Commentary

A memorable win and new identity

Young Longhorns finally show they understand how to win at Texas

Updated: November 27, 2011, 6:31 PM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- In the rubble of a rivalry constructed of heroes and legends and torn down by greed and stubbornness, Texas has found what it has been searching for -- a new identity.

[+] EnlargeEmmanuel Acho
Brett Davis/US PresswireTexas was finally able to celebrate a meaningful win and get a signature moment.
Texas and Case McCoy, by virtue of one drive, one play and one historic 27-25 win over Texas A&M, stepped up and, as Mack Brown put it, captured the moment. This after so many had slipped through the fingers of Texas in the previous weeks. But now the offense appears to have something in its clutches that has been so elusive.

"This was huge for our confidence," Brown said. "We're trying to fight our way back. I knew we were getting better but the kids weren't getting credit for that. I wanted them to keep their heads up."

No doubt they all had their eyes to the sky as Justin Tucker's 40-yard kick sailed through the uprights. Those who weren't bowing their heads in hopeful prayer, that is.

In the end, the prayers were answered. But this wasn't a game won through some divine intervention. It was wrought of hard work, determination and experience.

Just a week earlier Texas had been in the same situation. And it failed.

"The two-minute drill didn't go so well last week," McCoy said. "We harped on it this week. It showed up again [against A&M] and we were able to execute and get in field goal position."

At the start of that drive, Texas had found itself in the same position it had been in all night -- stuck with the 12th man surrounding them, with 11 Aggies defenders dictating every move in front of them.

Against that backdrop, Texas had punted five times in the first quarter alone. The Longhorns' previous long drive had been a one-play 41-yard touchdown pass on a trick play from Jaxon Shipley to Blaine Irby. They had averaged a measly 3.2 yards per play.

Add to that all the ill-fated drives of the previous weeks -- 28 of them with one offensive touchdown -- and the probability of what was about to happen was unfathomable, even for those with the deepest of faith in all things burnt orange.

That it did happen, that McCoy was able to engineer the game-winning drive, could serve as a turning point for a team, a program and a coach who have all been maligned since reaching the sport's pinnacle in 2009.

What Texas had lost since the moment Colt McCoy was helped off the Rose Bowl turf was its identity. The logo, the uniforms, the place were all still iconic, but the players were not. They weren't because they had not earned the right to be.

There was no signature in this new breed's few wins. There was only humility in the shortcomings.

Case McCoy didn't change all that with one drive. There is too much background and too much baggage left from the previous games and even Texas' 18 previous possessions against the Aggies to assume such a giant leap. What he did was allow the Texas players to have a taste of what it was and how it should be.

He gave them a memory of a game in which they accomplished a victory -- not with the class before them, not with Colt under center or Jordan Shipley at receiver -- but with these teammates.

That memory, regardless of whether a win comes Saturday at Baylor, is something these players can reach back to, and understand that they played how Texas has played and should play. They know now -- all 18 true freshmen who play, as well as the other young players -- what it takes and what it truly means to be a part of Texas.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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