A Texas team that is committed to giving us agonizing glimpses of what it could be only to hobble themselves with penalties and mistakes managed to self-inflict enough wounds on special teams and a few huge mistakes - on the field and in the press box - that they negated more than doubling up the Sooners 482-232 while dominating large swathes of the game.
I've never seen a team so thoroughly dominate large stretches with nothing to show for it. We make everything hard. The Jenna Jameson of football teams.
Team effort level and the overall willingness to win was high - there was no rivalry game rollover when big plays went against us. We showed mental resilience and a willingness to compete - even when our spirits clearly lagged.
Jordan Hicks was exceptional all game. Great scrapes, physicality and relentless play. Steve Edmond was very good in his role as between-the-tackles punisher.
Young safety Jason Hall continues to impress. Played every snap and never came out of the game. Tremendous fundamental tackler who lost only one battle late against a player that has him by 35 pounds. This is a player you can build a program around.
Duke Thomas continues to play excellent football. One gaffe against UCLA seems a long time ago.
The DL was dominant again. Brown did as he pleased and Ridgeway drew several (uncalled) holds. It seems the Sooners play perfectly clean football? Reed may have been quiet against an ultra-conservative Sooner O as a pass rusher, but he dominated at the point of attack.
Tyrone Swoopes showed significant growth standing in the pocket and distributing more accurate balls. He was poised and played hard. 27 of 44 for 334 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT is a hell of a lot of growth for a QB who couldn't keep his eyes downfield if a breeze hit him last week. He also showed improved, though not flawless decision-making in when to scramble and when to continue with his progressions. Incredibly proud of Tyrone for playing well in an emotional game. He exceeded my expectations.
The offensive line, though far from perfect, showed yet another week of improvement. The motion penalties seemed to have been a mixture of nerves and cadence issues, but overall Swoopes operated on most of his throws with a clean pocket. Contrast with BYU if you want to see how far we've come. Proud of a makeshift group that battled hard and keeps getting better. Taylor Doyle walked into an impossible situation as a first time starter at center and competed hard, if imperfectly. Jordan Phillips certainly didn't dominate.
The wide receivers - despite three drops - played well overall. But a couple of those drops....
Special teams continue to be a four letter word. Chris Vaughn is the coach tasked with them and right now it's the only unit on the Texas team that isn't showing improvement. I don't know how much control Vaughn actually has over what's going on or if his title is merely an honorific salary padding, but he may want to demonstrate some value-add soon before he become a favorite whipping boy of the Longhorn fan base. That was garbage.
Adrian Colbert had a brain dead personal foul on punt coverage (that field position allowed a Sooner FG) and was erased from his lane on a OU kickoff return (on a terrible kickoff from Jordan) that resulted in an easy touchdown. Rarely does a back-up have an opportunity to create 10 points for the opposing team.
John Harris had a critical hold that called back a 72 yard Swoopes option run on a tendency Watson clearly wanted to exploit and would exploit later in the 4th quarter. A killer early mistake by an offense that can't get out of its own way.
Of course, the Texas offense had its obligatory inside-the-5 fumble exchange between QB and C. A high snap wasn't handled well and it led to 3 when 7 looked like a certainty. It's completely understandable why it's happening, but it's soul-draining.
Swoopes had a young QB pick 6. It happens. You just have to accept it as part of the maturation process. It was a black mark against an otherwise strong effort.
The Texas coaches struggled a few times to get in plays in a timely manner. Again. Either Swoopes isn't processing fast enough or we need to significantly shorten our play call chain. It cost Texas two time outs that would have come in handy late. Not having a play ready for the two point conversion is inexcusable. Strong needs to have a sit down on this.
The Texas offense was highly successful for three quarters, but a third quarter drought helped stake the Sooners to the 18 point lead that a furious Longhorn rally could not erase. Some of it was executional, some of it was slow adjustments. I think anyone pinning the loss on Watson is fairly unobservant and doesn't appreciate larger context, but the time management gaffes and the dry 3rd quarter linger nonetheless. An offensive ability to adjust is in direct relationship to shared grounding and shared fluency in certain established principles built over time. We just don't have that. It takes time to get it. But we can't just blow it for five consecutive possessions.
The Texas defense turned in a dominant effort, but struggled to deal with a conservative OU offense on two drives when they went to tempo offense and hurt us with simplistic plays that attacked our numbers inside. Diggs had a bad play that led to a Shepard TD. For the rest of the game, they obliterated the Sooners - who played most of the game hoping the Texas offense and special teams would hand the contest to them. Opportunistic pick plays and it's also helpful to have your OL 20 yards downfield blocking on a slip screen.
Texas lost to Texas. OU watched it happen and then put on the big cowboy hat. Some of it was by Sooner design, so tip your hat, I guess.
I am excited by our progress, disgusted by our ability to squander improvement, irritated, frustrated and surprisingly optimistic about the longer-term plan.