Ta’Quon Graham said he just wants to win.
The Texas senior defensive lineman has had enough of the Longhorns losing games in their closing moments because of careless penalties or a lack of execution.
In a Tuesday teleconference, Graham said a newfound focus on small details in practice — including ball security, penalties and different techniques — helped propel the 3–2 Longhorns to their most complete performance of the season last Saturday. Their 27-16 win against Baylor renewed the team’s confidence ahead of this week’s matchup with No. 6 Oklahoma State.
“I think, as a team, we are battle-tested, and we’ve been through the ups and downs on both ends of it,” Graham said. “We went through overtime with (Texas) Tech, and we’ve been through four overtimes with Oklahoma … so I think we’re very prepared for Saturday, either way it goes.”
A win over a Baylor team that has only played three games due to COVID-19 cases doesn’t solve all of the Longhorns’ issues. Texas rose to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 in Week 4, but head coach Tom Herman said Monday that the team hasn’t played its “A-game” since last year’s Alamo Bowl when it decimated No. 12 Utah.
If Texas wants to upset No. 6 Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday, the Longhorns are going to have to play selflessly, senior tight end Cade Brewer said in a Tuesday teleconference.
“Don’t be greedy, (leave our) egos at the door and when we do that, good things can happen,” Brewer said. “At the (2019) Alamo Bowl, we all left our egos at the door, and look what happened. We shut down a top (team) in Utah. It could happen this weekend in Stillwater too.”
Brewer, Graham and senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger are all confident in the Longhorns’ chances against the highest-ranked team in the Big 12 even though Texas has only won twice in Stillwater since 2012.
This year’s atmosphere won’t be nearly as hostile with Boone Pickens Stadium operating at 25% capacity. Even if the stadium sells its maximum ticket limit of under 14,000, the crowd will still be smaller than the 16,615 fans Texas played in front of in Lubbock earlier this season. Graham and Ehlinger said it won’t make the trip north any less hostile.
Graham recalled how Oklahoma State’s spirit group, the Paddle People, slammed their black and orange paddles against the sideline walls in past matchups.
Ehlinger said he felt closed-in on the field, and it was an advantage for Oklahoma State.
“I’ve been there once (in 2018), and it was very hostile,” Ehlinger said. “The sidelines are 5 yards (from the crowd), and the fans are right on top of you. (It’s) definitely advantageous that it won’t be a full stadium, but I know they’re still going to be rowdy, and it’s still going to be a great atmosphere.”
Texas and Oklahoma State kick off at 3 p.m. Saturday on FOX.