Texas Longhorns: New Mexico Lobos

Texas abandons run game early vs. UNM 

September, 10, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown told his team and his coaches at halftime of the New Mexico game that he "wanted to get this thing over with and let everyone play."

So then it came as no shock that the first five plays of the second half were called runs. The sixth was an inside shovel pass that might as well have been a run. The result was a 75-yard touchdown drive. Texas, after all, is a running team.

But for most of the first half, Texas was anything but a ground attack. The Longhorns shelved their running backs in the first 30 minutes and took to the air on 16 of 27 plays.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTexas running back Johnathan Gray has just 39 yards on 12 carries so far this season.
"We wanted to throw it more," Brown said. "Like we said, we knew we were going to win the game. We know we can run the ball. We're trying to get more balance. We wanted to get the ball in receivers' hands and work on our protections and do things that we needed to do and not beat our backs up so much."

No worries there. Malcolm Brown ran the ball twice. Johnathan Gray rushed it seven times. All told, the trio of backs had 20 rushes for 74 yards. That’s a far cry from the 34 touches and 214 yards they had in the opener.

But, again, when Texas needed it the run game was there. Joe Bergeron had six carries for 33 yards in the first two touchdown drives of the second half. The run game churned out 66 yards on those first two drives.

But those two series, the ones in which Texas decided to put away the game so everybody could play, were the only ones that heavily featured the run. Brown said that was OK with the running backs.

"This has been a team that understands their role," he said. "They know what we're trying to do, and why we're trying to do it."

The distribution of carries among the running backs going forward still remains a mystery. Just last week Brown said he would like to get each 15 touches a game. To do that, Texas is going to have to get more touches on offense. It only had 61 against New Mexico after having 75 against Wyoming.

One former Texas player who knows a little something about running the ball said equal time and carries for three backs might be untenable.

Texas talked for most of the week leading into the New Mexico game about how it wanted to make explosive plays. Then, on the very first played, it took a shot.

David Ash dropped back and tried to drop the ball to a streaking Mike Davis. The quarterback overthrew the receiver.

"We just have to go back to practice hopefully hit that in the next game," Davis said of the first play. "I wanted it bad though."

He wasn’t the only one. Most of the offensive players and coaches lamented that Texas did not do enough in the vertical passing game.

"I wanted to get some shots, and we started off the game with a shot," Ash said. "I wanted to get it to Mike, but it didn't work out, and that's okay. We went to work after that."

Now Texas will go back to work on executing explosive plays.

"We still need more, but we're heading in the right direction," Texas head coach Mack Brown said. "We're still working to get more speed on the field, and make sure we get speed in space, and get some explosive plays. That's our key right now."
Daje Johnson strayed from the straight and narrow early at Texas.

A suspension was ordered and served.

In his first game back, Johnson stuck right to the game plan and never veered off course on a 45-yard touchdown catch and run.

"I saw the touchdown," Johnson said. "I kept running until I got to the end zone and thanked my line."

Seems simple enough. But if Johnson’s debut was any indication, he could become very difficult to stop. The freshman touched the ball four times for 70 yards.

"He does a great job with the ball in his hands, and I thought he played confident," co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. "He came into this game well prepared for what we asked him to do.

"He knew his role, he knew his assignments, he knew where to go, and he knew what to expect when he got the ball into his hands," he added. "It looked like there wasn't a whole lot of hesitation when he was playing out there when he did get the ball."

Five Thoughts: New Mexico-Texas 

September, 9, 2012
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Following Texas’ 45-0 win over New Mexico, here are five things that stood out.

Meager first half

That was not the first half I was expecting. Texas had 50 yards rushing on 10 carries, and that includes David Ash’s 49-yard touchdown run.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Longhorns and dairy products don’t mix.

Just ask Texas strong safety Adrian Phillips, who thinks the Longhorns defense ate the cheese attached to the complacency trap prior to its mediocre performance against Wyoming in their season opener.

“We might have been feeling ourselves a little bit,” Phillips said. “We had people out and about telling us how good were are. Last week we kind of ate the cheese and Wyoming got after us.”

[+] EnlargeAdrian Phillips
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireAdrian Phillips and the Texas defense will know turn their attention to Ole Miss' balanced attack.
It led senior All-American safety Kenny Vaccaro to call out the defense for reading too many press clippings about how vaunted Texas’ defense was supposed to be.

