Texas Longhorns: Oregon State Beavers

2014 WR Dyer hopes for more offers 

June, 6, 2013
This spring, South Houston (Texas) High School receiver Elton Dyer saw several colleges pass through his campus and show interest in him.

In the summer he's hoping that interest translates to more offers.

There are times where it seems as though defensive end Keisean Lucier-South (Orange, Calif./Orange Lutheran) is playing a video game out on the field, as the 6-foot-4, 200-pound defensive end can be a terror on both sides of the ball. Off of it, Lucier-South said life has begun to reflect a virtual reality as well.

It began this past December, when the sophomore made contact with his first college coach. But rather than the usual feeling-out process recruits and coaches go through, Lucier-South was thrust immediately into the ranks of the early offered. That first offer came from Boise State.

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If it wasn’t clear before that the days of Texas staying within its borders to recruit was long gone, then maybe its latest defensive end offer amplifies that point.

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Longhorns 11th in Way-Too-Early Top 25

January, 8, 2013
Alabama CheerleadersStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAlabama, with three of the past four national titles, is No. 1 in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

There's still seven months before the start of the 2013 season, and the teams and their order figure to change frequently, but it's never too early to take a look at the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

And with three national championships in the past four years, there's no reason to change the team that's on top. Texas, with plenty of talent returning, is 11th in the rankings.

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2014 QB Cornwell with plenty of options 

January, 6, 2013
Quarterback David Cornwell (Jones, Okla./Jones) came out of nowhere to have an exceptional junior season and is now unquestionably one of the top in-state prospects for the Class of 2014.

Problem is, though, neither Oklahoma nor in-state power Oklahoma State have shown much interest. Cornwell camped at OU and had good contact with former OSU quarterbacks coach Todd Monken.

With Monken’s departure to become the Southern Mississippi head coach combined with little interest from OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel thus far, right now it looks like one of the state’s best prospects will have to look elsewhere.

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Film review: Examining Applewhite's debut 

December, 31, 2012
Take away the good and the bad, and you’re left with what might’ve mattered more about Texas’ Alamo Bowl win: The change.

We do not know what offensive philosophies are bouncing around inside Major Applewhite’s head these days. In the months to come, his influences and experience will endure rigorous research by those hoping to nail down what Texas’ new offensive play caller will have up his sleeve for 2013.

[+] EnlargeMajor Applewhite
John Albright/Icon SMIMajor Applewhite spread the Texas offense out and got the ball to playmakers in his first game as play-caller.
He had time only for little tweaks leading up to the 31-27 bowl victory over Oregon State. The full vision gets installed from now until the end of August.

But on Saturday night, Applewhite did drop some hints. Here’s what we learned about his offense’s future after his playcalling debut.

1. The spread

Applewhite says he wants a balanced offense, a scheme that can win games on the ground and in the air. Oregon State required more pass than run.

A review of the film shows that, out of 65 plays on offense, he called 30 shotgun pass plays and 14 shotgun run plays against the Beavers.

David Ash was under center only eight times on the night, and four were pass plays.

What does that say? It could be the product of playing from behind or of Oregon State’s strong run defense, but don’t mistake the results.

Texas went to shotgun sets on 67 percent of its offensive snaps, and that paid off rather handsomely in the second half. This was the first time all season Texas won a ballgame by throwing (34 attempts) more than rushing (31).

“Tonight, the way we needed to win the game was to spread them out, throw it, clear some loose lanes for the quarterback to run the ball and be effective,” Applewhite said after the game.

Is the spread Texas’ best way to win in 2013? Applewhite has this spring and summer to find out.

2. Pushing the pace

The stats might not show it, but Texas thrived when it upped its offensive tempo in the second half.

The Longhorns ran 65 plays. Nothing new there -- Texas went for 65-plus in eight other games in 2012. No meaningful changes in time of possession, either.

But David Ash’s fourth quarter performance spoke volumes. He hit on his final seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Six of his eight completions went for 10-plus yards.

He overcame a shaky first half and played with poise late. A faster-paced, shotgun-heavy attack clicked when the stakes were high late.

This wasn’t a no-huddle, hurry-up attack, but Applewhite did cite Oregon’s success against OSU as a motivation for spreading out and speeding up.

