Big 12: 2010 BCS national title game Pasadena

Gilbert shows promise for the future

January, 8, 2010
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- It wasn't the easiest of situations to be thrown into last night for freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

After Colt McCoy went out with a nerve injury five plays into the game, the Longhorns had to go to Gilbert, who had no experience in meaningful situations in the first nine games of his college career.

But he did show promise for the future, as these statistics compiled by Trevor Ebaugh from ESPN's Stats & Info indicate.

First, Gilbert had a masterful fourth quarter before a rash of mistakes that enabled the Crimson Tide to salt away a 37-21 victory. Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter, snuffing out the Longhorns' hopes of claiming a comeback victory.

Prior to two desperation interceptions late in the game, Gilbert completed 7-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He compiled a 173.2 pass efficiency rating before Anders' fumble and appeared to be steadily gaining more confidence in his work from the shotgun. Gilbert ended up with 38 of his 40 pass attempts coming out of the shotgun against Alabama on Thursday night.

Here's a look at how Gilbert's numbers compared in the first half and the second half.

As the game progressed, Gilbert honed in on wide receiver Jordan Shipley. The senior wide receiver had a second-half binge with 10 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Shipley's strong finish enabled him to set the Longhorns' career reception record with 248, breaking the previous mark of 241 that was set by Roy Williams between 2000-03.

Shipley's two TD grabs enabled him to set the Texas single-season touchdown reception mark of 13, breaking the previous mark of Roy Williams (2002) and Limas Sweed (2006) who both had 12.

Shipley also boosted his Texas single-season record of receiving yards to 1,485.

Here's a look at how Gilbert honed in on Shipley in the second half.

Hail to the Crimson Tide in my unaccustomed role as presenter

January, 8, 2010
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- I'm safe and sound following the trip back from the Rose Bowl late last night after witnessing a memorable Citi BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama just made too many plays as the Crimson Tide overcame Texas for a 37-21 victory.

Garrett Gilbert showed moxie and a lot of guile as he nearly led the Longhorns back from an 18-point halftime deficit before a series of late turnovers caught up with the young Texas quarterback.

It's only natural that fans will wonder what would have happened if Colt McCoy had played the entire game, especially considering the Longhorns' success on the five plays McCoy ran before his injury. It's something that will always be in the minds of fans -- particularly those from Texas.

A victory would have made Texas the favorite for team of the decade in the Big 12. A pair of national championships would have been hard to argue with.

But now, Oklahoma's six Big 12 championships and one national title trumps the Longhorns' two Big 12 titles and one national championship in 2005.

Alabama coach Nick Saban has the strongest argument as the national coach of the decade after becoming the first coach in the BCS era to claim national championships with two different programs. He beat Big 12 teams twice to claim those titles, subduing Oklahoma in the 2004 BCS title game and vanquishing Texas last night.

We have one more media obligation here in California before every packs up and heads home. Saban will be receiving several national championship trophies at a press conference here beginning at 1 p.m. ET that will be available on ESPNEWS and likely many stations from across the state of Alabama.

One of them will come from me. It will be one of my first acts as the new president of the Football Writers Association of America. I'll present the Alabama coach with our trophy emblematic of the organization's national championship for the 2009 season.

We go back a long ways. I remember covering Saban when he was the defensive backs coach on Jerry Glanville's staff with the Houston Oilers in the late 1980s. He was a developing coach and I was a cub reporter.

A couple of my predecessors have warned me to be prepared as the trophy is pretty heavy.

Something tells me that Saban and the Alabama officials responsible for taking the trophy back to Tuscaloosa won't mind. They have plenty of room in the school's trophy case and several willing volunteers to carry the symbol of the Crimson Tide's victory back home, despite its weight.

Me, I'll just be glad to hand the trophy off.

Texas' rush defense improves after halftime

January, 8, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- The wear and tear was noticeable on their faces. Tired Texas players like Lamarr Houston and Roddrick Muckelroy showed the effects of trying to contain bruising Alabama running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson during a long night at the Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Trent Richardson's 49-yard touchdown run was part of Alabama's 205-yard rushing effort.
The Longhorns’ No. 1 national defense was gashed for a season-worst 205 rushing yards as Ingram rushed for 116 yards and Richardson added 109 in Alabama’s 37-21 victory in the Citi BCS National Championship game.

