It's been two games but I think I am almost confident in saying it: Texas is ... good again?
It sure looks that way. Texas fans needed to see Texas dominate UTEP on Saturday to know for sure that the Notre Dame game wasn't a fluke. Had Texas stumbled its way through Saturday's game and pulled off a 26-24 win or something of that sort, I'd be less inclined to say Texas has returned.
My ideal score for yesterday's game was 56-7. Texas won 41-7 and left multiple scores on the field. It was the performance a lot of us were hoping to see.
Extremely Optimistic - Shane Buechele
Dare I say the H-word yet? I won't jinx it, but damn -- this kid is legit.
My biggest concern for the UTEP game was that Buechele would regress a bit -- to where he should be as a true freshman. Instead, Buechele went 22-for-27 for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Most importantly, he turned the ball over zero times.
His deep ball is incredible. His release is lightning fast. His football instincts are phenomenal. I'm already sad that I only get 3 and 10/12 more years to enjoy his presence on the field as a Texas Longhorn. I'm excited for the ride.
Who knew that placing a true freshman in an offensive system that 99 percent of Texas high schools run would pay immediate dividends? Genius!
Extremely Optimistic - The young guys
Oh, the kids. So young. So talented. If you were a recruit, how would you not want to come to Texas and join this team?
With D. Foreman out last night, running back Chris Warren stepped up in a big way -- rushing for 95 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown. Kyle Porter got his first action as a Longhorn last night, too. The Katy product ran the ball eight times for 33 yards.
On the outside, Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Colin Johnson each had their first catches of their college careers. Both of these guys can be playmakers for the Longhorns offense over the next four years.
On special teams, Brandon Jones proved why he was such a coveted recruit on special teams -- almost blocking UTEP's first punt and then following through by blocking the next one. He also returned a punt for 14 yards. I'm excited to see Jones get some reps at safety.
Big freshman Malcolm Roach had a good night at Fox end -- earning a sack and leveling a UTEP WR on a crossing route with a hit that made the entire stadium wince.
Jerrod Heard, my God. Instead of bitching and complaining about switching to WR, he's become one of the Longhorns best deep threats. How awesome is that? Jerrod Heard is what you should love about Texas football. Totally bought in. Totally team-first. And, of course, a great athlete. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite Texas players ever.
This team has so many young playmakers. 2018 better watch out.
Optimistic - Jacorey Warrick
Excluding his fumble in the endzone for a touchback, which was a Dumb Thing To Do™, Warrick had a great game on Saturday.
The senior from Houston led all Texas WRs with seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. It was a pretty impressive grab, too.
Again, it would have been two touchdowns if he had held onto the ball on the opening drive, but it was still a good game for Warrick.
More games like this from Warrick, please.
Optimistic - Defense
It's always good when the defense only allows seven points in four quarters. So I'm not going to complain about last night too much.
The defense did make the occasional bonehead mistake, like the big Aaron Jones run for a touchdown last night where both the linebacker (who I think was Tim Cole) and the safety DeShon Elliott were just completely out of position and taking bad angles. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement on this front, but I was happy with last night for the most part.
Such is life with a young defense, and giving up points always feels a little better when you're confident you can also score points. That is a pretty new and fascinating feeling for Texas fans.
Ehh - Penalties
So, the penalties last night were pretty bad.
Texas had 10 penalties for 115 yards -- including multiple penalties that extended UTEP drives. Some of the penalties were dumb (the Poona Ford taunting penalty, for instance), while most were just silly mistakes. Anyways, that's why you play a team like UTEP -- where you can afford to make a lot of those egregious errors and still win by double digits.
The team will need to fix the penalty problem before it starts significantly hurting them in games that matter.
At times, this team feels equal parts stupid and talented. For every incredible play made, an equally dumb play is made. Down the ball at the 1? Jump offsides and move them up five yards. Execute a great passing play? Fumble the ball in the endzone for a touchback.
But as fans, we don't have to be concerned like we've had to be in years past. This team can clearly fight and overcome its own mistakes. This is the team we've been waiting for the last six years.
Texas football is back.