Texas vs. Ole Miss: Post Game Grades for Longhorns Win over Rebels

Zach Shelton@@zachisagingerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2012

Texas vs. Ole Miss: Post Game Grades for Longhorns Win over Rebels

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    In their strongest showing since the days of Colt McCoy, the Longhorns manhandled the Ole Miss Rebels 66-31 thanks to a career night from sophomore quarterback David Ash. The win could push the 'Horns into top-10 territory, while the Rebels clearly have some work to do as they rebuild in the SEC.

    Here's a look at how the 'Horns performed and the post-game grades for the guys after a great showing.

Quarterbacks: A+

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    After failing to meet expectations last week against New Mexico, David Ash went out against Ole Miss and had the hands-down best game of his career.

    Ash went 19-for-23 for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns with not a single turnovers. For those of you keeping track those are career-highs for Ash in yardage, completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per completion and touchdowns. And the Longhorns had 676 yards of total offense.

    The Longhorns were on upset watch heading into this contest and David Ash did more than rise to the occasion. His receivers gave him a lot of help in fighting for the ball, but give Ash some credit here. He was confident in trusting both himself and his receivers on the long balls, which the score demonstrates.

    If there was any doubt about who should be the starting quarterback for this team heading into tonight, there should be none as of now.

Running Backs: A

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    Once again, the running backs got it done for the Longhorns. Plain and simple.

    Joe Bergeron got the game started with a few strong runs in finishing with 48 yards on 11 carries, but Malcolm Brown was the star of this group. The star sophomore carried the ball 21 times for a season-high 128 yards and two touchdowns after getting the rock only four total times last week. 

    Johnathan Gray also had a strong showing when he finally got his shot in the fourth quarter, carrying it nine times for 50 yards. The highly-regarded freshman did not get as many touches as originally hoped, but he did well with what he got and is already showing signs of improvement.

    Also worth mentioning is D.J. Monroe's third rushing touchdown in as many games. With stud freshman Daje Johnson threatening his role in the offense, Monroe has played hungry and has been among the team's most lethal weapons to start the season.

    The only concern for this group after this game is the shoulder injury Bergeron sustained in the third quarter, after which he did not return. Bergeron is the bruising back and the ferocity with which he runs the ball is a major asset to this team. Here's hoping that he was held out for precautionary reasons.

Wide Receivers: A+

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    David Ash certainly will get a lion's share of the credit for his performance tonight, but the receivers made their young signal-caller look good. Really good.

    These guys did everything from catching deep balls to running for long touchdowns to erasing defenders with their blocking. They adjusted to the ball well the entire night and just outfought the Ole Miss corners throughout. 

    Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin delivered the first 100-yard receiving performances of the season, and the entire group proved the value of continuity in torching the Ole Miss defense all night. This was a great confidence booster for these guys as they head into a matchup against the very stout corners of Oklahoma State.

Tight Ends: B

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    While not being a featured part of the offense, the tight ends went out and did their job well in helping the offense churn out its best effort since the late 2000s.

    In terms of receiving, D.J. Grant did all of the work for this group with his two receptions for seven yards and a touchdown. His second quarter touchdown could not have been easier thanks to good play-calling, but give him credit for flawless execution there.

    This unsung group did their job tonight with blocking tight end Greg Daniels' false start being the only blemish on their night. The Longhorns do not need much more than what they got from these guys, so nice work on their part.

Offensive Line: A+

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    Malcolm Brown, David Ash and the receivers were stellar tonight, but the offensive line deserves the game ball for tonight's statement win.

    The offensive line simply dominated tonight's game in paving the way for 676 total yards of offense, 350 of which were rushing yards. When the Longhorns wanted to run, they ran. When the Longhorns wanted to pass, David Ash had all the time in the world to pick apart the Rebels' defense.

    A few false starts aside, the offensive line could not have been better tonight. If they play like this for the rest of the season you can officially put the rest of the Big 12 on notice because this team is unstoppable with this kind of effort in the trenches.

