Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Texas at the quarter pole
By Max Olson
AUSTIN, Texas -- Four games in and it’s already been a crazy season for Texas. Who could’ve predicted this is where the Longhorns would be as we close the month of September? They’re 2-2 with a new defensive coordinator, a long list of injuries and a head coach on the hot seat. But starting 1-0 in Big 12 play is giving them hope going forward. Here’s a look at where we stand after the first quarter of the season.
With quarterback somewhat up in the air, the Longhorns will need more from Johnathan Gray as the season progresses.
Best game: Texas' 31-21 win over Kansas State last week was impressive not just because it ended the K-State curse, but also because most people thought this team was one loss away from really falling apart. Start the season 1-3 and who knows how far downhill things go. The Longhorns persevered and, despite losing David Ash, Jordan Hicks and missing several other starters, go into their first bye with positive momentum.
Best player: Kicker/punter Anthony Fera has been as good as anyone through four games, but let’s go with Johnathan Gray. The sophomore running back is now No. 2 in the Big 12 in rushing after a career day against Kansas State, and his 350 yards and three touchdowns have been invaluable with so much uncertainty at quarterback. Gray is developing into that five-star player he was supposed to become.
Best performance: The honest answer would probably have to be BYU quarterback Taysom Hill’s 259 rushing yards against Texas. For the Longhorns, David Ash’s performance against New Mexico State in the opener stands out. He threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another 91 yards and a score in the 56-7 win. Daje Johnson’s coming out party against NMSU would also be on the list of top performances.
Best surprise: Hard to tell yet if this is the best surprise, but there’s no doubt the biggest surprise was the move to replace Manny Diaz after two games and bring back Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator. Mack Brown made the call following the embarrassing loss at BYU, and a promising showing against Kansas State suggests Texas is getting its defense back on track. This will go down as a savvy, season-saving move for Brown if Robinson really can fix this defense and maximize its potential.
Biggest disappointment: Two losses in four games. This was definitely not where Texas expected to be a fourth of the way into the season. The Longhorns were supposed to contend for a Big 12 title and a BCS bowl in 2013, but after two nonconference losses it’s all uphill from here. The schedule appeared to set up nicely, giving Texas a shot at being undefeated heading into Oklahoma, but instead it’s become a week-to-week battle with Brown’s job on the line. Texas has to go on a big run here in the next month, and beating OU is an absolute must.