Five Silver Linings for the Texas Longhorns
For Every Dark Cloud, There are Silver Linings
Sure, the Texas Longhorns came out on the losing end of a 48-45 score on Saturday night against the West Virginia Mountaineers, but for every dark cloud-- and the one hanging over Austin the past few days has been plenty dark-- there are silver linings.
Several players stepped up for the Longhorns on Saturday and took advantage of expanded roles at their individual positions. Each will continue to see even larger roles as Big 12 play rolls on and the schedule gets increasingly tougher, starting off with the Red River Shootout game against the Oklahoma Sooners this coming Saturday.
Beyond the performances from players, the Texas crowd rose to the occasion and proved that Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium can indeed be a tough place to play and win. This crowd "performance" had several ancillary benefits within, and outside, of the stadium.
It's hard for Texas fans to be optimistic when things appear their darkest, but Saturday's loss, while frustrating and disappointing for the Longhorn faithful, was far from all doom and gloom.
Johnathan Gray Was Impressive
True freshman running back Johnathan Gray had an extended role on Saturday due both to an injury to normal starter Malcolm Brown, but also the desire of the Texas coaching staff to use Gray's burst and speed to their advantage. Gray performed very well not only in traditional carries, but also in the WildHorn direct snap formation which he handled with confidence and grace. John Gray's a keeper who will be thrilling fans on the Forty Acres for years to come.
Mykkele Thompson Earns a Starting Job at Safety
Redshirt freshman safety Mykkele Thompson was everywhere at once on Saturday night in the best way possible. Thompson, who's seeing more playing time week by week, and has now supplanted Adrian Phillips as the starting stong safety, was ball-hawking all evening long and theoretically could have had as many as three interceptions had he finished plays he had the chance to finish. It's another example of an opportunity being capitalized on. Mykkele Thompson is just getting started for Texas and his future is bright.
Malcom Brown Taking Advantage of His Playing Time
Another true freshman, defensive end Malcom Brown, also made his presence felt on the Forty Acres Saturday evening. Brown was physically dominant and was a presence along the line of scrimmage throughout the game. Brown has impressed the Texas coaching staff with his ability to quickly understand complex defensive schemes and is one of the only true freshmen on the defensive side of the ball that is making a substantial impact in his first season for the Longhorns. Malcom Brown looks like the real deal and will have a chance to continue building his reputation this week against Oklahoma.
Texas Fans Were as Loud As They've Ever Been
As one of the 101,000 plus which was an all-time record at DKR, I can attest the Texas crowd was as loud as I have ever heard. At times, the noise was deafening, which not only aided a Texas defense which needed all the help they could get, but also encouraged an offense which was always looking for an edge. At the point of Malcom Brown's forced fumble by Geno Smith in the second half there was a massive roar which was electrifying. While the Texas crowd tends to have a reputation for complacency, their noise level came on the right evening for several reasons.
2013 Recruits Present at DKR Left Impressed
The Texas crowd noise had an ancillary effect: leaving some of the most important recruits in the 2013 class, who just so happened to be present in person, impressed and happy with what they saw. Livingston multi-threat athlete Chevoski Collins (pictured) was not present at the game, but committed to Texas today due, in part, to the atmosphere he witnessed on television Saturday night. Other high-profile Texas recruits including Katy offensive guard Caleb Benenoch, and Waco two-way lineman Andrew Billings left impressed and were vocal about the fact the crowd amplified their impression of Texas and pushed them up a notch on their respective lists.
In short, there were a few silver linings for Texas. There's always a little light in the darkest night.