Defensive Line: A

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    In spite of the effort by the rest of the defense, the defensive line once again dominated the line of scrimmage and continues to make its case as the best in the country.

    Lethal Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace never really got it going tonight and the defensive line is the reason. Bookends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat combined for three of this group's five sacks as the defensive line made Wallace miserable all night. 

    Okafor and Jeffcoat have been utterly unblockable all season, which has allowed defensive tackles like Brandon Moore and Ashton Dorsey to get in the face of the opposing quarterback with relative ease. The result tonight was an obviously bothered and hurried Wallace who was lucky to put up the points that he did.

    The secondary and linebackers have somewhat underperformed thus far, but this defensive line is undoubtedly the real deal.

Linebackers: B-

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    Following an injury to its leader and another slightly disappointing performance, this linebacking corps could be in real trouble heading into conference play.

    First-year starter Steve Edmond had a huge pick-six for Texas' first score of the game and the offense took control from there. However, this group was sloppy at times in giving up 170 rushing yards and allowing Bo Wallace to break contain far too many times. Leading tackler Jordan Hicks also kept a drive alive for Ole Miss with a bad horse collar penalty in the second quarter.

    These guys are definitely a work in progress, though they have not made the strides many expected they would by now. Edmond showed marked improvement tonight, but fellow sophomore Demarco Cobbs still looks lost in the shuffle at times. 

    This group desperately needs Jordan Hicks' apparent groin injury to be a minor one. Not only is he the team's leading tackler and a team leader, but he is capable of covering the mistakes his young running mates make as they learn their way. It is no coincidence that Jeff Scott's 48-yard touchdown run came when Hicks was out of the game.

Defensive Backs: C

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    Despite a strong showing from his teammates, supposed shutdown corner Carrington Byndom has brought the secondary down with poor play for the second time already this season.

    Quandre Diggs was great in pulling down two interceptions, one after nearly giving up a touchdown to Moncrief. Kenny Vaccaro and Adrian Phillips were relentless from the safety position, with Vaccaro personally showing Bo Wallace why quarterbacks are taught to slide.

    And then there is Byndom.

    For the second time this season, Byndom gave up a catch-and-run of 75 yards or more to an opposing receiver after missing a tackle. This from a corner that shut down two of the conference's best receivers last season and was probably the difference in the final game of the A&M rivalry. In other words, who is this impostor and what has he done with the real Carrington Byndom?

    For this defense to truly live up to its full potential Byndom must find his game and be the shutdown corner we all know he is. And sooner rather than later would be nice with the high-flying offense of West Virginia now less than three weeks away.

Special Teams: D

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    After a strong start to the game the special teamers laid an egg in missing yet another field goal and allowing a 100-yard kickoff to start the fourth quarter.

    After the punt return unit came up with a big block deep in Ole Miss territory, special teams came unglued. Nick Jordan missed his fifth field goal of the season and then the coverage unit gave up a 100-yard touchdown to Ole Miss freshman Jaylen Walton, missing God only knows how many tackles.

    This is a young group covering kicks so it is safe to say that they probably relaxed a little bit. However, this business with Nick Jordan is getting scary. He missed a very makeable 37-yarder tonight and he has not shown any signs of improvement through three games.

    Anthony Fera needs to come back. And soon.

Coaching: A+

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    With the fanship littered with seeds of doubt, Mack Brown and his staff came prepared and watched their gameplan simply overwhelm the Rebels of Ole Miss.

    Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz dialed up the pressure all night and had Bo Wallace scared of his own shadow. At the same time, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin's playcalling was yielding Madden numbers all night as the Rebels had no idea what was coming, especially on Marquise Goodwin's 69-yard touchdown on the end around.

    The performance from Diaz is what we have come to expect. The performance from Harsin will have fans sleeping easy all week as he showed trust in his young quarterback David Ash, which was reflected in Ash's fearless performance.

    When the coaches and players show the type of trust in each other that we saw tonight, special things can happen. It just does not get much prettier than that.