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New Mexico vs. Texas: Final Report Card, Player Grades for the Texas Longhorns

Jonathan WooCorrespondent INovember 16, 2016

New Mexico vs. Texas: Final Report Card, Player Grades for the Texas Longhorns

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    The Texas Longhorns looked strong against New Mexico, pitching a 45-0 shutout on a Lobos offense that is designed to rack up yards and create trouble for opposing defenses.

    In a game where evaluation needs to be taken with a grain of salt, given the anomalous nature of a triple option offense and a rather overmatched New Mexico team, the Longhorns appeared to improve as the game wore on and did well to execute the proper adjustments.

    Though Texas will unlikely see another offense of this sort this season, the Longhorns should be optimistic about their performance going into next week.

    The grades are in, and the Horns have to come away satisfied with their effort Saturday evening.

Quarterbacks

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    Grade last week: B-

    Like last week, David Ash did all of the necessary things to manage the Texas offense.

    The sophomore demonstrated great athleticism and mobility on his 49-yard touchdown run, but he also made some small strides in the passing game, an on-going development that will be highly scrutinized over the coming months.

    His deep ball and recognition still need work, but his understanding of the quality of players surrounding him and their roles in the offense is evident.

    Ash went 16-for-22 with 221 yards and two touchdown throws. For those counting at home, that makes him 36-of-49 on the year with 378 yards and three touchdowns to go with no interceptions.

    Between Ash and Case McCoy's late-game efforts, the Longhorns spread the ball around in the passing game very evenly and did damage with throws to both running backs and receivers.

    How effective this short game will work against quality competition remains to be seen, but there is an obvious need for Ash to showcase better touch on his deep throws.

    At the end of the day, both quarterbacks command an offense that established much better rhythm in the second half. And although Texas appear limited in their downfield exploits, their strengths elsewhere are legitimate.

    Ash took additional steps forward, and McCoy looked sharp in his management in the fourth quarter, though it should be noted that Texas' only punt came when McCoy was running the offense.

    Grade this week: B+

Running Backs

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    Grade last week: B

    Whether Saturday night's game was a showcase for the passing game to take in new folds or not, the Texas running game may have expected strong results on the ground.

    The Longhorns did finish with 146 yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns, but to see plenty of damage done in the passing game is reason for encouragement.

    As the two standout tailbacks, Joe Bergeron had 11 carries for 49 yards and freshman Johnathan Gray impressed with 30 yards on his seven touches. D.J. Monroe also recorded his second rushing touchdown in as many games, this time on a six-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter.

    But in a demonstration of diversity and quality of talent, the running backs accumulated 126 receiving yards on eight catches, numbers that should add quite a spark to the offense down the road.

    On the one hand, the Longhorns have to be satisfied with the efforts through the air, but unless it was a goal to add more to the passing game, Texas probably would have liked better numbers from its backs.

    Nevertheless, Texas has great depth at running back, and it showed tonight.

    Daje Johnson and Gray will be something special to watch in the coming seasons for the Longhorns.

    Grade this week: B-

Wide Receivers

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    Grade last week: C+

    The wide receivers looked solid for the Longhorns, but the results are tempered.

    Though a share of the numbers in the passing game came from the exploits at running back, a few receivers had their moments against New Mexico.

    Jaxon Shipley probably did not touch the ball enough, but he performed at least to the expected standard with two catches for 30 yards. Mike Davis demonstrated his open-field athleticism with his 22-yard touchdown.

    John Harris, Marquise Goodwin, Bryant Jackson and Kendall Sanders had their small inputs as well, but the biggest standout for the receivers was their downfield blocking.

    Their ability to engage and maintain blocks for ball-carriers is critical in the success of this offense that really uses open space.

    The numbers may not be staggering on the box score, but the stuff that doesn't show up on the stat sheet is way more encouraging for the future of this offense.

    Grade this week: B-

Tight Ends

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    Grade last week: D+

    There were some tight end sightings for the Longhorns, mostly in the passing game, and it was enough to get a little bit excited.

    D.J. Grant hauled in three catches for 42 yards, and M.J. McFarland's lone reception was a 13-yard toss from Case McCoy late in the fourth quarter.

    While it is no explosion in production, it is definitely good to see the tight ends get some recognition.

    For a position that really lacks a do-it-all type of athlete, the best thing that could happen now is for a standout threat to emerge in the passing game.

    As much as the Longhorns like to use the outside in both phases of the offense, the result could have the middle of the field open for the tight ends to exploit.

    It was only a morsel of encouragement, but it is progress.

    Grade this week: C+

Offensive Line

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    Grade last week: B

    Status quo for the offensive line this weekend.

