Texas Football: 5 Longhorns Who Must See More Action vs. Ole Miss
With the cupcakes out of the way, the Texas Longhorns have some business to take care of as they head to Oxford to take on Bo Wallace and Ole Miss this weekend. They can start by getting some of their emerging and already-emerged talents on the field.
The 'Horns have won their first two games by a combined score of 82-17, but fans are not quite convinced this team is ready to bring the program back to the top. David Ash has not progressed as much as we had hoped, the defense has started slow and there has been some grumbling about offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's conservative play-calling.
There have been a lot of positives as well. Ash has not turned the ball over in his last three starts, the running backs are as advertised and bookends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor have been superhuman. And there are players who have already emerged as potential stars for this program as the season progresses.
Let's have a look at some of the players who established themselves in the first two games and that need to see the field more in the weeks leading up to West Virginia and Oklahoma.
Malcolm Brown, RB
I never thought this would be an issue for a player who is on the Maxwell Award watch list, but sophomore running back Malcolm Brown needs to get the ball more. A whole lot more.
In the first game against Wyoming Brown carried the ball 14 times for 105 yards, including a career-long 31-yarder. Brown not only looked faster than he was in 2011, but he has shown in both games that he has improved as a receiver with 38 receiving yards.
His reward for one of the stronger performances his young career? Two carries during garbage time as compared to the 11 that running mate Joe Bergeron received. The argument that Bergeron is the better player is understandable, but he is not nine carries better than Brown.
The coaches' reasoning for essentially leaving Brown out of the gameplan is still up in the air. What is not is that Brown proved in the first game that he deserves at least 15 touches per game. He needs to be just as battle-tested and ready as Bergeron if this team wants to ride the running game to victory in conference play.
Daje Johnson, RB
There may not be any agreement on how to pronounce his first name, but there is not a soul that does not agree on Daje Johnson's potential as a game-breaker for the Longhorns.
After missing the first game due to suspension, the freshman went out and racked up 70 yards on four touches, including a 45-yard touchdown "reception" in the second half.
This kid has potential coming out of his ears and could prove to be a weapon on par with players like De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon and Tavon Austin of West Virginia. And on a team that has struggled to get big plays early, the time is now to find ways to get Johnson and his 4.3 speed out in space.
Ashton Dorsey, DT
One player who has silently been making waves on defense is junior tackle Ashton Dorsey, a back-up w ho has more than earned some more time on the field.
Through the first two games the massive junior has racked up nine tackles, three of which for a loss, and two quarterback hurries. All of which either lead or are tied for the team lead among defensive tackles.
If the corners and linebackers are going to keep starting slow this team needs to be able to create pressure rushing four, and Dorsey has proved he can get in the backfield.
Let's hope he is utilized well this weekend and that he can get in Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace's face.
Johnathan Gray, RB
For the second consecutive game top freshman Johnathan Gray did not get a single meaningful carry in the first half. This must change if the coaches want him to be an impact in the looming conference games.
Gray did get more carries in this game. He ran seven times for 30 yards, including a 15-yarder where he got into open field for the first time as a Longhorn. Most importantly, he looked comfortable.
The snail pace at which the coaches are bringing up Johnathan Gray is a cause for concern. He has major adjustments to make in going from a level that he totally dominated to one where the playing field is much more even. To get him there he needs to be placed in situations that matter and where he is getting challenged by the defense, especially since he has played against two of the country's worst run defenses from a year ago.
Gray is as close to complete as there is on this team, with his combination of speed, power and receiving skills, not to mention his ability to run the Wildcat. And with the quarterback struggles this team has faced, the more talent on display at running back the better for this team with conference games just around the corner.
Bryant Jackson, WR
Beyond the incumbents Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin, there is not a reliable pass-catcher who has shown the ability to stretch the field and make plays for the 'Horns. But Bryant Jackson deserves a look.
In the first two games only one player (Daje Johnson) on the team has a higher yards per catch average than Jackson. He only has two catches, but those two catches have still given him enough yardage for fifth on the team and third among wide receivers.
At 6'1'' and 199 pounds, Jackson has good size and speed to go with it and showed the ability to make a tough catch against New Mexico. It's not to say that Jackson is a sure-fire star, but he has played well enough to warrant a look as that fourth true wide receiver.