It was "Bombs away!" for David Ash and Texas.
Texas' 35-point win was about what I expected in the pre-season when I previewed Ole Miss's tattered team for the season preview magazine, but after Bo Wallace's impressive start against the Rebels' sacrificial lambs, I slipped on my panties and started worrying that our own strong start would prove illusory. As it turned out, only our tackling was illusory tonight.
OFFENSIVE MVP: David Ash. If your takeaway from tonight was "David Ash is still underthrowing the deep ball" and I ban you, it's a mercy kill. You don't need football in your life right now; you need a therapist. After finishing the game a ridiculous 19-of-23 for 326 yards and 4 TDs -- good for 13.3(!!) yards per attempt -- David Ash completes the non-conference season with a stat line of 55-72 (76%), 703 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs. I would have been happy with a substantially weaker stat line than that through three games... it's difficult for me to overstate how thrilled I am with the way he's opened the year. The most gratifying and exciting part about it for me, though, has been watching his performance and comfort level rise in lineal unison -- literally on a quarter-by-quarter basis. Harsin has done a masterful job this year building him up piece by piece, from the foundation up, putting him in a position to succeed every step of the way -- to which no small part of Ash's ridiculous stat line is owed.
The kid's a baller, and there was so much to love about the way he played tonight, including just the fact that he made the correct reads and threw a bunch of deep balls where his receivers could make a play. The touchdown strike to Mike Davis was an absolutely terrific throw, but while it surpassed his similarly beautiful 40-yard TD bomb to Jaxon Shipley at Iowa State last year as the best deep touchdown pass of his career, it wasn't even among my two favorite passes of the night.
I loved even more the pass Ash made in the second quarter to Davis on the sidelines for a 12-yard gain, after using his feet to get into space -- a poised play, smart read, and great throw that encapsulated all his skills as a quarterback. And my favorite David Ash pass of the night? Actually, his shortest one: the 1-yard touchdown to Ryan Roberson. Watch it again, if you have the tape, because it is as perfectly thrown as that pass can possibly be made -- Robert Griffin III couldn't have done it better.
DEFENSIVE MVP: None. If you have to choose between "Not Capable" and "Capable of Better," the latter is preferable, but beyond that this was a frustrating performance by this Texas defense, which showed plenty of times tonight why it is capable of better. But it also showed the problems of failing to contain and maintain assignments, and that Manny Diaz has work to do in defending option plays -- against which our defense was again a mess tonight.
STANDOUT COACH: Bryan Harsin. Kudos to Harsin for his patience, man. My God is he the most methodical coach in football or what? He has built this offense up from the ground, tiny step by tiny step, all of it with a purpose, and it is really, really cool to watch as the structure grows in size and strength. Boise State with better talent? That was the hope, right? That's where we're headed. Remember: Ash just started throwing the deep balls tonight. This is the beginning, not the pinnacle.
1. The defense is letting the team down, no two ways about it. Quandre Diggs' performance perfectly encapsulated the unit as a whole: several great plays (including two picks), but two missed tackles and an embarrassing play on the ball to let Moncrief
score a touchdown step out at the 23.
2. Anthony Frera is not yet our place kicker..
3. Both Jordan Hicks and Joe Bergeron left the field with injuries and did not return. No word yet on the extent of either.
Three Things To Like
1. The offensive line delivered a dominant, no messing around performance that was a joy to watch. I raved about Stacy Searels when he was hired, and he's at least met if not exceeded my high expectations. Tremendous improvement, and like Ash, getting better all the time.
2. Mike Davis and Marquis Goodwin: Playmaking Receivers. The lack of playmakers in the receiving corps was a concern heading into the season, but Goodwin is Nate Jones-ing it in his senior year, and Davis is engaged, playing hard, and delivering the kinds of dynamic contributions that this offense has desperately needed.
3. Three games, three wins. Watching all the craziness around college football makes one appreciate all the more just how much there is to like about Texas' start to the season.
And with that, some much needed sleep for me, and a well-deserved off week to rest for Texas.