Longhorns Best Horned Frogs
Saturday's victory over TCU puts the Big 12 title in UT's sights
By Russ Espinoza, 11:10AM, Mon. Oct. 28
Mack Brown could’ve calmed everyone’s nerves when his Longhorns opened the season 1-2 by producing a crystal ball from his bag of tricks. If only we had known then what we know now: Oh, how silly we were to snarl and revolt against the most successful Longhorns coach since Darrell Royal.
Saturday night, Texas opened on TCU turf in search of their fourth straight victory. They got it, winning 30-7 over a raw army of Horned Frogs early Sunday morning – a late result caused by a whopping 3.5 hour weather delay in the game’s second quarter caused by lightning and heavy rains around Fort Worth’s Amon G. Carter Stadium.
As they’d done two weeks ago against Oklahoma, Greg Robinson’s defense clamped down by dominating the line of scrimmage and making tackles in the open field – not that any Horned Frog ever saw much daylight. That nightmarish BYU game on September 7, in which the Cougars racked-up 679 total yards, remains a burning reference point; this time to accentuate the fact that that same Longhorns defense has allowed a combined 509 yards in their last two contests (263 to OU and 246 to TCU).
TCU head coach Gary Patterson yanked shifty sophomore starter Trevone Boykin after a UT sack forced a fumble at the Frogs’ three yard-line. Texas recovered, and Malcolm Brown punched home a short touchdown run on the next play to give the Longhorns a 10-0 lead.
Senior Casey Pachall, a true pocket-passer who hadn’t played since breaking his non-throwing arm on Sept. 7, replaced Boykin and gave the TCU offense a short-lived lift. After Pachall’s first drive stalled, his second gave the Horned Frogs their only score of the game: a 5-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that concluded with a quick swing to receiver Cameron Echols, who then launched a 38-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open LaDarius Brown with 1:24 in the first quarter.
Case McCoy and the Texas offense had difficulty beating the Big 12’s top-rated rushing defense through tailbacks Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown. Entering the game, the Frogs’ menacing front seven had held four of their last five opponents to an average of 50 rushing yards on 31.5 carries. But while the purple and black kept busy accounting for the run, McCoy took to the air, throwing a 65-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Johnson, who streaked up the sideline and into the end zone untouched.
The substantial weather delay struck at 6:08 in the second quarter. Texas led 17-7 at that stage and scored the game’s remaining 13 points to win their fourth straight contest and remain tied with No. 6 Baylor atop the Big 12 standings. No. 10 Texas Tech’s 38-30 loss earlier in the day to No. 15 Oklahoma thinned out what was previously a three-way tie. By virtue of last night’s win, the Longhorns are sitting pretty with Kansas at DKR next week.
While McCoy again showed flashes of brilliance with several big-armed plays, he also got overzealous on two ill-advised heaves that TCU ended up intercepting, including one into double coverage at the Frogs’ nine yard line. But McCoy, known for his shrewd game management and smart decision making, must’ve felt licensed to take such chances given what was taking place on the other side of the ball.
The Texas defense has now strung-together two straight sensational performances, keeping the Horned Frog offense 84 yards below their season average of 330. Texas’ front four harassed and battered Pachall all night long, Pachall – who played with a soft cast on his non-throwing arm – threw two interceptions and was further done-in by a handful of drops and momentum killing penalties from his cohorts.
In a sea of positives for Greg Robinson and company that included two turnovers, their most impressive feat ended up being their limiting six different TCU ball carriers to a combined 45 yards on 24 attempts.
Conversely, the Longhorns had shifted into a ball control scheme in the second half by repeatedly dishing to Gray and Brown, who gained steam as the game wore on. Gray churned for a team high 94 yards on 22 carries. Case McCoy’s final line was 9-19 for 228 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
The race for the Big 12 title begins now, and Mack Brown has his Horns sharper than we’ve seen them in a long while. Now they can either burn brighter or blow it. Anything in between does us no good here in Austin.