    It was a solid performance for the big boys, but in a first half that had the Longhorns dominated on time of possession, establishing rhythm was a tough task in the trenches.

    But the second half brought better consistency and showcases of quality for Texas.

    Having linemen out in the open field off wide receiver screens and quick moves to the outside is a good sign for the Longhorns moving forward.

    Texas would like to see better consistency from the center position occupied by Dom Espinosa, but with his bad comes a solid dose of good. Is there a better option, one has to wonder?

    The Longhorns struggled early to create good holes, but as the game aged, the running backs took advantage.

    In protection, Texas was solid to allow Ash enough time to make accurate throws that resulted in great gains.

    It is still a relatively young line that has plenty of room to grow, and it is good to see the Longhorns put up strong numbers in either phase in consecutive games.

    Grade this week: B

Defensive Line

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    Grade last week: A-

    Given the nature of New Mexico's offense, the defensive line played great all around in its efforts to control an unusual ground game.

    Jackson Jeffcoat made a series of great plays in the backfield, including a sack and a forced fumble. The interior line had its moments as well, Desmond Jackson among the standouts.

    But while the first half was forgettable, Texas' second half adjustments are a sign of good things to come from a well-coached team.

    The Lobos were able to control the clock in the first two quarters, but we saw little of that in the second half as the Longhorns really took it to New Mexico.

    Again, it is a strange offense to prepare for since few teams utilize the system. The resulting evaluation is destined to differentiate from a normal outing against a more traditional offensive set.

    Still, the defensive line is shaping up to be a great strength for the Longhorns this season, and the quality is evident.

    Grade this week: A-

Linebackers

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    Grade last week: C-

    Adjustments were critical for the Longhorns defensively, but there were times when the discipline and technique just were not there for the linebackers.

    Jordan Hicks had a solid outing as expected, but Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs struggled at times in making the correct decisions on angles and holding their roles in defending the run.

    It has to be noted, though, that Edmond did have a string of strong tackles up the gut, but there were instances where the sophomore just looked uncomfortable in his reads.

    Dalton Santos was a beast on special teams, and he is making a strong case to earn some more playing time behind Edmond. Santos will be something to watch in the future.

    At the end of the day, the linebackers put in a solid night, but with definite moments of inconsistency in their performance.

    Unlike the game against Wyoming facing a spread offense, the Longhorns really got to look at how strong their run defense could be with a full complement of linebackers.

    The result is that they held their own against a New Mexico offense that racked up nearly 350 rushing yards last weekend. Against Texas, the Lobos managed 206 yards on the ground. And while that may be somewhat alarming on the box score checkers, the more important number to understand when facing a triple option is points, of which New Mexico recorded zero.

    Grade this week: C+

Defensive Backs

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    Grade last week: D+

    Against an offense that simply does not look to throw the ball often, the Texas secondary has a tricky evaluation.

    The Longhorns did hold New Mexico to just 35 passing yards on six catches, and their coverage was strong considering the temptation to cheat the running game.

    Tackling technique was still poor at times, but the overall product that Duane Akina's crew showcased was solid considering last weekend's letdown.

    Quandre Diggs recorded the lone interception, but overall the secondary had a good outing in its supporting role against the Lobos' ground attack.

    It should be noted that the grade may look vastly improved simply because of the opposing offense, and while most know of the quality in the Texas secondary, there will be better barometers to come.

    Grade this week: B

Special Teams

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    Grade last week: C+

    The maintained performance in special teams is enough to warrant a grade improvement from a week ago.

    Questions surrounding the kicking game are still relevant, as Nick Jordan connected on a 38-yard attempt, but went wide left on another from 46 yards.

    In coverage, there is little to complain about. Nick Rose is pinning the opposition deep, and Texas has the athletes to race downfield and make strong, well-positioned tackles. Dalton Santos gets his second shout-out here.

    Texas punted just once, when Case McCoy took command of the offense, but Alex King delivered a 51-yard boot, which is enough to satisfy his consistency.

    Add all of that to Mykkele Thompson's blocked punt early in the contest, and the Longhorns should feel comfortable with most of their special teams.

    Grade this week: B-

Coaching

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    Grade last week: B-

    Adjustments are signs of good coaching. Well-executed adjustments are even better.

    The Longhorns gave up some big gains in the first half against a triple-option attack that just troubled Texas' defense.

    But whatever was said at halftime, whatever corrections were implemented, Texas was able to handle the New Mexico offense much better in the second half.

    After the Lobos threw up 66 points last weekend, a blank scoreboard has to count in the coaches' favor for proper game planning and its execution.

    And while the opponent may be the weakest the Longhorns will see on their schedule, all signs from this victory point to positive development.

    Grade this week: A-

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