OH. MY. GOSH.
Did you see it? Because it was awesome. In case you were drunk or had to work or maybe you were drunk at work, Texas managed to pull out a nail-biter in Stillwater, coming away with a last-minute 41-36 victory over a very motivated Cowboys squad. The ‘Horns improve to 4-0 and moved up to number 11 in the AP Poll. More on that in a minute.
But first, did anyone else see this: at the beginning of the game, the camera panned the crowd, and there were the requisite hillbillies painted the wrong color orange, shouting and showing their one good tooth, banging large sticks against the stadium like proper cavemen…and drinking beer. LOLWUT? Yes, there it was, plain as day: two large-ish fellows with telltale brown bottles, labels slyly turned away from the camera, screaming out of their gaping maws. So they serve beer in Boone Pickens Stadium? Could explain some things. By the way, the sale of alcohol is prohibited at all NCAA sporting functions. That’s why Texas fans have the good sense to wear boots to hide their flasks. Come on, people! IT IS GOOD MANNERS. NB: this also works in movie theaters, I’ve heard. From a friend.
So why was this win a big deal, aside from the obvious? It was Texas’s first conference game. Okie State is the defending Big 12 champion, and they won a tough bowl game against the Stanford Tree People last season. Texas had to travel to a very hostile environment, and play against an explosive offense. The Pokes won the last two meetings and had something to prove. Before the game, the blogosphere was awash with predictions going one way or the other. Awash, I tell you! Some folks (dudes) saying Okie State would roll over Texas, some saying the opposite. Everyone agreed this was a big-deal game to start off conference play. After Texas’s win? A really weird mixed reaction. I’m going to give up the pretense that there are women sports writers out there—this is all dudes. Some dudes said it wasn’t that big a deal because Okie State was unranked. Other dudes said Texas should have won by a HUGEMONGOUS LANDSLIDE YO. Were there things to be disappointed about? Oh, yeah, Manny Diaz I’m looking at you. But there was a lot to be excited about.
My daughter, who I will call C, came down to watch the game and that was a particular treat for me. It’s nice to have another football freak in the house. My husband is a lovely, wonderful man who tolerates my love of sports and joins in from time to time. But C and I together, man, it’s lights-out screaming and cranial hemorrhaging.
Once the game started, and I saw how fired up the Pokes were, I got the smelling salts ready. On their first possession, Okie State scored ON THE SECOND PLAY OF THE DRIVE. What the cuss, Texas defense? Watching the missed tackles, I felt the beginnings of a rage stroke coming on. The defense obviously struggled without the leadership and playing ability of Jordan Hicks, out with a hip pointer injury (and I have no idea what that is but it sounds painful). This was a theme of the night—missed tackles, problems downfield, inability to consistently defend the pass. I take notes during the games, and I see how I wrote over and over, “tackling. Can’t tackle. Having trouble tackling. WHY AREN’T THEY TACKLING?” Seems to be a problem.
Kudos, though, to absolute standouts Jeffcoat and Okafor. They are All-Big-12 or I’m a monkey’s uncle. And! Texas was able to sack the Okie State QB for his first sack of the year! That was a terrific moment, and C and I got so excited we were unable to high-five. THAT excited.
Special teams continue to be erratic and sorta sucky at the worst times. Excepting, of course, that blazing kickoff return for a TD executed with beauty and sparkles by D.J. Monroe. He looked like a star all night and should continue to shine all season. The rest of the special teams better keep on practicing.
The offense was the real story of the night. Oh, that Ash! He continues improving week after week. He’s a leader. He’s the real deal, but not the real McCoy, because no. We have McCoy version 2.0 but he’s solidly the backup QB. Coach Brown’s choice to focus on Ash as the starter is reaping huge rewards for the team. There was a sack, and an interception, but Ash remained ice-cold and focused. When it mattered, the offense came up with the plays. Sometimes after first causing people (me) to wail in agony and fall to the floor over bad play calling. But still, they pulled it together. It’s great to see Shipley get more time on the field. He made some clutch plays and came up with three TDs! And, y’all, Texas was able to capitalize on every 4th down play they attempted. That made a HUGE difference in the 4th quarter when Texas trailed and needed to score. That’s some solid offense. Oh, did you see my spirit animal, Johnathan Gray? He is a freshman who plays like an experienced upperclassman. Goes on the field, gets the ball, makes plays. He’s one to continue watching, because one of these times he really is going to ride out on a unicorn, and then who will have the last laugh? Me, that’s right.
Let’s talk about Mike Davis. After his beautiful, humanity-affirming 32-yard reception to set up the go-ahead TD, C said, “That was magical!” and a nickname was born. Mike Davis is now:
Of course, she also shouted that she was either going to poop her pants or throw up, so. I was OK because by then I had cracked open the wine. What? It’s good for your blood pressure.
It was lovely to see Texas have so much success with the running game, even though it came late in the 4th quarter. Lanes were open. Yards were made. Hillbillies wept bitter, bitter tears. There is also a lot of talk about the last TD. Folks, don’t listen to it. Mike Gundy is about to go into the Matt Leinart Crybaby Hall of Fame. I saw at least one blatantly blown play that went in Okie State’s favor. (Hello, OSU special teams player who touched that kickoff and sent it out of bounds: I could read your lips as you went to the sidelines and said, “Yeah, I touched it.” Only the replay officials didn’t think so. Boo.) Yes, it was the go-ahead score. It was legit, the refs called it, it wasn’t overturned, and ultimately your team couldn’t pull it out. Maybe Leinart will share his giant handkerchief with you.
Make no mistake: this win was huge for Texas. It displayed the immense talent of the ‘Horns offense. It gave Manny Diaz a couple of ideas to work on in practice. Seriously, y’all, in my head there was a profanity-filled meeting between Coach Brown and Manny Diaz. Let’s make some changes!
This week, the ‘Horns have another big-time conference game against West Virginia University. Maybe you’ve heard of them. They have this one player named Geno Smith, who might win some special prize at the end of the season. OK, yep, he’s my prediction to win the Heisman, but that doesn’t mean he’ll beat Texas.
WVU has a scary offense. They put up 70 points on a Baylor team ranked in the top 25. On the other hand, Baylor hung 63 points on them. Maybe they were “Punk’d?” “Let’s replace each team’s defense with decaffeinated and see if they notice!” Complete lack of defense for either team. Which is why Coach Brown needs to be screaming at Manny Diaz, right now.
Stay tuned for the WVU vs. Texas preview. Until then, Hook ‘em!