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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Oklahoma State

The Longhorns have a lot to clean up if they hope to remain in contention for the Big 12 Championship

Rob Ferguson, USA TODAY Sports
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It was a weird night in Stillwater. Texas let its guard down, and an Oklahoma State team who was hungry and ready to prove themselves on a national stage took advantage. There are many takeaways from this game, but the main one is all playoff talk can now be put to bed. Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad from an eventful game:

The Good

Sam Ehlinger shows no ill-effects from shoulder injury

Entering the week, there was no guarantee that Sam Ehlinger would be healthy enough to play on Saturday night. Ehlinger ended up participating fully in practice all week and turned in another solid performance on Saturday night. After a slow start, #11 stepped up and finished the game 22 for 42 for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 47 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground.

It’s easy to see the progress Ehlinger has made from 2017 to 2018, and another turnover-free game proves the sophomore is making smart decisions in the passing game. Out of all the problems Texas has at the moment, Ehlinger is not one.

Coming back from a 24-7 deficit

Similar to Week 1 against Maryland, the Longhorns quickly fell behind 24-7 and looked like they may get run out of Boone Pickens Stadium. The Longhorns responded though, trimming the deficit to 31-28 at one point. Tom Herman pointed out after the game that in past years, the Longhorns may have mailed it in. Moral victories are not what Texas needs nor what is expected, but I’m sure many were surprised when Texas possessed the ball at one point in the 4th quarter with an opportunity to drive down the field and take the lead.

The Bad

The trend of playing to the level of competition continues

Texas is not good enough to play their C+ game and dominate opponents, and even Tom Herman has admitted it. The Longhorns have developed a trend of playing to the level of their competition. Make no mistake about it, Oklahoma State is not better than Texas, but neither was Maryland. Against Tulsa, Kansas State and Baylor, Texas played less than their best and barely got away with it. One of Tom Herman’s next goals should be developing his team to the point where it doesn’t take a big name opponent to have his players locked in from the opening whistle.

Officiating

Both Texas and Oklahoma State fans have reasons to be livid at what has become a weekly occurrence of shaky Big 12 officiating. I have always had the belief that bad calls even themselves out over time, but there were calls last night that had Mike Gundy and Tom Herman fuming. The offsides call on the punt was about as bad as I expected it to get, but then Texas was called for a phantom holding penalty where all 5 lineman were blocking in the end zone, and somehow the foul was enforced at the 2-yard line. Then it was discovered today that the Cowboys 2nd touchdown of the night came on a play where the tight end who caught the ball was an ineligible receiver. It was an all around terrible night for the officials, and both schools will surely be sending in some plays for the conference to review on Monday.

The Ugly

Pass defense

The Texas defense turned in one of the least memorable performances of the Tom Herman era, and a lot of the struggles centered around the Longhorns making Taylor Cornelius — who most Cowboys fans wanted benched prior to Saturday — look like an all-conference QB. A lot has been said about Kris Boyd and Davante Davis missing the first quarter due to suspension, but the struggles were widespread throughout the secondary as a whole. 

Special teams mistakes

In a game where the Longhorns played from behind the entire night, special team miscues were magnified. Following a muffed punt by D’Shawn Jamison that Texas luckily recovered, the coaching staff opted to put in the more experienced returner, Brandon Jones. Jones ultimately ended up committing the cardinal sin of a punt returner, backpedaling to receive a punt inside his own 10. The decision resulted in Texas having to start a time at their own 2, a drive which ended in a punt and gave the Cowboys excellent field position.

Later in the 4th after cutting the lead to 38-35, Tom Herman opted to try an onside kick. Both Josh Rowland and Cameron Dicker were on the field, and Rowland’s kick ended up being an easy recovery for the Cowboys. Regardless of the decision, the Texas defense could not force the three-and-out it needed to extend the game, but special teams continue to be an adventure in 2018.

Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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