Nick Rose

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

STILLWATER, OK. — Riding a two-game win streak, the Longhorns are in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys tonight. In a matchup of two desperate teams, the Longhorns will look to get their sixth win of the season and gain bowl elibigbility. Follow here and @texansports on Twitter for live updates and commentary.

9:45 - 4Q 0:00 - Texas 28, Oklahoma State 7 - The Longhorns defeat the Cowboys to earn their sixth win of the season and gain bowl eligibility.

9:27- 4Q 4:31- Texas 28 Oklahoma State 7- Swoopes finds freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman for the 45-yard score.

9:16- 4Q 9:02- Texas 22 Oklahoma State 7- The Cowboys drive 61 yards on 10 plays to avoid the shut out. 

9:02- End of the Third Quarter- Texas 22 Oklahoma State 0- Longhorns force an eighth punt by Oklahoma State. They will start the fourth quarter from their own 26.

8:45- 3Q 7:37  - Texas 22 Oklahoma State 0- Placekicker Nick Rose nails a 44-yard field goal. He has converted on three of his four field goal attempts thus far

8:44- 3Q 9:00- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Swoopes finds freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman for 29-yards on third down for his longest completion of the game thus far.

8:28- 3Q 13:13- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Texas is forced to punt for the first time tonight on its first possession of the half. Oklahoma State starts with the ball at the 50. 

7:58- End of the First Half- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Sophomore safety Dylan Haines intercepts a Daxx Garman pass in the end zone to preserve the shutout. Haines, a former walk-on is tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. 

7:54- 2Q 0:43- Texas 19 Oklahoma State 0- Junior placekicker Nick Rose connects from 34-yards out. Texas has scored on four of its first five drives. It has outgained Oklahoma State 263-26 thus far.

7:48- 2Q 2:00- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0- Longhorns force another punt thanks to consecutive sacks. The Longhorns lead the sack battle 3-1 thus far. Since sacks became an official sack, they have never lost to Oklahoma State when they record at least the same number of sacks as the Cowboys.

7:43- 2Q 2:34- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0- Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley nearly hauls in a touchdown but is injured on the play. Junior placekicker Nick Rose misses a 21-yard field goal off of the upright. First time this half the Longhorns fail to score.

7:31- 2Q 8:06- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0: Texas forces the Cowboys to punt for the fourth time this half. Longhorns start the drive at their own 36.

7:23- 2Q 9:33- Texas 16 Oklahoma State 0: Junior placekicker Nick Rose connects on a 51-yard field goal. Texas has scored on all three of its possessions and have outgained the Cowboys 174-29 from scrimmage thus far. 

7:12- End of the 1st Quarter- Texas 13 Oklahoma State 0: The Cowboys finally move the ball for positive yards but are forced to punt. Texas opens the second quarter from its own 35, up two scores. 

7:04- 1Q 2:33- Texas 13 Oklahoma State 0: Junior running back Johnathan Gray runs it in from six-yards out to give the Longhorns a two score lead. Gray now has scored five touchdowns in the last three games.

6:55- 1Q 6:31- Texas 6 Oklahoma State 0: The Longhorns force another punt and start this drive from their own 19. The Oklahoma State offense has run six plays for negative six yards through two possessions. 

6:48-1Q 8:07- Texas 6 Oklahoma State 0: The Longhorns strike first on a 10 play 57-yard drive capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Swoopes to senior wide receiver John Harris. The Longhorns do not convert the ensuing PAT. Swoopes has now thrown nine of his 11 touchdown passes in the red zone.

6:44-1Q 9:00- Texas 0 Oklahoma State 0: Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is sacked for an 11-yard loss to the Oklahoma State 30 yard line.

6:39-1Q- Texas 0 Oklahoma State 0: The Longhorns force a three and out after a sack by junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown. Longhorns begin the possession from their own 38.

6:33- Texas wins the coin toss and defers to the second half. Oklahoma State will receive the opening kickoff.

