September 20, 2009
Texas 34, Texas Tech 24. I thought coming in that, just like last year, Texas Tech's defense would be the difference in the Raiders' upset chances, and I think they'll take this effort against an offense like Texas' every single time: The Longhorns finished with fewer yards tonight (332) than in any game in 2008, a good 100 yards behind the Tech's total production, on more than a yard less per snap. The Longhorns were held out of the end zone for an entire half; Colt McCoy didn't hit any really big plays (long completion: 25 yards) and was picked off twice, while Tech's Taylor Potts went off for 417 yards and three touchdowns. By the numbers, the Raiders were in complete control of this game for the second year in a row.
It only took two plays to undermine those advantages, both of them examples of Texas' overall talent and ability to produce big plays even when both teams appeared to lack gamebreakers in very precise offenses. The first was Jordan Shipley's 46-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, after which Texas never trailed and was never seriously threatened. The second, one of the most vicious plays of the day in any game, was Sergio Kindle's brain-rattling, ball-jarring collision with Potts in the fourth quarter:
That hit and subsequent turnover set up McCoy's only touchdown pass, extending the 'Horns' lead to two touchdowns and effectively putting the game away despite an answering touchdown drive by Tech. When you boil it down to effective quarterbacks shrugging off slow starts for extremely efficient, productive second half outbursts, it was a wash, which might have been predictable given what we know about Mike Leach's ability to maximize his passing game under pretty much any circumstances. But the Longhorns' advantage here was supposed to be their vastly superior speed and athleticism, and so it was: In a well-executed game that otherwise tilted toward the Raiders, UT's best athletes produced the only truly big plays, both leading to points that eventually accounted for the final margin. This is why you recruit, people.