Simmons' 67-yard run was reminiscent of a 63-yard dash by Dupree in last year's Oklahoma-Texas game. This time around, Dupree wasn't a factor, and, in fact, he remains an enigma. His poorest performances this season have been in the Sooners' biggest games, against Ohio State and Texas. In the 24-14 loss to the Buckeyes, he gained only 30 yards on six carries before silting out the second half with a bruised nerve in his left leg. To be fair, Oklahoma's offensive line hasn't distinguished itself. The suspicion is that one of these days, when Dupree puts his mind and remarkable body to it, he will become the player Switzer and everyone expected him to be after his dazzling freshman season of 1982.
Contributing enormously to the Texas attack Saturday was the blocking of 6'3", 263-pound Right Guard Doug Dawson, who says, "We like to blow people off the ball and outmuscle them." Dawson, who has a pillow in his dorm room that says HERE LIES A WORKAHOLIC, was the single most effective player on the field, although his performance went unnoticed by many. "The idea," explains Dawson, "is to dominate your man all afternoon and feel good about yourself. Nobody knows how we did except us."
The Sooners know how they did, and they aren't amused. A 3-2 record is cause for alarm in Norman, and even Sooners Illustrated, a weekly publication during the football season, reported recently, "This is now an Oklahoma football team which is forced to think more about what's wrong with itself than about the upcoming opponents." Says Defensive Tackle Rick Bryan, "Great teams are able to overcome their mistakes. We haven't done that yet this season." But chances are good that they will, and also good that come Thanksgiving weekend, Oklahoma once again will play Nebraska for the Big Eight title. Should the Sooners win that game, the loss to Texas would be eminently forgettable.
Meanwhile in Austin, football is in the ascendant, and Akers gets the credit. Ever since becoming coach in 1977 he has worked to improve on an already highly successful program. Time was he chafed in the terribly long shadow of his legendary predecessor, Darrell Royal. But that's no longer a problem. The turning point came Jan. 1, 1982 when Akers' Longhorns upset third-ranked Alabama 14-12 in the Cotton Bowl.
He's succeeding grandly at Texas—his record is 59-16-1—for a lot of reasons, but the main one seems to be his ability to get his message across to his players. For example, before the Oklahoma game Akers told his team, "We like the slashing and banging and blows delivered in a tough football game. This is your kind of game. You're going to love it." The emotion flowed almost visibly from the players. You could see it in their eyes. So could Akers, who also told them, "We're partial to fiery eyes when we play these kinds of games." When the players look at Akers and respond, "Yes, sir," they believe—in him and in themselves.
Moments after Saturday's game ended, Akers jumped on two chairs in the dressing room and shouted, "Congratulations on believing in yourselves. You can't roll up anybody better than you did Oklahoma in the second half."
Yes, sir, strong commitments and tough people do last.