Let's have a real good time [Pitbull video redacted]. This isn't really about New Mexico. Sure, it has to be in some part, but there have been plenty of thoughts offered already about the game in these parts, so this react is more in relation to the first two games of the season, rather than the individual performance on Saturday.
Why was the 2008 season fun? Because the Longhorns were playing with house money, the same way they are this season. Because the team was emerging from the malaise of 2006 and 2007, the learning years with Colt McCoy.
It was fun. The team was fun. Beating Oklahoma was fun. Beating Missouri was fun.
This season should be fun. Not just because it's football season, but because Texas is getting back. Back towards the expectation of winning every game.
Expecting to destroy opponents from the first play of the game to the last? That would be a difficult standard for the best team in the country to achieve, and that team is not Texas this year.
Enjoy the ride this season. Next year will be the time to nitpick and crush all enjoyment in the name of expectations. Practicing that is not necessary.
Let's have a real good time.
Defining the objectives, again. Let's talk about the realistic objectives here this season -- to prepare for the national championship run next season. Defining that upside? Sophomore quarterback David Ash. Thing is, Ash doesn't have to define that upside next week against Ole Miss. He didn't have to define it on Saturday against New Mexico.
The work in progress sign is still up on with Ash, but the context keeps keeping lost here, it seems.
What were the two things that the coaches wanted from Ash this season, more than anything else? Avoiding turnovers and being accurate.
Yeah, he could have been more accurate in both games. He could have completed every one of his passes. Yeah, he could have avoided turnovers better. By not fumbling that snap last week, a fluke play.
Otherwise, Ash has done what his primary job is right now -- making the smart, easy plays and not putting the defense into difficult situations. So far, so good, except for the one throw that should have been intercepted against New Mexico. After completing less than 57% of his passes last season, Ash now has that number up to 73.5% through two games, an increase of close to 30%. Easy plays, many of them, but plays that are being made.
When Texas wasn't staying ahead of the chains, Ash was making plays on third down against New Mexico, as chronicled by The Audit Horn:
Completing third downs is an area of focus for the developing Texas QB David Ash, and the he answered with the following conversions: a 12 yard completion to Marquise Goodwin on 3rd and 11, a 22 yard TD completion to Mike Davis on 3rd and 16, an 18 yard completion to TE DJ Grant on 3rd and 5, and a 20 yard completion to Bryant Jackson on 3rd and 6. For those keeping score at home, that's 4 conversions of 3rd and 5+ by your starting QB.
Yeah, not too shabby, which explains why Texas had a chance to score every time they had the ball when Ash was leading the offense. Every time.
All of a sudden, though, it seems as if Ash has no room for error on any pass and will come under intense scrutiny until he can hit each and every one of his deep throws. The second is fair, the first is not, and the two seem to be getting confused.
The necessary buffer on hitting some of those big plays, too? Well, there needs to be some improvement by the Oklahoma game. Ash deserves at least that long to start getting this completely right. After all, the ultimate objective here is Pasadena 2014, and the progression seems on track in that regard.
No excuses, just some perspective.
Looking back to look forward, again. Consider these thoughts ($) from Jeff Howe at Hookem.com:
Last year the Longhorns were 2-0. The quarterback position was unstable, the offense didn't have an established playmaker in the huddle, the offensive line was very much a work in progress, and the defense was still getting its feet underneath it in a new system.
This year the Longhorns are 2-0. The quarterback situation has been solved, the offense has multiple guys in the huddle who have shown they can take it to the house, the offensive line seems as cohesive and effective as it has in years, and we're nitpicking about a shutout by the defense.
The depth at running back is starting to show, Texas is working the perimeter passing game to produce plays like the touchdown before the half with Mike Davis showing a little magic on perhaps his most electric play as a Longhorn, Jaxon Shipley juking a defender, and the speed combination of Daje Johnson and DJ Monroe showing that it doesn't have to be an either/or situation with them.
Dedicate resources to stop the interior running game and the Longhorns will work the outside. Relentlessly. And make some plays doing so. Opponent caveats, sure, but speed is speed. It don't lie, baby.
Defensively, neither performance was perfect. The linebackers are still growing. But the secondary solved most of the major communication issues heading into an interesting test in Oxord against Hugh Freeze and one-time near target Bo Wallace.
Red-zone conversions. Quietly but effectively, the Longhorns have been much better through the first two games converting drives deep into opposing territory into points. The consistency problems with true freshman kicker have hurt the Longhorns outside that area, but inside has been a success through the first two games.
4 - 4: Texas offensive TDs - Texas offensive red-zone possessions
A week after going 6 - 6 in the red zone (5 TDs, 1 FG), the Texas offense again put together a strong effort inside the 20. The red-zone possessions yielded a TD pass from Ash to Mike Davis, a TD pass from McCoy to McFarland, a one-yard bull dozing by Joe Bergeron, and a six-yard scamper from DJ Monroe. The red zone was a major concern for the Texas offense coming into the season, but hasn't been an issue thus far. More progress.
Progress, indeed. In 2011, Texas finished 104th in the country converting those opportunities into touchdowns, at right around 50%. In 2010, the 'Horns were 115th nationally at 44%. During both of those campaigns, the NCAA median was right around 60%.
When stepping up against better defenses, the current level of success will be hard to sustain -- anything in the high 60% range is elite production and the 'Horns are over 90% scoring touchdowns in the red zone so far in 2011.
Another positive development.
Apologies if this react wasn't heavy on analysis of the game, but it's tough to have further comments without film study. Working on that.