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The SMO: Your Sunday morning optimist

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Texas beat up Rice 42 - 28 to get the bad taste of South Bend out of its mouth.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Obligatory reminder: The SMO is usually an emotional overreaction based on the game events the day before. It does not deal in logic or reason.

Under the guidance of a new QB1 and OC1, the Texas Longhorns were able to rebound from an atrocious performance against Notre Dame and win against an inferior Rice opponent at DKR Saturday night. The Owls out-gained the Horns 462 to 277 and completed 18 more passes, but it was Texas who walked away with its first W of the season.

Very optimistic - The QB battle is over (for now)

Jerrod Heard shined in his first start at quarterback, going 4-for-7 for 120 yards and two TDs. Most importantly, JH had zero turnovers. This performance will likely put the Swoopes-Heard battle to rest. Strong said in his post-game press conference that Heard will be his guy heading into Cal next week.

Heard had some beautiful passes last night, but he only threw the ball seven times. In bigger games, he's going to need to pass a lot more if he wants to continue winning football games. What Heard did prove is why having a QB with quick feet is beneficial in the college game. He finished the contest as the Longhorns' leading rusher with 96 yards on 10 carries.

Next week will be a big hurdle for JH when he plays a talented Pac -12 opponent at home. Unlike Swoopes, I'm excited to see how Heard responds to a big-game environment. It's a little early to push all your chips in on JH, but if he plays like he did tonight, Texas might have a few more surprises in them this season.

Very optimistic - Play all the freshmen

I said this last week: Play all the freshmen. To ensure that this season is not a total loss, give all the young guys valuable experience so that next season will be different. Tonight, Strong played more of his guys and it worked out beautifully. Sure, there are kinks to be fixed, but I'd rather see the new era of Texas football than holdovers from the old one.

Jerrod Heard:

<blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Guess this was what Charlie Strong meant when he said <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texas?src=hash">#Texas</a> WR Armanti Foreman got stronger. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hookem?src=hash">#hookem</a> <a href="http://t.co/vTJQTNXFMI">pic.twitter.com/vTJQTNXFMI</a></p>&mdash; Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBN_Wescott/status/642855906212843520">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>

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True freshman WR John Burt:

<blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Texas QB Jerrod Heard showing off arm on play-action bomb to frosh WR John Burt for 69-yard TD. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hookem?src=hash">#hookem</a> <a href="http://t.co/gVaFPxvSWm">pic.twitter.com/gVaFPxvSWm</a></p>&mdash; Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBN_Wescott/status/642881001870372864">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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True freshmen Kris Boyd and Malik Jefferson:

<blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texas?src=hash">#Texas</a> CB Kris Boyd comes in like mad man, forces fumble recovered by Malik Jefferson for TD. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Froshtakeover?src=hash">#Froshtakeover</a> <a href="http://t.co/YyihnIDTJF">pic.twitter.com/YyihnIDTJF</a></p>&mdash; Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBN_Wescott/status/642885873869066241">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Malik Jefferson, Kris Boyd, John Burt, Holton Hill, Anthony Wheeler, Breck Hager, P.J. Locke -- turn the freshmen loose. Sure, they are going to make a lot of mistakes, but these valuable reps in 2015 will make 2017 and 2018 so much better.

Optimistic - Special teams

Shades of old school Daje Johnson highlighted special teams play last night. Texas absolutely smashed Rice in the return game. Is it because Texas has improved on special teams this year or Rice is awful on special teams coverage? Yes.

<blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Charlie Strong used to tease Daje Johnson about not making any plays since OU in 2013. No longer. Punt return TD <a href="http://t.co/9VpljqWxMz">pic.twitter.com/9VpljqWxMz</a></p>&mdash; Wescott Eberts (@SBN_Wescott) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBN_Wescott/status/642858243555921920">September 13, 2015</a></blockquote>

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DJ had three punt returns for 119 yards and Duke Thomas had one for 56 yards. The Horns had two kick returns totaling 60 yards. That's 235 yards in the return game alone. Absurd.  When you look at the total offensive yardage last night, suddenly the disparity in Rice's favor makes a little more sense. Great play by the ST was key in last night's victory.

Pessimistic - Defensive line

I had a lot of negatives in last week's SMO, so I'll keep this 'graph short. The DL was bad last night. Rice pounded the Horns up front.

Owls RB Samuel Stewart ran it 25 times for 130 yards. In total, Rice had 228 yards on the ground. Missed tackles plagued the Longhorns defense.  I haven't watched the game replay so I might be overhyping it, but in the stadium it felt like a Manny Diaz-esque performance. It could just be chalked up to a bad night, but Bedford will need to fine-tune this defense if UT wants a shot at taking down Cal.

Most important stat

Turnovers. Texas had five takeaways while Rice only had one -- and it was a fumble on a Jason Hall interception return. Through two games, the Horns' offense has turned the ball over ZERO times. That's huge.

The Longhorns will need a lights-out performance next Saturday if they want to beat California. At least now we know they are capable of scoring.