Pre-Game Oklahoma St.

The Coaching Match Up


On Paper this game looks like it will be evenly matched and high scoring. Defensively maybe Texas has the edge.  Whatever the case most of the pre-game attention has been focused on David Ash, which of the two OSU quarterbacks will start, and the various match-ups such as Texas’s offense line versus OSU’s defense.  If this game turns out to be as close as the Vegas betting line has it, a key match-up that no one is talking about will probably be the most important one. It is the coaching match up.

I hate to bring up a painful subject but when the Horns lost to Texas Tech in 2008, a loss that cost Texas a birth in National Championship game, everyone pointed to Blake Gideon’s dropped interception as the play that cost Texas the game. Texas would have never been in that position if it wasn’t for a huge coaching mistake by Mack Brown and or Greg Davis in the first quarter. Texas was backed up on their two yard line and they lined up on first down in the power I formation with tail back Chris Ogbonnaya five yards deep in the end zone. When I saw that I thought to myself, “surely they aren’t going to hand the ball to Ogbannaya in the end zone. Not with our suspect run blocking.”  That just what Texas did and Ogbannaya was tackled for a safety. He didn’t get within a yard of the goal line.  That play call was a coaching decision, an unforced error and it cost Texas a decisive two points.

If this game is a close one it likely will be won or lost by in-game coaching decisions including halftime adjustments.  Wise clock management at the end of the first half as well as at the end of the game will be critical if it’s a close high scoring game. Clock management decisions at the end of quarters will be important if it’s windy. Do we want to call a time out so we can punt with instead of against the wind and so on?  Speaking of timeouts will Texas have to burn a time out or two because of disorganized substitutions or because the OSU coaches showed them something they weren’t prepared for?  I could go on but I think you get the idea.  Keep your eye on the chess match between the coaching staffs.


Perhaps the most important in-game coaching decision in the history of Texas Football was made by Darrell Royal in the 1969 game versus Arkansas. AKA The Game of the Century.  For those of you who know the story well bear with me while I set the stage for the rest of our readers.

In 1969 Texas and Arkansas were bitter rivals in the Southwest Conference which was comprised of seven teams from within Texas plus Arkansas. Traditionally as in always, the Texas- Arkansas game was played in the middle of October the week after Texas played Oklahoma.  In the spring of 1969, Roone Arledge, the president of ABC sports, seeing that there was a very good chance the Texas and Arkansas would be highly ranked teams in the coming season, asked the two schools if they would consider moving their game from October to December 6, which would make it the last game  college football season. Arledge figured the game would probably decide the SWC Championship and might  have major implications on a national level thereby making it a dramatic contest that would command a large national audience.  Arledge figured pretty good.

Texas started out the season ranked #2 and steam rolled all opposition averaged 44 points a game prior to the Arkansas game.  Ohio State was the 1968 National Champion and started 1969 ranked #1. Texas’ #2 ranking was a distant #2 as Ohio State was nearly a unanimous #1 among all voters in both the UPI and AP polls.  Nobody but nobody thought Ohio State would finish anything short of  undefeated  and repeat as National Champion. Alas two national championships in a row were not to be for the Buckeyes because on the Saturday before Texas’ Thanksgiving day game with A&M, Ohio State was upset by Michigan in Ann Arbor 24-12 and Texas ascended to #1.  To this day I always root for Michigan when they play Ohio State.   Mean while Arkansas raced through the first nine games of their season undefeated and benefiting from Ohio State’s loss, moved up from the #3 ranking to #2 setting the stage for Texas #1 versus Arkansas #2 on the last day of the regular season.  If that didn’t make it a big enough game, the 37th President of the United States decided it would be fun to attend the game and award a National Championship Plaque to the winner. It bears repeating, Arledge figured pretty good.

Let me cut to the chase and Royal’s decision that resulted the play that runs on the Jumbotron before Texas home games in 2012.  With 4:47 left in the game Texas was not having a very good day. Neither was a 14 year old and his father watching the game on television in Vestal, N.Y.  They had turned the ball over six times and their vaunted Wishbone running attack had produced only eight points well below their 44 point per game average.  Texas had the ball on their 43 yard line and it was 4th down and three and they trailed 14-8. Royal called time out.  What to do?  Frankly things did not look good for Texas. Arkansas had effectively blunted Texas’  Juggernaut Wishbone which had averaged 363 yards per game.  Texas only passed the ball 13 times per game and was completing less that 50% of those throws.  Joe Namath James Street was not.  So naturally Royal called a long pass play(Right 53 Veer Pass) to a tight end who had caught just three passes all season. A play that they had run once before the entire season and it had been incomplete. There is plenty of good lore on Street’s reaction to Royal when he told him what play to run and so on but I won’t gone into that here.

