T’Vondre Sweat Spurs interior line for Texas
Players in the middle of the defensive line do not always get their due because some things cannot be measured by statistics. As for a man, their teammates and coaches agree the Longhorns wouldn’t be 8-1 without them.
The only thing bigger than those giant bodies in the middle is their importance to Texas fortunes and the toughness they bring to the trenches.
“When we get into that red zone, you don’t get into (the end zone),” defensive tackle Byron Murphy II said. “That’s our mentality. You’re not going in no matter what.”
Race is the leader of the big boys up front. The locker room’s resident class clown, he’s no laughing matter when it comes to the opposing offensive linemen he has to deal with. Sweat has a modest 13 solo tackles, but the fact that 6½ came from behind the line of scrimmage speaks to his dominance.
However, there is ungratefulness that comes with defensive tackles, but when big men like Sweat and Murphy jump off the screen, everyone takes notice.
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Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Sweat and Murphy are the two most dominant interior linemen in the country. Kansas State quarterback Will Howard would likely agree, as the Sweats likely starred in his nightmares in the days following Saturday’s loss to the Horns.
He’s easily the most feared guy in the country, and he lived up to the reputation when he threw aside a double-team block and blasted Howard in the second quarter.
Remember, this guy is listed at 6-foot-4 and 362 pounds. As if he hadn’t done enough, Sweat nearly made the break after Parren Sorrell pocketed Howard on the final play of the fourth goal in overtime.
Sweet, Murphy, Vernon Broughton and Alfred Collins may not always get the credit, but they make the pretty boys out wide and at fullback look good.
“Having (Murphy and Sweat) there, it makes it really easy to run the perimeter,” safety Michael Taaffe said. “I think everyone goes into a game plan that maybe they know they can’t get up the middle. It takes a lot of pressure off of me.”
The big men up the middle set the tone for the Horns’ K-State rushing game, which averaged more than 200 yards-to-33 and 1.1 yards per carry. Sweat and Co. The true measure of this defense and when they put up the dreadful effort we saw against the Wildcats for most of the four quarters, the Horns are going to be a real problem over the final month of the season and beyond.
Rest in peace, Bedlam: he’s gone too soon
Oklahoma-OSU played one for the ages: I’ve never been to a Bedlam game, but I’ll miss it as much as I will miss the Red River Rivalry if it gets disbanded, God forbid.
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College football wouldn’t be the spectacle we love if it weren’t for the bloody blood feuds that make up the fabric of the sport. When Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy hoisted the Bedlam Trophy and directed Stillwater predecessor Jimmie Johnson by asking a locker room full of obsessed players, “How are they doing with the Cowboys?!” Anyone who has watched a single second of a college football game knows that it is about more than just a simple football win.
The Cowboys have beaten the Sooners 27-24 in the last 118 meetings dating back to Oklahoma’s 75-0 win in 1904 and in every season since 1910. So it must sting a little to see it all end now.
This has been more of a tradition than a contest over a win-loss record, as the Sooners hold a 91-20 advantage in the seven-game series. The goalposts landed at Boone Pickens Stadium and found a new home at Theta Pond, but not before Cowboys fans joined in to sing along to a rousing rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Never Getting Back Together.”
In this day of conference reorganization and multibillion-dollar television networks quietly filming events behind the scenes, this is the worst kind of breakup.
Oklahoma State and Oklahoma State should always play, regardless of conference affiliation, even if the managers don’t seem interested in continuing it. The same is true for Texas-Oklahoma State, Michigan-Ohio State, and Alabama-Auburn. And to think, just as the Longhorns and Aggies have found their way back to each other, we face another death of the rivalry.
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Stroud is a Houston star in the making
Path to victory: Houston’s C.J. Stroud delivered the most memorable performance from a rookie signal caller in league history. The Texans have one of the best feel-good stories of the season after Stroud drove a last-minute 75-yard drive, including his fifth touchdown pass of the day, to Tank Dell with six seconds remaining to shock the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I just want the ball,” Stroud told reporters. “Just give me the ball, call the play and I’ll go play.”
And several more after that.
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Stroud has 14 touchdowns and just one interception in eight games and will be turning the field when it comes time to hand out the Rookie of the Year award. Meanwhile, Carolina’s Bryce Young, the top pick in the 2023 draft just ahead of Stroud, had three interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes, in a 27-13 loss in Indianapolis.
So, for all you Texans fans out there, take a minute and thank the great Lovie Smith because he called the two-point conversion to beat the Colts and cost Houston the top pick. Luffy was immediately fired a week later.
Who knows if Texans GM Nick Caserio will take Stroud over Young? It’s a question he’ll never have to answer.
Get off Duck’s back
In the elite company: For all you critics of Dak Prescott, please know that he outplayed every quarterback except Stroud and maybe Joe Burrow on Sunday. He completed 29 of 44 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-23 loss in Philadelphia, but social media went down his throat after leaving the Cowboys at the goal line with time running out.
They’ll keep Prescott’s back because he’s a Cowboys fan. He’s not elite, but he’s good enough to lead this team into the playoffs. His five interceptions on 265 attempts are solid when compared to his 13 touchdowns, but he’s likely to be criticized by a lot more fans than, say, Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who threw nine and eight picks, respectively.
Comes with the star on the helmet. The Cowboys wouldn’t have been in a position to win if not for their much-abused quarterback. They’re not the best team in football, but they’re definitely a playoff team. Prescott is the face of Team USA and with that position comes more attention.
And yes some hate.