Offensive Line

This is already the second time this year the offensive line has been put on this list. 

This time, it’s because they aren’t opening running lanes for its running backs — junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown. The Longhorns struggled to run the ball against Kansas as it put eight and nine men in the box. Texas needs to find a way to improve its running game, and that starts up front with the linemen. The Longhorns also need to protect sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and allow him time to throw the deep ball.

Nick Rose

Junior kicker Nick Rose hasn’t had the best 2014 season thus far. After Texas scored its first touchdown against Kansas, Rose missed the extra point, something he hadn’t done all season. Rose also had a field goal blocked against the Jayhawks, but he wasn’t given enough time to get the kick off after defenders blew through the line. 

Rose has missed fifty percent of his kicks this season. The Longhorns will need him to be much better when they take on Baylor.

John Harris and Steve Edmond

Senior wide receiver John Harris and senior linebacker Steve Edmond have both had solid seasons. Harris has been a big surprise, leading the team in receiving yards with 336 and receiving touchdowns with four. Edmond has recorded 40 total tackles and is a key component of the Longhorn defense this season.

But both provided Baylor with bulletin board material. After the spring game, Edmond went on a rant about Baylor, which didn’t exactly sit well with the Bears.

“I really don’t like Baylor,” Edmond said. “I still think they’re trash … Baylor gets the win and acts like they had never won before. Even in high school, you know how to react when you win a game. It’s not like you never won a game. I’m like, ‘They won it, so what?’ They still suck to me.”

Harris followed Edmond’s lead by misspeaking at Monday’s press conference. Bear fans weren’t too pleased with his statement either.

“They’re still Baylor,” Harris said. “Just because they started playing better, that’s good for them. We’re still Texas.”

Now, Harris and Edmond must step up and back up their statements.

FIX SPECIAL TEAMS

If the Longhorns want to hang with UCLA, their special teams have to improve. Texas’ special teams performance was mediocre against North Texas and wretched against BYU. 

Junior kicker Nick Rose is 1-of-3 on the season despite all his attempts coming from 43 yards or less. His 43-yard try that would have put the Longhorns ahead early in the first quarter against BYU was not even close to the right post. Rose has to improve if Texas wants to win close games against ranked opponents.

The return game has been another huge weakness for the Longhorns. Junior wide receiver Marcus Johnson fumbled once against BYU, and his decision to run laterally, rather than take a touchback, pinned the Longhorns deep in their own territory. Head coach Charlie Strong should have no qualms about replacing Johnson if he cannot perform against UCLA. 

Kick coverage has been solid, but if the Longhorns let erratic kicking and shoddy returns define their special teams, ranked opponents like the Bruins will pounce on the mistakes and make life miserable for Texas. 

DISCIPLINE IN THE FRONT SEVEN

No one doubts the talent on the Longhorn defensive line. Senior defensive end Cedric Reed is bound for the NFL, and the interior tandem of senior Desmond Jackson and junior Malcom Brown swallows up anyone who dares run down the middle. 

The defensive line even got decent pressure against BYU as evidenced by the six sacks recorded by the team. 

However, against mobile quarterbacks like BYU junior Taysom Hill and Brett Hundley, UCLA’s junior Heisman candidate, undisciplined pressure leads to gaping running lanes. When the Longhorn outside pass rushers got up field too quickly, Hill took off running and turned potential sacks into first downs. 

Since last year’s contest against BYU, the linebacking corps has failed miserably in containing all three aspects of the read option. Last week, the quick pass, the quarterback keeper and the outside run all seemed to produce first downs with no resistance. 

A better quarterback in Hundley, and Paul Perkins, a speedy sophomore running back, can make the lack of discipline painfully obvious for a second-straight week. 

The outside pass rush will be helpful against pass-happy teams like Texas Tech, but against mobile quarterbacks, the Longhorns are best off staying conservative with their blitzes and focusing on containing the quarterback.  

