It was a tale of two games for the Texas Longhorns in their 31-27 win over the Oregon State Beavers in the Valero Alamo Bowl Saturday evening. Texas struggled to find momentum on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball in the first half, in spite of several forced turnovers which were not capitalized upon and the poor play of Beavers’ quarterback Cody Vaz.
The Texas offense was largely stagnant in the first half, but made some substantial adjustments as the second-half wore on which made the difference in the game. In his first game as a play-caller, newly minted Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite called a series of plays which allowed David Ash to play with greater anticipation including a variety of timing routes to wide receivers and planned keepers– both of which led to important scores in the fourth quarter.
On the flipside of the ball, Alex Okafor and the Texas defense wore down an Oregon State offensive line that was outmatched athletically on the edges and could not prevent consistent pressure from the Longhorns.
Okafor finished with nine tackles– 4.5 of which were sacks– to solidify his place as a probably early round NFL draft pick next spring and one of the best defensive ends in recent Texas history.
For some reason, which was relatively hard to understand, Oregon State head coach Mike Riley didn’t make the adjustments necessary to ensure Okafor was slowed down. At no point was he double-teamed, nor was a more athletic guard or tight end placed on him to push him to the exterior or prevent a bull rush which he so often used on the evening.
In short, Texas emerged victorious because they were persistent. In spite of early struggles on both sides of the ball, the typical poor body language which was present early in the season in similar situations was not present this evening.
It’s hard to know what this can be attributed to– but it’s likely a combination of Major Applewhite’s presence and also the more vocal leadership of the team’s senior leaders including Okafor and senior safety Kenny Vaccaro as the season drew to a close.
A win is a win is a win and I can promise you the collective sigh of relief not only among the Texas coaching staff, but the University’s administration, who can now let an off-season pass without additional program-changing decisions was audible in the Alamo City this evening.
Oregon State’s a program on the rise and they have plenty to be proud of, but Texas is the winner this evening as the doubters will be a little quieter and momentum will carry into what will be one of the most important recruiting periods and spring practice sessions in Mack Brown‘s tenure on the Forty Acres.