Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
STILLWATER, Okla. -- The memories of Texas’ only 2008 loss were never far away for Curtis Brown, Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas.
A nightmarish ending in that Longhorns’ loss at Texas Tech boiled down to two plays that group didn’t make. Gideon dropped a chance at a game-sealing interception with a celebrated drop on the next-to-last Tech offensive snap on a throw by Graham Harrell. And Michael Crabtree split Brown and Thomas on his game-winning touchdown grab on the next play.
The similarities to that game were striking this season as a tough trip to Oklahoma State materialized in exactly the same place on the Longhorns’ schedule. Texas was playing its most difficult road opponent before a stadium packed with the largest crowd in school history.
Except this time around, the trio of Texas defensive backs slayed those memories with a masterful defensive game. All of them produced interceptions in a convincing 41-14 victory over Oklahoma State.
“I’m so proud of Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas and Curtis Brown,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “It was very fitting for all three of them to intercept balls -- two for touchdowns -- and put that thought to rest.”
Curtis Brown recalls the bitter disappointment of that earlier loss. Those memories have helped spark the Longhorns’ quick start by a young secondary that has developed into the strength of the team after eight games.
“The game tonight was kind of like last year, in the same situation,” Brown said. “But we learned we’ve got to take care of things week by week.
“We’ve grown as a group and matured as a secondary and a whole defense. You could say we’ve just kind of grown up.”
One indication of that maturity is how little Gideon says he reflects on the drop against Texas Tech.
“We put that to rest before the season started,” Gideon said. “If we had let it stay in front of us, it would have been a long season. But we put that behind us a long time ago and tonight we just us executing our defense against a good offense.”
But other Longhorns realized the similarities they were facing against Oklahoma State like at Tech last season.
To ensure that Texas wouldn’t have a letdown against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Mack Brown said he pushed his team. Last year before the Texas Tech game, he said he could tell they were weary from the travails of the season.
In last season’s game, Texas fell into an early 19-0 hole against the Red Raiders. But this season, the new attitude helped propel the Longhorns to a quick 17-0 lead punctuated by Brown’s interception return.
“Last year was a huge learning experience for us,” Texas defensive end Sam Acho said. “We knew we were in a similar situation as we were last year against Texas Tech. And we didn’t want to finish on that. We knew what we had to do and what we had on the table. And I’m glad we came out strong and played a complete game.”