After spending 2012 trying to convince itself it could play SEC-style power ball, could Texas swing the other way on the offensive spectrum under Applewhite?

3. At last, speed

Remember Marquise Goodwin? He was in the London Olympics. Pretty fast dude. Had a good game against Ole Miss.

We hadn’t heard much from Goodwin since. He touched the ball on offense a total of 12 times in Texas’ final seven regular-season games.

Texas’ new OC made sure Goodwin’s final game as a Longhorn was a triumphant one. For all the clamoring to get D.J. Monroe and Daje Johnson the ball, it was Goodwin for whom Oregon State had no answer.

“This game is about speed,” Applewhite said. “It's about speed and explosive players.”

He loses Goodwin and Monroe, but Applewhite won’t be hurting for speedsters next season: Johnson and receivers Kendall Sanders, Marcus Johnson and commit Jacorey Warrick are legit home-run threats. Next season could be very good to some or all of them.

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Five thoughts from Alamo Bowl 

December, 30, 2012
Not exactly the start Texas wanted ...

Fifteen plays for 23 yards was the first quarter of the play-calling career for Major Applewhite at Texas. The team committed three penalties. The initial first down for the Longhorns came on a penalty.

David Ash, historically, has not recovered well or was not given the opportunity to recover from these rough starts.

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SAN ANTONIO -- Texas has been a team searching for any sort of tangible evidence that the program was at least starting to turn around after two-plus seasons that were subpar by the program's standards. Saturday night's 31-27 win against Oregon State might have done just that. While the Beavers are not exactly a juggernaut in college football, any win against a BCS-ranked team for Texas is valued and pouted at as proof that better things are on the horizon.

It was over when: Texas quarterback David Ash went up top to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the fourth. The touchdown gave Texas its first lead of the game at 31-27.

Game ball goes to: Texas was down to just one viable option at quarterback with Ash following the suspension of backup Case McCoy. The sophomore started slowly but came through in the end. Ash finished 21-of-33 for 241 yards with two passing touchdowns against one interception. He also rushed for another touchdown on an 11-yard run.

Stat of the game: Texas' defense posted an Alamo Bowl-record 10 sacks for minus-81 yards. Alex Okafor led the charge with a bowl-record 4.5 sacks. While Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz spent much of the game on his back, Ash was his team's second-leading rusher with 22 yards and a touchdown.

Stat of the game, part 2: Texas had 23 yards in the first quarter and failed to get a first down. In the fourth quarter, the Longhorns (9-4) had 165 yards and scored 14 points.

What it means for Texas: The Longhorns will be spared months of questions about the direction of the program and who the quarterback of the future might be. Ash was able to take control of the game when it mattered and should be the clear favorite as Texas heads into spring practice.

What it means for Oregon State: The Beavers (9-4) still had one of the top turnarounds in college football, going from a three-win season to a nine-win season, but they lacked a signature win in 2012. No doubt the solid showing against the Longhorns in Texas will help coach Mike Riley pull more players out of the state.

Keys for Texas in Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 29, 2012
Here are three keys for Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

1. Keep David Ash calm: The sophomore quarterback is going to feel a ton of pressure to perform given that this is basically an audition for next season’s starting position. Ash did not start the regular-season finale due to injury. So the situation is much like last season when he did not start against Baylor but did in the bowl against Cal. However, the stakes have been raised because a Texas loss means the Longhorns would finish with the exact same record from 2011, and that is not the progress many expected from this team.

Ash also is facing a very good pass defense that has proved it can bring pressure from defensive end Scott Crichton, and defensive back Jordan Poyer is second nationally with seven interceptions.

2. Plug the gaps: Oregon State wants to pass before it runs. But given that the Texas defense is so porous against the run game -- 199 rushing yards allowed per game -- the Beavers are likely to get Storm Woods involved early and often. Texas has simplified the defense to help out the linebackers but it needs to have a strong game from Peter Jinkens and Steve Edmond to have any chance of keeping the Beavers in check. Jinkens has proven to be a playmaker who has sideline-to-sideline speed. If his emotions do not get the better of him, he can be a factor. Edmond has trouble reading what is happening but lately has started to come around and is no longer a step slow.

