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Notes from the OU-Texas game

10/9/2011

DALLAS -- The game was simply too fast.

No, not for any Texas fans watching. For them it couldn’t get over quickly enough, as was evidenced by the empty Texas side of the Cotton Bowl stands. But the game was too fast for almost every Texas player on offense.

“Our defense is really fast, we’ve got a long way to go on our offense,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.

Speed thrills and speed kills. Texas just simply didn’t have time to execute any of its plays on offense. That, coupled with the fact that young quarterbacks have a tendency to hold onto the ball a beat or two longer than veterans, and you have an offense that lost 117 yards in the run game. Eight of those negative plays were sacks for 84 yards. Another 27 yards were lost on failed reverse plays to Miles Onyegbule and Jaxon Shipley.

“We have got to get better from the execution factor at the quarterback position,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “Not putting ourselves into the red zone and we take a sack. Or not putting ourselves in a situation where we are hanging onto the ball so long that somebody is going to come along and get it. That is where we have got to learn to improve.”

That includes Harsin. While Boise State played some of the big boys while he was offensive coordinator, the Broncos never had to face the speed of an Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. Boise always had weeks to prepare and scheme before it faced a BCS contender.

Harsin has 20 hours to work with his team before Oklahoma State. Texas isn’t going to get quicker in that time. But it might be able to devise some things to slow down OSU. Or, at the very least, Texas needs to learn how to prevent things that slow down its offense.

Texas coach Mack Brown will use this as a lesson, especially in helping quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash grow into their positions.

“A game like this will help them,” Brown said. “The speed of the game, [and Oklahoma’s] got great players, they did a great job mixing up their coverages and their blitzes, and were around them a lot. So it’ll have to help them down the road. And they’ll be more ready for this next week when they see a really good Oklahoma State defense.”

Give and Take: Texas had climbed into the top 10 in turnover margin. A huge accomplishment considering it was in the bottom 10 a year ago. The Longhorns had done it by being opportunistic on defense and not giving up the ball on offense.

Neither Case McCoy nor David Ash had accounted for a turnover since they took over at quarterback in the second quarter of Game 2. That was not the case against Oklahoma. Ash had two interceptions. McCoy fumbled on Texas’ first series. He fumbled on the first series of the third quarter as well, and that time OU took it in for a touchdown.

“You can’t have five turnovers, and three of them for touchdowns,” Brown said. “I don’t think I’ve seen that in many years. It’s a ball taken out of our receiver’s hands, which is a credit to them. Jamell Fleming had run it back for a touchdown, an interception for a touchdown and a fumble by a quarterback for a touchdown -- you don’t give yourself a chance to win.’’

“We had some pressure situations where guys got in our face and got our quarterbacks on their back foot, and we made some throws there,” Harsin said.

Texas is now plus one in turnover margin on the season.

Bright spot: With the game not totally out of control, Fozzy Whittaker gave his teammates a flicker of hope. The senior running back took a kickoff back 100 yards to pull the Longhorns within 17.

The return matched the longest in school history and was the 15th kickoff return for a touchdown in Texas history. Whittaker has now scored 12 touchdowns for Texas -- 10 rushing, one receiving and one return. He also topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the game. Whittaker has 1,031 career rushing yards, which is 44th on the all-time Texas list.