The Longhorns’ opponent this past weekend wore burnt orange and white, not red. Texas had nine penalties for 81 yards and that is what essentially propelled Oklahoma to its 28-20 win at the 105th Red River Rivalry.
The first of many flags was thrown on the second play of the game when junior linebacker Keenan Robinson was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul.
“They called me for hitting a lineman who was coming at me near the pile while the play was still alive,” Robinson said. “The play was still alive.”
Unfortunately for Robinson, replays showed that he pushed an OU offensive lineman in the back away from the tackle.
As the game went on, Texas sunk deeper and deeper into penalty debt. Three penalties kept Oklahoma scoring drives alive and five either came on third down or second-and-long situations.
If it had not been for those silly mistakes, the Longhorns would have gained prime field position on a few potential game-changing downs.
For example, at the start of the third quarter when Texas was down a somewhat manageable 21-10, freshman defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat rushed off the edge to tackle OU quarterback Landry Jones, causing him to fumble on his down 22-yard line. Texas’ offense rushed the field to set up for a first down, but the officials called the play back, stating that senior defensive end Eddie Jones — who had actually recovered the fumble — had been offsides prior to the snap.
“If we get that fumble at the 22-yard line, that’s a first down with momentum,” said head coach Mack Brown. “I liked our chances there.”
The momentum pendulum almost swung Texas’ way again in the fourth quarter until Jeffcoat received a personal foul for an apparent retaliation that gave the Sooners a first down on third-and-20. Sooners’ running back DeMarco Murray would later score on a 20-yard run, widening the score to 28-10.
“The [penalties] were killers,” Brown said. “Absolute killers.”
After the game, Brown said he wasn’t going to judge or comment on any of the calls until he watched film.
“I can’t comment on them,” he said. “I’m going to go home and watch them and see whether [the penalties] were there ... but I won’t make excuses. They called them on us and that’s what it is.”
Penalties are a result of lack of preparation, which is surprising for a unit that was ranked as the nation’s best last season and is coached by a coordinator as accomplished as Will Muschamp.
“I guess it was lack of discipline,” said junior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall. “People make mistakes and after a mistake we just have to go out and try to put the fire out.”
But the fire held a steady flame throughout the game, because even despite the penalties, Texas still had chances to win but didn’t capitalize.
In the last minute of the fourth quarter, junior linebacker Emmanuel Acho caused Landry Jones to fumble a second time in OU territory. But before any Longhorn could snatch the football, it bounced out of bounds.
The ball rolling just inches out of reach was indicative of the Longhorns’ entire day.
“When you have a close game like this, it comes down to inches and we just didn’t get the inches,” Brown said.