Burnt orange: UT secondary torched
Quarterback Landry Jones and Oklahoma make it look easy in Red River Rivalry rout
DALLAS -- The state of the baby-faced Texas Longhorns secondary is apparently so fragile that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz felt the need to stress the silver lining Saturday afternoon.
Hey, how about that second half?!
"I thought we continued to battle," Diaz said. "This team has a spirit that's hard to break. Even though the scoreboard didn't look the way we wanted it to look, I thought we finished well."
Saying the scoreboard didn't look the way the Longhorns wanted after a 55-17 loss is kind of like saying all that fried food at the State Fair is fattening.
Texas' spirit might be hard to break, but the perception that the Texas pass defense might be prepared for elite competition burst like a bubble at the Cotton Bowl. This game turned into a laugher quickly in large part because the Longhorns' secondary was easy pickings for Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones and his receiving corps.
The impressive stats piled up during Texas' 4-0 start -- such as the fifth-lowest passer rating allowed in the nation -- appear to be products of a relatively soft schedule. It's hard to draw any other conclusion after watching the way Oklahoma attacked the Longhorns while building a 34-10 halftime lead.
It was essentially a highlight reel the Sooners can use for Jones' Heisman campaign.
Jones threw for 305 yards and three scores in the first half ... despite having two other touchdown passes negated by penalties. He spread the wealth to All-America receiver Ryan Broyles (five catches, 98 yards and a touchdown), Kenny Stills (five catches, 51 yards, two touchdowns) and Jaz Reynolds (four catches, 71 yards).
Never mind that the Sooners didn't add much to those numbers in the second half, when Jones threw for only 62 more yards to finish with 367. The damage was done. The Red River Rivalry was already won in a rout.
"Landry Jones played like a Heisman Trophy winner today," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
The Texas defense, which entered the nationally televised test allowing only 289 total yards per game, didn't make it tough on Jones.
The young cornerbacks especially struggled. Sophomores Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips and freshman Quandre Diggs were each burned on touchdown passes.
The biggest play of the day was arguably Reynolds getting open behind Phillips on a go route up the right sideline for a 30-yard gain on third-and-25, extending a drive that ended in a Broyles touchdown to give the Sooner a 17-point lead early in the second quarter. It was one of three 30-plus-yard gains by the Sooners' passing game in the first half.
"They just had pretty much perfect calls," Byndom said. "Sometimes it happens like that. They found the open guy in the coverage and they hit him. Landry did a real good job of that today, and he had a lot of open receivers. They have great players who make plays, and they did that.
Added Phillips: "We didn't do what we wanted to do and they capitalized off of that. That's what good offenses do. They make you pay for your mistakes."
It won't get much, if any, easier for the Texas secondary. Justin Blackmon and Co. visit Austin next week.
"We don't have enough time to feel sorry for ourselves," Brown said. "Oklahoma State throws it like this bunch."
That's bad news for the burnt (over and over again) orange.
Tim MacMahon is a reporter and columnist for ESPNDallas.com.