Longhorns show that consistency beats big plays
Scott beat me to the cry-baby headline (and the shot of the day on the broadcast), so allow me to provide the breakdown:
I'll preface this by congratulating the Sooners players and MOST of their fans for accepting this defeat with grace. It's not often enough that you are stomped into a mud-hole and can still shake the opponents hand and share a beer with 'em. Two acceptions are 1) Bob Stoops and 2) the balance of the Sooner fans.
1) You were NOT screwed by the refs. Replay didn't overturn any call...nor should it have. This tells us that the refs on the field did their jobs, and the replay guys did theirs. Let's see if I can remember the controversial plays:.
a) AP's fumble was a fumble. I love internal consistency...when your own argument in Situation A is the same as Situation B. Well, AP was doing his usual hard running, fighting for every yard...the exact thing he did in the 1st qtr. OU driving at the Longhorn 41...AP takes a handoff and gets hit at the 44, puts both hands on the ground, gathers himself and salvages a ~4 yd gain on the play. EVERY Sooner was pounding his chest, talking about how tough a runner AP is. So don't try to claim later in the game that a hand on the ground is "down by contact". By the way, the "ground can't cause a fumble" axiom doesn't apply when the hand with the ball is the only thing that touched the ground.
b) The lateral was a lateral, and a lateral is a fumble. Argue with the rule if you want, but it is a rule. A forward pass is the only thing that can be an "incompletion". Anything else (backwards or exactly sideways) is a fumble. Here's how you know: if it HAD been a forward pass like it was supposed to be, the receiver would've caught it and we wouldn't be arguing fumble v. interception.
c) Pass interference I (Sweed's TD): That, my young Sooner Nancies, is football. Both players were hand-fighting. Our guy was bigger and stronger and won that particular hand-fight, got some separation, and caught the TD. I can see how it COULD be called, because by the letter of the rule, his arm was extended and he gained separation because of it. But it involved "willing combatants", so you have to let that go.
d) Pass interference II (Joe Jon Finley Offensive interference call): Of any of the calls, this was the most ticky-tack. I wouldn't have called it, but...again, by the letter of the rule, his arm was extended and he gained separation. The difference here is that the defender had his back to him and wasn't engaging him. Which makes it all the more dumb for Finley to initiate contact. All of that aside...it was SO early in the game (12:00-ish left in the 2nd qtr., that OU had the opportunity to recover whatever was lost. This was precisely the argument that they used in Oregon (which I agree with) that you CAN blame it on the officials because they were literally the last plays of the game. But 2nd qtr...nope...you better take yo' ass home wit' dat...
2) "Texas didn't beat us, we (OU) beat ourselves" - Sorry, you got beat by a better team. Many said it (including Vegas, the Polls and Switzer) before the game. This sentiment seems to consider the penalty differential in the category of "beating ourselves". Well, then who did we beat considering that Texas DIDN'T commit penalties? Do we get credit for that?
3) Who's the better team on the field? - Call me crazy, but I like to let the scoreboard answer that. However, having been on the business end of a bad loss, I understand the temptation to look to the stats for excuses. That's a couple of steps up from the "refs screwed us" camp, but still not valid in this case.
a) Offensive stats - Texas lost the yardage battle in both rushing (-10 yds) and passing (-110 yds). But we must consider that the 4th qtr was played mostly while the game was in hand and OU playing desparately. Texas ran the ball 9 straight times to run the clock, and gained 23 yds. When OU had to move the ball, they only got 83 yds (with 27 of that coming on 1 play), and threw 2 interceptions.
b) Consistency - this sounds like an excuse, but hear me out. OU outgained Texas by 121 yds, but 156 was on 4 pass plays and 1 run. My point is not "those don't count", but rather a strategic/game-planning move. Many analysts said before the game "AP will get his yds...you just want to contain him and don't let anyone else beat you". This is exactly what happened. At least 2 of those big plays were play action, where the safeties bit and got beat. Keeping in mind the defensive focus was on AP, this was acceptable collateral damage. The 2 times they were able to get close, 1) we made them settle for a field goal, and 2) it took an NFL-caliber run by an NFL-caliber runner of 29 yds to take it to the house. It's not like OU (as a team) was able to punch holes in our D.
a) QB - Colt: 0 interceptions v. PT's 2 int's and a fumble. And this from our freshman v. their 5th yr senior. I don't think it's fair to expect PT to perform as if he's been at the helm this whole time...NOR do I think he "freaked out". But he was outplayed, and that's all that counts.
b) OL v DL - I think that we didn't dominate their DL as much as I thought they would, but we handled them well enough 1 on 1 (even with Dockery injured), that we were able to control Rufus Alexander...so much so that you really only heard his name on special teams.
c) The Series - after 5 straight losses, Texas now has 2 wins in a row. With AP, RA, and PT all gone next year...and McCoy looking like a rising star...things are looking very good for the Horns.
d) Coaching mystique - Stoops...Need I say more? His legacy from 2006 so far is whining to the refs. Right or wrong, doesn't really matter. Whining is whining. He doesn't have the mystique of coaching circles around anyone anymore...much less a "weak gameday" coach like Mack. Mack is proving, along with Greg Davis (begrudgingly admitted by this reporter) that they CAN survive without VY.