AUSTIN (KXAN) — “We gotta let this sting a little bit.”
Longhorns offensive lineman Christian Jones said after the 34-30 loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday that it’s on the players to think about what they could have done differently to turn the heartbreak into celebration.
Perhaps the biggest sequence of the game was the Longhorns getting the ball down to Oklahoma’s 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter and getting stuffed four consecutive tries. Jones was in the middle of that, along with defensive linemen Byron Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat in the Longhorns’ jumbo goal line package. Not being able to move the ball three feet for six points with about 11 minutes left in the game loomed very large with how the game played out.
Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said the team takes a lot of pride in the situational package with the 300-pounders leading the way. They’ve scored every drive they’ve used it with Saturday being the only exception.
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“We wanted to do what we do,” he said. “On the first down play, it looked like the linebacker shot the gap. Why we didn’t block him, that’s hard to tell. The second down play got strung out a little bit, the third down play looked like internal penetration again.”
He called the fourth-down play, a pass to Xavier Worthy after the offense lost a yard on third down, a “bang-bang” play. Worthy was stopped just short of the goal line after doing all he could to fight through defenders.
“We went to play we felt really good about and we don’t score by about four inches,” he said.
How the game played out after that showed the resolve this year’s team plays with, however. The defense was able to get off the field after Oklahoma missed a field goal attempt that would have put them up by 10 points, and the offense drove down the field and tied the game on a 29-yard run by Jonathon Brooks.
Texas took a 30-27 lead with 1:15 left in the game thanks to a Bert Auburn field goal, but Dillon Gabriel capped his career game with a huge run to help set up the game-winning touchdown. Gabriel found Nic Anderson, who was wide open in the back corner of the end zone, for the go-ahead score with :15 left. Anderson’s presnap motion confused the Texas defense, and that allowed Anderson to slip between two defenders and make an easy grab to win the game.
“I’ll never question the fight and resiliency in our guys,” Sarkisian said. “They absolutely displayed that today when we didn’t play our best football. We need to coach better and play better than we did today, and we have to take it one game at a time as we move forward.”
Jones and other veteran players were asked about how a loss like this, especially to a bitter rival like the Sooners, could affect them mentally. All of them agreed that this year’s team is much better equipped to handle it than previous teams, and that’s a good thing.
“A loss like this will bring the team closer,” Jones said. “We going to go back and look at film and get better. We need to let it sting and get it out of our system. It’s the 24-hour rule. The next day, the sun is up. You’re healthy, you’re blessed, and it’s on to the next activity.”
Texas has a bye next week and will resume Big 12 Conference play at Houston against the Cougars on Oct. 21.