Texas Bowl Notebook
HOUSTON--It’s often been said that everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the mouth. Rarely has a punter been the one throwing the punches.
The biggest weapon for Texas in Wednesday night's 33-16 win over Mizzou was junior punter Michael Dickson. The Ray Guy Award winner, who last week said he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft, continually pinned Missouri in the shadow of its own goalposts. Ten of Dixon’s 11 punts put Mizzou at their own 14-yard line or worse. The Tigers started seven drives inside their own 10.
The average starting field position for Mizzou for the entire game was their own 16-yard line.
“Nope,” head coach Barry Odom said when asked if he’d seen a punter dominate a game like Dickson did. “It was a field position game and the way that they controlled it, very impressive.”
“He was very locked in,” Drew Lock said. “That guy was pretty special.”
For his efforts, Dickson became just the second punter to be named the most valuable player of a bowl game.
“He’s really good,” Terez Hall said. “They started on like our 50 all night. They had an advantage on us. He’s real good. Their specials teams, they went out and worked. They beat us.”
The Tigers’ return games didn’t help. Mizzou was unable to return any of Dickson’s 11 punts. Not until 12:15 remained in the game did the Tigers return a kickoff beyond their own 20-yard line.
The Tigers didn’t help themselves much in any way offensively. They had ill-timed penalties, three turnovers, a snap that sailed out of the end zone for a safety because Lock wasn’t ready for it and a botched hold on an extra point.
“Came out making a lot of mistakes,” Larry Rountree III said. “Coming out, stupid penalties, a lot of things that kept making our game go down. It was on us. It wasn’t on them, it was on us.”
Missouri got to the Texas Bowl by winning six straight games. Most of them came on the strength of the right arm of Lock and his accuracy on the deep pass. On Wednesday night, Lock completed only one long ball, a 79-yard strike to Johnathon Johnson on the first play of the third quarter.
“We didn’t hold up extremely well with some of the pressure looks we were getting to get time to throw the ball down the field,” Odom said. “They were also playing some two-high looks that deterred some of that. Combination of a lot of things.”
Even that was, in part, attributable to Dickson.
“It changes drastically,” Lock said of the offense inside the ten. “Sitting on the five-yard line, the playbook dips down to probably five to ten plays. You’re definitely not taking the shots down the field. I feel for (Joe Jon Finley) a little bit. It’s definitely not a representation of what a good coach he is.”
FLAGS FLY FOREVER
Missouri spent much of the first half shooting itself in the foot with flags. The Tigers had five penalties for 49 yards in the opening five minutes. Three of them came on defense on Texas’ first drive.
“We prepared but we didn’t have our minds set,” linebacker Terez Hall said. “I don’t know, man. We let the little break get to us. I don’t know, man. That first drive was just terrible. It’s all our fault, man.”
“That was not, obviously, a great way to start it,” Odom said. “I don’t know if we were too uptight. I think we were very anxious to go play and had to settle down a little bit.”
The Longhorns made an impressive comeback in the second quarter though, racking up 47 yards on four penalties of their own. That included a personal foul on Daniel Young for shrugging Marcell Frazier off of him on the sideline. It moved UT out of field goal range and kept the Tigers within two scores at halftime.
By far the most damaging call was a roughing the passer penalty on DeMarkus Acy when Missouri had stopped Texas on third and long at the 44-yard line.
“That was bullcrap,” Hall said. “You gotta keep playing. Can’t let that phase you, man. Every call don’t go your way. Just got to deal with it.”
“He left his feet before the ball was out of the quarterback’s hand,” Odom said. “I’ll have to see it on video before I can have a coaching point.”
FRAZIER SPITS FIRE
Marcell Frazier did not hold back in his final interview as a Missouri Tiger. Frazier had plenty to say on a number of topics.
What went wrong? “We played really sloppy. They were more disciplined this game. I think we played well on defense. We can only overcome so many turnovers.”
How about the zebras? “They were questionable calls in my opinion. J’Mon got face masked a couple times, they didn’t call anything. Our DBs were touching those guys with one finger and they were getting calls. We know what it is, it was a little bit of home cooking. Physically we outplayed them. We outgained them by 100 yards. We were getting TFL after TFL so I can hang my hat on that. The front four, I think we physically outplayed their front five.”
Did he expect the offense to get things going? “Realistically (Josh) Heupel left us in a bad position. It is what it is. And (Glen) Elarbee left us in a bad position. So as men they have to look in the mirror. They let a whole bunch of teenage boys down, 18, 19-year olds down. They left and they have to do what’s best for their family, but I think it showed up a little bit today. We were doing things that we haven’t done since maybe the Auburn game. It showed up. You practice for a whole month without an offensive coordinator or an offensive line coach after having one of the most dominant offenses in the nation, it’s tough. I believe that they let some guys down. They have to do what’s best for them and I don’t quite understand it because I know Scott Frost is staying at UCF for their bowl game. So I don’t quite understand all the politics of it, but it showed up. Texas, I don’t believe they had any coaches leave their staff. We had two offensive coaches leave from arguably the most explosive offense in the country so it showed up a little bit.”
Frazier spent part of this season not speaking to the local media. He took full advantage of his final opportunity.
NAGGING INJURIES ON OFFENSE
Wide receiver Emanuel Hall hurt his hamstring in the regular season finale against Arkansas. He didn’t play the second half of that game and was limited early in bowl preparation, but started the game against Texas. He was not targeted all night and did not play in the second half.
“His hamstring tightened up a little bit more,” Odom said. “He did what he could. He didn’t practice much leading up to today. We gave it a chance and it wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Starting tailback Damarea Crockett went through pre-game warmups. But when the Tigers came back on the field, he was in sweatpants.
“I didn’t feel real good about getting into a game situation because of his lack of contact that he’s had, protecting the football worried me a little bit,” Odom said. “He didn’t feel 100 percent.”
Reserve offensive lineman A.J. Harris did not play in the game either. Harris suffered what is believed to be a serious knee injury in practice earlier this week.
HERMAN MOCKS LOCK
After the 79-yard touchdown pass, Lock turned to his sideline and did a little celebrating.
Later in the game, Texas coach Tom Herman celebrated a big Longhorn play by appearing to imitate that celebration.
“It’s kind of funny. At the luncheon, there was all highlights of old Texas,” Lock said. “Their saying is We Are Texas. So you look at it this is a pretty big program. When the head coach is mocking your dance move, you must be doing something right. You’re not a nobody. You’re definitely doing something that’s catching somebody’s attention. When you think about We Are Texas, we are the amazing program we’ve always been and the head coach is doing that, I’m going to walk with my head held high and a little chip on my shoulder.”