Each week, HornsNation will rank Texas' top 10 performers of the season up to this point:
1. LB Jordan Hicks
We are starting to see the Hicks that everyone expected coming out of high school. He’s playing and not thinking as much in second year under Manny Diaz. Undisputed leader of emerging linebacking corps had team-high nine tackles against New Mexico.
2. S Kenny Vaccaro
Communication between linebackers and secondary wasn’t tested much against the run-oriented attack of New Mexico. When it was against Wyoming, though, there were gaps and the Cowboys made Texas pay. As the leader of the secondary, that falls on Vaccaro, who will have to keep his head on a swivel against an Ole Miss team that likes to test the latter half of the field.
3. RB Joe Bergeron
He was the workhorse for Texas on Saturday if you consider 11 carries workhorse-like. But Texas’ coaches clearly felt more comfortable with him, which is why Malcolm Brown only got two carries. Two. A 4.5 yards-per-carry average, as he had against the Lobos ,will suffice against Ole Miss.
4. QB David Ash
His 221 yards were a little misleading with short throws that went for long gains and he needs to more consistently hit the open man on intermediate routes. But he’s Texas’ best bet at QB right now and is taking care of the ball. Texas’ decision to not put Case McCoy in until late in the fourth quarter shows their belief in Ash.
5. DE Jackson Jeffcoat
Played quite possibly his best game as a Longhorn on Saturday with one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. His pressure against Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace will be key.
6. RB/WR Daje Johnson
Gives Texas a different dimension than what D.J. Monroe can supply because of his receiving capabilities. Backed up the hype he acquired from fall camp with three receptions for 66 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown “catch.” Will allow Texas to expand T&Z package too.
7. WR Marquise Goodwin
Only had two catches for 15 yards but consistently worked himself open throughout the game. Also showed ability to block with the block of the game on a defensive back that sprung Mike Davis on his 22-yard touchdown reception.
8. PK Nick Rose
Could be one of the keys to Texas coming out of The Grove with a win this weekend. His kickoffs are consistently high and at least five yards deep in the end zone. Longhorns haven’t had somebody on kickoffs like him in a while.
9. CB Quandre Diggs
Diggs was so imposing that New Mexico wouldn’t even look his way. And when it did, the sophomore almost always made a play, including intercepting the Lobos' first attempt his direction. He also sparked the Longhorns with a 35-yard punt return. Adrian Phillips was considered for this spot, but Diggs was just too dominant on Saturday.
10. OL Mason Walters
Leadership across the offensive line will be valuable in the trenches against an SEC opponent. It will be Walters’ job to not only keep the front five in line but also keep Ash in check, should he need to be checked, over the course of the game.