Life. The Texas Longhorns went to Lubbock, where most dreams go to die, and found life in a season that has been difficult in the middle stretch. After nearly hitting rock bottom against Kansas last week, the Texas offense came alive behind some creative play calling and big throws from David Ash. And the defense, a source of constant heartburn in this tumultuous season, built upon a strong second half performance against Kansas and held Texas Tech to roughly half their season point average and second lowest scoring output of the season. It was exactly the type of win Texas needed entering the final quarter of the season, with momentum and a shot at a Cotton Bowl birth.
4 - 165 - 2: Mike Davis receptions - receiving yards - receiving TDs
Magic continues the redemption tour by responding in the biggest moments. He was a big threat for David Ash early and often, hooking up for an impressive 54 yard completion in the 1st quarter, and the instant strike 75 yard bomb for Texas's third score. But no catch was bigger than the 25 yard TD early in the 4th quarter, with Texas facing a 2nd and 13 leading Tech 24-22. The TD pushed the game to two scores and gave the defense a legitimate shot to put the game away. Props to Mike Davis for continuing put the Swagger in RISE. Oh yeah, I dug the ‘guns in the holster' TD motion. Got his money's worth on that 15 yard penalty.
20 - 108, 2 - 41: Johnathan Gray carries - rushing yards, receptions - receiving yards
Another big day for freshman star John Gray, continuing to take advantage of Malcolm Brown being out with injury. Pin and pull, inside zone, Wild Cat, screen passes, Gray did it all for Texas against his father's alma mater. His vision and explosiveness is unmatched on this team, and he's the best at taking small creases for big gains. Also credit Gray for improving in the screen game, a week after dropping one screen and not getting to the right spot on another. His big 34 yard gain on 3rd and 14 set up Texas's first TD score and set the tone early for the offense. Gray's 101 carries and 533 yards now lead the talented Texas backfield.
11 - 19, 264, 3 - 0, 5 - 25: David Ash completions - attempts, passing yards, passing TDs - INTs, rushes - rushing yards
If David Ash has been anything this season, its been resilient and responsive to tough times. Following his brutal performance in Lawrence, Ash responded by starting a smoking 9 - 10 for 228 yards and 2 TDs before settling into a final line of 11 - 19 for 264 yards and 3 TDs. He was more decisive in taking off when running lanes presented themselves, adding 5 carries for 25 yards and taking no sacks. Most importantly, Ash committed no turnovers. The deep ball was back with two big throws to Mike Davis early, he showed his customary touch on screen passes and a TD wheel route to Shipley, and he shrugged off a slump by finding Mike Davis early in the 4th for that 25 yard TD to put the game away. On the season, Ash is now 158 - 233 (67.8%) for 1,990 yards, 15 TDs and 5 INTs.
While the trio of Monroe, Goodwin, and Johnson didn't bring a ton of production in their 8 touches, it was their involvement and the threat of them getting to the edge that set up a lot of what Texas was trying to do this game. A lot of Texas's big plays in the game came off of play-fakes to one of the speedsters attacking the edge. Good to see Harsin getting them involved more consistently this week.
58 - 427 (7.4): Texas offensive plays - yards (yards per play)
Going against a Texas Tech defense rated 15th nationally at 4.55 yards per play headed into the game, the Texas offense came out and was productive on the ground and in the air on the way to 7.4 yards per play. The Texas passing game accounted for 264 yards on 19 attempts, a strong 13.9 yards per attempt (compare that to Tech's 12th rated 5.6 yards attempt headed into the game), and the Texas ground game chipped in 163 yards on 39 carries (a solid 4.2 yards per carry). Credit the play calling, execution, involvement of the Texas play callers, and sharper QB play.
72 - 441 (6.1): Texas Tech offensive plays - yards (yards per play)
The Texas defense has been under fire all season long, and it was completely earned. But they built off a strong effort in the second half against Kansas to come out and hold Tech to 6.1 yards per play on 72 plays and 22 points overall. The biggest boon for the Texas defense? Holding Tech to 112 yards on 28 carries, a vastly improved 4.0 yards per carry. Big plays were limited as well, as Tech didn't have any plays go greater than 25 yards. Improvement for this defense will come in baby steps, and I was quite impressed with the effort the defense gave this week.
5 - 6 (2, 3): Texas Tech red zone conversions - red zone attempts (TDs, FGs)
With success for the Texas defense largely being defined in red zone stops, count the red zone as a win for Texas. Texas Tech's offense came into the game ranked 10th nationally in scoring TDs in the red zone at 29 TDs in 39 attempts (74.36%), but was held to 2 TDs on 6 trips against Texas. The other 4 trips were FG attempts, with the final trip ending in a Carrington Byndom block. Victory! The Texas offense scored on all 3 of their red zone trips, with 1 ending in a FG.
8 (7) - 1: Steve Edmond tackles (solo tackles) - pass breakups
The light looks to be coming on for the sophomore linebacker. He looked vastly improved a week ago against Kansas, and continued his strong play against Texas Tech. Edmond has looked much more comfortable allowed to line up in a traditional LB spot, not being stuck straight into a gap at the line of scrimmage, and has rewarded that move with improved play recognition and showing the ability to stop ball carriers. Don't think it's a coincidence that the overall defense has improved as he's improved. He chipped in an impressive pass breakup on a shallow drop that showed off the long arms and range that make him dangerous in pass coverage. Great game for Big Money.
5 - 1 - 1: Carrington Byndom tackes - pass breakups - blocks
Carrington Byndom has been one of those players leaving Texas fans scratching their heads thinking, "What happened?" But Byndom came back with easily his strongest effort of the season, getting back to the dangerous cover corner that did work against the best WRs the Big 12 had to offer a year ago. Although he was only credited with 1 PBU, he was jumping slant routes and destroying fade routes in the end zone all game long, affecting at least 4 passes on the day. He got pressure off the edge on FGs all game long, and it finally paid off with his game clinching 4th quarter FG block. Hopefully, this means CB23 is back.
The most impressive stat coming out of this weekend? 7-2, the Texas record heading into games against Iowa State and TCU, before heading up to Manhattan to take on a potentially unbeaten Kansas State. The 4-2 mark in conference play is tied for third with Oklahoma State, with Texas owning the tie-breaker thanks to its 41 - 36 victory in Stillwater earlier in the year. With the team trending up, and a Cotton Bowl birth in sight, are you feeling any better about the squad right now? I know I am.