OU exposes weaknesses in Texas’ offensive line

Austin Laymance

The young Longhorns cornerbacks were abused by the Oklahoma receivers on Saturday, allowing 367 passing yards — 305 in the first half — and three touchdowns. The Sooners veteran wideouts took a relatively inexperienced unit to school at the Cotton Bowl as OU quarterback Landry Jones was at his surgical best. The Longhorns knew what to expect — a heavy dose of Ryan Broyles — but still couldn’t stop it. Broyles finished with nine catches for 122 yards and a score and found holes in the secondary with ease. Texas looked confused at times, and the Sooners seemed to have an open receiver on every play. The Longhorns will have to shore up their pass defense quickly with Oklahoma State’s high-powered attack rolling into Austin this Saturday. If things stay the same, it could be another rough afternoon for Texas.

Texas allowed a season-high eight sacks against the Sooners and were manhandled up front. The Longhorns failed to pick up the Oklahoma blitz, leaving defenders free to wreak havoc in the backfield. And it wasn’t just one side, it was the entire line — five different Sooners recorded a sack.

The offensive line was unable to hold up the OU pass rush, which prevented the trick plays from developing. The Longhorns said they needed to block for at least eight seconds to set up Bryan Harsin’s gadget plays. That simply didn’t happen. Texas will need to improve its protection against the blitz, or they will see a steady diet of it for the foreseeable future.

The Longhorns tackled poorly from the start on Saturday as Oklahoma ball carriers bounced off one defender after the next. The disappointing thing for the coaching staff, though, is that it’s been a recurring problem. The first man to the ball rarely made the tackle, and the Longhorns often whiffed on attempts. While the secondary missed the most tackles, the entire defense had trouble getting the Sooners to the ground. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said part of the issue rests on who Texas was tackling. This week, they’ll face OSU receiver Justin Blackmon, a physical presence who racks up yards after the catch. If the Longhorns don’t improve their tackling, Blackmon could have a field day.

While the sophomore quarterback burst onto the scene in crunch time against Brigham Young, McCoy came back down to earth against Oklahoma. McCoy was just nine of 16 for 116 yards. He held on to the ball too long and was dropped for three sacks, one of which caused a fumble. McCoy had been able to dance out of trouble against Iowa State and UCLA, but the Sooners pass rush wouldn’t let him out of their sights. He also struggled to get the ball downfield. McCoy took the first snap for the third straight game, but it could have been his last.

Harsin’s play calling was solid through the first four games, but the Longhorns couldn’t find the magic against the Sooners. Oklahoma was clearly prepared for Texas and its gadget plays and wasn’t fooled by anything. Harsin made a name for himself with the Statue of Liberty play in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, when his Boise State squad shocked the Sooners. However, OU got the last laugh on Saturday. The Sooners blew up the slow developing trick plays with good pressure up front, and the Longhorns were never able to catch the defense off guard. Harsin will have a new package for the Oklahoma State game but will need to get decent protection for his tricks to pan out.

Printed on October 10, 2011: "UT's offensive line, secondary struggle against Oklahoma"