Texas Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Longhorns' Win vs. the Bears
It was not a pretty showing, but the Longhorns climbed out with a 56-50 win over Baylor on a cool night in Austin.
Texas got back to its roots offensively with a strong display on the ground, but the defense still offered up signs of weakness through some showcases of improvement.
With the Longhorns slated to meet Kansas in a week, there is plenty to take to Lawrence from Saturday's contest.
Here are 10 things we learned from the Longhorns' victory over the Bears.
Josh Turner Is a Player
Texas sophomore defensive back Josh Turner had himself a quality outing on Saturday night, impacting the game on multiple occasions with some timely plays.
Turner's diving interception, which made him look like a receiver instead of a defender, is arguably the best pick of the season for the Longhorns.
Additionally, Turner's support against the run and deep in coverage was unmatched by any other defensive back.
He may be a young buck, but Turner solidified his place among Texas' secondary with a very strong outing.
David Ash Is Tough
However minimal or maximal the pain may have been for David Ash when he exited the Oklahoma game with a busted-up wrist, the sophomore quarterback hardly looked phased against Baylor.
He was not as sharp as he has been in recent weeks, but his ability to drive the offense and make some critical plays never wavered.
As bad as his baseball wrist looked just after the injury, Ash responded beautifully with a clean and calm execution of the offense.
The Defensive Woes Continue
Poor discipline got the best of Texas' defense on Saturday, despite the hardening in the second half.
Two bad penalties on one series extended Baylor's drive, eventually leading to a touchdown.
Kenny Vaccaro had an untimely late hit that could raise questions about his focus.
Combined with some too-loose coverage that let Baylor move the ball a little too easily all throughout the game, the Longhorns have to feel somewhat fortunate to come away with that kind of victory.
However, the Longhorns showed some substantial improvements in their tackling pursuits. Yes, there were some shortcomings here and there, but not nearly as many as one would have expected given the unit's run of poor showings this season.
But the Defense Can Create Turnovers
As bad as we can all knock the defense for its poor executions, tackling and discipline, there is one area where it has impressed all season: turnovers.
The Longhorns just have a knack for creating turnovers, and it is only furthered by an offense that can score as a result.
Turnovers have always been a dual-layered swing. First, the defense has to create the takeaway, then the offense has to legitimize it by putting points on the board.
Texas did it twice against Baylor, and it very much proved to be the biggest impact in the victory.
Mike Davis Is Really Close
Statistically, Mike Davis put in a career day, recording a career-high 148 yards on six catches to go with a touchdown.
But however impressive his numbers may be, Davis left so much more on the field with three drops that killed some drives.
With that in mind, Davis is very much a huge weapon for the Texas offense as a deep threat, but when push comes to shove, his inconsistency in hauling in very catchable balls will keep him from truly bursting onto the scene as a star.
But Jaxon Shipley Has to Get More Looks
Ten different receivers caught passes on Saturday, and Jaxon Shipley caught just one.
For a guy that, early on, was a featured component of the Texas offense, the Longhorns will need Shipley to get his touches all over the field.
Mike Davis is the deep threat and the running game and screen game have worked well short, but Shipley is the intermediate guy that can make the offense come alive.
The Offense Is Not as Good as Many Think It Is
With a decent dose of reality, we cannot get carried away with the fallacies.
The truth of the matter is that without Malcolm Brown, the Longhorns' offense is just lacking that extra something.
Sure, the unit can rack up points against the defensively deprived Bears and Mountaineers, but what happens when a legitimate defense that can execute a proper game plan terminates part of the Texas offense?
We saw that against Oklahoma, and that has to worry every Texas supporter from here on out.
Scoring against bad defenses is one thing, and it makes the offense look mighty powerful. But doing so on the more stout groupings is entirely different.
Texas has a good recipe for success, but it is missing some key ingredients and executions that will ripen it up really nicely.
The Defense Is as Bad as Many Think It Is
In that continued dose of reality, the Texas defense is just not good, and it is as bad as many think it is, which comes in as a shocker.
Given that the unit was surmised to be one of the nation's best, Texas has fallen far off the mark defensively, which has only been made worse with the help of some critical injuries.
Granted, youth serves a pretty penny for Manny Diaz's defense, especially on the interior defensive line and at linebacker, but by this point in the season, the status quo or worse is unacceptable.
The Linebackers Flashed Some Brilliance
Speaking of the linebackers, the trio of Kendall Thompson, Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs all had solid outings in welcomed performances out of a position that has lacked consistency and drive since Jordan Hicks fell to the injury bug.
The group is far from filling the void left behind by Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, but Saturday was significant step in the right direction.
Yes, there were breakdowns, but nothing earth-shattering that cost the momentum of the game like in weeks past.
Texas Will Miss Jackson Jeffcoat
One of the more consistent positions that we have seen this season has been the defensive end, where All-American candidates Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat have staked their claim as a couple of the nation's best.
But with Jeffcoat's torn right pectoral and him missing the remainder of the season, all of a sudden, the edge on the line looks much less frightening to opposing offenses.
And on a night when pressure was limited in Baylor's backfield, Jeffcoat's presence was sorely missed, and his impact will be tough to replace with a handful of talented yet unproven backups.