3. Start fast, finish strong: It seems like a pretty simple concept but Texas does have a tendency to start slowly in big games -- Oklahoma comes to mind. Oregon State is the classic Aesop tortoise. The Beavers are plodders and usually are able to catch their opponents in the end. Oregon State won its first three games by less than a score and lost two of its games by a combined six points. So the Beavers are accustomed to playing in close games. And given that they have come back against teams such as Arizona and Arizona State, they are not apt to fold if Texas comes out with a quick onslaught of points. To counteract that, Texas must continue to pressure the Beavers on offense and extend its drives. There might be some hiccups with new playcaller Major Applewhite but Texas will have to overcome those to keep the Beavers at bay.

Pregame: Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 29, 2012
Oregon State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) versus Texas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12):

Who to watch: It took weeks for both teams to name their respective starting quarterbacks. Now that they have -- David Ash for Texas and Cody Vaz for Oregon State -- all eyes will be on the two to see whether they can live up to the expectations. Ash was benched for the final game of the regular season after committing three turnovers against TCU. In the past three weeks, he has had to not only climb back into the starter role but also get accustomed to a new quarterbacks coach in Major Applewhite. Applewhite took over the role following the departure of Bryan Harsin to Arkansas State.

As for Vaz, he has been stellar in four games as a starter and only lost that role after suffering an ankle injury in the Stanford game. Vaz has 11 touchdowns to one interception. But if he struggles at all, Oregon State has a very capable backup in Sean Mannion.

What to watch: The running game production for both teams should be crucial. While Oregon State prefers to throw the ball, it cannot drop back 40 or 50 times because of the potential pressure of the Texas defensive line. So the Beavers' best move could be to attack up the middle, where Texas is at its weakest. The Longhorns have allowed 199 rush yards per game, and at one point during the season, in five consecutive weeks, Texas allowed five different rushers season highs. Oregon State running back Storm Woods is from just outside Austin -- Pflugerville -- and undoubtedly will have a chip on his shoulder, as he was not recruited by the Longhorns.

Why watch: Explosive plays and players. Texas, with a new playcaller in Applewhite, should be more committed to getting the ball to three of the fastest players in college football -- Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe. Any time any of the three touches the ball, it could result in a touchdown. Oregon State has one of the top receivers in the country in Markus Wheaton. The Beavers' all-time leading receiver could give the Texas secondary fits.

Prediction: Oregon State’s pass defense might be too much for Texas and Ash to overcome. The sophomore quarterback has struggled against strong pass defenses, and the Beavers are No. 16 in pass efficiency defense. Of the teams Texas has played, only Oklahoma is better, and the Sooners beat Texas by 42. Oregon State 33, Texas 28.

Staff picks: Oregon State vs. Texas 

December, 28, 2012
The HornsNation staff picks the Valero Alamo Bowl:

Texas 38, Oregon State 35
This game is so hard to pick because Texas is more talented than Oregon State. As most fans and media members that have covered this team know, the Texas issues are much more about that patch of grass between the ears as opposed to the talent that runs out on the grass. Texas will start well on offense, but I believe Oregon State will as well. I would not be shocked at all for it to be a tie game or close to it going into the half. The defense that makes the best adjustments will win this game for their team. We are all talking about the offenses but this game will come down to the defenses. Call me crazy but I'm going with the talent and desperate seniors on the Texas defense. Texas wins a close one.
- Sean Adams

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Each game week HornsNation, with a healthy dose of help from ESPN Stats and Info, takes a look inside three stats that might change the outcome of the game. This week here is a look inside the numbers for the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon State.

1. Seven
That's the number of interceptions David Ash has thrown in 2012. Now while the number is not that high, in fact, it's one less than he threw in 2011 despite having 100 more pass attempts. It is where and against whom Ash has thrown the picks that have put Texas in the Alamo Bowl instead of perhaps a higher ranking postseason game. All of those interceptions came as Texas was driving and were caught by the opponent inside the red zone. Only one, against Oklahoma State, did either come in a loss for the Longhorns or cost As his starting job. Oregon State is blessed with one of the top defensive backs nationally when it came to picking off passes and overall has proven to be an opportunistic defense. Jordan Poyer is second nationally with seven interceptions. The Beavers are No. 18 nationally in turnover margin. They came up with three crucial interceptions in three point wins over Wisconsin and Arizona.

