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Shooting from the Hip - Texas 31, Iowa State 30

Magnum, PI and the Longhorns sneak out of Ames with a win that was equal parts derp and drama.

David Purdy


If you're reading this post-game and aren't too drunk to attempt this maneuver, go with me for a second and try something real quick.

Stand up.

Hold an imaginary football like you're a QB in the pocket.

Pantomime a throwing motion - but not just ANY throwing motion.

As you throw, kick your back foot - the one that should normally be stepping forward - up in a fey motion where it gets almost up to hip-height.  This will feel pretty unnatural, so picture Sandy Duncan playing Peter Pan or whatever image you need to in order to make this happen.

Did you do it?  Good.  I know it was uncomfortable, but this was for a purpose.

At any point during that exercise, did you feel like a D1 quarterback?

No?  Well, there's a reason for that.  Because that's not how D1 quarterbacks throw.  Let alone BCS conference quarterbacks.  Let alone quarterbacks who are lining up for one of the most storied programs in the history of the damned sport.

But sometimes, shit happens.  Sometimes, through 5+ years of sloth, mismanagement, fear of competition and outright incompetence the ineffable weirdness of the Universe, you end up with no option but to have a quarterback who throws like that starting for the University of By-God Texas.

Should you find yourself in this situation, you know what you DON'T do?

You don't call nearly two passes for every run when you never trail by more than six and you're playing IOWA STATE.

But that's what we did. And after that play-calling display, it will be tough to restore the shine to Texas' favorite son no matter how much Apple-polishing anyone cares to do.

Now, does that sound like an opening written after a loss rather than a stirring, come-from-behind victory?  It does, and there are two reasons for that.

One, I've had a few drinks and I'm not re-writing my lead-in.

And two, Texas lost that game.  Short-yardage terror Johnathan Gray unequivocally lost the football on his goal-line plunge before the whistle blew, and Iowa State defeated Texas 30-24.  But that wasn't how replay saw/heard it, and to the "victor" go the spoils.

So let's break down the win that might have saved Mack Brown from a Kiffining at the Austin Airport.

The run game functioned well early, and Gray's touchdown on an Outside Zone cutback was the kind of crisp, competent play that has been so seldom seen from the Longhorn ground game.  Outside of a couple of ghastly gaffes from guards Trey Hopkins and Sedrick Flowers, the run game ranged from so-so to strong all night long, highlighted by Joe Bergeron punishing the Cyclones on a 12 yard, 12 yard, TD sequence in the 3rd.

But running it down Iowa State's throat was too easy, or something.  Tonight was to be Case McCoy's night, and boy was it ever.

It was a game that more or less defined the Case McCoy Experience.  He got off to a nice early start, as yet another allegedly well-coached team ignored the Case Rules and let him throw a series of easy comebacks and hitches against soft coverage.  A hideous first-quarter floater into double coverage should absolutely have been picked off, but dropped INTs are part and parcel of Case's legend.  His best trait, intermediate accuracy over the middle of the field, came into play on some nice throws to Jaxon Shipley.  His worst trait, a dire lack of pocket awareness, popped up when he got taken down on an absolute no-feel sack in the second quarter.  His most enduring trait, blind-ass luck, came to the fore on an end-of-half Flail Mary that was hauled in by a leaping John Harris to stake Texas to a halftime lead.

But the game would be decided by a new and unexpected trait, one that could come to eclipse all others in the Case McCoy legend.

The ability to summon an ungodly number of completely unnecessary pass interference penalties from the defense.

McCoy - or Magnum, PI, as he shall henceforth be known in this space - racked up an unbelievable five pass interference calls on balls that ranged from pseudo-catchable to outright hilarious.  They contributed to 118 total penalty yards for Iowa State and played a major role in two of Texas' TD drives.  The last, on a throw that resulted in the season's first Greg Daniels sighting, put Texas at the two yard line to enable a fumble/fumble/QB sneak series that should join 53 Veer Pass and Rose Bowl 4th and 5 in the annals of Longhorn lore.

A hideous process, a victorious result.  Mack sees no problems with this.


A man can only do so much in limited time, so it's tough to put too much blame on Greg Robinson for the defense's repeated failings in this one.  But 'tough to blame' doesn't mean 'easy to watch', and there were some stab-out-your-eyes moments for the D in this one.

Repeated outside sweeps that met with zero resistance.

QB scramble after QB scramble after QB scramble, with the concepts of containment and rush lanes absolute afterthoughts for the DL and nary a linebacker in sight.

And the tackling in the gods.

If the Longhorns were looking ahead to OU in this game, the secondary was apparently tuning up for a rehash of last year's Cotton Bowl performance.  Mykkele Thompson had an absolutely humiliating open-field whiff that handed Iowa State a 97-yard TD pass, and a confluence of three DBs at the five yard line wasn't enough to prevent the Cyclones' Aaron Wimberly from strolling into the end zone.  At least Trey Millard weighs 250 pounds - this play was a goddamn embarrassment.  As mattyj noted in the game thread, you couldn't say anyone got 'trucked' as no one even bothered to square up on Wimberly - let's just say they got Miata'd.

The defense provoked frequent incredulity from the booth, from an early pronouncement that "Iowa State is running it as well as they've run it all season" to David Pollack openly mocking our containment and tackling down the stretch.

It wasn't all bad - the DE's made a couple of plays, Malcom Brown and Chris Whaley largely put the kibosh on interior runs and Dalton Santos at least seemed to understand WHERE he should on most plays, which was a welcome departure from Steve Edmond.

But Lord, it wasn't good.


Anthony Fera made his field goal - good!  We surrendered several lengthy returns and never came close to breaking one of our own - bad!  Another lost night for a unit that should be taking far better advantage of the caliber of young athletes that Texas has on hand.


Either this or last season's Luckout in Lawrence would have been the most embarrassing loss of the Mack Brown era, so they can jointly serve as the most embarrassing escapes of the Mack Brown era.  Since it was a good result, it will no doubt result in a hug from Deloss and a thank-you call to Brad McCoy and some "everybody plays you tough" platitudes in the press conference.

But it served as one more stark reminder that we're in the last days of the Mack Brown era.