McCulloch and Ossai
When it was announced prior to kickoff that Gary Johnson was suspended for a violation of team rules, it meant Jeff McCulloch would slide over to the rover linebacker position and freshman Joseph Ossai would make his first career start at B-backer. Both played very well, with McCulloch pulling down a huge interception and being very active in the run game. Ossai showed many of the traits that made him a highly rated recruit in the 2018 cycle. Many fans are beginning to wonder what Texas will do at linebacker next year without Johnson and Anthony Wheeler, but it appears the Longhorns could be in good hands if McCulloch and Ossai continue to develop.
Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram continue to chip away on the ground
It is difficult to imagine what the Texas running game would look like this year if Tom Herman wouldn’t have reeled in Tre Watson as a graduate transfer. Watson provided another solid performance, gaining 79 yards on 14 carries.
Ingram, despite being slightly banged up with injuries, turned his 13 carries into 51 yards.
Texas will need both backs to be fully ready to go against an Oklahoma defense that is sinking fast and basically has resorted to turnovers as their only form of getting stops. The message this week will likely emphasize ball security and taking the chunk gains that the Sooners defense has allowed all season.
Sam Ehlinger is human
The streak is finally over. For the first time since Maryland, Sam Ehlinger played a game that left a lot to be desired. There is little doubt he was still fighting through the shoulder injury he suffered against Iowa State, but #11 finished the game with a pair of interceptions and a few more throws that were head scratchers.
Ehlinger will surely benefit from the extra day of rest and preparation for the Big 12 Championship, and Texas will need him to perform like he did at the State Fair a couple months ago if they want to come out victorious.
Special Teams struggles
Aside from a Cameron Kicker field goal, it was a day to forget for the Longhorns special team units. Dicker had two kickoffs go out of bounds and the coverage unit gave up another long return that was bailed out by a review for a fair catch signal.
The kickoff return unit was not much better. I am not sure what the success rate is for onside kicks, but I do know team are converting far more than the average against Texas.
Additional miscues came courtesy of the punt return unit, where Brandon Jones let two punts roll inside the 5 yard line, then was blown up on an attempted return near midfield that resulted in him exiting with a head injury.
One of the main takeaways from Tom Herman’s second season is the Longhorns have not been able to pull away in any game and win comfortably, especially against inferior opponents. Texas fans would much rather see wins than losses, but one of the next steps for Tom Herman will be getting his team to a point where they can step on people’s throats when presented the opportunity.
Stay informed of the latest Texas news and information from HornSports.