Grading the Texas Longhorns: Week 2- New Mexico
For the Texas Longhorns, a Week 2 victory over the New Mexico Lobos was expected, but also showed some areas of improvement from Week 1 and other areas where things were not as sharp. In the 45-0 victory, the Texas defense was solid as a group, while some newcomers to the offensive unit showed flashes of brilliance which could pay some dividends as conference play rolls around later in the month.
Let’s take a look at how each positional grouping fared last evening at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium:
After the 37-17 victory over the Wyoming Cowboys in Week 1 in which the offense was predicated by the run, it was a common conclusion among press in the Austin area that we would see an increased number of pass plays last evening. The press was dead on there.
David Ash finished the evening 16-22 for 221 yards and two touchdowns through the air. His completion percentage for the second straight week was solid and he again didn’t make any unnecessary or unforced mistakes. The most impressive play Ash made all evening, however, was a 49-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that came off of a broken play. Ash was solid, but again failed to complete any true explosive pass plays.
As we discussed in an article published here on Rant Sports yesterday, the Texas offense is measuring success this season by explosive plays and these will have to come at some point in the season in more competitive games.
Junior backup Case McCoy saw a few snaps in mop up duty in the fourth quarter and was solid, throwing a touchdown pass to electrifying true freshman Daje Johnson in the fourth quarter and otherwise seeming comfortable and solid in the pocket.
Running Backs: B
The running back trio of Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray collectively didn’t have as strong a performance in Week 2 as in the opener against Wyoming, but then again, they were the focus of the evening’s gameplan. Between them, the trio rushed for a total of 84 yards on only 20 carries, with Bergeron leading the pack with 49 of those yards.
The true star of the unit– albeit on only four touches– was true freshman Johnson who was suspended for week one due to a violation of team rules. Johnson picked up 70 yards total, including a blazing 45-yard touchdown reception in the second half that brought the largely bored crowd to its feet. Expect to see plenty more from the Pflugerville native in coming weeks.
Wide Receivers: A
The Texas wide receiving corps did exactly what was expected of it on Saturday evening: make plays when given the opportunity to do so. Led by Daje Johnson and Mike Davis– who tallied his first touchdown of the young season– seven different Texas receivers saw looks against the Lobos.
On a unit that doesn’t have one true star, but many workmanlike guys, this should be the norm throughout the rest of the season. If the receiving corps can be this dependable when Big XII play rolls around, it’s good news for Texas fans.
Offensive Line: C
Of the offensive units for Texas, the line was the weakest. New Mexico– especially early on– succeeded in getting pressure on David Ash and the running backs, limiting production. The push we saw from the line in Week 1 against Wyoming wasn’t as evident in the first half last evening.
As the game wore on, the line started to get the push necessary to create the option for more creative play calling which led to more explosive plays and allowed Ash the time to check down through his progressions and find the open man with consistency.
Defensive Secondary: A
The New Mexico Lobos had only a total of 35 yards passing last evening which was a function of several different things, but was due in large part to the smothering coverage provided by the Texas secondary. Quandre Diggs had another huge game, tallying an interception for the second-straight week and generally being a nuisance to New Mexico receivers.
Diggs was the unquestioned leader of the unit again, and is starting to emerge as its focal point. Kenny Vaccaro and Carrington Byndom were much improved from week one in coverage and should go into next week’s tilt with Ole Miss with improved confidence overall.
Jordan Hicks. That’s all you need to know.
For back-to-back weeks the Columbus, Ohio native has shown he is finally starting to live up to expectations, totaling 9 tackles as he appeared to be everywhere at once for Texas. Steve Edmond was solid also (7 tackles) and Jackson Jeffcoat laid out some monstrous hits on New Mexico offensive players which could be heard from my season tickets two steps from the ether.
If Texas continues to play with this type of intensity in the second-level, there are going to be some long games for opposing offensive linemen.
Defensive Line: B
The Texas line was solid, if unspectacular again last evening. Ashton Dorsey was the most visible of the unit this week as he was last, and appears to be emerging as a leader of a unit that will receive increased scrutiny and will be responsible for increased production as September rolls on.
Special Teams: B
The Texas special teams units looked like entirely new folks this week. The kicking game which was flat out awful in Week 1 was better in Week 2 as true freshman kicker Nick Jordan connected on one of two field goal attempts (38 yard make, 45 yard miss). Jordan’s job is likely a little shaky at this point as Penn State transfer Anthony Fera gets closer to 100% and is reportedly starting to see additional reps in practice.
Punter Alex King blasted another 50+ yard punt in his only opportunity. While this is yawn-inducing for some, for me, it’s important, because it shows he’ll be able to affect field position later in the fall when it’s necessary to do so.
While New Mexico largely tried to neutralize the Texas return game through sky and squib kicks, Quandre Diggs and Mykelle Thompson both had some nice returns during the course of the evening.
Overall, Texas’ week two performance against New Mexico was an improvement, but was evident there is still work to be done.
The Longhorns make a trip to Ole Miss this coming Saturday for a late-night (9:15 EST) kickoff on the Mothership.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Kris is also the host of the Rant Sports College Football Hour on the TSC Radio Network on Sunday evenings at 8 Central Time and Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.