What I think is instructive about Royal’s call was that he had the nerve to take a big risk with everything in the world on the line.  He decided to take that risk because what Texas had been been trying to do offensively the entire game hadn’t worked and he recognized that he had to try something different to get a different result.  In other words he decided not to fit the classic definition of insanity which is to try the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.   The play worked gaining 44 yards and a first down on Arkansas’ 13 yard line. Two plays later Texas scored the wining touchdown and after the game Dick Nixon presented Royal with the plaque.  Deciding to call Right 53 Veer Pass was a risky decision but a sane one.

Enjoy the Youtube clip and notice the girl in the Longhorn Band.

HooK eM,


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16 Comments to “Pre-Game Oklahoma St.”

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  4. It’s always fun to win & I have a great image of a pissed off T Boone confronting his “man” of a coach, but for a school that prides itself on academic excellence, we sure are stupid. Reverse on 2nd & 1, time “f’ng”out with 36 seconds to play (shades of Colt running out of bounds before late score at 2008 Tech game giving them just enough time), & not going for 2.
    Also, I apologize for thoughts about David Ash.

  5. Willie, you are a mighty prescient man to recall the glory of the “Game of the Century”, only Mack and David have Darrell and James beat by three yards at the scrimmage on the 4th down call and ensuing play, respectively. Awesome ending but do you think the Horns might be able to come up with a little push back on the offense they’re going to see next week? Inshallah, as they say here…

  6. Harkening back to Colt’s redshirt freshman year, and the swarm of Buckeyes that must have given us all a wake-up call that, indeed, the VY party was over. Things turned out pretty well, clean for the most part… with credit to scrappy, if not ugly, play. Close calls by Colt that year, with a hint of promise that things wont be too bad. Ash has easily done the same, if not more. He showed guts, and like R. Lee Ermey says in Full Metal Jacket, “guts is enough”. That’s probably not enough credit, but this is week 1 of a rough month… I’m proud & excited.

    Hook ’em,

  7. Well, W.E., the Horns are hitting the trail across the Red River, on up to Stillwater, where the boomers started it all by shoving the Native Americans aside. The place was God forsaken and unpopulated until they decided to clear some brush weed for a university and there you have it, good ‘ol OSU and T.Boone’s money. Now a Jordanian friend, a fellow “hasher” of the Hashemite Hash House Harriers (a “drinking club with a running problem”) told me yesterday at a poolside party at the Aussie Embassy majestically overlooking the sun baked brown olive-tree laden hills of south Amman that he went to OSU and he said Oklahoma girls were among the finest he’d seen, said he was bug eyed his whole freshman year. Well, we had just done a noonday run in near 100 degree heat before swilling copious amounts of chilled Cooper’s ales that the Oz were serving up but I knew he was telling the truth. Willis Allan Ramsey said northeast Texas women are Texas gold and I reckon the same applies just a few miles north of the border. Must be in the still waters. Well, OK, this said, the Horns just need to trample through town like the real longhorns did more than a hunnert years ago, and get the hell out, not even stop for a poke, unless its pokin’ the Cowpokes — we want to see plenty of that.

    • Ha! Love the Lonesome Dove poke reference!

      Speaking of literature, I failed to answer your Faulkner query. I never had to read him in HS or college … and could barely hang in for a chapter on my own volition. As far as the other author, Hemingway A-OK.

      Glad the bells tolled for the Cowboys last night.

  8. Makes my eyes water every time I see that clip. Every time. Forty-three years later. What a great evening for an 18-year-old UT freshman, including rushing out on the Robert Mueller tarmac with 10,000 others when the Orange Braniff plane brought the team home. Other than the birth of my children, my wedding (second), simply the best night of my life.

    • And I remember the phone ringing about 6pm that evening on Murray Hill Rd. and when I picked up the phone hearing, “WE’RE #1 GOD-DAMIT!

    • Watched it multiple times on ESPN classic. Love the clarinet player crying and yelling.

      Funny W.E. would mention this game as at the New Mexico game between the 1st and 2nd quarter a grizzled gentleman with broad shoulders appears on the Jumbo-Tron.

      Uncle David looks intently at the screen with wild-eyes and yells:


  9. Ya gotta love the sterling calls and insight from Chris Schenkel.
    Doesn’t he call bowling to this day?

    In the 43 years that I’ve watched that replay many times, I’ve never noticed the truly shoddy tackling by the vaunted Razorbacks in the sequences here.

    • Chris Schenkel was classic. I think Texas was his favorite. I believe he assumed room temperature a few years ago but he probably is still calling bowling.

  10. W.E.–

    I demand to see some enthusiasm for the team in subsequent posts!!

    You’re fan with a blog. LETS SHOW SOME POSITIVE ENERGY.

    -Bod Frank

    • I call ’em like I see ’em and if I don’t see ’em I make ’em up.