This offseason, Texas Longhorns fans were eager to see their new-and-improved, high-powered offense led by new offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, but after nearly two quarters of football against the New Mexico State Aggies in last night’s season opener, it appeared that nothing had changed; the team still struggled to move the ball and couldn’t seem to put points on the board. However, with two minutes left in the first half, a switched was flipped and the Horns offense was awakened; the Texas offense exploded and several stars were born in what ended up being a 56-7 route.
After the slow start, the Longhorns set a new school record with 714 yards of offense and gave fans many reasons to believe the offseason hype.
Quarterback David Ash bounced back from two early interceptions (one on a great play by the defense and one on a tipped ball) to have an incredible night. The junior quarterback finished the game going 20/28 with 343 yards passing and four touchdowns. He added 91 yards rushing for one touchdown, which came on an impressive 55-yard run down the sideline.
Though Ash ended the night with one of his best games in Austin, it was sophomore Daje Johnson and true freshman quarterback-turned-running back Jalen Overstreet who stole the show.
All off-season, fans were told that Johnson was the most talented offensive player on the team. Though they didn’t see him much on the field last year, reports out of Austin were that Applewhite was going to do whatever it took to get him on the field this season. He did, and Johnson didn’t disappoint. He showed his elite speed and explosiveness by putting up nearly 130 yards of offense both on the ground and through the air, leaving no question about his playmaking ability.
In addition to Johnson, true freshman Jalen Overstreet, who was moved from the N0. 3 quarterback to running back this summer, led the team in rushing despite not stepping onto the field until the final quarter of the game. Sure, he likely didn’t play against the Aggies’ first string defense and they were no doubt worn out, but Overstreet showed that he can be an offensive force. He carried the ball nine times for 91 yards, scoring two the Horns’ final two touchdowns–one on an incredible 38-yard run.
Other stats of note that demonstrate the explosiveness of the offense: the Longhorns had four touchdowns of 50+ yards. Last season they had a total of six. They scored touchdowns of 78, 66, 55, 54, 38 and 25 yards. At one point, they scored five touchdowns in a nine minute span.
Despite all this, the offense was far from perfect. Again, it took nearly two quarters to get warmed up and the starting running backs struggled to do much against an outmanned Aggie squad. These are things that must change if the Horns hope to make a run at the Big 12 title this season.
Nevertheless, this Texas offense showed that it has a tremendous amount of potential and that Applewhite knows exactly how to use it. Last night’s record-setting performance should leave fans with a lot of reasons to be excited about this upcoming season.