With around four minutes to go in last night's first half, after the fair weather fans had worked their way to the exits and the boo birds made their first appearance in DKR, the Texas offense clicked. The Horns amassed over 700 yards in a record-setting performance that would been a leading news story in the SEC. Instead, we quietly discuss and analyze the positives and negatives from last night's performance with an overwhelming sense of confusion, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Here are some of the things that caught my attention.
Extremely Optimistic- Major Applewhite
Major proved last night that he is able to adjust mid game to attack an opponent's weaknesses and score. Texas averaged around nine yards per play, but that offensive dominance wasn't exactly present for a majority of the first half. That isn't necessarily an accurate reflection of the offensive playbook. Applewhite's calls were solid on all but one fourth down. Texas just struggled executing. A Mike Davis fumble and David Ash overthrow stagnated an offense that, if rolling from the start, could have easily racked up 80 points against a futile NMSU defense.
Extremely Optimistic- Daje Johnson
Wow. What a playmaker. Johnson's speed is unmatched and when he gets in space, the defense isn't going to stop him. His stat line last night was stellar. He finished second on the team in receiving and fourth in rushing.
Johnson is going to be a staple of this offense if we are going to make a run this year. He reminds me of Tavon Austin at West Virginia last season. His importance to our offense can not be understated.
Pretty Optimistic- Longhorn Defense
The Longhorn defense showed to be a much improved unit from last season, allowing seven points our less for the third time in as many seasons. While the occasional missed tackle was met with serious Manny Diaz skepticism, for the most part the Longhorns looked like some seriously improved tacklers.
Downfield coverage was solid from the DBs all night, and New Mexico State never had a chance to throw the ball downfield. However, Texas didn't seem to want to cover their tight ends, as New Mexico State dumped the ball of for six or seven yards more often than not.
The defensive line was fun to watch last night. Ced "wet the bed" Reed had a nice sack and Hassan Ridgeway literally tackled two people at once. Jeffcoat was JJ Swattin' passes and defensive tackle Chris Whaley was sniffin' out screens like it was nobody's business. If the LB's continue to improve, we might stop cringing every time they step on the field. NMSU only had two sustained drives of 50-plus yards, and excluding a very nice touchdown pass from McDonald, I've got nothing but love for the defense last night.
Pretty Optimistic- David Ash
Ash showed some serious bouce-back ability last night after starting off the game with two interceptions. His record setting night included five touchdowns and over 400 total yards. We saw what he can do with his feet, as he scampered for 91 yards on the night, including a beautiful 55-yard touchdown run down the home sideline.
His passing was solid as well, but he struggled a bit overthrowing some of his receivers down the field. He missed an open Daje, MacFarland, and Davis on deep routes, and all had the potential to be scoring plays. But I'm not complaining. Here's to hoping he continues to improve and establish himself as one of the elite quarterbacks in college football.
Apathetic- Mike Davis
Davis struggled the first half with a fumble and a lackadasical deep route (the for-sure TD) that had one coach fuming when he got to the sideline. However, he bounced back with a very nice touchdown grab, getting one foot down in what was originally ruled as an incomplete pass. He finished as the third leading receiver with five catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Davis is going to need to step up and play well against a stout BYU defense next week.
Extremely Pessimistic- The Godzillatron
The Taco Bell-Tron shut off in the second half last night and didn't turn back on until the third quarter. It is easily the glitchiest scoreboard in college football and has been that way since it's inception. I was displeased at the lack of advertising and brand interaction I missed during this period. I needed more Pizza Hut and Mighty Fine mascots throwing garbage into the stands. Who was bringing me third down? Was it Whataburger? Was it the official Chevrolet of the Texas Longhorns?! Was it Pluckers?! For a period during last night's game, it was almost as though brands didn't exist. I'm not sure a brand-less DKR is a DKR I can stand behind. Bring back the brands.
So BON, who were you optimistic/pessimistic about last night?
(H/T to SB Nation's James Dator for this idea.)