While it would be easy to point out everything Texas did wrong in their uninspired win over Rice, let's look at it in more of a “the glass is half full” vein.
Sure, the defense dropped two interceptions that would have most likely been run back for touchdowns, and the offense really never looked like they were on the same page. Sure, some of the play calling was a little conservative, but this post isn’t about that.
Let's just focus on the positive, put our hands over our ears and say "la, la, la," when people point out that if this play continues, Texas will be lucky to win eight games.
Let's just tell ourselves it’s the first game of the year, that Rice is going to be very good this season, and be thankful we didn’t look at bad as Florida or Oklahoma.
The Run Game
The Texas run game was the key to victory. Wow, that was weird to say. Their 197 yards on 46 attempts for an average of 4.3 yards per carry is a respectable way to start the season.
Tre Newton played his way back into the starter position with 61 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was able to find seams and looked very fast and at home in the new look offense.
Cody Johnson started and was able to wear down the Rice D-line with his power run game. Since we are just focusing on the positive, let's not mention his inability to run it in from the one-yard line.
Fozzy Whittaker also received a few reps and had Texas’s longest run of the day at 21 yards. Whittaker looked good, but probably is too fragile in the coaches' minds to be the every-down back.
All in all, the run game looked decent. Rice wasn’t very good against the run last season so this probably wasn’t a true indication of what the running attack will look like in Week 6.
There were a lot of questions going into this game about Gilbert. Will he be able to manage the offense? Is he able to be the leader this team needs? Does he suffer from PTSD after the Alabama game?
All but the last one was answered in the game against Rice and Texas fans should be happy with the results.
Gilbert wasn’t going to set the single game yardage record against Rice; he didn’t have to. But he did play a mistake-free game and showed he could manage the offense.
This was a good game to help build some confidence in a young man who will be asked to carry the hopes and dreams of Texas fans for the next three years.
Gilbert showed some flashes of brilliance in the game. There was one point where it looked like he was going to be sacked for sure but he was able to use his strength and athletic ability to break away and save the down.
I’m sure defensive co-coordinator Will Muschamp only had nice things to say after the game. He’s so even-keeled.
Yeah, probably not, so let's just say nice things here.
While they were far from perfect, the defense had moments where they showed the world of college football that they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Kenny Vaccaro and Keenan Robinson were both outstanding and may have both had breakout games Saturday afternoon. Vaccaro brought the big hits and Robinson made the big plays scoring the defensive hat trick—a sack, an interception, and a fumble return for a touchdown. Five-star recruit Jackson Jeffcoat also impressed in his first action as a Longhorn, recording the first sack of his career.
Texas was able to use its speed to neutralize a very talented Rice backfield. After a harrowing first drive, Texas did a good job making adjustments after a rough first drive where Rice seemed to move the ball effortlessly.
Even though this was not the thumping many had expected, there still was a lot of good for Texas to take out of the game and to build on in the coming weeks. It's nice to have a far from perfect game yet still totally dominate your opponent.
In the long run this game will just be another W in the win column and very few will remember all the many mistakes along the way like the dropped passes, the blown coverage, the bad kicking, the horrible play calling…
Sorry, need to keep it positive. Bevo looked great on the sidelines.