Kansas vs. Texas: 10 Things We Learned in the Longhorns' Win
Even after a slow start, the Texas Longhorns were able to rout the Kansas Jayhawks, 35-13. While their performance should temper some expectations, it is no reason for fans to jump ship.
Just to get the bad news out of the way, Mack Brown's team came out flat. Case McCoy threw an interception on Texas' first drive, the Jayhawks had a 70-yard opening drive and the 'Horns were up by just eight halfway through the third quarter.
Everything after that was gravy. The team rushed for over 200 yards for the third consecutive game, and the defense continues to get after it under Greg Robinson.
They weren't the 2005 Longhorns, but they weren't the 2010 ones either.
What the Longhorns have is another solid win to build off of, along with the expected issues that need to be ironed out.
The same cannot be said for the third-year Longhorn Network fresh off its final telecast of the season.
The Longhorn Network Continues to Disappoint
Texas' pasting of Kansas is over and done, and this season's slate of games on the controversial Longhorn Network along with it. What the future holds for the network seems less defined.
It's bad enough that only a fraction of Texas fans even have access to the network in its third season. But the on-screen product is decent at best, which means the headache is only beginning for fans.
In the roughly three-and-a-half-hour broadcast, fans were treated to an awkward segment about the team eating fried chicken. Later, they got one about Jordan Hicks while the camera focused exclusively on Tyrone Swoopes. Hicks is an injured linebacker; Swoopes is the backup quarterback.
Sure, the last complaint may be a little nitpicky—nobody's perfect. Except for the fact that this organization has exactly one job. When one team is expected to be your entire revenue stream as a media provider, mispronouncing names and mixing up faces comes off as lazy.
What makes this worse is that television providers have even less incentive to sign a deal with the network. That means, entering year four of this experiment, most fans still will not be able to watch their team on Saturdays.
It has become reasonable to question the original point of starting this network.
Texas Has a Problem Looking Past Opponents
The Longhorns have twice failed to score in the first quarter at home this season. The combined record of those two opponents is 3-14.
New Mexico State and Kansas are probably the two worst teams Texas has played all season and almost certainly the two weakest teams they will play at home. Starting slow against both, in front of the fickle home crowd, does not inspire a lot of confidence.
Whether Saturday's slow start is actually a sign of weakness remains to be seen. Still, you expect this team to come out firing in familiar territory instead of looking like it's just going through the motions.
The Two-Back Rotation Is Devastating
Even though Johnathan Gray was the starter on Saturday, it was Malcolm Brown who spearheaded the Texas offense. He's playing well, and his role in the offense is here to stay.
Brown has carried the ball 23, 17 and a team-leading 20 times against Kansas. Gray has carried it 29, 22 and 18 times over the same span.
Does that mean Gray is being phased out of the offense? Not at all, though it is a sign that Texas is finally giving both backs a defined role in the offense. As a result, the 'Horns have outscored their opponents, 111-40, in three games since Brown's snaps increased.
Gray brings the speed and elusiveness; Brown brings the power. They are complementing each other well and collectively wearing out defenses in the process. Keep them both fed and the wins will continue to pile up.
Touchdown Brown Is the New Goal-Line Back
A year after watching Joe Bergeron run for 16 touchdowns in a similar role, Malcolm Brown has become Texas' goal-line back. Now he's the one racking up the scores.
After both Bergeron and Johnathan Gray struggled with ball security against Iowa State, the Texas coaches have decided to give Brown a try. Three games later, he has six touchdowns after punching it in four times against Kansas.
Bergeron scored 16 touchdowns on goal-line duty in 2012. Despite his late start in the role, "Touchdown Brown" appears to be a lock for double-digit scores as long as he stays healthy.
Marcus Johnson Is Very Good
Marcus Johnson looks modest in this week's box score. Where he looks fantastic is on the football field.
Whereas fellow sophomores Daje Johnson and Kendall Sanders generated the most offseason buzz, it is Marcus who is the team's brightest star on the outside. After reeling in three catches for 44 yards, he is averaging 23.1 yards on his 13 catches, good for 301 yards.
This week's eye-opening play was a 31-yard grab on the sideline where he displayed his outstanding footwork. He does not drop balls, runs sharp routes and has the speed to do whatever he wants in the open field.
He, Sanders and Daje Johnson are going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses for the next couple of seasons.
Catching Interference Is Getting Ridiculous
For the third time this season, a member of Texas' punt team was penalized for catch interference. There is something very wrong with that.
Twice this year, including last week's win over TCU, it was Bryson Echols. This week, it was John Harris. That is three times Texas has given up 15 free yards for one of the simplest penalties to avoid.
These lapses display a lack of discipline and a certain degree of carelessness. Being aggressive is only helpful if you can be smart about it, and doing this three times in eight games is unacceptable.
This needs to be fixed before it costs Texas a conference game.
Cedric Reed Deserves More Attention
Senior end Jackson Jeffcoat is Texas' best defensive player and one of the best pass-rushers in the country. His fellow sack maven, Cedric Reed, is not far behind.
After his two-sack performance against Kansas that included a fumble, Reed has proven he is no flash in the pan. He leads the team in tackles, pass deflections and forced fumbles. He is also just one sack behind Jeffcoat, who was just named a semifinalst for the Bednarik Award.
The junior deserves as much praise for his play as his teammate on the weak side. He is a lock to make his first all-conference team this season.
The Longhorns Are Vulnerable Downfield
Even in defeat, Kansas proved that Texas can be beat over the top. That should be a major concern with Texas Tech and Baylor remaining on the schedule.
Jayhawk wideout Rodriguez Coleman beat coverage twice downfield for 85 yards, and it could have been more with a more accurate passer under center. He is far from the only deep threat the 'Horns have struggled to contain, giving up 237 yards to Kansas State's Tyler Lockett earlier in the season.
This is the first time since the Iowa State game that Texas has been exposed downfield, so it could just be a bad game. Still, this is something that Mack Brown needs to address before it costs his team the conference.
Chris Whaley Has a Nose for the Football
Texas' leader for defensive touchdowns is not Quandre Diggs nor is it Carrington Byndom or any other speedy defensive player. It is 296-pound tackle Chris Whaley, who has two touchdowns in the past three games.
After not scoring a single touchdown in his first three seasons, the former running back has two highlight-reel returns in three weeks. This time, he picked up a Jake Heaps fumble on the run and never looked back as he took it 40 yards to the end zone.
Most defensive tackles would have simply fallen on the ball, and few have the athleticism to take it almost halfway down the field for a touchdown. Whaley is another reason this defense has been so good of late, and he is developing a knack for the big play.
Case McCoy Is Starting to Show His Flaws
Though he has played well in David Ash's stead, Case McCoy's flaws are becoming more apparent on a weekly basis. With Ash's season in doubt, McCoy must overcome these issues.
After playing mistake-free football for much of the season, McCoy has thrown five interceptions in Texas' last three games. He is missing throws as much as he is making incorrect reads, grounding him to his lowest yards per attempt since Iowa State.
There is a reason coaches emphasize mechanics, and McCoy's sidearm throws off his back foot are a strong example of their importance. He does have the mentality to overcome his mistakes, but fans cannot expect Texas to win games that rely on his arm alone.
McCoy is no danger of being benched, as he is a proven leader of this team, though his performance does illustrate the importance of getting David Ash healthy and preparing Tyrone Swoopes to play.