No Guts, No Glory

Roy Williams and B.J. Johnson didn’t score a touchdown in their careers against Oklahoma. Cedric Benson scored one. Oh, and the three of them never experienced a win over Oklahoma. Their era at UT defined the futility of playing the OU game not to lose.

I mention this unhappy factoid to illustrate that swing passes to running backs five yards behind the line of scrimmage—a staple against Kansas State—won’t cut it this week. Sam Ehlinger will have to challenge Oklahoma’s biggest vulnerability which is its secondary. The idea that Texas can play keep away from the high-scoring Oklahoma offense by grinding it out on the ground is a flawed strategy.  Ehlinger will have to risk interceptions by throwing the ball down field including throws over the middle.  Herman and the Horns can’t back into a win in this game.

I don’t mean to suggest the Ehlinger needs to throw it 50 times Saturday. Another risk—in Tom Herman’s mind—is trusting a freshman to play a major role on offense. Herman must take this risk giving the ball to a freshman, the Horns best running back Keaontay Ingram, at least 20 times.  Incidentally, the aforementioned Cedric Benson barely stepped foot on the field his freshman year in the 2001 OU game and didn’t get a single carry.  Texas lost 14-3. The next week against Oklahoma State, Benson rushed for 136 yards on 31 carries. In the six regular season games after the OU game Benson rushed for 818 yards total on 166 carries.  Give the ball to your talented freshman Tom.

Lincoln Riley and Kyler Murray

Lincoln Riley is among the elite offensive minds college or pro. Tom Herman and Tim Beck not so much. Heck, Texas doesn’t even have a designated play caller, or anybody who’s willing to cop to it.

I think Sam Ehlinger is a pretty good quarterback who seems to be getting better.  Kyler Murray may be an upgrade over Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner who now is an NFL starter. As succinctly as I can put it, Kyler Murray is scary good, at least through his first five games as a starter.

If the Sun Tzu posit, “Every battle is won before it is ever fought” is true for this game, the Longhorns, as Abe Lemons would say, are in a “sticky wicket.”

Reasons for Longhorns optimism

  1. Oklahoma hasn’t played a good team this year. They’ve defeated Florida Atlantic, UCLA, Iowa State, Army, and Baylor. Those teams combined won-loss record is 8-15. Florida Atlantic has the most impressive win of the bunch over 1-3 Air Force.
  2. Oklahoma’s defense is average at best. Their secondary is small and undistinguished. Texas can make hay in the passing game if they’re aggressive.
  3. Todd Orlando is verging on elite status as a defensive coordinator and he has enough good players to slow Oklahoma down at least a little bit. Orlando needs to be on his toes and adjust quickly to Lincoln Riley’s adjustments.

***************

Other than overarching fact that Oklahoma appears to be a legitimate top 10 team with an elite offensive coordinator, quarterback, and elite receivers, the biggest thing for Longhorn fans to be worried about is special teams. Texas punter Ryan Bujcevski is slow in getting kicks away and Oklahoma blocked a punt against Florida Atlantic. They’re sure to try block another this week. Oklahoma’s returner Tre Brown returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown against UCLA.

Final Thoughts

When today’s American-Statesman went to print, Oklahoma was favored in this game by seven points. The line opened at nine. I’m an amateur assessor of sports betting. That being said, nine seems about right to me.

At the OU pep rally in Gregory Gym in 1975, Darrell Royal having lost four straight to the Sooners, said it was time get back on the winning side. Oklahoma was #2, Texas was #5.  Marty Akins, Earl Campbell, and an elite Texas defense fought hard in one of the most exciting and memorable Texas-OU games I’ve attended.  In the end it wasn’t enough. OU prevailed 24-17.

Texas has lost six of eight to OU since 2010. It’s time to get back on the winning side. I’m afraid I don’t see it happening, but I’ll be there in section 126, row 26, seat 32 rooting for the Longhorns and hoping for the best. It will the 38th Texas-OU game I’ve attended.

 

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

4 Comments to “No Guts, No Glory”

  1. In his book The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), the novelist George Orwell wrote: “Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there.”

  2. Supposedly this Kyler Murray guy is a lot faster than Brett Bomar.

  3. I just can’t get the picture of Kris Boyd shaking his head and looking lost after being torched out of my head.

What Say You?