RED RIVER ROUNDUP
ALEX CHINERY. Sunday 6th September
Welcome to our weekly round up of life in the BIG XII Conference. With the only top 10 ranked Big XII team having the week off, this edition focuses on four stories from the game that gives this column its name.
Here are this weeks headlines….
Texas 45 – 53 Oklahoma (4OT)
Oklahoma Wins The Battle Between Two Mediocre Teams
The second Saturday in October. The Cotton Bowl. Two huge rivals who in six games this season had an uncharacteristic three losses between them. Oklahoma toppled their burnt orange rivals to improve to 2-2 and send Texas spiralling to the same record. On the back of two bad losses in conference play, OU came out and put in a professional but not polished performance. Against this Texas team who for much of the afternoon were lifeless on offense, valiant on defense and atrocious on special teams. Professional but not polished should have seen the Sooners win comfortably.
Then the fourth quarter happened. Oklahoma – having already lost two games after giving up fourth quarter leads this season – crumbled again. Led by their talismanic senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, the Longhorns roared back from 14 points down to level the game and send it to overtime. The whole game was a personification of the Tom Herman era at Texas. Ill-discipline, penalties and an inability to move the ball consistently on offense was bailed out by some Ehlinger magic in the fourth quarter before the shortcomings of the team eventually caught up in overtime.
Oklahoma fans will be pleased with the performance of their redshirt freshman signal caller Spencer Rattler. After an up and down start that saw him benched towards the end of the second quarter Rattler came back after half time and lit it up early in the second half. The fourth quarter struggles would return but they would also be banished in an overtime that saw him make some incredibly pretty throws. Rattler has all the tools to win a national championship, he just needs to cut down on the turnovers.
Then came overtime. The teams traded scores before a Texas drive stalled and Cameron Dicker, a former Red River hero would have his field goal blocked. The game looked to be over. Sooners kicker Game Brkic has been nearly automatic in his college career. The Sooners drove towards the Texas line, needing only a field goal to win. Lincoln Riley elected to kick the field goal on second down, in chip shot range. Brkic who before that moment had only missed once in college hooked the kick wide left. Oklahoma would eventually win on an Ehlinger interception. A result that the game deserved in a spectacle that showed everything that is good about college football.
Another Longhorns Loss Caps Era Of Disappointment
Tom Herman and Sam Ehlinger were the saviours supposed to bring this Texas program back to prominence, to save it from the parody it had become during the Charlie Strong era. Ehlinger – an Austin native and life long Longhorn – started as a true freshman and showed promise. Texas had the quarterback it had been craving since the departure of Colt McCoy. With Herman, the coach that enjoyed so much success at Houston, in tandem with Ehlinger, surely success would follow for the Longhorns?
With the team now falling to 2-2 this year, it’ll be four seasons without a challenge for a college football playoff berth. A 1-4 record against rivals OU in that time and no Big XII championships will ensure that this era of Texas football is remembered for promising much and delivering little.
The disappointment is not because of a lack of talent. A roster with 53 four and five star prospects and a senior quarterback that topped the pre season all conference teams should perform better than this one has. Poor coaching and antiquated play calling have shot this team in the foot over and over again. It’s time for a change in Austin.
Oklahoma Front Seven Show Pro Credentials
Perhaps the best performing position group in the 2020 edition of the shootout was the Oklahoma defensive line and linebacker corps. Aided by great play calling from co-ordinator Alex Grinch they brought near constant pressure to Sam Ehlinger and dominated the Texas offensive line. Redshirt sophomore edge Nik Bonitto had two of the group’s six sacks and is beginning to position himself as one of the top edge rushers in the 2022 NFL draft class.
Looking back to the 2021 class, linebacker Jon-Michael Terry is quickly rising up draft boards with his performances. In Red River he totalled a sack and two tackles for loss as Texas couldn’t get any kind of run game going between the tackles.
The difference in production from the Oklahoma front compared to the equally talented Texas front was one of the keys to the Sooners victory yesterday. It was a blow for Chris Ash who has done a good job this year with the Longhorns defense. This Sooners group is talented and is going to produce some future NFL starters in the next couple of years.
Time For Change? Where Does Texas Go From Here
This is surely now one loss too far for Tom Herman. With this cast of characters and an experienced senior quarterback this was a game the Longhorns had to win. I would expect Texas to move on from Herman in the offseason and look to make a splash hire. One name stands out from the rest as the guy to bring this program back. A man who has won multiple national championships in different programs. It’s time for Texas to call Urban Meyer.
Meyer’s track record of taking blue blood programs and building them into perennial contenders is well known. A star recruiter and brilliant CEO style head coach, Meyer is perfect for this program. The platform he built at Ohio State before his surprise departure from the role under somewhat of a cloud has set them up to see success for years to come.
Whilst Meyer is currently serving as the assistant athletic director at his former employer, Texas has the resources to bring him to Austin. With highly rated quarterbacks Hudson Card and Quinn Ewers coming to the fore in the very near future, Texas needs to act decisively in these next few months. For me, Meyer should be the primary target.
Whilst the rest of the conference has been a little neglected this week, both Texas and Oklahoma are on bye weeks next week so the rest of the conference will come back into focus. But for now, with another college football Saturday in the books, its time to take us home country roads…
A texas and Green Bay Packers Fan alex is our head of football analytics, a college football and Nfl draft scout for the touchdown he will be popping up all over. he is also The host of the touchdowns Seven Step Drop NFL podcast and one third of the college chaps.