But despite those numbers, Texas made adjustments in the second half and the defense was one of the key reasons the Longhorns had a chance to win. Texas allowed only 57 rushing yards after the break, and continually came up with the key plays that were missing in the first half.

"The defense was out there a lot with (quarterback) Colt McCoy being gone,” Houston said. “We were playing tough and played through a lot of adversity all night long. And we were right there.”

The Longhorns’ defense came up with three, three-and-out possessions to start the second half, and Alabama's only two scores of the second half came off late turnovers. The Texas defense gave the Longhorns a chance to pull back into the game when the offense finally started clicking behind freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

“We did all we could do to keep the game close,” Muckelroy said. “The defense stepped up and made some plays. They got us early, but in the end, about four plays killed us.”

Richardson’s 49-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter sliced through the middle of the Texas defense. It was one of four rushing touchdowns the Longhorns allowed Thursday night after giving up five rushing TDs in the 13 previous games.

“It was disappointing they got to us like that,” Houston said. “But we bounced back and did what we could to make adjustments to get back in the game.”

It was the second-most rushing yards against a Texas defense since Will Muschamp arrived last season. Only Oklahoma State's 217-yard effort last season surpassed the title game.

While Texas struggled containing the running game, Muschamp cooked up a pressure-heavy defensive front that sacked Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy five times.

The ringleader of the Texas pass rush was Sergio Kindle, who had his best game of the season with eight tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses.

“Our game plan was to get pressure on their quarterback,” Kindle said. “We thought their lineman were good in run blocking but might have slip-ups in pass coverage. We tried to get speed off the edge and middle. And those plays started coming for us as the game went on.”

But there weren’t enough of those big plays for the Longhorns to overcome the way the Tide won the battle in the trenches, using a methodical offensive philosophy.

“I’m not disappointed at all,” Houston said. “I’m proud of the team and our players for stepping up and almost winning this game. It was a good effort, but in the end it just wasn’t good enough.”video

Late first-half interception dooms Texas

January, 8, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- It was the kind of game that left Texas players feeling empty, wondering if they could have beaten Alabama under some different circumstances.

Like having a healthy starting quarterback. Or without a botched shovel pass late in the first half that cost them a touchdown, a touchdown that proved to be pivotal at the end of a 37-21 loss to the Crimson Tide.

[+] EnlargeMarcell Dareus
AP Photo/Chris Carlson Alabama's Marcell Dareus (57) breaks away from Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert after intercepting a pass that he would return 28 yards for a touchdown.
“Who knows?” Texas senior defensive end Sergio Kindle said. “If Colt hadn’t gotten hurt, things might have been a little different. It’s something we’ll never know.”

The Longhorns were already in a huge hole after McCoy’s injury occurred only five plays into the game. But Alabama was able to cruise into a 24-6 halftime lead after a bizarre call. Backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert's shovel pass for D.J. Monroe was intercepted by Marcell Dareus for a 28-yard touchdown with three seconds left in the half.

Texas coach Mack Brown initially considered letting the clock run out. But the Longhorns got greedy, thinking they could hit a big play and get some points.

“We knew it would be a struggle with points and we felt that with 15 seconds left we had the safest thing,” Brown said. “We called a little shovel pass that had never been intercepted before and I certainly never had seen it intercepted for a touchdown. We were trying to run down 10 or 15 yards and then take a shot in the end zone.”

Instead Brown’s gamble backfired and gave the Crimson Tide a huge surge of momentum before the break.

“They tried to shovel pass and my first reaction was to grab the ball,” Dareus said. “Then I blanked out and all I could do was think about Mark Ingram and Javier (Arenas), and making all the moves I didn’t think I could do. I saw the lineman coming for my legs and my first reaction was to spin. I looked to my left and I saw Eryk Anders and I knew it was a touchdown. I could not wait to get into the end zone.”

Brown didn’t show the moxie Thursday that led to eight bowl victories in the past nine seasons, and a 3-0 record in BCS games. The Longhorns battled to overcome mistakes for much of the night.

But Brown said he was proud of what his team accomplished during a 17-game winning streak that stretched back to a October 2008 loss at Texas Tech.

