Texas Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Longhorns Win vs. the Cowboys
At the end of the day, a win is a win is a win.
So however ugly Texas' 41-36 triumph over Oklahoma State may have looked on Saturday night in Stillwater, the Longhorns scored last as they start their Big 12 season with a 1-0 mark.
David Ash turned in yet another career-type of performance, finishing 30-of-37 passing for 304 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Texas hung tough despite struggle to deliver the goods on the ground, but Ash and his offense were resilient in every sense of the word, making the biggest plays during the biggest moments.
So what else did we see from the Longhorns that will the headlines reeling in the coming days? Here are 10 things that fall under that radar.
David Ash Is a Budding Star
After a coming out party last weekend against Ole Miss, David Ash responded again in an arguably tougher road environment in Stillwater.
And against Oklahoma State, Ash was ice cold and tough as nails.
His three touchdown passes, all to Jaxon Shipley, were undeniably accurate. And even though Ash threw his first interception of the season, the sophomore came right back to make some big plays for the Longhorns down the stretch.
The biggest of them all was an impeccable, 4th-and-6 conversion to D.J. Grant that could have been placed any better.
Ash never looked uncomfortable and seemed to be in complete command of his offense throughout the entire game. And even when the tough got going when the ground game did not produce, he stuck to his guns and engineered the influential drives to earn the win.
If the Longhorns end up where they would like to be by season's end, this is a defining moment that may begin that push.
The Longhorns Still Have Tackling Issues
Moving right along with what went well to what did not, the Longhorns still have major issues with tackling.
For whatever reason that may or may not have been mentioned, the Horns have rarely looked this inept at bringing down a ball-carrier.
And from the the second play of the game, when Joseph Randle took the ball 69 yards to the house after breaking two tackles, it just seemed too fitting that Texas would struggle in that area all night. And it did.
So with West Virginia and Oklahoma coming up next, one would have to believe that the issues have to be resolved or harsh consequences will follow.
D.J. Monroe Cannot Touch the Ball Enough
How many times have we heard that line before?
Monroe's first touch paid immediate dividends as he went the distance on a 100-yard kickoff return, sending the Longhorns to a 21-14 lead before the end of the first quarter.
The senior has scored in every game for the Longhorns this season, so it is very hard to argue with the production with the ball in his hands.
His three carries for 24 yards are limited, but each touch was timely in the scheme of each drive.
There is no Texas player who needs the ball more.
Same with Jaxon Shipley
Shipley has made up for his dip in production with three touchdown catches against the Cowboys.
If there is any one receiver that just needs to touch the ball, it has to be Shipley. His work ethic and quick-footed scampers after the catch or out of the backfield are an added dimension to the offense that can only loosen the defense for the rest of the team.
As important as Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin are to the stretching of defenses, Shipley is that safety valve anywhere on the field.
If Ash can consistently find him, the Longhorns will be successful.
The Defensive Backs Can Be Had
Texas is still "DBU," but there is tons of work to be done.
Each defensive back had at least one play that he had back, but there were also a handful of standout plays.
So while we highlight the things that went well, the Kenny Vaccaro interception, the resilient pass breakup by Quandre Diggs, there is a need to focus on the fact that the Longhorns are vulnerable in their defensive backfield.
Whether it is personnel or plain performance, it all has to get better.
Does the team miss Blake Gideon?
Pass Protection Is Strong
The Longhorns' offensive line struggled to establish good running lanes like it did against Ole Miss.
Up against a front four for Oklahoma State that well out-worked what the Rebels were able to do, Texas was up against a wall in its ground game.
But where the run blocking lacked, the pass protection picked up big time.
The group paved the way for David Ash to compile some gaudy numbers for the second straight week, and it is becoming increasingly evident that Texas is a team that has true potential down the field.
There Is Little Confidence in the Kicking Game Sans Anthony Fera
It might be a little unfair to criticize a kicking game that took no field-goal attempts outside of the extra points, but there is nothing to doubt when it comes to confidence in what Nick Jordan has or has not done this season.
With Anthony Fera still sidelined with a groin injury, the Longhorns' kicking game is simply a wait-and-see kind of ordeal. It seems Texas has all of its chips on Fera, and if that hand falters, the Horns could be in for some tough games moving forward.
The Defense Is Far Behind
The preseason headlines praised Texas' defensive potential and fronted cautious optimism concerning the offense.
Four games into the campaign, those storylines seemed to have flipped 180 degrees.
Defensively, Texas just did not show up when it needed to. Missed tackles and lack of consistent pressure in the backfield were just the start of what went wrong for the Longhorns.
And with the schedule only getting tougher in the coming weeks, Texas' defense has to play catch up with the offense in terms of finding identity, rhythm and confidence.
Mike Davis and D.J. Grant Made Some Big-Time Plays
Davis' high-reaching catch on the goal line and Grant's catch over the middle of fourth down are two plays that stick out in recapping how Texas managed to win in Stillwater.
The Longhorns have been waiting for someone to make some big plays in the passing game, and outside of Jaxon Shipley, these two pass catchers earned some big respects.
No longer does Texas have just one or two reliable options. Now, teams will have to concern themselves with a handful of very capable receivers who have no problem with making big plays during crunch time.
These two provided standout performances that will earn some midweek mentions.
Welcome to the Party, Johnathan Gray
An unsung hero that deserves a lion's share of responsibility for handling the ball in Texas' final scoring drive is Johnathan Gray and his antics late in the game.
The freshman carried the ball 12 times overall and led the team in rushing with 68 big yards out of the backfield. It seems he is just touches away from ripping a long run, and we are all waiting for his breakout performance.
No longer is Gray a project. Add him to a long list of Texas running backs that have big-play capability.
For those keeping track, that list reads Gray, Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, D.J. Monroe and Daje Johnson. Yes, that is five of the Longhorns' six running backs.
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