Report Card: Texas vs. Oregon State

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WIDE RECEIVERS

With no running game to lean on, the lonely eyes of Longhorn nation turned to the Texas passing attack to save the day. Things started slowly for this group, with early drops and a bizarre disregard for incoming passes, but they turned it on late. Mike Davis rallied for 30 yards on three catches, while Jaxon Shipley did what number 8’s do, hauling in key conversions and catching everything in sight. But the night belonged to Marquise Goodwin (4 receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD; 1 rush, 64 yards, 1 TD), who became the second senior this year—the other being Jeremy Hills—to have his final touch as a Longhorn go for a touchdown.

One shining moment: What else? Goodwin’s game-winning TD catch. Seeing the ball is almost always an integral ingredient for catching it.

Grade: Winning!

 


OFFENSIVE LINE

Like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, trying to break down offensive line play frightens and confuses me. I simply don’t have the expertise or acumen to do it. But what I do know is that 3.8 yards per carry isn’t a positive reflection on a unit that’s preaching an identity of physicality. Having said that, they were solid in pass protection, surrendering just two sacks, despite the fact that the Beavers were free to pin their ears back (never have known where this expression comes from) with little regard for the running game. Throw out the three kneel-downs at the end, and the Texas offense ran a total of 62 plays. Thirty-four of those were passes. Factoring in the two sacks, along with the hit that forced Ash’s lone interception, this group executed successfully on exactly half of their snaps (31 out of 62).

One shining moment: Let’s go back to the well one more time—Marquise Goodwin’s game-winning TD was off a double-move, meaning the line held up long enough for the route to develop.

Grade: (Almost) Brian Fantana—50% of the time, they did their job every time

 


TIGHT ENDS

The two times I noticed this group: Greg Daniels getting called for a holding penalty, and M.J. McFarland dropping a back-shoulder ball down the seam. But I’m guessing they contributed to the solid pass protection, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

One shining moment: Let’s just move on…

Grade: Unfortunately, Standard Operating Procedure

 


OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

When your first 1st down comes in the second quarter—and it comes by virtue of a defensive penalty…on a punt—it can’t be fun being the Offensive Coordinator. Major Applewhite’s debut as play caller got off to a rough start, but he hung in and took that gift of a first down and turned it into a 64 yard Marquise Goodwin touchdown run on the very next play. And when things weren’t working in the run game, he found the quarterback draw to spark it (a risk, considering your backup QB was, depending on reports, your punter or your tailback), until he ultimately had to abandon it completely and put the ball in David Ash’s hands. All in all, it was a nervy, determined opening act for Applewhite—not that you’d expect anything differently from him.

One shining moment: Hailed as the aggressive, down-the-field, in-your-face savior by many, it was ironic that Major’s first play call ever was an homage to the much-maligned former Offensive Coordinator, Greg Davis—a sideways screen to wideout Jaxon Shipley. Haven’t looked yet, but that had to go over well with the message board crowd.

Grade: Alligator blood

 


SPECIAL TEAMS

A rollercoaster ride all season, and the Alamo Bowl was no different. The good? Two touchbacks, a 40-yard field goal, a 45.4 yard punting average, and no momentum-killing kickoff returns. The bad? A blocked field goal and a failed fake punt.

One shining moment: On that fake punt gone wrong, we got a glimpse of what life would’ve been like had punter Alex King been forced to take over as quarterback, and it wasn’t pretty. He did throw a spiral, though.

Grade: Even par

 


DEFENSIVE LINE

Led by senior Alex Okafor and his 4 ½ sacks and one forced fumble, this group showed up all night. Reggie Wilson and Cedric Reed made multiple stops behind the line of scrimmage, and Desmond Jackson chipped in another, while also leading the team in “Out of control celebrations, even when you’re losing by 10.”

One shining moment: According to the official play-by-play, here’s a boiled-down version of Oregon State’s final drive: QB hurry by Cedric Reed on first down; draw play stopped for two yards by Chris Whaley and Desmond Jackson on second down; sack by Alex Okafor on fourth down. Not included: pressure by Okafor, which led to linebacker Kendall Thompson’s sack, on fourth down.

Grade: Beast mode (for Okafor’s performance alone)

 


LINEBACKERS

The 2012 season was a forgettable one for the young Texas linebackers, but last night’s game was about what’s potentially in store for them in 2013. From Peter Jinkens’ opening drive interception to Kendall Thompson’s game-clinching sack, this group balanced out missed assignments* with playmaking ability that was sorely missed for most of the year. And when you factor in Jinkens’ high-top haircut with Tevin Jackson’s imposing recruiting profile picture (courtesy of Rivals.com), there’s a lot to be excited about going forward.

*Because I’m a fan without any knowledge of play calls and specific player responsibilities, I have no way of knowing if they actually missed assignments, but Duane Akina and Manny Diaz appeared to be unhappy with them after a few big Oregon State plays.

One shining moment: Even though it led to a three-and-out and a blocked field goal, Jinkens’ interception on Oregon State’s first possession had to inject some confidence into an inexperienced rotation that featured three sophomores and two freshmen.

Grade: Rumble, young man, rumble

 


SECONDARY

Despite struggling some with the Beavers’ well-executed screen package, the secondary finally came close to matching their preseason hype, limiting Oregon State’s dynamic duo of Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks to a combined 68 yards on just six receptions. And most importantly, for a unit that’s specialized in surrendering the big play, nobody got beat deep (OSU’s long reception: 22 yards). Mykkele Thompson notched a team-high 10 tackles, while Quandre Diggs grabbed a key, third quarter interception.

One shining moment: In some ways, secondaries aren’t that different from referees—you don’t notice them when they do their job well. For the most part, that was Texas on Saturday night, but let’s go with Diggs’ interception, as it led to a Longhorn touchdown.

Grade: Strong to quite strong

 


DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

If Mack Brown currently holds the title of “Most Hated Citizen of Austin,” Manny Diaz is a close second. Overseeing a unit that gave up more yards than any defense in UT history, Diaz has emerged as Public Enemy No. 2, and when it became known that he interviewed for the vacant Florida International head coaching job, fans eagerly scrambled to find the address for the FIU athletic department, so they would know where to send their recommendation letters. But after getting gashed early, the Texas defense stiffened, forcing three turnovers, racking up 10 sacks, and holding Oregon State to minus-four yards total in the fourth quarter. Minus-four.

One shining moment: After a big second half stop, Diaz channeled his inner Will Muschamp (sigh), going nuts on the sideline and jump-bumping his guys as they came off the field. The only thing missing was an open mic to capture a potential catchphrase.

Grade: Boom

 


OVERALL

Amid a sea of negativity and allegations so serious it’s silly to even mention them in the realm of football, Texas stepped out from under the dark cloud—at least for one night—to beat a top-15 opponent, and they did it by challenging the negative narrative that’s followed them around all year. For a quarterback who couldn’t shake bad starts, David Ash did just that with two late touchdown passes. For a defense that couldn’t stop anybody, Alex Okafor and the boys held Oregon State to seven second half points (which came off a short field after a turnover). And for a team that had allegedly tuned out and quit on its coach, the Longhorns erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to springboard themselves into the offseason.

One shining moment: Beyond a JPEG of the final scoreboard, after Kendall Thompson’s game-clinching sack, there was a shot of Mack Brown and Manny Diaz celebrating together on the sidelines. While it surely made many Longhorns fans nauseous, there was also something special about seeing the pair, beaten down all season by criticism and underachievement, experience a moment of pure joy—even if it was just the Alamo Bowl.

Grade: Thank you, sweet Jesus

 

 

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You can contact Brent Stoller at [email protected]

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