Defense steps up in red zone despite poor showing

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Jackson Jeffcoat celebrates after taking down OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh in one of the final plays of the Longhorns' 41-36 victory in Stillwater, OK.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

It was not the best day for the Texas defense. It surrendered 36 points, got gashed for 275 yards on the ground and was hammered for eight plays of more than 20 yards.

But when it mattered the most, the Longhorn defense met the challenge.

Oklahoma State drove the football right down the field entering the Texas red zone five times, and on three of those opportunities, the Longhorns held the Cowboys to a field goal.

After the Longhorns scored a touchdown to go up one with 5:48 left to play, Nick Rose’s kickoff went out-of-bounds, giving the Cowboys the ball at the 35-yard line.

However, when Texas needed a stop to keep the game within reach, the defense limited the Cowboys to three straight two-yard runs after they went into the red zone, holding them to a field goal.

“They battled like champions. Lord knows we didn’t do everything right, but what you can’t fault those guys for was their effort,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.  “There were a bunch of red zone stops, even the ones that we held them to field goals  which were vital in the football game.”

Ash Makes Huge Strides 

Almost one year ago, then-freshman David Ash made the first career against Oklahoma State and it did not go well. Ash passed for 139 yards, two interceptions and completed 55 percent of his passes.

Oh how things have changed.

In the biggest game of his career, Ash threw for 304 yards, three touchdowns, one interception — his first of the season — and completed 81.1 percent of his passes.

Most importantly, Ash showed poise with the game on the line, leading the Longhorns on a clinching drive that included a monumental fourth down conversion on a 29-yard pass to D.J. Grant and a 32-yard bomb to Mike Davis — a pass he wouldn’t have even attempted last season.

“He will not be under any more pressure than this,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said.

Gray Makes an Impact  Johnathan Gray was the nation’s top-ranked running back in the class of 2012, but so far he has had little impact.  

That all changed Saturday when the freshman posted a career best 68 yards, 45 of which came on Texas’ touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.  

He may have also established himself as the go-to guy in the Wild formation, a role that Joe Bergeron held early in the season. Gray performed well in the set, as his elusiveness served him when prodding the defense for holes.

Texas Ends OSU Streaks  Heading into the game Oklahoma State was riding a two-game win streak over Texas and had not lost on its home field since 2010. The Longhorns ended both streaks Saturday.

Texas has now won 13 of 15 contests with the Cowboys and has not lost in Stillwater since 1997.

Sacks Continue to Pile Up Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat were both All-Big 12 preseason selections and they showed why in the win.

Both Okafor and Jeffcoat recorded a sack, and Okafor’s sack in the second quarter was the first sack Oklahoma State had allowed all season.