“I told the guys they had a great run,” Brown said. “I thought they were prepared and had worked really hard. Losing is tough. We’re proud to be in the national championship game, and it’s still equally hard to lose it.”


Critical late turnovers cost Texas

January, 8, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- After overcoming obstacles throughout the game, Texas' late hope was undone by a pair of critical late mistakes by freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

Alabama got a clinching 1-yard touchdown by Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram with 2:01 left to ice the Tide's 37-21 victory.

The Crimson Tide took advantage of a short field after a blindside sack by linebacker Eryk Anders. The fumble was recovered by Courtney Upshaw at the Texas 3.

On the ensuing drive, Javier Arenas returned an interception to the Texas 27 that led to a 2-yard TD run by Trent Richardson with 47 seconds left.

And Tyrone King produced the final interception with a pick at the Alabam 31 with 26 seconds left.

Those two late scores make the final margin of victory for the Crimson Tide a little misleading.

The Longhorns had a chance to take the lead with 3 minutes left before the sack on Gilbert.

Before the late struggles, Gilbert had shown promise and moxie. But in the end, he couldn't overcome those late miscues so deep in his own territory in the end.

Gilbert pulls Longhorns back into game

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- We're seeing the rapid development of Garrett Gilbert over the matter of one game.

Gilbert is standing resolute in the face of a blitzing Alabama defense, pulling Texas back within 24-21 with 6:15 left.

Despite facing constant pressure on the last drive, Gilbert marched the Longhorns 65 yards on nine plays on their most recent drive, capped by a 28-yard pass to Jordan Shipley.

Gilbert found Shipley behind backup safety Robbie Green on the scoring play. Shipley produced five receptions for 61 yards on that drive.

Colt McCoy came off the Texas bench to celebrate that scoring pumping his left shoulder high in the air after the touchdown.

The Longhorns' defense has played masterfully in the second half. They need another stop here.

Longhorns gaining confidence, but is it too late?

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert orchestrated a scoring drive, pulling Texas within 24-13 after three quarters.

You can see the Longhorns gaining confidence. Gilbert fired a 44-yard TD pass to Jordan Shipley to account for the only points since the break.

Alabama didn't produce a first down in the third quarter as the Longhorns outgained the Tide, 116-3.

Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle has had a monster game with seven tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses.

The Longhorns have Alabama pinned deep in its own territory. They need a big play to capitalize.

McCoy out for game with separated right shoulder

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- The Texas radio network is saying that Colt McCoy's injury is a separated right shoulder.

He's returned to his team's bench, where he's still wearing his pads.

Even though he's out for the game, he's still involved in the offense. He was in the offensive huddle, trying to get his teammates motivated before they took the field on that last possession.

But the rest of tonight's game is about Garrett Gilbert as he tries to build confidence in what will undoubtedly be his team heading into next season.

First-half analysis: Alabama 24, Texas 6

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Here's a look at why Alabama has cruised to a commanding 24-6 halftime lead.

Turning point: The game turned on Texas’ fifth play from scrimmage when quarterback Colt McCoy went down with an injury to his right shoulder. McCoy appeared to have been pinned between center Chris Hall and defensive end Marcell Dareus when he went down. He was treated for the injury for several plays before he was taken for further evaluation in the Longhorns’ dressing room. He did not appear for the rest of the first half.

His injury forced freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert into the game for his first action. Gilbert struggled against the tough Alabama offense, directing four straight three-and-out possessions with no offensive gains of more than 6 yards on any offensive play during that span.

Stat of the half: Texas produced 26 yards in five plays with McCoy in charge of the offense, an average of 5.2 yards per snap. After his injury, the Longhorns amassed 65 yards on 35 plays, an average of 1.9 yards per snap.

Best player of the half: Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Crimson Tide. Not only did he knock out Colt McCoy early in the first quarter, but he also provided a huge 28-yard interception return on a botched shovel pass with 3 seconds left to give Alabama a comfortable 24-6 lead at the break.

Best call: Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy took advantage of Texas blitzing on the edge early in the second quarter. Freshman running back Trent Richardson took advantage of the huge seam to run untouched through the middle of the Longhorn defense for a 48-yard touchdown run.