TURN SWOOPES LOOSE

Strong hoped to ease Swoopes into the starting gig with the help of some conservative west-coast passing, supported by runs from junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown.  

But, BYU’s defense responded to Texas’ offensive game plan by loading the box and sitting on short routes. 

UCLA’s defense has struggled against two unranked opponents. Virginia hung around into the fourth quarter, and Memphis picked up 469 yards in a 35-point effort. Another conservative game plan may keep Swoopes from making mistakes, but it also puts less pressure on the Bruins’
weak defense. 

The Longhorns can cross their fingers and hope the offensive line improves enough to make the conservative approach viable, or they can shoot for a win by taking advantage of Swoopes’ top-flight arm by bringing back the deep passing game. 

Swoopes has the ability to drive the ball downfield and return Johnson to relevance. More importantly, however, the threat of a deep passing game should push the UCLA safeties further away from the line of scrimmage and prevent them from loading up on short passes and run plays.

Jordan went 1-for-3 against Wyoming and a missed extra point.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Like their offensive and defensive counterparts, the Longhorns’ special teams had moments of brilliance in their season opener while leaving much to be desired.

In his first career start as defensive tackle, Chris Whaley blocked an extra point. In his first career game with Texas, Alex King booted all three of his punts more than 45 yards, one of which was downed inside the Wyoming Cowboys’ five-yard line.

Head coach Mack Brown called his team’s kickoff coverage “the best we’ve had” but also pointed out, like most observers, the glaring need for improvement from his kicker. With Justin Tucker kicking for the Ravens and Penn State transfer Anthony Fera out with a groin injury, true freshman Nick Jordan took over the place-kicking duties.

But the Coppell product missed two of his three field goal attempts, hitting a 31-yarder but missing a 46-yarder wide left in the second quarter and coming up short on a 44-yard try in the fourth, when he also had an extra point blocked after Texas’ final score of the night.

In one game, Jordan missed as many field goal attempts from 40 and 49 yards as Tucker did each of the last two years when he went 9-for-11 from that range. Hunter Lawrence hit 10 of 11 such kicks in 2009, including a 46-yarder as time expired against Nebraska in the Big 12 title game that sent the Longhorns to a national title game.

“I thought the first one was a really good kick,” Brown said. “It just went left. Then he makes a great kick but then on the last one, I thought it was a low snap. He grabbed it and tried to get it back, but he jerked it.”

It won’t matter against Wyoming, but the sooner the Longhorns can get a more reliable kicker on the field — such as Fera, who will also miss Saturday’s game against New Mexico — the better. For now, walk-on freshman Nick Rose, who handled the kickoff duties last week, will compete with Jordan for the place-kicking responsibilities.

“Since Anthony got hurt, they’ve been competing for it,” Brown said. “I’m really pleased with Nick Rose. I think he can be a weapon for us. We just need to figure out how to use him.”

Rose’s performance was also a bright spot on special teams for Texas. He sent three of seven kickoffs for touchbacks while Wyoming was stopped inside the 20-yard line on each of the other four, thanks to tackles by Sheroid Evans, Josh Turner, Dalton Santos and Tevin Jackson.

King’s punting (boots of 46, 58 and 56 yards) and Whaley blocking the extra point following an 82-yard touchdown pass by Brett Smith were also impressive special teams moments. Texas went on to score 24 unanswered points after Whaley’s big play.

“Obviously, the 11 guys that were on the field at that point were all just heartbroken,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “But to come back and block the ensuing point attempt, you could see a bunch of guys not feeling sorry for themselves and not really focusing on that play. But for us to block that PAT I think really speaks to the spirit that this team has.”

Thanks to guys like Whaley, King and Rose, all that stands between Texas and an elite special teams unit is a healthy Fera. Until then, the Longhorns will be sending an inexperienced and likely unreliable kicker onto the field.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Kicking must improve