It was a crazy day for the Texas Longhorns football team. Another close game lost by a lack of focus.
Watching this Texas Longhorns football team is not for the faint of heart.
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Somehow Charlie Strong’s squad found a way to lose, again. And while another special teams player picked the worst possible time to screw up, it was a game full of errors that cost Texas a win.
The Longhorns amassed 16 penalties for a whopping 130 yards. None were more damaging than the two called on Oklahoma State’s second-to-last drive. A holding call on Poona Ford, and the subsequent unsportsmanlike penalty on Strong put the Cowboys in field goal range. The Ford call was suspect at best. Strong lost his composure and gave Oklahoma State 15 more free yards. This penalty is simply inexcusable; Strong has to control his emotions. The Cowboys converted the kick to tie the game at 27.
Penalties aside, there were plenty of mental mistakes that helped determine the outcome. Jerrod Heard, for as electric as he can be, needs to learn to get rid of the ball when a play breaks down. The sack he took in the first half lost the team 25 yards and pushed Texas out of field goal range. He took another sack on a fourth down play near midfield in the fourth quarter. He simply cannot allow himself to be sacked during a critical play. Sometimes being such a great athlete can come back to haunt you because you think you can make a play in every situation. It hurt him today
Plays like this are all part of the maturation process for the redshirt freshman. Oklahoma State did a great job of keeping Heard in the pocket. He didn’t have the big run to ignite the offense. He will learn from this and continue to grow.
Heard’s receivers didn’t help him with four drops. Daje Johnson had two ill-timed drops that killed drives. Andrew Beck had another. The offense was sputtering in the second half and the mental lapses only exasperated the situation. Marcus Johnson let a pass bounce off of his hands that tuned into Texas’ only turnover. John Burt and Armanti Foreman were non-factors after being so prominent in the Cal game. Johnson, Burt and Foreman combined for four catches.
Michael Dickson let his nerves get the best of him at the worst possible time. For the special teams unit, misery loves company.
It was a tale of two halves for the defense. The secondary was making Mason Rudolph look like a Heisman candidate in the first half. The sophomore was shredding the defense to the tune of 192 yards. And yet again Texas couldn’t get off the field on third down, a trend that is starting to become the norm for this group.
The second half was better as Texas had two interceptions – Holton Hill with a pick six and Dylan Haines hauling in an errant throw (a third interception by Kris Boyd was erased by yet another questionable penalty, this one a roughing call on Paul Boyette). Rudolph finished the game with 290 yards passing but he looked like a completely different quarterback in the second half. Oklahoma State could not get its running game going and that helped keep Texas in the game. The second half showing offered a glimmer of hope that the defense is learning and can make stops.
At the end of the day Texas couldn’t get out of its own way and the end result was another last-minute defeat. Young teams will do that. There is a lot to glean from the game tape to help prepare for TCU next week. Plenty of coachable moments.
This is the second straight tough loss, and the coaching staff will earn its pay trying to build up the fragile confidence of a young team. There is no time to sulk, no matter how much it hurts.