What Texas needs to do: Apparently without McCoy, Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to open his offense up. The Longhorns aren’t going to be able to beat Alabama trying to run the ball between the tackles. They might be able to have more success with misdirection plays that might neutralize Alabama’s defensive speed. But it’s going to be tough. The Alabama defense is in a feeding frenzy after knocking McCoy out and almost knocking out Gilbert.

What Alabama needs to do: The Crimson Tide have the Longhorns on their heels -- especially if McCoy can’t come back in the second half. Constant defensive pressure on Gilbert will likely come in waves, keeping him from getting comfortable in the pocket. It’s not an easy situation for any quarterback, but particularly a freshman with as little experience as Gilbert has.

Arenas' interception kills Texas drive

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Texas' offense finally clicked under freshman Garrett Gilbert, but Javier Arenas' interception snuffed out the drive at the Alabama 25.

Texas got some life when D.J. Monroe raced 28 yards on a reverse. On the play before the interception, Gilbert appeared to have Malcolm Williams in the end zone, but the sophomore wide receiver couldn't make a tough catch in the end zone.

The drive should give Gilbert some confidence, although it was a tough learning experience to finish the drive as they still trail, 14-6.

Texas looks lost without McCoy

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Texas has lost the lead and likely their quarterback for the rest of the game.

Colt McCoy's injury has left the Texas offense struggling. And Mark Ingram's 2-yard TD run gave Alabama the lead on the second play of the second quarter.

McCoy's injury has shell shocked the Longhorns offense, who produced only Hunter Lawrence field goals despite moving to the Alabama 1 on the first drive and the Crimson Tide 25 on the second possession.

ESPN radio reports that McCoy is in the locker room without his pads after he was treated for the injury. His roommate and close friend Jordan Shipley has gone to the locker room to console him.

Alabama took advantage of the good field position and moved the ball consistently on the play. It looks like they have Texas on its heels.

McCoy sidelined after solid hit

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Colt McCoy was sidelined barely four minutes into action with what appears to be a shoulder injury.

McCoy was sandwiched into center Chris Hall when he was crushed by Alabama defensive end Marcell Darius.

The play knocked McCoy out for the rest of the drive.

It was capped by an 18-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence that gave Texas a 3-0 lead.

The Longhorns take an early lead, but may have suffered a greater loss without McCoy. It's hard to believe the Longhorns can win without their leader.


McCoy's Texas legacy will be settled after tonight's game

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Texas quarterback Colt McCoy will go down in history as one of the most popular players in Texas football history.

But he can take a special exalted place that only the quarterbacks who have led Texas to a national championship have been able to achieve with a victory over Alabama tonight.

McCoy has an NCAA record 45-7 mark as a starter. But he still has yet to claim a national championship and has won only one Big 12 title.

To join in the special club with players like Vince Young, James Street and Duke Carlisle, McCoy needs to win tonight.

It would cement his legacy and be an achievement I'm sure he would cherish much more than any individual award like a Heisman Trophy.

Biggest ovation reserved for Young's TD run

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. -- Neither Alabama or Texas has taken the field, but that should be starting in a few minutes.

The biggest ovation of the night took place a couple of minutes ago when a replay of Vince Young's game-winning touchdown run in the 2006 title game was flashed on the scoreboard.

Young's TD run got a much larger response than my colleague Ivan Maisel's very fine analysis of the play that took place immediately after Young's replay.

The Longhorn fans appear ready for the game.

Numbers favoring underdog Longhorns

January, 7, 2010
PASADENA, Calif. - Texas comes into tonight's Citi BCS title game ranked No. 2, but that might not necessarily be a bad omen for the Longhorns.

Since the BCS was formed to pair No. 1 and No. 2 teams beginning in 1999, there have been 13 meetings between the top two teams in a conference championship or a bowl game. The No. 2 team holds a 7-6 edge in those head-to-head games, but it has won seven of the past nine meetings.

Included in that list was Texas' 41-38 triumph over USC in the 2006 national championship game at the Rose Bowl.

Tonight's game will be the second time in as many years that the teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 have met in the Southeastern Conference game and then in the BCS title game. Florida beat Alabama 38-24 in the SEC title game and then defeated Oklahoma five weeks later in the national title game, 24-14.