Last year was a season to forget in Austin. Fans were witness to home losses that a Longhorn team had not suffered in many, many years. But this year things may have turned around, and once again Texas is taking care of business.
Last night Texas creamed Iowa State 37-14 in a game that was not as close as that score even indicates. Texas ran out to a 34-0 halftime lead and cruised in for the win.
This is the second straight convincing road win over teams that beat Texas at home last year.
In this win the Longhorns collected two fumbles, an interception and a blocked punt for a touchdown all in the first half. The offense was solid and balanced.
The two quarterback system has been interesting to watch so far. Case McCoy started and went seven of 12 for 110 yards. David Ash was also seven for 12 with two 40-yard plus touchdown passes.
Thus far, the shuffling in-and-out style has not appeared to hinder the production and gives opponents an extra thing to prepare for as they have to learn both quarterback’s tendencies.
As the offense grows, the imaginative play calling of new offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is becoming more evident. Without a big time quarterback or running back, the offense uses misdirection and often outright trickery to create mismatches and isolations that have resulted in big plays.
The most impressive player on the offense this far into the season has been sophomore receiver Jaxon Shipley. Against Iowa State Shipley had 141 yards receiving which included a 40 yard touchdown pass on one of those trick plays.
On this play, Fozzie Whitaker, who has been very effective running the Wildcat offense, took the snap and handed it off to Shipley. Shipley ran towards end and flipped it back to Ash. Shipley then continued downfield to collect the pass for the score.
Texas opponents can count on a handful of these sort of plays every game.
The team has been better up front and is trying to establish a more physical presence. Malcolm Brown looks like the real deal at running back, but is still just a freshman. The line play has also improved, which would be expected for a team that has scored 86 points combined the last two weeks.
On defense, new coordinator Manny Diaz has put a fire and energy into the squad. The turnovers they created in the first half put this game out of reach by half time. The defense kept Texas in the BYU game while the offense struggled to gain its identity. But the last two weeks both sides of the ball have been stellar.
This may be just in time as the schedule picks up. Texas plays Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in back to back weeks.
It is unclear how they will perform against two Top 10 teams in successive weeks, but it is clear that this team has a new identity and energy that make them fun to watch again.