It was a tale of two halves at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday night. The Texas Longhorns unveiled their uptempo offense against the New Mexico State Aggies, but they did not get things rolling until after the half.
In the first offensive drive of the game, Texas quarterback David Ash rushed for six yards and completed a 19-yard pass to senior wide receiver Mike Davis, but Davis fumbled the ball, and New Mexico State recovered on its own 25-yard line. Things went downhill from there.
At one point in the first half, Texas' monster-sized scoreboard, "Godzillatron," was even tired of showing the game and blacked out. It was that kind of night for the first 28 minutes.
New Mexico State struck first, scoring on an 11-yard fade pass with two minutes and 28 seconds left in the half. But this lit a fire in the offense and led to Texas scoring 14 unanswered points in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
The Longhorns entered halftime leading 14-7 on just 29 plays and 9:09 possession time compared to the Aggies' 47 plays and 20:51 possession time. Was this really the long-awaited "uptempo" offense?
"It was similar to the [Alamo] bowl game," Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. "We started off slow, the defense played well and kept us in the game. Finally, we started getting things going after halftime."
I'm not sure what the message was in the locker room at halftime, but whatever was said was effective. David Ash looked poised and in control of the game, throwing a 74-yard touchdown to running back Malcolm Brown and rushing for a 55-yard touchdown in just 2:32 of possession time in the third quarter. This was the offense the Longhorn nation expected to see from the get-go.
But the most impressive part of the Texas offense did not have to do with stats, even though the Longhorns' 715 total offensive yards set a new school record. Historically speaking, Ash has struggled to recover from slow starts, but Saturday was different. Even with the momentum of the game shifting against him, he kept his cool and led Texas to 42 unanswered points and 434 yards of total offense.
"We're not happy with the way we played in the first half," Major Applewhite said after the game, "but we compartmentalized it and moved on. That's a sign of a mature team. I don't think they would have done that a year or two ago."
The Longhorns' offense was shaky to start the game, which is expected from a team debuting a new uptempo scheme. Texas had three turnovers in the first half and zero in the second. If Texas is serious about making a run at the Big 12 title, the offense needs to expand upon what it did in the second half against New Mexico State and improve its consistency early in the season.
Not all questions were answered Saturday night, but Texas gave its fans a glimpse of what to expect in 2013.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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