This was a hard fought game right down to the end. The Longhorns came up short in the Cotton Bowl by a final score of 29-24. After coming out flat and letting Oklahoma sprint out to an early lead in the first half, the Longhorns navigated the comeback trail and were in a position to win the game.
At the end of the day, the Sooners made a few more plays than the Longhorns did and managed to squeak out a close one. These hard fought games have been par for the course for the past few years and it wasn’t any different today.
Here are some of the things on my mind as we put the Red River Showdown in the rearview mirror:
1. Tale of two halves for the defense
It was not pretty for Todd Orlando’s bunch in the first half. Baker Mayfield and the Sooner offense had their way early on in this contest and looked like this game was heading towards a blow out, but coming out of the half the defense got its act together. After giving up 20 points in the first half, the defense only allowed 9 in the second and unfortunately that came on a coverage bust that ended up being the difference.
While giving up 500 yards of offense will not making Orlando happy, the defense played better in the second half and gave the offense a chance to get back in sync and gave them a shot to win the game. That’s all you can ask for when you are going up against the one of the top offenses in the country.
2. The offensive line had a rough day at the office
When you are having to run two underclassmen tackles out there with your first team offensive line, you are likely going to face some issues. I had Ogbonnia Okoronkwo as a guy that was likely going to give the Texas offense issues today and it didn’t take him long to announce his presence today in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma moved him around all day in an attempt to get him singled up and along with him being a headache, Mike Stoops dialed up lots of pressure early and often that killed drives.
Oklahoma may only have tallied 3 sacks on the stat sheet, but they got plenty of pressure on Ehlinger and at times did it with as few as three rushers. That’s not going to get it done. If Texas doesn’t have a mobile quarterback in Ehlinger like they do it’s probably a lot worse than it was for this unit.
3. Communication and mental busts are still an issue in the secondary
We saw this a lot last year and while it hasn’t been as bad this year it is still an issue and it cost Texas more than once today in Dallas. Kris Boyd has as much talent as any defensive back Texas on the roster, but he is often on the wrong side of a big play. A move is going to have to be made here because the issues don’t seem to be resolving themselves and teams are going after Boyd every week.
The long touchdown to Andrews that proved to be the game winner seemed to be a miscommunication or flat out mental bust by Brandon Jones. Texas handed all the momentum they had just got right back to Oklahoma and they never were able to get it back.
4. Sam Ehlinger is a lot of fun to watch
Definitely wasn’t Ehlinger’s most efficient game, but the true freshman still tallied 382 yards of total offense and made some big throws down the home stretch. Ehlinger already showed that he doesn’t flinch during the big moments against USC and he was at it again today in the Cotton Bowl.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Ehlinger is going to be really good for Texas, but I really hope they find a way to manufacture a run game outside of his legs, as he was the leading rusher by a long shot once again.
Ehlinger also gave every Longhorn fan a scare when his hand bounced off the turf along the Texas sideline, but fortunately he was fine and able to return to the game.
5. The love was spread around at wide receiver
Oklahoma made absolutely sure that Collin Johnson didn’t beat them today and they accomplished that mission. With that said, despite Johnson not being productive 7 different Texas receivers logged at least two receptions and Ehlinger connected with 9 different receivers throughout the game. That’s pretty ridiculous and shows the depth of the receiver position right now. Also, I love that Ehlinger does a good job of finding his running backs on check downs when there is nowhere to go down field. That proved to be valuable to the offense today.
The Longhorn offense isn’t perfect, but they have weapons and a quarterback that can utilize them, and once they get clicking they will be a problem for the Big 12.
This is a game that will no doubt leave a bad taste in the mouths of the players and coaches because it was there for the taking late in regulation. With that said, I have to give credit to players and coaches for not cratering in the first half when it looked like Oklahoma could have ran away with it early.
The team showed some heart and poise to battle back and even though they came up short, that’s something you can appreciate and build off of. With this game behind them now, the Longhorns will have to rally the troops with Oklahoma State coming into Austin next week. It doesn’t get any easier with the Cowboys and their potent offense.
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