Oklahoma vs. Texas: 10 Things We Learned in the Longhorns' Win
Just when the Texas Longhorns looked dead in the water, they went and upset the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners to win the Red River Rivalry.
After escaping Iowa State with a win, the Longhorns handled the Sooners, 36-20, thanks to a great performance from their defense and running backs.
The win moves Texas to 3-0 in the Big 12, putting them in a first-place tie with Texas Tech and gets Mack Brown off the hot seat heading into the team's bye.
These Longhorns are officially dangerous.
Mack Brown Still Has Some Fight Left
The stage was set for Mack Brown to hit a new low against the Sooners. His Longhorns were 14-point underdogs to a team that has been his kryptonite throughout his tenure at Texas.
Instead, Brown coached his team to their best game of the last four years. The defense held Oklahoma to under 250 yards of offense, giving up just 13 points. On the other side of the ball, he ran the ball 60 times for 255 yards to set up big touchdowns through the air.
In short, it was the type of performance that made Brown a top-five coach for over a decade. Even if he does lose his job at the end of the season, this win proves he is not going down without taking a few teams with him.
Johnathan Gray Has What It Takes to Go Over 1,000
Johnathan Gray has been on a tear this season and continued it against a stout Sooner front. In doing so, he has proven that he has what it takes to go over 1,000 yards this season.
Prior to this game, Gray had never picked on a good run defense. He was held under four yards per carry five times as a freshman, often struggling to break through the first level of defenders.
But against the Sooners, Gray continued to prove he is a rising star as a sophomore, showing impressive toughness on his inside runs and breaking plenty of tackles on the edge of the defense. He was the total package against his team's archrival, becoming the first Texas ball-carrier to go over 100 against the Sooners since 2008.
Through six games, Gray is on pace for All-Big 12 production with 1,124 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Saturday, he proved those achievements are possible.
Malcolm Brown Is Still Very Good
Johnathan Gray may have been the star of the backfield against the Sooners, but another 5-star recruit came up big in the Longhorn backfield. If Malcolm Brown can keep it up, he and Gray will form a formidable one-two punch.
After his previous 23 carries went for just 63 yards, Brown turned his 23 totes against Oklahoma into 123 yards and a team-best 5.2 yards per carry. The coaches went to the powerful back to ice the game, and he delivered with bruising run after bruising run.
Brown was the thunder to Gray's lightning, as they combined for 243 yards on the ground and became the first Longhorn duo to go for over 100 against the Sooners. With these two playing at such a high level, Texas could finally have the dominant running game it has so desperately craved.
This Is a Different Offense When It Goes Vertical
The running backs were great, but the most obvious difference in this Texas offense was its willingness to stretch the field against a talented Sooner secondary. The downfield threat was the difference this week.
Against Iowa State, the Texas offense limited itself with its play selection. The passing offense looked like it was confined to a phone booth, with the only downfield throw coming on a 44-yard Hail Mary to John Harris.
Saturday's game against the Sooners was a different story, as the 'Horns consistently let Case McCoy test man coverage with deep throws. The throws weren't always pretty, but they did result in touchdowns of 38 and 59 yards.
The result was a season-best 9.04 yards per attempt by McCoy and 23 offensive points from a defense that was giving up only 13 on the season.
Daje Johnson Gives Texas a Threat It Has Desperately Needed
Daje Johnson's 85-yard punt return in the third quarter was Texas' first since 2002, further illustrating just how instrumental he is to this team's success.
Even on a team filled with some of the fastest players in the country, Johnson stands out. The sophomore Swiss Army knife can turn every run, catch or return into a touchdown from anywhere on the field.
Saturday, Johnson did it with a punt return, going 85 yards to give the 'Horns their first points of the second half. In total, he finished with 136 yards—all-purpose yards—on his 12 touches.
Johnson gives this team an explosive element it has often lacked in big games. The 'Horns will need him to continue to come up big for them to make a real run at the Big 12 title.
Greg Robinson Is Making a Difference as Defensive Coordinator
Just nine days after looking downright pitiful against Iowa State, the Longhorn defense turned in its best performance since 2011. Fans can thank Greg Robinson.
It was almost like Robinson didn't even have the same defense in the game against the Sooners. The same group that could not tackle and gave up 400 yards to Iowa State held Oklahoma to 263 yards. They finished tackles, got pressure on the quarterback and forced turnovers like nobody believed they could.
What is most impressive about this performance is that Robinson did it with largely the same group of players that gave 63 points and 677 yards a season ago. With another two weeks to prepare for the TCU game, they should only get better under a rejuvenated leader.
Quandre Diggs Is Alive and Well
Quandre Diggs' move to nickel had not gone smoothly through Texas' first five games. He reminded everyone how good he can be against the Sooners.
In his best game of the season, Diggs led a Longhorn secondary that gave up just 133 passing yards and allowed Blake Bell to complete just 46 percent passes. The diminutive corner was all over the field, turning in a sack and a booming pass breakup on Oklahoma's final drive.
Diggs is an All-Big 12 player when he is at his best, and he proved that in Dallas. Texas needs him to keep this up as they go up against one of the more explosive offenses in the conference.
Blake Bell Has a Long Way to Go
There is a reason Blake Bell was not named the starter in the preseason, and he showed us why in the loss to the Longhorns.
Greg Robinson's defense made Bell a pocket passer, and he could never get going. He consistently missed receivers downfield, threw two interceptions and made bad decisions under pressure as he could not pick up yardage with his legs.
After regressing against the Longhorns, this is the type of defense Bell can expect to face on a weekly basis. He has to figure out a way to beat teams with his arm, or he will find himself back on the bench.
Defensive Linemen Can Score, Too
Of the 56 points scored in this year's Red River Shootout, 12 belong to defensive linemen. You don't see that every day.
Texas' Chris Whaley, a former running back, was the game's leading scorer early on. The senior defensive tackle intercepted Blake Bell's pass then carried the quarterback into the end zone after returning it 31 yards.
Then, with the game seemingly out of reach, Oklahoma defensive end Geneo Grissom picked off a Case McCoy screen pass and went 54 yards untouched for the score.
In total, two defensive linemen outscored the Sooner offense on the day. That should worry Bob Stoops with Texas Tech and Baylor looming.
Mack Brown Needs to Put Case McCoy in His Will
He's not athletic, he's not big and he definitely does not throw the prettiest of balls, but Case McCoy sure does know how to bail out Mack Brown.
During his career at Texas, McCoy has defeated Texas A&M in its last Big 12 game, rescued the team from an embarrassing road loss to Kansas and has now kept the Longhorns in contention with an upset over Oklahoma. He also scored the game-winning touchdown last week against Iowa State.
Notice that all of those wins have come in the last three years when Brown has been on the chopping block. A loss in any of those games and the longtime head coach could be watching these games from his couch instead of the sideline.
Brown may not owe the unconventional senior his career, but he certainly owes him some future benefits. A spot in his will would be nice, but a nice steak dinner might do.