“Honestly, we need to get our head out of the magazine and play hard,” he said after the Longhorns beat Wyoming 37-17.

If articles were read this week, the Longhorns defense made sure they were about the 66 points New Mexico scored in its season opener. The focus paid dividends as Texas dominated the Lobos’ triple-option attack in a 45-0 shutout. It was the program’s third shutout in the last 87 games.

“This week we made sure that we were going to go back to the basics and not worry about what anyone says because at the end of the day this is our defense,” Phillips said. “We are going to do what we have to, to come out with the win.”

On Saturday, that largely consisted of being disciplined on reads to try and contain a New Mexico run game that rushed for 347 yards and five touchdowns against Southern last week.

(Read full post)

3 up, 3 down: Texas 45, UNM 0 

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
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AUSTIN, Texas -- A look at the positives and negatives from Texas’ 45-0 win over New Mexico.

THREE UP

1. Goose eggs: Not only did Texas get the shutout, it did not allow the New Mexico offense into the redzone. This marks the third time in three games that Texas has shutout the Lobos. Texas has 11 shutouts in Mack Brown’s 15 years.

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The Longhorns struggled to put points on the scoreboard early but eventually were able to take control as they shut out New Mexico -- their first shutout since a 43-0 win over Kansas in 2011. It's the third time these two teams have met and the third time Texas has shut out the Lobos.

It was over when: Texas wide receiver Mike Davis used the block of Marquise Goodwin to slip past the New Mexico defense for a touchdown late in the first half. That score put Texas up 17-0. And while the Longhorns were having trouble moving the ball, New Mexico was having trouble scoring on the Texas defense.

Game ball goes to: Cornerback Quandre Diggs clearly was a player New Mexico wanted to avoid. The Lobos refused to throw to his side for most of the game. In fact, they threw the first nine passes away from his side of the field. On the 10th, they did go at Diggs and he made them pay with an interception. Diggs also returned a put 35 yards to the New Mexico 27 to set up Mike Davis' 22-yard touchdown catch and run in the second quarter.

Stat of the game: Texas quarterback David Ash threw for a personal-record 221 yards. But he only had one completion that traveled 20 yards in the air. This comes one week after Ash's 27 attempts against Wyoming averaged 3.7 air yards. Ash did have a touchdown pass of 45 yards but it came via a two-foot shovel pass to Daje Johnson. His 22-yard touchdown pass was a catch and run by Mike Davis.

Unsung hero: Texas true freshman Dalton Santos has become a force for the Longhorns on special teams. The linebacker had three tackles on kickoff coverage and was largely responsible for New Mexico being forced to start inside the 25 on every kickoff that was not downed for a touchback.

Second guessing: After saying it wanted to get freshman Johnathan Gray involved in the game, Texas failed to give the nation's top running back recruit from a year ago the ball in the first half. This is the second week in a row Texas has not given Gray the ball when the game's outcome was not locked away. Similarly, Malcolm Brown, who had 104 rushing yards in the opener, had one first-half carry.

What we learned about this team: Texas is far from a finished product on either side of the ball. The Longhorns once again started too slow. On defense, the tackling was suspect as New Mexico had 11 first downs in the first half. On offense, quarterback David Ash was able to connect on comeback routes, screens and crossing routes. But he continued to have problems going down the field with the ball.
Stat of the half: Texas scored on a fourth down from the New Mexico 49-yard line. That is the third time this season Texas has gone for it on fourth down and scored a touchdown. The previous two times were from the 1 against Wyoming in week one.

Player of the half: Defensive back Quandre Diggs had three tackles to go along with an interception. He accomplished those stats with New Mexico refusing to go to his side of the field. Each of New Mexico's first nine pass attempts were to the opposite side of field from Diggs. The 10th resulted in a pick by Diggs. As a punt returner, Diggs had a 38-yard return to set up Texas' second touchdown.

What's working for Texas: For the second consecutive week, Texas is having an issue with its tackling. When New Mexico makes it past the defensive line, the linebackers and defensive backs have been slow to react and not able to bring down the runner on first contact.

What is not working for Texas: The Longhorns have failed to stop New Mexico on first down. Using a mixture of roll-out passes and option, the Lobos have rolled up 11 first downs, largely because they are picking up solid yards on first down.

What Texas needs to do to keep winning: Texas should be able to wear down New Mexico in the second half. The Lobos simply do not have the size or the depth to stay with Texas for 60 minutes. In fact, they have just 73 scholarship players, as opposed to Texas 85.

