Now that we own the state of Oklahoma, what exactly do we do with it? Do we sell it in a flea market in Addison for rims? Trade it for the monsoonal portion of Bangladesh?
I've run out of superlatives. This is a smart, mean, fast group of athletes playing with cohesion, discipline, and tremendous effort.
They'll only get better. We destroyed a good offense and made a good QB look like a guy that should be QBing Sam Houston State. The first team defense gave up 7 points and scored 14. So they surrendered a net -7. That'll work.
OSU opened with a solid game plan: establish the run out of the spread, shorten the game, get us to overcommit to the run, hit us with the play action game over the top. Not dissimilar from the game plan employed by Texas A&M back in '06 (imagine if Stephen McGee been able to throw a spiral with his hurt shoulder). The difference is that we have a DC now that can adjust in one series as opposed to Gene Chizik, who didn't know what to do if he couldn't find the answer on his Monte Kiffin laminated flow chart. We're not stopping the run with overloads - it's players, scheme, and coaching.
Lamarr Houston has wreaked more havoc that doesn't show up on a stat sheet than any Longhorn player in memory. He delivers his initial blow on the blocker like a rattlesnake. OSU has some really solid OL and he acquitted himself nicely.
Sergio didn't have any sacks, but don't dwell on it. We rushed 3 or 4, asked our guys to maintain their lanes, and Kindle more than made up for it against the running game. He was just fantastic with six tackles, five of them solo, many of them in space. Go the 2nd quarter 7:13 mark if you want to see him whip the shit out of Russell Okung on a run play. Next play? Curtis pick 6.
Acho offered a forced fumble (an excellent hustle play force on a WR slip screen) and a batted ball. Ben Alexander had a TFL. The rest of the DL knew their role. We asked these guys to eat up blockers, rush with discipline, be selfless, and make our LBs and DBs the stars of this game.
LBs accounted for 4 of our top 5 tacklers. Muckelroy played at an All-Big 12 level again and Keenan Robinson played his best game as a Longhorn. His tackle of Robinson in space while eating a facemask stiff arm was manly and he made several less visible plays against the run inside that really speaks to his development. Emmanuel Acho made me shake my head when OSU ran their little motion sweep to the slot to the wide hash and he ran with the their guy stride-for-stride and beat him to the corner for a no gain.
Dustin Earnest looks good. 5 tackles in limited snaps and a couple of really nice special teams plays, including an open field tackle on Parrish Cox. Muschamp asked him to drop 15 pounds and it shows.
Our glue-fingered, ball hawking, scalp-taking secondary...Rusty Smith hitting them for big plays in last year's opener seems so long ago.
The Hollywood script dictated that Earl Thomas, Curtis Brown, and Blake Gideon all have big games in this year's version of the Halloween BCS buster and they delivered. Curtis is making the move from freakish athlete to real CB and it eerily mirrors the transformation that Aaron Ross made. Gideon's 4th interception?! High pointing another ball in zone coverage - good stuff, Blake.
Earl Thomas is a wonder. Does it make me a bad person that I'm glad he'll measure out at 5-9.5 when he gets to a NFL combine and that will probably keep him from going pro next year? The pass breakup on the first OSU possession prevented a TD, he was everywhere, and he the bait he laid for Robinson on the Pick 6 was a great marriage of scheme and athlete.
Nolan Brewster had some really nice snaps for us. He's a physical kid and he covers more ground than you think. That we went to a three safety nickel with Earl Thomas as a corner when Williams went out is a tribute to Nolan. He can't turn and go like some of our guys, but he's a good run force and a physical presence overall if you can shield him in zone concepts.
Deon and Chykie had the most adversity of our DBs - Deon getting hit for the TD and Chykie losing Anyiam on a could-be TD, but neither guy played poorly. We ask our guys to do a lot back there and they've got to throw it at someone. It ain't going to be Curtis, Aaron, and Earl. Chykie, I know it's hard to do, but we knock down 4th down interceptions on the goalline.
Let's sit out Aaron until he's 100%. No rush.
The best kick coverage of the year against the only team as dangerous at returning kickoffs as we are. Kenny Vaccaro delivers blows on special teams and in the basketball gym. Jordan Shipley made a really bad decision on his punt return that created an OSU scoring opportunity and he owes the defense a beer and an acoustic guitar exhibition. On second though, just make it a beer.
I thought our last punt to Cox that set up his big return was a travesty. Short line drives are not optimal in the punting game.
Hunter Lawrence has been amazing. On the year, 16 of 18 with one miss from 50 and another block.
Our offensive production was subpar again though total offensive possessions were heavily impacted by defensive touchdowns, short fields, and an entire 4th quarter spent running clock. That written, I'm less interested in raw yardage than in productivity and 4.9 yards per play in a pass heavy offense isn't getting it done. I just shrug at this point. I made my peace with what defines this team back in August. At least we didn't turn it over. Though replays may disagree.
We mostly eschewed the 11 personnel featured in the Missouri game and 15 combined carries for 49 yards from Johnson and Whitaker spoke to that. I dislike almost everything about this offense when we open a first half series in a base 5 wide (the defense completely dictates to us with three man rushes and heavy coverage or by a simple extra man zone blitz overload), but we haven't exhibited a lot of learning curve on this point. It's frustrating and if you think OSU can give us problems in it, I shudder to think of Florida or Alabama.
The good news is that we've retained elements of the running game first unveiled in the OU game and though it's not exactly world-beating, it at least has a chance and gives us some credibility in play action that we saw against Mizzou. Fozzy and Cody seem settled as our RB combination and I'm comfortable with that going forward.
We continue to dominate in the red zone and I continue to find it interesting that a supposedly soft OL always wins in our goalline package when we rely on man blocking and run behind Huey and Hix. No one thought the French were soft under Napoleon. Perhaps scheme and fighting spirit are linked?
Colt looks like he's feeling good and I don't think that unleashing him in the running game, new WRs, and his better passing numbers are unrelated to that.
He threw some nice balls and I actually screamed in joy when I saw us run double deep posts on Malcolm's 44 yarder.
Malcolm Williams demonstrated why you play extremely talented players and stick with them even when there is short term pain involved. We should coach to upside. He made two NFL plays and the ease with which he made them reminded all of us that what we saw against Texas Tech and Missouri last year. By the way - if you get a chance to see the Nov 2nd Tanner Report on Texassports, you'll see that Malcolm looks like he has a bigger natural frame than both Tanner and Hall. Freak.
If Mack Brown is to be believed, he forbade Greg Davis from unleashing a torrent of scoring plays when we had the game in hand (and during our first half three and out). He advocates the Tigger Principle espoused in Winnie the Pooh. C'mon, you remember. Tigger would often boast that "Tiggers are the bestest ________" but when challenged to demonstrate his prowess, he would always demur, responding, "I choose not to." We're saving up some kick ass plays for Baylor.
We'll take care of business and I'll see you all in Arlington in December and Los Angeles in January. Williams and Goodwin have four more games to get ready for the Big One while the defense and special teams continue to dominate. This is a fun ride.