Following Texas’ 66-31 win over Ole Miss, here are five things that stood out.
What a difference a week makes
Last week Texas finished the first half of the game with New Mexico with a total of 50 yards rushing on 10 carries and that included David Ash’s 49-yard touchdown run. Texas scored a late touchdown in the first half or it would have gone to the locker room with a 10-0 lead over New Mexico.
Texas goes on its first road trip this week and David Ash was 10-of-11 for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. The Texas offense had 285 total yards in the first half. They rushed for 182 for an average of 8.3 yards per carry. Texas beat up the Ole Miss defense with speed, power, passing and creativity.
Just for good measure to make sure that Texas played its best half of football in a few years, the defense had five sacks and two interceptions.
One week made a huge difference for the Texas Longhorns.
Big plays given up on defense
It was a shock that the Texas offense put up 676 yards of total offense against Ole Miss. It was a bigger shock to see the flaws exposed on the Texas defense over the course of the game.
While I want to concentrate on the sacks and the interceptions, it is hard for me to get past the preventable mistakes of the Texas defense.
This defense has all of the talent in the world and has NFL talent at every level. The Longhorns will play better and they will get better week to week. They want to be more of the defense that played in the first half against Ole Miss instead of the defense with a lot of mistakes in the second half. Manny Diaz still has a laundry list of concerns for his defense. They are 3-0 and have played well at times but the film session as they pour over the Ole Miss video will not be a pleasant conversation.
Did Ash grow up right before our eyes?
We thought we saw the first stage of Ash's maturation in the Holiday Bowl win vs. Cal. If that was the first stage, Saturday night was a huge step forward for the sophomore. Ash was 19-of-23 for 326 yards and four touchdowns. It was his best game as a Longhorn by far.
Let's be honest, he threw some ill-advised deep passes but they connected with the receivers. While they might be a bigger problem against better defenses, Ash connecting with Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin builds faith and trust in the quarterback to receiver relationship. That is more important than any technical flaw that could have lead to a turnover against the Rebels.
Ash grew up a lot and took a few huge steps toward being the quarterback that he wants to be. Now he has a week off to prepare for conference play where he will be required to add to his growth spurt and take his play up a notch against Oklahoma State.
This was big for Bryan Harsin, too
For as much pressure as David Ash was under, co-offensive coordinator and play-caller Bryan Harsin might have been under even more. Harsin was being questioned for not being aggressive, for not developing the quarterback position and for not proving to the fans that this offense was ready to challenge for a Big 12 championship. Texas, for the first time in its storied history, had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers. It was a great overall effort by everyone involved with the offense. They, like Ash, took a big step toward their goals against Ole Miss.
What did we learn from the Ole Miss game?
Texas learned that it can be physical. Texas learned that the offense can help pick up the defense during times of struggle. The Longhorns went on the road for the first time and answered the bell. The game vs. Ole Miss was, by far, the best, most complete and most revealing as to what might be possible for this Texas team in 2012.