Following Texas’ 41-36 win over Oklahoma State, here are five things that stood out:
Truth about the defense
I keep thinking about the movie "Shawshank Redemption" when Red decides to violate probation and makes the statement, “There’s a harsh truth to face.”
There is a harsh truth to face when talking about the Texas defense. The Longhorns have future NFL players at every level. They are talented, fast, strong, athletic and well-coached. But they are just not a great defense right now.
John Gruden once said, “There’s a difference between talented and good.”
Texas is talented, but they took bad angles against Oklahoma State. They went for the big hit and did not wrap up. They missed tackles, missed assignments and at times did not play with aggression.
Texas gave up scoring plays of 69, 44 and 20 yards to Oklahoma State. Through the last couple of weeks, the Longhorns gave up touchdown plays of 48, 69 and 75. Oklahoma State, on the strength of its running game and freshman quarterback, put up 576 yards on Texas. It averaged almost 7 yards per carry. Those are not numbers good defenses, let alone great ones, give up.
Talented defenses do not win championships. Talented defenses do what they need to do to be good. Most Texas fans want the Longhorns to be good by the time West Virginia rolls into town next weekend.
The reality is that the Texas defense is talented but not good. The question is how long it will take for them to get good.
At some point everyone needs to give David Ash his due respect. I thought he might throw his first interception tonight and he did. He still finished 30-of-37 for 304 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, he has thrown 10 touchdowns and one interception.
He made good decisions Saturday and showed the resolve of a champion in the fourth quarter. For everyone who thought they would never see him have to bail out the defense, welcome to the reality that is the game of football. The fourth-and-6 pass to DJ Grant for 29 yards to keep the game-winning drive alive was that of a senior captain.
Mack Brown knew that Ash was feeling the pressure and thought he answered all comers. "Give David credit," he said. "He will not be under any more pressure than he was tonight."
Magic Mike Davis
I could not be happier for a kid. He came into Texas and had a really good freshman year in a bad year for the Longhorns. He had enough of a sophomore slump that fans and media members seemingly wrote him off and planned for other recruits to take his spot.
He had a really good game at Ole Miss, and he came through when the Longhorns needed him most against Oklahoma State, with a long catch to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
He battled through nagging injuries. He fought through having negative forces as a roommate. He fought through everyone writing him off and labeling him as useless. Just like a golf shot, Davis is quite useful.
March Madness during football season
Texas beat up the likes of Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss. All of the games ahead are conference games, and there is truly only one bad team that Texas will play in Kansas. The Jayhawks are so bad, you can truly write them off.
As for the rest of the schedule, Texas is now in the NCAA basketball tournament. All the Longhorns really want to do is survive and advance. Margin of victory does not matter anymore. Texas needs to win and stay healthy.
As much as they should have grown throughout the spring, summer and early football season, the Longhorns grew up a lot Saturday, scoring in the last minute to seal the victory.
Win and move on. It is the only thing that matters.
Where was the Texas defensive line?
It did not pull a Houdini, but at times, a search party needed to be sent out. The only way Texas will be able to play with West Virginia will be with a defensive line that creates pressure with the front four.
While Texas will have to be inventive with its schemes and not be silly enough to play a lot of three-man rushes, forcing WVU quarterback Geno Smith to throw the ball faster than he wants to will be the key to success.
If the defensive line does not have a great performance against WVU, the Longhorns do not have a chance to win. Yeah, so what? I’m putting pressure on them. I don't even call it pressure. I call it facts that lead to victory or defeat.
The defensive line better show next week or Texas will get action in the loss column for the first time this season.