Texas Longhorns Football: Winners and Losers from Week 2 Game vs. New Mexico
The Texas Longhorns blanked New Mexico Saturday night in a 45-0 effort that saw the Longhorns defense bend but never break.
Aided by successful halftime adjustments, Texas stifled a Lobos offense that scored 66 points and rushed for almost 350 yards in its first game.
Meanwhile, the Texas offense looked to open up its passing game, and David Ash responded with some improvement from last week, all the while getting support from a flurry of playmakers.
Who impressed and who looked lost?
Here are the Week 2 ups and downs for the Longhorns.
Winner: David Ash
The Texas quarterback did well to control a Longhorns offense that improved throughout the course of the game.
Ash still lacked touch on his deeper throws, but he was very accurate on throws underneath and in the flat, allow the skill players the chance to work in space.
It seemed apparent that the coaches were looking to build some momentum and confidence in the passing game, as the Longhorns' aerial attack generated much more offense than the ground game.
Nevertheless, Ash improved from his performance last weekend, and his development, however short the strides may be, is all that can be expected.
If slow and steady wins the race, then the Longhorns are in good shape. With the emerging pieces in the running game, having Ash ready to go and comfortable in his dropbacks will be that much more critical in driving this team's success.
Loser: Steve Edmond
For all of the hype surrounding Texas' sophomore middle linebacker Steve Edmond, the hulking athlete simply has not delivered the goods that was promised over the summer.
While his play is far from deserving harsh criticism, his performances have been up and down through two games. Frankly, a matchup against a triple-option offense may skew the perspective of Texas fans. But in anticipation of Edmond delivering multiple blowups all over the field, the faithful are still waiting.
Perhaps those moments are coming with the Longhorns going into SEC country next weekend to face Ole Miss.
But for now, Edmond is underperforming and failing to meet the lofty standards and expectations held by Texas supporters.
Winner: Daje Johnson
The freshman speedster got his first crack on the field after missing last weekend due to suspension, and the talk of his game speed was verified against New Mexico.
Johnson's first touch went for nine yards, after the running back caught a short pass before turning upfield for a nice gain. Though he had limited attempts from the backfield, Johnson still demonstrated an acceleration akin to D.J. Monroe's.
Johnson's touchdown catch, a 45-yard flip and run from David Ash, sent a packed DKR-Memorial Stadium into a frenzy.
It is no news that the Longhorns are deep in their backfield, but Johnson did very well to solidify his opportunities for more touches in the coming weeks.
If his speed holds up against the better competition on the schedule, Texas may just have found itself a home run hitter in the 5'10" athlete.
Loser: Demarco Cobbs
Like Edmond before him, junior linebacker Demarco Cobbs entered the fall with some high expectations.
Cobbs' speed, athleticism and motor may drive those expectations, but against New Mexico's offense, the Oklahoma product appeared to get lost in the confusion caused by the Lobos' triple-option.
While he was not the only Texas defender whose questionable discipline led to big plays for the opposition, Cobbs is a glue guy who connects the secondary to the front four, so his poor play was especially alarming.
It was an unimpressive showing from Cobbs, but he will definitely have his moments of success once he is able to use his great athleticism against more conventional, less-gimmicky offenses.
Winner: Mike Davis
For what seemed like the first time since his initial season in Austin, Mike Davis flashed the skill set that had the Longhorns secure his commitment three years ago.
Davis impressed on his touchdown catch and run, using a good block from Marquise Goodwin and his own athleticism to wiggle through defenders for six.
While Texas still lacks great fourth and fifth options at receiver, having Davis step up his game alongside that of Jaxon Shipley and Goodwin give the Longhorns three highly capable and very athletic receivers to help put David Ash into a more comfortable position as a passer.
Davis' willingness to maintain his blocks downfield is also a good sign of his confidence and commitment to good offense.
Loser: Receivers Not Named Shipley
In a little bit of a nitpick, the receiving corps for the Longhorns still lack something extra outside of Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis.
To be fair, the downfield blocking was excellent from the pass-catchers, and it is a good sign to see contributions that do not make it onto the box score.
But in their primary roles as receivers, there are few signs that other receivers will be able to step up and help out.
If Shipley and Davis are the only two making plays, then expect the development of Texas' passing game to stall.
Winner: Jackson Jeffcoat
Texas' junior defensive end had a strong showing against an offense that can really make opposing defenses look vulnerable.
Jeffcoat popped up all over New Mexico's backfield, recording two and a half tackles for loss and forcing a fumble. He also recorded the only sack of the game for the Longhorns.
In a game that had several Texas defensive players struggle to maintain good discipline and leverage, the impressive Jeffcoat delivered a solid outing.
But while the Dallas product is still some distance away from his 2011 efforts, Jeffcoat is off to a good start in 2012 and should be in a position to record a series of good performances this season.
Loser: Offensive Line
Through the thick of a struggling offense in the first half, the offensive line just did not generate the kind of holes necessary to establish a strong ground game up the gut.
Now, it was evident that the Longhorns were looking to work on their passing game, but the center of the offensive line had its share of trouble against a New Mexico front that really closed the running lanes well.
Sophomore Dom Espinosa had some ups and downs last week, and we saw some similar inconsistencies again on Saturday. While concern should be tempered, the weaknesses will only be magnified as the schedule creeps into Big 12 play.
Texas' 146 rushing yards is nothing shameful, but against a defense that accumulated little praise last season, the Longhorns probably would have expected better numbers on the ground.
Obviously, if the focus is on the passing game, the running backs will take hits. But interestingly enough, the tailbacks did much more damage receiving the ball than running it.
Winner: Dalton Santos
The late addition to Texas' 2012 recruiting class likely gained a few more fans, including yours truly.
Dalton Santos has the look of a future playmaker for the Longhorns, and his plays early in 2012 have made a case for him getting more snaps in the coming weeks.
The hulking linebacker continued to make things happen on special teams, including an incredible showcase of speed, power and athleticism on a coverage tackle late in the game.
We all know how special a talent Steve Edmond is, but Texas might have another one up its sleeve in Santos.
Loser: Nick Jordan
Perhaps he is not a full-fledged loser in terms of negative performance, but Nick Jordan did very little to increase his expectations as the Longhorns' temporary placekicker.
With Anthony Fera expected to seize control of the position once recovered from his preexisting groin injury from his Penn State days, Jordan's leash figures to be somewhat short given his 1-for-3 night against Wyoming and his 1-for-2 evening against New Mexico.
With all three misses coming from beyond 40 yards, observers are knocking Jordan's effectiveness from distance.
The freshman could have remedied the situation by nailing both of his attempts against the Lobos. But with the position already a question mark before the season began, Jordan has simply prolonged the predicament until Fera is available.