Yes, the Longhorns lost their second-straight game Saturday, losing to No. 6 Oklahoma State 38-26.
And yes, it was Mack Brown’s first loss in a week following the Red River Rivalry, and it left Texas unranked.
But despite how much you might not want to hear it and regardless of the fact that every player in the program will deny it, that was as close to a moral victory as you’ll ever get.
Not many people truly expected the Longhorns (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) to beat the undefeated Cowboys. Some predicted a blowout. Well, last I checked, a 12-point loss is no blowout, and holding a Brandon Weeden-led offense to 218 passing yards is a small success in itself.
So instead of focusing on the bad, which was the thing to do after a humiliating 55-17 loss to Oklahoma, let’s look at some of the positives.
First, it looks like Texas may have found itself the quarterback of the future. David Ash’s stat line was an ugly one — 22 of 40 for 139, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a lost fumble late in the fourth quarter. He was sacked five times and looked to have an internal head clock that was maybe three seconds too slow.
I’m not so sure it was in the best interest of the team to hold Case McCoy on the sideline for the entirety of the game. After all, this is a guy who went 12-for-15 with two touchdowns just one month ago. But if it’s going to be Ash for the rest of the season and maybe for three years after that, then Texas has to be excited about his arm strength and his mobility (he gained 62 yards rushing, if you don’t count the sacks). Also, Ash seemed to do a good job managing the game.
Speaking of the future, the next cornerback has emerged. Carrington Byndom, ladies and gentlemen, could very well be better someday than Aaron Williams or Aaron Ross, Nathan Vasher or Quentin Jammer, Cedric Griffin or Curtis Brown. Byndom, a sophomore, held Justin Blackmon to seven catches, 74 yards and a touchdown.
That’s pretty good against last year’s winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Award. Byndom made two sensational deflections on back-to-back plays, nearly coming down with what would have been the Interception of the Year and then swatting down a third-down pass right afterward.
“Carrington was fearless,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “He was up there in press-man. He did what we expect him to do as a player, and he has a great future.”
There are more bright spots: true freshman Malcolm Brown scored the second and third touchdowns of his career and looks as good as advertised. Fozzy Whittaker ran a kickoff back for a touchdown for the second-straight game and looks better than we expected. Mike Davis had a redeeming game at wide receiver. Darius White saw some long-awaited action at wideout and even made a catch. The offensive line was a lot better than last week.
Your negatives? The run defense was torched and has got to get better. The linebackers didn’t make any impact plays. The tight ends combined for just one catch.
Texas has a week off to work on all of that before unmighty Kansas (2-4) limps into town. If the Longhorns can’t beat the Jayhawks, this column will not be a positive place.
But for now it is, so long as you believe in moral victories.
Printed on Monday, October 17, 2011 as: Longhorns gain 'moral victory' despite loss to Oklahoma State