends, I can help you to predict a Texas running play with about 85% accuracy. How? Anytime we're in 2nd and short. We've trended to this for a while, but this year it's really pronounced. I noticed it early in the year and tried it in the OU game with Sailer Ripley. I think I went 9 for 9. That trend continued in the Missouri game with one exception (a three yard hitch audible). I'm not sure why we do this since 2nd and short is the freest of all downs, but that's how we're rolling. Have fun with it and win some bar bets.
I'm incredibly proud of Chris Ogbonnaya's performance and some of the decisions he made in our running and passing game - 133 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs speak to his efficacy - but the most encouraging statistic from the game was found in the performances of Vondrell McGee & Fozzy Whitaker (they combined for 8 carries for 78 yards). Their performance speaks to the fact that's it not about the guy carrying the ball - it's about the guys in front of them and the execution level of the schemes that we're running from. System and execution, not some magical guy. That's your takeaway from the game, Sports Fans. It's amazing how those changes allow our perceptions to shift from having a team with no good backs to a team with four.
After I rewatched the game on DVR I realized our OL was far more dominant than I'd realized watching it real time and I thought they were pretty good real time. Charlie Tanner had his best game as a Longhorn - he's our most mobile OL - and Chris Hall played his second consecutive game at a high level. God bless you, Chris. Keep it up. Adam Ulatoski is a first team All-Big 12 tackle at this juncture of the season - at least in pass protection. I'm also pretty sure that our interior OL platooning is wearing down DTs like your girlfriend's requests to see Rent. This group's growth from Game 1 to Game 7 has been awesome and I see no reason for it to stop.
Our front operated on the same premise of why most Sooner fans stuff with a sock: show six, deliver three.
When Will Muschamp physically crawled into Nolan Brewster's ass after Nolan blew consecutive assignments on a Missouri pity drive late in the 4th quarter while we were still up by infinity and Nolan had the temerity to half-jog off of the field, I was immediately reminded why this team is so different. Akina feeds off of Muschamp like a pirahna and their double ass-chewings were a sight to behold. For reference: see also their sideline greeting for Rashad Bobino when he feebly dove at Washington's feet as Missouri scored on their opening 2nd half drive. I was equally pleased to see him bathe good plays with love and to also spend most of his time on the sideline teaching with a white board. The idea of the ranting Muschamp is way overdone. The guy is very, very, very intelligent and he is first and foremost a teacher and technician. Every rep is a chance to get better and if you don't want to buy-in, Muschamp is happy to coat you in tinfoil and bury you in the depth chart in a place so deep that a metal detector can't find you. If you're not pulling for Tennesse and Auburn every weekend like a maniac so we can keep this guy, you is one serious fool.
Muschamp is right that statistics are for losers. Conside that Orakpo, Miller, Melton and Orakpo combined for only six tackles on the game. Read that in a box score and you'd think it was Missouri that had 56 on the board. Our DL dominated and the only statistic that remotely does them justice for what they accomplished getting pressure rushing only 3 or 4 on 85% of our snaps, destroying the run, and protecting our secondary, is the giant W on the scoreboard. We had automatic stunts on any Missouri wide split set and we got pressure around the corner when they went conventional. This is the best DL in America. Believe it. No other DL in college football is asked to stop the run, consistently get pressure with 3 or 4, defend the screen game, and play with intensity on every down the way that this one is.
Muckelroy is the best LB at Texas since DJ and the glue that holds us all together. What a consistent player - Muschamp has clearly tabbed him as our clean-up guy and a half dozen times a game he's asked to make a an open field tackle on a skill player that if he missed we'd be in some grief. I'm still waiting for his first miss. He's playing at an All-American level. Jared Norton had his best game as a MLB. Sergio is now as much of a known quantity on a week-to-week basis as Miller or Orakpo. Pretty high praise for a kid that was supposed to be a DISD flake. My only prayer is that we get to see what a senior Sergio Kindle looks like in 2009 rather than see him settle for a 2nd - 4th round draft pick this year.
Ryan Palmer had a solid game that could have been great if he'd finished the deal on a sure Pick 6. Blake Gideon lit Coffman up on the sideline. Chykie Brown was dominating and losing him in the 2nd quarter to a tweak was as substantial a loss to our defense as losing a Kindle. That's how important he has become. He's our best cover corner and we need to get him healthy and glue him to Dez Bryant. Curtis Brown showed some growing pains, but he checks out athletically. For a skinny sprinter, he showed little reservation in sticking his nose in there on Chase Coffman in the flat and in run support. I would like to write something similar for Deon, but I'll pass. Forgive my unabashed Aaron Williams love, but when things got chippy at the end I wasn't surprised to see #4 trying to fight the entire Missouri OL. When you combine that sort of athletic ability with an attitude, you get an eventual All-American. It's just a matter of time. Nolan Brewster was out of his depth as he was against Arkansas. I'd expect Scott and Wells to cement 2nd team safety if they can gain Muschamp's trust in knowing the defense.
This is a team that started the year strong and has played each week better than the one previous. I'm not a scientist, but I believe that is a trend line. After what I witnessed from our defense, our OL, the development of our young WRs, and the hydra-headed growth of our running game, that trend line won't stop. This team is focused, football smart, tough, well-coached, calculating, and passionate. That's an incredible compliment to this coaching staff. Our level of preparation each week is always good, if not great, and we've outcoached three consecutive Big 12 opponents.
Make no mistake, this team has a lot of talent. Real, athletic talent. But a hell of a lot of that talent rests above our shoulders.
Next up, Okie State. Grit and cowbells, boy!
Also, check out Eyes' weekly post game of the Mizzou contest -- there was no ugly.