Bill Little commentary: Match play
Sept. 20, 2009
Bill Little, Texas Media Reltions
It is interesting that we use comparisons to accomplish description.
By that time, the direction of the game had been decided in the best fashion of any tennis or volleyball match – get a lead, and never let them break service. Texas did that effectively with three consecutive scores, beginning with Shipley’s return, followed by Hunter Lawrence’s 43-yard field goal early in the second quarter and sealed with Tre Newton’s 19-yard scoring run on the first drive of the third quarter that took the score to 17-3. Texas Tech answered; but so did Texas.
Led by Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy and a secondary that ran step-for-step with Tech’s glue-handed receivers, the UT defense held the Raiders to minus-six yards rushing, recorded three sacks and caused five fumbles (recovering two of them) and picked off one pass.
McCoy connected on 24-of-34 passes, including a critical touchdown completion to Dan Buckner, but the highlight of the day for the Texas offense was a running game that turned the time of possession completely around on a night when you didn’t want your opponent to have the football. The Longhorns rushed the ball on 41 plays, with redshirt freshman Newton carrying 20 times for 88 yards. Shipley led the receivers with 11 catches for 73 yards.
In the deciding fourth quarter, which had seen the Raiders close to within seven points at 31-24 with just under seven minutes remaining, Texas ran the ball 14 times, and McCoy was an impressive 6-for-7 for 42 yards. Lawrence’s second field goal of the game came with 3:49 left on the clock, and it gave the Longhorns a two-score lead and the final margin of 34-24.
You can really open the adjective book for this one. From the Longhorns’ standpoint, the defensive hits were eye-popping and show-stopping. The offense opened a playbook which included new looks and efficiency when it was needed the most. The kicking game, with Shipley’s return and Tucker’s punting, which pinned the Raiders inside the 20 three times, also excelled. Tech played better than it had on most of its journeys into Austin, but in the end, that was not enough.
The game, moved for television from its usual November spot to early in the season, gave folks a vision of the Longhorns as a “work in progress.” In his time at Texas, Mack Brown’s teams traditionally get better and better as the season advances.
Clearly, both teams will have to be reckoned with in a Big 12 South that has been something of a mystery in the opening games of the year.
What we do know is, the results of the day across the nation Saturday reaffirmed the feelings Mack Brown had after the game with the Red Raiders. This is not a sprint, this campaign to win the Big 12 South, with obvious grander implications involved, is a long distance race. It is part prize fight, part tennis or volleyball match, and primarily a marathon. As we have said, you can’t win all the games unless you win the next one. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be taken for granted.
For awhile, college football looked as though it was sifting down to a handful of elite teams. Now, it is back to a time like the 1960s, when every weekend we are seeing what are perceived as stunning upsets. Parity has arrived, and everybody has good players.
That is why the Longhorns are reminded every day that you have to go out and play well every Saturday. There are no guarantees in this world of college football. The hardest part of winning all the games is winning all the games.