Oklahoma State fans throw their paddles against the stadium wall during a Big 12 Conference football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. [Stephen Spillman for Statesman]

BEVO BEAT

Stalling in Stillwater: Sluggish Texas trails Oklahoma State at halftime, 31-14

Posted October 27th, 2018

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It’s halftime at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. No. 6 Texas, a 2.5-point favorite tonight, is trailing Oklahoma State 31-14.

We’re about to find out how the Longhorns look when they’re forced to wear the rally hat. This is the third time Texas has trailed at halftime this season; the Horns were down 24-22 at Maryland and ended up losing 34-29 and they trailed TCU 13-10 at the break before coming back to win 31-16.

This is tied for the biggest deficit Texas has faced this season. The Horns trailed Maryland by 17 points in the first half against Maryland.

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Looking for a reason why? Here are a couple:

1. The defense is struggling. No pass rush save one play to open the second quarter. The secondary is struggling. Oklahoma State’s offensive line is controlling things up front and the Cowboys are gashing Texas in the running game.

The Cowboys have 378 yards of total offense. That’s more yards than the Longhorns allowed TCU and Kansas State for the entire game.

2. Sam Ehlinger started. He looked pretty good on Texas’ first drive but ended up starting off 2 of 8 and threw five straight incompletions at one point. He’s scored two touchdowns on the ground and is 5 of 15 for 108 yards through the air.

3. Keaontay Ingram got the start, but the Longhorns haven’t established their running game. He has 24 yards on 7 carries, with a long of 11 (which also was his first carry). He’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry.

4. As announced, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis missed the first quarter as punishment for showing up late to a team function. It meant the Horns had a redshirt freshman and a true freshman at cornerback for the first quarter. It was a big quarter for embattled Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius.

Not that things improved dramatically when Boyd and Davis returned. Tylan Wallace beat Boyd for a 27-yard gain on OSU’s first drive of the second quarter. And late in the half, Wallace outjumped Boyd for a 36-yard touchdown; Boyd was in position to make the play, but mistimed his jump. Wallace didn’t.

5. As if the secondary isn’t having enough of a bad night, starting nickel back P.J. Locke headed to the locker room with eight minutes left in the half with an apparent ankle injury.

6. The Longhorns are only 2 of 6 on third-down conversions.

7. Collin Johnson hasn’t been a factor. He’s got one catch for 14 yards.

The scoring plays

FIRST QUARTER

OSU: Tylan Wallace 40-yard pass from Taylor Cornelius (Matt Ammendola kick, 13:12)
Texas: Ehlinger 5-yard run (Cameron Dicker kick, 9:58)
OSU: Jelani Woods 17-yard pass from Cornelius (Ammendola kick, 6:43)
OSU: Ammendola 24-yard field goal, 3:59

SECOND QUARTER

OSU: Cornelius 8-yard run (Ammendola kick, 10:15)
Texas: Ehlinger 1-yard run (Dicker kick, 8:48)
OSU: Wallace 36-yard pass from Cornelius (Ammendola kick, 1:17)

The good

  • Ehlinger answered some questions early on Texas’ opening drive. He kept it for a 6-yard run and took a hit on the tackle. He converted a clutch third-and-9 play by staying patient in the pocket and finding Collin Johnson over the middle — and took another hit on the throw. And he scored on a 5-yard keeper, his team-leading seventh rushing score of the season.

It was a big score, too. The Horns needed a good drive with a touchdown to answer OSU’s quick-strike opening drive.

  • Gary Johnson saved Texas some points on the very first play of the second quarter. On third-and-6 at UT’s 9-yard line, Johnson broke through for the Horns’ first sack of the night, a big one — a 15-yard loss back to the 24. On fourth down, Matt Ammendola missed from 41 yards out.
  • Charles Omenihu notched a sack and a tackle for loss on the same drive in the second quarter.
  • Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s punishment was one drive. He entered on UT’s second possession and promptly caught a 15-yard slant for a first down. He added a 34-yarder in the second quarter.
  • How about starters playing on special teams? D’Shawn Jamison muffed his first punt return, but Collin Johnson saved the day by recovering the ball on the turf. A turnover there would’ve given OSU the ball inside Texas’ 20 with a 24-14 lead.
  • Ehinger’s best pass was a 37-yard strike to a well-covered Andrew Beck down to the 1-yard line. Ehlinger hit his roommate in perfect stride. It set up the quarterback’s second touchdown run of the game that cut OSU’s lead to 10.
  • Ryan Bujcevski can go dressed up as Michael Dickson for Halloween. He booted a soaring 55-yard punt in the first quarter.

The bad

  • Where’s the Texas pass rush? Not in Stillwater. At least for the first quarter. Cornelius wasn’t bothered once in the opening quarter. Though Gary Johnson sacked him on the very first play of the second quarter for a 15-yard loss. That very likely could’ve been a 4-point play — it came on third-and-6 from UT’s 9-yard line.
  • Everyone was worried about Justice Hill. For good reason. After putting up a pair of 100-yard games against Texas in 2016 and 2017, he’s got 70 yards on 14 carries through two quarters. He had 31 yards in his last game.
  • And it’s not just Hill that’s gashing Texas. We didn’t hear much about Chuba Hubbard this week, but the freshman from Canada’s got 7 carries for 75 yards.
  • In fact, Oklahoma State already has 137 rushing yards.
  • A review after an OSU catch took away a Cowboys first down, forcing a fourth-and-half a yard at midfield with 2:05 left. Mike Gundy, up 24-14, opted to punt. But Texas was called for offside, giving the Cowboys new life.
  • Cameron Dicker’s late hit penalty on the tail end of an already solid return on the opening kickoff gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 47 to start the game. Oklahoma State scored a touchdown four plays later.
  • On that opening drive, Texas couldn’t mount a pass rush on third-and-9. Cornelius had plenty of time to find Dillon Stoner for 12 yards and a first down. Cornelius hit Wallace for that 40-yard score on the very next play.
  • Another key play: The Cowboys went for it on fourth-and-1 at the 17 — they were, after all, 10 of 15 on fourth down conversions heading into the game. Cornelius faked it to Hill and found a wide-open Jelani Woods for the play-action touchdown and 14-7 lead.
  • Oklahoma State had 27 offensive plays in the first quarter. No wonder they led 17-7 heading into the second.
  • There was a delay of game midway through the first quarter — on the first play coming off a TV timeout. Sometimes, it’s the little things. On that drive, Humphrey dropped what would’ve been a big gainer downfield. The Horns, trailing 14-7, punted two plays later.

Texas, which won the toss and deferred to start the game, will get the ball to start the second half.

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