Longhorns working to develop young talent

September, 7, 2012
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Manny Diaz compares developing a football program to running a company.

Last year, Texas started true freshmen at quarterback (David Ash), running back (Malcolm Brown), receiver (Jaxon Shipley), left tackle (Josh Cochran) and cornerback (Quandre Diggs).

That over-reliance on rookies was far from ideal.

"We'd really still rather somebody show off in the mailroom before we promote him to the next job," Diaz said on the Longhorn Network last week. "Texas, in the last few years, has not had that luxury. We had to start a true freshman at corner last year. We had to promote him already to executive vice president."

[+] EnlargeReceiver Jaxon Shipley (left) and cornerback Quandre Diggs started as freshmen for Texas last season.
AP Photo/Eric GayReceiver Jaxon Shipley (left) and cornerback Quandre Diggs started as freshmen for Texas last season.
The boardroom shouldn't be filled with fresh faces. This season, that isn't an issue. The critical roles are filled this fall, mostly by sophomores and juniors.

Texas played a combined 30 true freshman to start off the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Against Wyoming, 15 newcomers saw the field. Two were junior college transfers who started. Another was senior punter Alex King, a Duke transfer.

That leaves 12 freshmen. Of that dozen, only kickers Nick Jordan and Nick Rose played prominent roles in the 37-17 victory. The rest saw limited snaps or late mop-up time.

If nothing else, that seems like a sign Texas is finally getting away from the depth issues that plagued its previous two seasons.

"I think you're right," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We're not desperate like we were last year to have to have a freshman win for us."

Expect to see more freshmen hit the field against New Mexico on Saturday. Brown said Texas will need to get Kennedy Estelle snaps to build up depth at the tackle position, and receiver/back Daje Johnson will make his debut after serving a one-game suspension.

Top recruit Johnathan Gray is also expected to earn a bigger workload. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said Texas continues to develop packages that highlight the five-star freshman.

After being relied on so heavily last year, Malcolm Brown is glad to see the Longhorns' depth is expanding. And he knows from experience that the more Gray can be eased into the offense, the better he'll develop.

"We all have to be patient in some way with playing this game," Brown said. "Johnathan is doing a great job in practice, and I know once he gets thrown in there he's going to do great."

Same goes for wide receiver, where Texas has three new potential difference-makers who saw limited time against Wyoming. At nearly every spot in Diaz's defense, he has at least one freshman who could contribute.

Right now, Diaz isn't singling any of them out as future stars. He doesn't have to.

They're showing flashes in practice. They're getting second-string reps in games. Over time, they'll earn their role on the field. That's the natural progression of a football player who isn't thrust into the fire from day one.

Diaz thinks highly of his newcomers. This season, though, he doesn't need them on first and 10. He just needs a few good interns.

"If they can get the coffee the right way we want it," Diaz said, "then we can get them on a bigger job.
"That seems like a small thing. That's a big thing for the development of our football team."

Staff predictions: New Mexico at Texas 

September, 6, 2012
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Texas 52, New Mexico 13
Texas had a lot of reasons from Game 1 to coach its players hard this week. The defense gave up big plays and did not dominate Wyoming's offense. The offense ran the ball well but struggled in run blocking at the start of the game and only passed for 156 yards. New Mexico is 3-33 in the last three years and it needs a large infusion of talent before the program is turned around. Wyoming is three or four touchdowns better than New Mexico so Texas is a lot better than the Lobos. Texas will run for 300 yards and throw for more than 200 and tally close to 600 yards of offense as Texas puts a big score on New Mexico.

- Sean Adams

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Five storylines: New Mexico Lobos 

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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Storylines for the Lobos as they face Texas on Saturday:

1. Bob Davie is back
The one-time Texas A&M defensive coordinator is back in Austin for the first time since 1996. Davie, as an assistant and interim head coach, is 10-1 against Texas. He was 8-1 in his tenure as an assistant with the Aggies. He was 1-0 as a interim coach for Notre Dame in 1995. And 1-0 as the Irish defensive coordinator in 1996.

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Five storylines: Texas Longhorns 

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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Storylines for the Longhorns as they face New Mexico on Saturday:

1. Rushing attack
For all the talk about getting the ball downfield and explosive plays in the passing game, the run game might be the key to a convincing victory for Texas. In Mack Brown’s tenure, when the Longhorns out-rush their opponents by 200 or more yards they are 35-0. When they are out-rushed they are 21-31.

