All sorts of mistakes lead to Longhorns' first loss at Boone Pickens Stadium since 1997
Posted October 1st, 2016
STILLWATER, Okla. — Saturday’s 49-31 loss at Oklahoma State was such a chaotic mess, it’s difficult to figure out where to start.
Pick your poison: Missed tackles, busted assignments, three blocked extra-point kicks, questionable coaching decisions all mixed together with toxic levels of frustration.
“I feel like as a team we’re underachieving. That’s not right,” said sophomore defensive end Breckyn Hager, who ran up the tunnel and skipped the traditional post-game singing of “The Eyes of Texas.”
“I’m not a loser,” he said. “I don’t want to be a loser.”
No. 22 Texas had two weeks to prepare for its Big 12 opener at Boone Pickens Stadium. But there were so many mistakes and are-you-kidding-me moments, even the most ardent Charlie Strong supporters must now have doubts.
Up until this debacle, Texas had not lost in Stillwater since 1997. No need for OSU students to tear down the goal posts this time around. The Longhorns (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) are simply a .500 team that will soon fall out of the national polls and spotlight.
For the first time since becoming the Texas athletic director, Mike Perrin was asked to evaluate his football coach when things aren’t so cheery. “I evaluate everything after every game,” Perrin said. “I look at the kicking game, all facets. I’m not evaluating Charlie. I’m evaluating everything.”
Said Strong: “You’re evaluated each and every day here.”
For the second straight game, Texas rushed for more than 300 yards and lost. What’s worse, running back Chris Warren III left the game at halftime with a knee injury. He had 106 yards on 10 carries, but left wearing a knee brace. And D’Onta Foreman suffered a rib injury late in the third quarter.
Foreman, who had 148 yards and two touchdowns, felt a sharp pain on his third-quarter, 62-yard score. It was not because he was tackled late in the end zone, though. Foreman later went down on his own and left the game.
“I felt it,” said Foreman, who said he expects to play next against Oklahoma. “It kind of scared me, because I didn’t know what it was. I’ll be all right, though.”
Once again, offense wasn’t the issue. It was everything else.
The sheer amount of missed tackles on OSU’s first two touchdown drives was laughable.
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OSU’s Justice Hill scored from 30 yards out, with Anthony Wheeler, Kevin Vaccaro and Brandon Jones all missing shots at tackles. Then James Washington ran a simple crossing route, a play designed for 10 to 15 yards. Sheroid Evans missed him, DeShon Elliott got smashed by a blocker and Davante Davis whiffed on another tackle attempt. Washington raced 54 yards for a demoralizing score and a quick 14-0 lead for the Cowboys.
Strong admitted he was more involved with the defensive play-calling, and the Horns started pot-stirrers Hager, Malcolm Roach and Jones. But after falling behind 14-0, coaches inserted veteran safeties Jason Hall and Dylan Haines and the defense stiffened.
“We had a few hiccups there, so we wanted to settle guys down,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. His unit still has only one takeaway in four games.
At one point, Malik Jefferson showed Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph he was blitzing twice. Jefferson ran through the hole, smashed into the running back and whiffed on a tailor-made tackle. It was that kind of day; the Cowboys piled up 555 yards and went 7 for 15 on third-down conversions.
“That’s one of the things that gets under my skin as a player,” Jefferson said. “I missed a tackle, a couple of tackles, actually. That shouldn’t happen. That’s inexcusable. That’s day one rules.”
In the end, getting three extra points blocked and watching OSU return one of them for two points proved meaningless. Left guard Patrick Vahe said the Cowboys overloaded the gaps on a designed play each time. The fact Texas couldn’t adjust seems more troubling.
What’s disturbing is that the calendar says October, and the Horns don’t appear to be getting better.
“We feel like we’re a much better team than what we’re showing out there,” Vahe said. “All we can do is take things week by week. That’s the best thing we can do right now.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.