Midseason report: Texas

Back in August, Texas fans would’ve traded pretty much anything for a victory over an undefeated, No. 12-ranked Oklahoma team to end the Longhorns’ three-year Red River losing streak. They would’ve accepted that outcome no matter the result of the first five games.

That’s what made Texas’ upset victory over the Sooners so unexpected, so hard to fathom. Think back on all the Longhorns have dealt with since the end of August.

They set a school record for total yards in their first game. They lost quarterback David Ash and running back Daje Johnson against BYU and gave up 550 rushing yards. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz got fired after two games. Texas lost at home to an Ole Miss team it had defeated by five touchdowns in 2012. Ash came back for one half and hasn’t played since. Texas barely defeated Kansas State and Iowa State and was a loss to OU away from being 3-3 and potentially sealing Mack Brown’s fate.

That’s hardly a comprehensive review, but this 2013 season really has been that crazy for Texas, a team picked somewhere between No. 4 in the nation and No. 4 in the Big 12 in preseason polls. The Longhorns weren’t living up to either expectation.

Now there’s hope. Most expected Oklahoma to end Texas’ season six games in. Instead, the stunning win could do wonders for the Longhorns in these next six games. It’s a much-needed confidence booster and puts Texas in the driver’s seat in the conference with a 3-0 record.

Offensive MVP: If running back Johnathan Gray keeps playing like this, it won’t matter whether Ash or Case McCoy is starting at quarterback. The true sophomore has taken his game to the next level. Since a quiet performance in the season opener, Gray is averaging 106.8 yards per game and is now No. 2 in the Big 12 at 562 yards and No. 1 in rushes. He just gets better every week.

Defensive MVP: Not only is defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat the best player on the field for Texas’ defense, but he’s becoming one of its best playmakers. He leads the Big 12 with five sacks and has added 32 tackles and seven tackles for loss. With linebacker Jordan Hicks out, Jeffcoat’s leadership is just as important right now. The defensive end duo of Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed is as good as any in the conference right now.