Saturday, April 20, 2024

Red River Reality

by Michael Corcoran

A 4-0 start, including revenge wins on the road against UCLA and Iowa State, had some Longhorn fans thinking their team had a shot against mighty Oklahoma on Saturday. But since the game is played in the Cotton Bowl, not the Coddle Bowl, the prized blue chip recruits of Texas didn’t have a chance. This contest was so lopsided that “you know what would make this game better?” called for the bartender at Buffalo Hot Wings to hit a button behind the bar that changed the screens to “Heidi.” (“Whoa! We’re watching the game!” yelled Greg Davis.)

It was over in the second quarter, as the Sooners answered Fozzy Whittaker’s kickoff return for a touchdown by marching down the field in two minutes like they could do it all day long. And they would’ve except the defense kept scoring. It was 34-10 at the half.

There are only three teams who can win the national championship this year: LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma. Sorry, Boise State, but last year’s loss to Nevada is still hurting you. There are three powerhouses far above the rest and on Saturday Oklahoma hoisted  itself to the top of that triangle by beating the No. 11 team in the country 55-17.

Oklahoma is really that good. But are the Horns really that bad? It’s just one game, but the blowout was so complete that the second half felt like a preseason game, a chance to see what some of the other guys can do. It was too late to save face, so Coach Brown worked on saving his season.

Even as the OU defense scored three touchdowns, the biggest difference in the teams was at quarterback. Oklahoma had poised Heisman trophy candidate Landry Jones, doing Sam Bradford like Jimmy Fallon does Neil Young. Jones threw for 367 yards and had enough time in the pocket to also post his personal best Qrank score. Texas, meanwhile, rotated a pair of jumpy kids who, let’s face it, got beat out by Garrett Gilbert at the start of the season. Texas had as much chance of winning this game as a horse with a Samoan jockey finishing first in the Preakness.

Coach Mack Brown recruits players with character, while OU goes for characters who can play. Longhorns don’t shave logos or messages into their scalps. They don’t sport bleached Mohawks; and only a few have tattoos.

Macho Jerks 55, Nice Guys 17.

The Oklahoma game was a baptism by fire, and at the end we’re left with Ash. If seems that Coach Brown was looking for anything positive to come out of this fiasco, so he tapped David Ash, the frosh prince of Bel-ton, to finish out the bloodbath. Texas may have found it’s starter at QB- for better or worse- as Case McCoy just seemed flustered out there. Ash was pretty awful, too, and he really should practice his defensive skills if he’s going to serve up picks. But he seemed to have more poise.

Also on the bright side: cornerbacks Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips can really play, Quandre Diggs is coming along and safety Kenny Vaccaro would look like a sure NFL prospect if they still allowed hard hitting in the pros. There’s not much you can do when the quarterback is throwing perfect passes to the likes of Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, but this latest crop of Texas DBs establishes Duane Akina as the most consistent position coach at UT. (But Blake Gideon, who still hasn’t redeemed himself for “Gideon’s bobble” in the 2008 Tech game, can’t graduate fast enough.)

After guns started getting a bad rep, the name of this game was changed from the Red River Shootout to the Red River Rivalry in 2005. That new name has catchy alliteration, but the game should be called The Truth About Your Team. Nothing but questions going in.

Can you live with the answers?

Where do we sign to guarantee a 7-4 season this year? Which Horns fan wouldn’t settle for that after the latest Sooner slaughter? That means UT still has to win three more games in a schedule that includes Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas State, Texas A&M and Baylor. OK, Kansas is one win. Texas Tech should be another.

But the Texas team we watched Saturday, could very well lose the last four games of the season and end up at 6-6.

As Brent Musburger said on Saturday- ad nauseum, Pardner- they can deep-fry everything at the Texas State Fair. Including high hopes.


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