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Three questions on New Mexico at Texas

9/5/2012

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.

But Texas head coach Mack Brown made it a point this week to come out and say he would like to see Gray get 15 carries. No doubt, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin heard the comment.

Texas should have more offensive snaps this week given the opponent so all three running backs getting 15 carries each is plausible. Whether Gray gets the opportunity to run behind the first-string offensive line will have an impact on how effective he is against the Lobos.

Can Texas win with such a conservative passing game?

This week? Yes. In weeks to come? Doubtful.

The Longhorns are going to have to figure out when to air it out and David Ash is going to have to get some confidence to air it out. Against Wyoming the average Ash pass traveled all of 3.6 yards in the air. And 12 of the 27 passes did not travel past the line of scrimmage.

While it is know that Texas wants to utilize bubble screens to get the ball to playmakers in space, this was a little extreme. The coaches seem to realize that as well. Both Brown and Harsin spoke with slightly more conviction when it comes to creating big plays.

Harsin said he would like to have eight big pass plays called per game. New Mexico, the worst defense in FBS since 2009, gives him the opportunity to call those plays.

It was clear the receivers were open against Wyoming so there is no reason to believe they will not be as or more open against what should be a slower New Mexico team. Now what Ash has to do is not hesitate and deliver the ball.

Does Texas need to worry about the big play on defense?

Not if you are listening to Kenny Vaccaro. The safety said he was "embarrassed" by the way the defense played in the first quarter and said it would not happen again.

"We will not have any big plays put on our film," Vaccaro said.

Meaning when the defense watches the film Sunday night they do not want to see any runs for more than 10 yards or pass plays for more than 20.

Now it might be hard to hold New Mexico to no runs for 10 yards. The Lobos are an option team that will run the ball most of the game. They spread the defensive out, find a gap and either hit it or pitch to the outside. Eventually they are going to find a crease or two.

What Texas does have in its favor is speed. The linebackers can all run and should be able to close the daylight quickly. Additionally both cornerbacks, Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs, are known for their ability to tackle in space.