The offensive line was doing impressive work early, blowing open holes and giving Malcolm places to run despite facing loaded fronts. Applewhite had a good run/pass mix going to keep the Cowboy defense off-balance, but a Marcus Johnson end-around was a bridge too far while judicious employment of the Case Rules generated some drive-killing incompletions. Not only were Case's bread and butter hitches and in-breaking routes gone for a good chunk of the first half, but aggressive coverage allowed a few bubble screens to get blowed up like we were hosting a Greg Davis homecoming.
With Texas down 14-3, Joe Bergeron provided some extra lift as he hit big holes with a bigger head of steam while a couple of OSU linebackers took judiciously bad angles. A momentary relaxation of the Case Rules allowed Mike Davis to work inside against some soft Cover Three looks for a couple of 10+ yard completions. Case managed the first "blown up bubble screen, ball pulled down and then screen thrown anyway" gambit that I've ever seen and somehow avoided disaster, and Malcolm put a cap on the drive to pull Texas to within 14-10 and serve notice that we might have a real ballgame on our hands.
Unfortunately, that whole "real ballgame" thing was soon to go a-glimmering. Texas got the ball back down 21-10 and attempted a two minute drill. With a degree of self-sabotage that would make Wile E. Coyote envious, Case waited three beats too long and attempted a sideline throw to Kendall Sanders with All-Big XII corner Justin Gilbert looming like a Great White off Guadalupe Island. Or the threat of an inferno at a Great White concert. The Longhorns got burned as Gilbert jumped the route, Scipio cashed in his Justin Gilbert Pick Six prop bet, and the deficit balooned to a dire 28-3.
At least we gave Joe Bergeron the chance to get hurt and fumble the ball 15 seconds beore halftime.
The second half was basically some sound and a little less fury that signified the end of Texas' pretensions to the conference title.
Scipio already had Case's game pinned, labeled and displayed under glass like a Junior High bug collection this week, and nothing we saw really did anything to contradict the essence of that excellent piece. He is what he his. I've candidly carried ire against him since his refusal to go back in against OU back in the day, but I've finally released all of that. He's done his best, and he's done a lot to help Texas in some big spots. But even as a senior, he's just not a guy that you're going to find on the depth chart of a Top 25 program.
Brown and Bergeron both had strong moments before the game got out of hand, and even managed a few after the outcome was clear to everyone. It's good to see Joe B getting to make some productive plays - he's another guy I've carried some ire towards for putting ME above TEAM with his TAILBACK 4 LIFE crusade at the start of the season, but I'll give him credit for running with vision and power when he's gotten his chances. The fact that his decision will have him sitting home on Sundays isn't my problem.
Texas' receivers did what they could against a good defense with a poor QB. Mike Davis continues to show a ton of savvy working open for deeper throws, and that skill set will pay dividends in the League when he's got someone with a big-time arm on the other end of those throws. The blocking on WR screens was dubious at best, but much of that is a consequence of the Case Rules with corners pressed up on many occasions. As we learned in many futile Cotton Bowls Past, bubble screens against press coverage is a losing proposition.
It was a shame to waste a strong effort by the O-line in this one - they were really doing some impressive work in creating running lanes against stacked fronts early. Kudos to Applewhite and Searels for crafting an effective run game, and it's certainly interesting to think what Bryan Harsin might have been able to accomplish in 2013 and 2014 when finally equipped with the kind of offensive front that wouldn't embarrass any team with Top 25 aspirations.
After a nearly unprecedented six-week lull, the Texas Defense finally found itself facing an offense with dual run/pass proficiency befitting a Top 20 team.
And they were found wanting.
Reviewing a whole season's worth of tape has its benefits, and Mike Gundy did just that this week while deciding to test Texas' reactions against the Read Option. Turns out that you can't fix everything in midstream, and sure enough Texas evinced some moments of BYU-caliber bafflement when Clint Chelf (wait - he's supposed to be the THROWING quarterback!) pulled the ball out and ran. Moses would have been impressed with how the middle of the Texas defense parted on Chelf's first keeper TD, and the second showed a complete lack of discipline on Steve Edmond's part as he drifted inside despite a clear "scrape exchange" assignment that should have had him covering the edge. If you're sitting near me when we play Baylor and I don't cheer when Jackson Jeffcoat blows up a running back in the center of the line of scrimmage, there's a reason - if our ends aren't forcing things inside, we're going to pay with big plays to the edge at some point. Two years' worth of inept teaching can't get fixed on the fly.
