Texas Loses Its Fight

Hapless Horns return and put Mack Brown back in the hot seat

Hapless Horns return and put Mack Brown back in the hot seat

OSU versus Longhorns
Longhorn running back Malcolm Brown. Photo courtesy of UT Athletics

Being ranked is Kryptonite to the No. 24 Texas Longhorns, who won’t have that weakness next game, when they’ll drop off the charts like the Dixie Chicks after losing 38-13 to Oklahoma State at home on November 16.

UT’s six-game winning streak ended just before halftime Saturday, when Case McCoy threw his only touchdown pass of the day — to Justin Gilbert of the Cowboys. When the Horns tried to claw their way back into the game, they shot themselves in the ass over and over, like they were in a blooper reel for The Plaxico Burress Story.

It was Mack Brown’s worst home loss in 16 seasons and rekindled talk of his postseason ouster, when just last week we were calling him a Big 12 Coach of the Year candidate.

 It was Mack Brown’s worst home loss in 16 seasons and rekindled talk of his postseason ouster, when just last week we were calling him a Big 12 Coach of the Year candidate.

Texas had won six straight conference games going back to September 21, but now the Horns won’t take the conference crown unless they win the last two games — against Texas Tech at home on Thanksgiving and versus the fourth-ranked Baylor Bears on December 7 — and Oklahoma State loses to Baylor.

It isn’t so bad that Texas was defeated by the No. 12-ranked OSU, who were favored by three points; it was the way they stuck to a conservative game plan even when they were 25 points behind in the fourth quarter. There was about as much urgency in the UT offense as there is in a minimum-wage-earning fast-food crew reacting to a tour bus pulling up at closing time. They just wanted to go home.

The Horns played with such a lack of balls they couldn’t make a pause pregnant. They packed it in with the clock still running and Tyrone Swoopes’ redshirt smoldering unnecessarily.

Although Texas lost by more than three touchdowns, the difference in the game was the final 1:33 of the first half. The Cowboys were leading 14-10 when UT’s Adrian Phillips bobbled a sure interception into the hands of the Oklahoma State receiver Tracy Moore for a touchdown.

After Texas got the ball and made a couple of first downs, McCoy threw a lazy out pass to Kendall Sanders that Gilbert stepped in front of and took back 43 yards for the TD. Just like that, it was 28-10.

Yes, this was Choke State, but no, Case McCoy isn’t Vince Young. No. 6 has had a special season, beating OU and all, but he soiled the Sealy Saturday, averaging five yards per pass attempt (39-217) and three interceptions.

The coaches all blamed themselves. Give me a few million a year, and I’ll take credit for I-35 traffic. But the Horns lost because the players didn’t make plays, while the guys in the other clothes did.

“It’s on me,” Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said after the game of his team’s lack of offense. But he showed a lack of remorse. He’s gotta go with Mack, right?

Sitting next to him was McCoy, who said it was his fault, “and everyone on the team knows it.” Just not your day, kid.

Texas was also atrocious on special teams, which is always an easy indication of whether or not a team is mentally prepared to go to war. Roughing the punter proved an invisible turnover in the third quarter, when it looked like the Horns might be able to get the kind of momentum that makes McCoy’s passes zing instead of looking like the ball’s wrapped in foil.

The Horns had bad field position all game, with Daje Johnson muffing a punt that he should’ve let bounce into the end zone for a touchback. Once UT’s best offensive threat, an ineffective Johnson was replaced as punt returner after that and sent to the Dajehouse.

Who played well? Anthony Fera. When a kicker gets the game ball, you’ve got a football contest on the excitement level of a Sting concert. Texas had the swagger of a lute.

We used to slap T. Boone’s farm boys around, but Oklahoma State has now beaten Texas three times in a row in Austin. It was new athletic director Steve Patterson’s first football game as the don of UT football, and he’s already gotta be thinking about guys to whack.

Mack Brown’s a good earner, but a possible 7-5 season is another disgrace in the high-stakes world of amateur athletics. The only thing from keeping Mack Brown from getting fired is that there’s no one available who’s as good a head football coach. At the end of the year, maybe even that won’t be enough.