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Three questions on New Mexico at Texas 

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
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One week into the season and there might be more questions than answers for the Texas Longhorns. The win over Wyoming was not quite as convincing as many thought. The Cowboys did have the ball inside the Texas 10 in the fourth quarter only down 14. But Texas answered the bell on that occasion. Now it is time to answer a few more questions about the Longhorns:

Where in the heck is Johnathan Gray?

He’s there and he is waiting. Gray only had one carry of consequence during the Wyoming game. He finished with five carries and nine yards. Texas wanted to use him some more but there were complications such as the score being closer than Texas wanted as well as formation issues when Texas wanted Gray in the wild set.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The grumblings among the 101,142 people in attendance for Texas’ season opener against Wyoming on Saturday were as familiar as, well, the grumblings from those that struggled along with the Longhorns in 2011.

All the hype and newfound expectations for this team were met with one dud of a three-and-out on their first offensive possession, which Wyoming followed with a 10-play drive and a 3-0 lead.

Yes, Texas won the game comfortably, 37-17. But it ended the first quarter behind 9-7, begging the question: What’s with the continuous pounding of the snooze button during the early goings by this program?

[+] EnlargeBrown/Harsin
John Albright/Icon SMIThe Texas offense has shown a trend of struggling early under offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.
“It was the first game jitters thing,” said junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. “A lot of guys were nervous in their first starts. We just need to make sure we get back to working. They have that first game out of their system now. We are playing at home again and we’ve seen that before. It should be exciting and a different story.”

That could be. Several players were making their first starts for Texas, which also played 12 true freshmen.

But this is a trend that presented itself early and often in 2011 when the Longhorns were held scoreless in the first quarter five times and saw their opponent score first in nine contests.

Rice took a 3-0 lead less than five minutes into the season opener and Texas was only able to end the first quarter in a tie.

BYU jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the second game and took a 13-3 lead into halftime. Texas needed a Cody Johnson 4-yard run with 8:46 left in the fourth to squeak out a 17-16 victory.

The Longhorns got off to great starts in consecutive road games against UCLA and Iowa State but lost the Red River Rivalry before the third quarter kicked off.

Texas was in the game against No. 3 Oklahoma after the first quarter. But that 6-3 deficit ballooned into a 34-10 hole by halftime in a game it would lose 55-17.

The Longhorns had a chance to redeem themselves the following week when No. 6 Oklahoma State came to town but fell behind 7-0 after one quarter and were down 21-10 at halftime. They got to within 28-24 in the third but it was too little, too late in a game it would lose 38-26.

Texas demolished Texas Tech, 52-20, but still trailed 3-0 and was tied 3-3 after one.

For only the fourth time to date last season, the Longhorns actually took a first quarter lead against an opponent. But that 3-0 advantage against Missouri turned into a 14-3 deficit over the next 12 minutes in a game it lost 17-5.

The curse of Kansas State continued early the following week in Austin when the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead after the first and a 10-3 lead into halftime. Texas’ comeback bid wasn’t to be as Kansas State won their fourth straight over the Longhorns with a 17-13 victory.

The following week at Texas A&M saw the Aggies take a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter and a 16-7 lead into halftime before Texas used a 17-point third quarter and a last-second 40-yard Justin Tucker field goal to win 27-25.

The trend continued in the regular season finale against Baylor, which jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead in a game it would trail in the second quarter but eventually win handily 48-24.

Cal even took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter in the Holiday Bowl.

Luckily, for Texas, it has a knack for winning close games as it did twice last season in games decided by three points or less (BYU and Texas A&M); the Longhorns have won 18 of their last 19 games decided by that margin. Otherwise that 8-5 record could have been much more mediocre.


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Number are said to rarely lie. It’s with that thought in mind that each week HornsNation, with a healthy assist from the ESPN Stats and Info crew, will dig into the numbers and pull three stats that could play a significant role in the outcome in Texas’ game. On game No. 2 against New Mexico:

No. 1: 75 percent scoring on drives featuring explosive plays

Texas had 108 offensive explosive plays in 2011 -- a run for 10 or more yards or a pass of 20 or more. Eighty-one of those plays directly contributed to a Longhorn score. That means if Texas rips off a run for 10 or more or a pass of 20 or more it is highly likely (75 percent chance) Texas will score on that drive.

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