In the stands the fanatics who follow the Texas Longhorns have this husky chant which goes, "Woo...woo...woo," and one is given to understand that it is a call for Steve Worster, the fullback, to get the football and make a Wooburger out of whoever gets in his way. Worster generally does. Meanwhile, at parties before and after the games, the same fanatics have a quieter chant, "Saint...Saint...Saint," which is for Darrell Royal, the coach: St. Darrell, who will always think of something right. This is what life is like around the team with the nation's longest winning streak—24 in a row, as of Oklahoma's annual burial last week—the team which may or may not be as good as the national champions of a year ago.
It has been next to impossible to say exactly how good the Longhorns are, just as it has been with Ohio State and Notre Dame, and the 41-9 victory over Oklahoma did nothing, really, to clear up the matter. The Saturday before, it was tempting to insinuate that Royal's 1970 team, a team minus James Street and a few other heroes, was probably not the equal of the 1969 outfit that went around annihilating people of lesser quality—and thinking up miracles to defeat the tough guys from Arkansas and Notre Dame. The reason was that Texas had to have another of those miracles to get past a UCLA team which performed perfectly for Coach Tommy Prothro. Texas had to hit a 45-yard touchdown pass with only 12 seconds left to play to scramble past the Bruins 20-17. Until that instant, there had been a question as to whether Texas had another wonder worker like James Street.
Royal had been insisting that his new quarterback, junior Eddie Phillips, was, if anything, a better athlete than Street and just as talented at making the Texas offense work. The Texas offense, of course, is that thing called the Wishbone Triple, an attack that requires perfect timing and split-second decisions.
" Phillips," Royal said, "is a kid who just smiles all the time and loves to practice and play football. He's good on the option, almost instinctive with it. But we don't know if he'll have that thing Street had. You know, something good just sort of followed James around and waited to happen."
In Phillips' case, that something good did happen against UCLA. Phillips threw the pass that Cotton Speyrer caught to overtake the Bruins and keep the Texas win streak alive. Thus, he had accomplished at least once what Street accomplished more or less regularly.
Still, how good was Texas? "Coming along," Royal said. "Prothro didn't come riding into Austin on a wagonload of wood. UCLA played great and they showed us a defensive scheme we hadn't seen. Considering that, we did all right. There are a lot of people who think that all we have to do to win is put on the orange shirts, line up in the Wishbone and say bang. That isn't true."
And so it was back to the Oklahoma game for what would surely be a better gauge on Texas. Oklahoma had two weeks to get ready, and Chuck Fairbanks used the time to put in the Wishbone Triple. He also decided to go with an eight-man line, hoping to force Texas to pass. Neither plan worked very well, although Oklahoma took a 3-0 lead, and so Texas was pressured into coming from behind for the eighth time in this win streak.
The Sooners got an early break by recovering a fumble on the Texas five-yard line but they could not score. Texas' defense, led by End Bill Atessis and Linebackers Scott Henderson and Randy Braband, stopped four Sooner ground plays shy of the goal. "If you can't guess right playing your own offense, then I guess you never will," said Henderson.
Texas then cranked up its rushing machine in the second quarter as Worster started making Wooburgers and Phillips worked the option expertly on the wide plays. He even threw a touchdown pass to his tight end, Deryl Comer, proving that, though Royal would happily ban the pass, it still lives in Austin and surfaces every now and then. Texas threw but seven passes all day and hit three.
"Seven is about enough," Royal said with a smile.