H.P. Lovecraft wrote of alien cities deep beneath the Arctic, whose buildings had strange and unnantural angles that hurt the human eye to gaze upon. Mykkele Thompson has incorporated most of those angles into his run support, and is singlehandedly good for somewhere between 5 and 50 yards tacked onto any carry that breaks past the linebacker level. He handed both Chelf and Desmond Roland some free yardage in the first quarter, though he did redeem himself on a centerfield INT that Chelf should never have thrown.
The defensive line did a fairly good job of containing things between the tackles, though the Cowboys' offensive balance kept the ends from really getting to pin their ears back and get after the QB. They managed to keep the game looking like a WWI trench warfare re-enactment for a good stretch of the first half, though OSU's superior field artillery - their special teams - let them creep inexorably closer before taking a 14-3 lead.
Set up by the 150th dubious squib kick of the Mack Brown Era, Okie State set out to get points before the half and hit big on The #1 Route Combo of 2013 - an inside receiver breaking out to the wheel route up the sideline while the outside receiver runs something in-breaking to pull the coverage inside. Chelf dropped it in to a wide-open Jjhuan Seales, and two plays later the Longhorns caught the rough end of Al Pacino's "The inches we need" speech. Adrian Phillips got both hands on a corner route from the 12 yard line, but the ball squirted through right to Tracy Moore for a 21-10 Cowboy lead.
And after Derpology on the next Longhorn drive, it was all over but the crying.
It was a very 2010/2011 feel for the defense - an effort that was strong in many spots but undone by a few gaffes and offense taking a hacksaw to their hamstrings.
The DL did its job against OSU's halfbacks in the first half, but seemed to wear down as the game went on and the Cowboys got to run play after play. Six weeks of Twin Terrors action from Jeffcoat and Reed were nowhere to be seen, and we got a look at what life against upper-tier spread offenses looks like when your DL depth gets compromised by injury (Chris Whaley) and idiocy (Ashton Dorsey).
Dalton Santos continues to progress as the kind of MLB you can thrive with in the Big Ten and survive with in the Big XII - he'll never be a burner, but he's got the kind of play recognition skills and instincts to make up for it while continually bringing the wood upon arrival. Steve Edmond has made great strides from the lost-in-the-woods act that dominated his game in 2012 and the first part of this season, but he's still a threat to give up the edge on almost any play as he'll drift inside with next to no discipline. If your team has two so-so MLBs and nothing resembling an OLB (at least since Peter Jinkens' brain went AWOL), you're going to pay against spread teams.
Our man-it-up-and-damn-the-torpedoes approach in the secondary is always going to yield the opportunity for some big plays, but even factoring that in the coverage was a bit disappointing today. It seems like one of Robinson's compromises when he took over the gig was saying, "I'll worry about the front seven - Duane, just have them run Man and do your thing". It's hard to argue with that approach given the time frame and circumstances, but the result has been yet another Texas backfield that gives up too many big, easy seams any time it tries to do anything in zone. Byndom had an ugly PI when he didn't properly squeeze an in-breaking route in Cover Three, and Duke Thomas surrendered the Weekly Duke Thomas TD. Thomas and some of the other guys in the secondary likely have a bright future, but today highlighted what can happen to this secondary when the DL has obstacles - namely, run responsibilities and upper-echelon OTs - that prevent them from terrorizing the quarterback.
We gave up a 41-yard kick return to open the game.
We tried to mount a second-half comeback with drives starting at the 5 and the 18 after KICKOFFS.
We saluted Phillip Geiggar with a roughing the punter penalty to extend a third quarter drive as the clock was our dire enemy.
Other than that, great stuff!
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Dreamwagon got to coast downhill for an inordinate amount of time this season, benefitting from the kind of bizarrely beneficial schedule that we referenced in the halcyon days of August as potentially teeing Texas up for a title run. The 6AM alarm went off today, though - Oklahoma State is a good, solid team that absolutely throttled us on our home field. From here, that Dreamwagon Road Map map gets ugly. If Texas has any strategic moxie reserves left, they could certainly handle a reeling Tech team on Turkey Day. But the map runs out of room just before Waco, and the margin just says "Here Be Dragons".