Mack Brown has screwed around for years now with promises of bringing a physical running game back to Texas’ offense. Apparently, the Longhorns decided to get serious about it this week. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Oklahoma, as the Sooners got schooled in the 2013 Red River Shootout, 36-20.
The move to a 3-3-5 defensive scheme in the preseason always meant that Oklahoma would be susceptible to downhill running. Losing defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and linebacker Corey Nelson further ate away at OU’s run defense. Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite took advantage of the Sooners’ lack of size and pounded away between the tackles with tailbacks Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown for 255 yards on 60 carries. Everything about UT’s offensive success started and ended there.
Whereas Applewhite was all too happy to go after OU’s pressure points, the Sooners coaching staff apparently decided that it wouldn’t be sporting to hammer the ‘Horns D with the read option, which has victimized UT all year.
Texas geared up to stop the run on early downs and inevitably took OU off-schedule. By intentionally removing the threat of the quarterback run, the Sooners confined Blake Bell - who had an absolutely horrific day - to the pocket and then begged Texas’ defensive line to take over on third down. The front four happily obliged with the help of some timely pressure packages coming off the edge. Aside from a nice opening drive, the offense never really came close to moving the ball consistently enough to pose a threat.
In the aftermath of this loss, you’re going to read plenty of theorizing about how the Longhorns got tired of getting their teeth kicked in by their rivals from up north of the Red River. Or that the team was fired up trying to defend embattled coach Mack Brown. Or that Mack made an inspired move in hiring Greg Robinson to fix his defense.
All of that may be true. UT played easily its best game of the year in all phases and owned OU for four quarters. There was a little something extra in Texas’ performance today, for sure.
But save the fairy gold dust and voodoo talk. Texas attacked the Sooners’ weaknesses and had the personnel to exploit them. OU didn’t. Sadly for OU, it was just that simple.