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Valero Alamo Bowl preview 

December, 27, 2012
Valero Alamo Bowl
No. 13 Oregon State (9-3, 6-3) vs. No. 23 Texas (8-4, 5-4)
Where: San Antonio
When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 6:45 ET

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AUSTIN, Texas -- This is Texas so every game is that much bigger and means that much more.

It's a program that doesn't list with wins and losses, it plummets or soars. Those who are in it have come to expect such schizophrenic highs and lows from fans even if their performances of late -- the last three years -- have done nothing to dissuade the jagged mood swings of their following.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Fred Brooks/Icon SMIA win in the Alamo Bowl over Oregon State could help Mack Brown and the Longhorns answer questions about their 2012 season.
In fact, it would be easier if the emotions of thousands didn't rest with so few. But around here every game, yes even a game in the Valero Alamo Bowl matters. And fans want to believe the game matters to those who are in it as well.

It does. Not because of who Texas is playing -- although No. 13 Oregon State would give Texas a much-needed notch on its belt -- but because of who Texas has been and where the coach continually claims it is going.

While the ultimate validation that coach Mack Brown's stump speeches about progress haven't been an attempt to hornswoggle donors and fans, would be a win over Oklahoma -- and no, keeping it under 30 points in 2013 doesn't count as a win although it would be progress -- walking off into the haze of 2012 with a ninth win would serve as a brief reprieve from the criticism and some fuel for a program who has allowed its fire to dwindle to ash.

That's why when Brown says: "We have so much motivation," he has to be taken at his word. This program cannot suffer through an offseason after a season in which there was no tangible improvement. Much less more coaching changes if the defense significantly adds to its ignominious stature as the worst in program history by allowing more yards to be piled against it.

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Four downs: Is Ash getting a fresh start? 

December, 26, 2012
Each week Sean Adams takes a look at some topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Go long ...

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesDavid Ash will start for the Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl. Who will start in 2013?
Major Applewhite did it as the starting quarterback at Texas throwing deep to Wane McGarity, Kwame Cavil, Roy Williams, BJ Johnson and others. He knew it was the best way to stretch and stress the defense and to put points on the scoreboard.

Now as the new offensive coordinator and play-caller, Applewhite will take his love of going long to the Texas offense.

From the minute Bryan Harsin left to take the head coaching job at Arkansas State, even coach Mack Brown lamented that Texas would probably get the ball down the field more moving forward with Applewhite. It is just part of his nature.

Texas came into the 2012 season with several questions about the receiving group, but Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley have been very good. Marquise Goodwin could benefit most from a renewed desire to get the ball down the field. The young receivers will be engaged in this exciting change to the Texas offense.

Second down: Is Ash getting a fresh start?

I wrote weeks ago that David Ash was still the best option even into 2013 for the Texas Longhorns. With Applewhite now being the quarterback coach, he will get the chance to mentor and work with Ash.

Applewhite will have no choice but to grade Ash’s performances based on how he performs in comparison to how he has worked with him. His history with Harsin will not compare to what what he has done with him.

Whether people want to admit it or not, Ash is getting a fresh start. The order of importance for the Longhorns should be defense, running game, special teams and then passing game.

Does Ash have to be great in that scenario? No, he does not. Ash’s job almost seems simple in nature. He just has to do his job and do what he is taught. If he can trust his preparation and commit to doing everything to the best of his ability, he will be successful.

He does not have to do what Michael Vick did at Virginia Tech in 1999. He does not have to do what Johnny Manziel has done for Texas A&M in 2012. He does not have to do what Colt McCoy did at Texas in 2009. David Ash can be what Ken Dorsey was at Miami (Fla.) in 2001. Dorsey got the ball to his best players and let them put in the work to put the points on the scoreboard.

Ash doesn’t have to go out and put Texas on his back and win every game. He just can’t be the reason that Texas loses.

Third down: Defensive expectations in the Alamo Bowl

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Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.