November 2, 2008

Texas now needs a lot of help




LUBBOCK - Now Texas needs help. A lot of it.

Help from Oklahoma State next weekend against Texas Tech in Lubbock. More help from Oklahoma the following week against Tech in Norman. Help in healing Brian Orakpo's left knee and Quan Cosby's back. Help in keeping this one from lingering. Because this was the kind of loss that can linger.

The immediate reaction for the burnt orange faithful is to blame - anything, everything. The blocking on UT's first offensive play, which allowed Colby Whitlock to stuff Chris Ogbonnaya for a safety. Five dropped passes - in the first half. Too many penalties. Earl Thomas' near interception right before Texas Tech kicked a 42-yard field goal with 5:45 left for a 32-26 lead.

Costly clock management in the final two minutes. Bad kickoff coverage at the worst possible time, allowing Jamar Wall a 38-yard return to set up Tech's game-winning drive. Blake Gideon's near-interception with eight seconds left that would have sealed the game. Curtis Brown and Earl Thomas somehow allowing Michael Crabtree to score on a 28-yard pass with one second left after having him surrounded.

Tech students ran out on the field three times before the end of the game - drawing two 15-yard penalties. Meaning, Tech had to kick off from its own 7 and a half yard line. But Keenan Robinson's later to Eddie Jones was intercepted. Game over. Texas Tech 39, Texas 33.

NATIONAL TITLE HOPES ON LIFE SUPPORT

The Longhorns will be tumbling from No. 1. But how far?

"The national title was the dream," Mack Brown said. "The conference championship was the goal."

After Brown praised Texas Tech profusely and apologized for not being able to find Mike Leach after the game to shake his hand, Brown blamed himself for not running more time off the clock on the Longhorns' last possession.

Facing second-and-goal from the Tech 4 with just less than two minutes left, Texas had two missions while trailing 32-26: score a touchdown, but don't leave enough time on the clock for Tech to answer. Instead, Texas snapped the ball early in the play clock on back-to-back plays, when it could have run at least another 40 seconds off the clock.

CLOCK MANAGEMENT

"I was running out on the field to call timeout on the counter play we scored on because I wanted to run the clock down to 1 second," Brown said. "That was my fault. We got down there so fast, it was poor on my part."

After Wall's return to the Tech 38, Harrell completed 5-of-6 passes, including the game-winner to Crabtree.

"The kid made a great throw and they made a great catch," said Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. "We had him doubled and he made the play."

SLIPPING THROUGH THE HANDS

Harrell's only incompletion on that drive came on a near-interception by Blake Gideon.

"We get our hands on the ball to win the game the play before and we drop it," Brown said. "It was just one of those nights where not a lot of good things happened for us. But again, give Tech credit."

Added Harrell, "When I saw the ball pop up, I thought, 'Oh please, don't let it end like this.'"

Coaches and teammates said Curtis Brown needs to forget about Saturday's game.

"For young guys like that, he's just got to keep his head up," said senior cornerback [db]Ryan Palmer. "He had a rough outing, but we all had rough outings. You can't point one finger at Curtis. We just need to put our arm around Curtis and tell him to keep his head up and move on."

TIME TO REFOCUS

Brown said he told his team there wouldn't be time to feel sorry for themselves.

"I told them I was disappointed in all of us because we didn't coach or play consistently well throughout the night," Brown said. "Give Tech credit. We've won a whole bunch of these, but tonight was Tech's night, and we need to be classy in defeat and give them credit. Ours didn't just come down to that last play. We've got a lot of other things we can fix before we play Baylor next week."

RECORD BREAKER

Lost in the game was Colt McCoy becoming UT's all-time leading passer. Whether McCoy's Heisman Trophy chances were dashed remains to be seen. But after opening the game 2-of-5 passing in the first quarter and 7-of-15 for 78 yards at halftime, McCoy was 13-of-19 in the second half.

"Colt played great," Brown said. "We didn't help him much. We didn't protect for him very well at times. We were dropping passes. I'm amazed at how good he is and how he competes. He brought our team back to win. It wasn't his fault at the end. He did what he needed to do to win the game."

McCoy said he didn't care that he has moved ahead of Major Applewhite's 8,353 passing yards into first place with 8,452 yards.

"All that matters is a win," McCoy said. "We're disappointed but we're going to keep our heads up and keep fighting. There is still a lot of football left to play."

Texas also continues to see the emergence of freshman receiver Malcolm Williams, who had a 91-yard TD catch as part of a productive night that included four grabs for 182 yards with two touchdowns. Williams replaced Quan Cosby, who left the game in the first quarter with a back injury.

"When Quan went down, Malcolm stepped up and everyone else seemed to be dropping balls," Brown said. "To Malcolm's credit, he played great and gave us a chance to win the game. Hopefully, this was his coming out party."

Texas will play Baylor next Saturday at 11 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.

"When you lose it's tough," Brown said. "That's a hard thing to deal with but this team is awesome and this team fought. We didn't play good but we fought till the end. You can't argue with that. And like I said, 'We're going to keep our heads up and keep fighting because there is a lot of football left to play and we've got to move on. We've got to put this behind us."

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