5 Critical Takeaways from Texas Football's Week 11 Win

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5 Critical Takeaways from Texas Football's Week 11 Win
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Texas quarterback Case McCoy attempts a pass against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, WV

On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns earned a thrilling 47-40 overtime win against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, WV.  

In case you missed it, here are the highlights, courtesy of Fox Sports.

Texas at West Virginia Highlights

Although the game revealed a couple of red flags, there was also much to like about Texas' win.  

Here are five critical takeaways from the game for the Longhorns.

 

1. Texas is still undefeated in Big 12 conference play—BCS bowl hopes are still alive

Obviously, if the Longhorns wanted any chance to win the Big 12, this game had to be won. I can guarantee you that most people didn't predict it to be 47-40 in overtime.  

But it doesn't matter.  

Texas is now 6-0 in conference play and still has a shot—even if distant in the face of playing the BCS No. 4 Baylor Bears on the road—at a BCS bowl game.  

The Longhorns play the No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Austin on Saturday. The following week presents a very winnable game at home against a suddenly-reeling Texas Tech Red Raider squad.  

If Texas can win both of those games, it will have 10 days to prepare for Baylor.  

I'm not saying the Longhorns will beat Baylor on the road, but they should definitely have the momentum to at least make things interesting.  

After all, the Bears haven't looked invincible every second of this season. 

 

2. Case McCoy has truly justified his starting spot

This is for all the skeptics out there who still don't trust Case McCoy.

I used to be one myself. 

Texas was down by three with a minute left in the game. McCoy drove this offense down the field and put it in position to win the game in regulation.

The Longhorns settled for a game-tying field goal. But that doesn't even happen without McCoy, who made drive-extending throws and didn't make any mistakes in that series.

In the six weeks that he's been Texas' starting quarterback—no matter how ugly it's been at times—McCoy has emerged as the true leader and manager of this team.

Max Olson, ESPN.com's Big 12 beat writer, seems to agree.

 

3. The defense MUST get more focused in the next three weeks

In the end, the Longhorns defense shouldn't have given up 40 points to West Virginia. The Mountaineers coughed up five turnovers and still kept the game close. There are no excuses for that.

That won't cut it for Texas in the next three weeks. It'll face three offenses ranked in the Top 25 nationally in its next three games, including Baylor's "point-a-minute" machine.

The Longhorns will do so without emerging defensive tackle Chris Whaley. According to Chuck Carlton, Big 12 reporter for the Dallas Morning News, Whaley sustained a season-ending left knee injury against West Virginia.  

His ferocious pass rush will be sorely missed against those offenses.

Generally, when the defense creates turnovers, the offense has to capitalize. The Longhorns didn't do that against West Virginia.  

But do give this defense credit for keeping the offense in the game for 60 minutes. They were trailing for much of the night, but they were never out of the game.

Via Kirk Bohls, columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, McCoy will make sure the offense returns the favor.

 

4. Jonathan Gray out for the season with torn Achilles Tendon

Ouch.

Gray was third in the Big 12 in rushing, with 780 yards on 159 carries and four touchdowns, per ESPN.

Losing a back who is averaging nearly five yards per carry is normally a season-changer.

But I put this takeaway lower on the list because of Texas' tremendous depth at running back.

Together, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are more than capable of producing effectively in Gray's place. Texas fans may even see speedy athlete Jalen Overstreet get a few touches.  

Gray's loss obviously makes Texas' road to a Big 12 title tougher, but the team's running back depth takes its chances from impossible to possible.  

According to Bohls, Gray underwent surgery this morning. He hopes to be back for the 2014 season opener.

 

 5. Anthony Fera is the Longhorns' Dan Bailey

Not much to say here, other than that Fera has been absolute money for Texas this season. Per ESPN, the senior kicker converted all four of his field goal attempts and all five of his extra point attempts against West Virginia. 

Texas needed every one of those.

On the season, Fera is 15-for-16 on field goals.  

Right now, he's about as automatic as they come. Texas fans can now feel warm and fuzzy when he lines up for kicks. They know their team is putting three on the board.

David Purdy/Getty Images
Texas kicker Anthony Fera celebrates a made field goal with head coach Mack Brown

 

A Look Ahead:

Going into week 12, Texas is in a pretty good spot. It controls its own destiny—an advantage that only Baylor can also boast.

Things are looking more and more as though the conference champion will be decided on Dec. 7 in Waco, Texas.  

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