Texas going from one top-ten opponent to another

Christian Corona

It was disheartening enough to get pounded by nearly 40 points, especially at the hands of a hated rival. But to see that your next opponent is up 56-7 at halftime?

“That’s a morale booster,” head coach Mack Brown joked. “I didn’t even show the players. Let’s wait until tomorrow and let them see how much they’re scoring.”

While Oklahoma crushed Texas, 55-17, Saturday, Oklahoma State was busy pounding Kansas, 70-28. The Jayhawks scored the game’s first touchdown before the Cowboys scored 56 unanswered points before halftime. The Longhorns had trouble containing a Sooners passing attack that saw Landry Jones throw for 367 yards and three touchdowns and will have their hands full with an Oklahoma State offense that scores a nation’s best 51.4 points per game.

“We ran into a buzzsaw,” Brown said. “If we’d have gotten beat 7-6 or 45-44, we’d have felt better but we’d still be 4-1. At the end of the day, a loss is a loss.”

Jones, along with wideouts Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, had their way with a Texas secondary that entered the Red River Rivalry as the Big 12’s best pass defense. Now, quarterback Brandon Weeden, who’s completing over 75 percent of his throws, and wide receiver Justin Blackmon, last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, are set to come to Austin this weekend. Oklahoma State could very well present the Longhorns defensive backs with an even tougher challenge than the one it faced at the Cotton Bowl this past Saturday.

“If you would have asked me Friday night before the game if this was going to happen, I would’ve said ‘no’ because we prepared and we prepared so well,” said senior linebacker Keenan Robinson. “[Oklahoma State] is probably just as good as or better than OU on offense. We’re going to focus on hammering the pass, hammering the quarterback and making him unsure of his reads. We didn’t do that well Saturday.”

Texas’ quarterbacks, on the other hand, are coming off their worst individual performances of the season. Case McCoy and David Ash each committed their first two turnovers of the year and got sacked a combined seven times. With another top 10 team on the horizon, the thought of relying on one field general to take all of the snaps rather than the current two-quarterback system has been floated around. For now, there is still an “or” between McCoy’s and Ash’s names on the depth chart.

“We’re always looking each week for the best 11 guys to put out there,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “We’re trying to get guys to separate throughout practice. The quarterback position is no different.”

Despite the lopsided defeat, there is some reason for hope. Under Brown, Texas has never lost a game immediately following the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns are 6-8 against Oklahoma since Brown, who was OU’s offensive coordinator in 1984, took over as head coach in 1998 but are a perfect 14-0 in contests right after they face the Sooners.

“I realized, after coaching at OU, how hard it is to coach the week before OU and the week after,” Brown said. “We made a really conscious effort to not talk about it the week before and to put it to bed really quickly, win or lose, immediately afterwards because it’s such an emotional game and it means so much to everybody.”

Excluding the Cowboys’ 37-14 win over Arizona in its second contest, they haven’t allowed less than 28 points in a game this year. Oklahoma State’s defense is mediocre at best as it’s in the bottom half of the country in scoring and rushing defense and 103rd in pass defense. After taking on an athletic and experienced Oklahoma defense, Texas’ offense should be much more productive this week.

Then again, a lockdown defense isn’t a luxury a team that’s capable of putting up 70 points necessarily needs. But if the Longhorns give up anything close to the 55 they gave up to Oklahoma, they won’t have much of a chance to beat Oklahoma State.

Printed on October 11, 2011 as: Oklahoma State's Weeden, Blackmon to test secondary yet again