I just wanted to get these thoughts up just after re-watching the BYU game. I’ll have more later from the Big Cigar and The Asset with some "aftermath" themed pieces and hopefully some forward looking tidbits. I can tell you this, after speaking with three of my sources on the car ride home from Austin I can tell you everyone’s pretty jazzed about the direction of the program. But more on that later…
Speaking of The Asset, another cap tip for the information about the Jaxon Shipley to David Ash connection that helped ice the game. If you haven’t figured it out already, that was the redacted portion of last week’s report. The Horns had worked on that exact play last week, and if you watch the game closely the staff used two or three plays over the course of the game to set up said trickeration. Bryan Harsin is a witch, folks. We are all witnesses.
I think we’ve found our defensive tackle to go alongside Kheeston Randall on run downs and against power teams. Ashton Dorsey played out of his mind against a very good Cougar offensive front. He had TFL’s, a sack, and for the most part established a new line of scrimmage on the majority of plays. Desmond Jackson and Greg Daniels had good games as well and both had plays that jumped off the tape. The DT position just may become a position of strength if you can believe it.
The linebackers, with the exception of a blown coverage by Acho in the second quarter, dominated like no other Longhorn LB unit in recent memory. Hicks and Robinson both made half a dozen special plays to suffocate the Cougars, holding them to under 100 yards in the second half. If you still don’t think the Horns have the best front seven in the Big 12 you aren't paying attention.
If the front seven assessment doesn’t have you fired up then the play of this young Longhorn secondary should. Byndom and Diggs may not be "all grows up" just yet but they’re damn close. Byndom is playing a very physical brand of football when we all knew he could cover. Quandre Diggs is blanketing good receivers when we all knew he was physical. Diggs had the big interception in the second half and Byndom would have had another pick if Heap didn’t throw into the tightest of windows on BYU’s opening drive. They both tackled well and hit like fourth year players. Adrian Phillips was just as productive with physical play all over the field and a pick as well. Vaccaro is Vaccaro which is great, and so is Blake Gideon which may not be. All in all, this unit will only get better as they continue to get snaps and pelts under their belt. These guys balled out Saturday night. If you really want to have fun, project the two deep for the secondary two seasons from now. I recommend this as a substitute for "thinking about baseball".
At Oline, I thought Mason Walters and Trey Hopkins had really good games against a front seven with some NFL talent. Espinosa struggled at center some, especially when BYU lined up with a nose tackle. Espinosa makes his hay with leverage and mobility so it’ll be interesting to see if future opponents start lining up a tackle head up with Dom. He may need to get Mark Stepnowski on the line. I’ll let Longhorn Scott drill down there. The good news is that Texas won’t play many opponents with the talent BYU has on the interior. In fact I’ll argue this is the best front 7 Texas faces all season. At tackle, I’m intrigued by Kelley and Hopkins moving here especially with Allen struggling in pass pro. These guys manned the tackle spots on our last TD drive. Maybe Allen moving to guard can light a fire under Snow who was pretty average on Saturday. Clearly the right side of the line is the strength of this unit.
The running back position should be settled at this point after Malcolm Brown’s performance. He didn’t have any cheap yards in this ballgame and still averaged 5 yards a tote. Brown gets the job done with a unique combination of power, vision, balance, and feet that has to be frustrating for defenses, even high caliber fronts like BYU. He needs to start testing the 20 carry level and soon. Cody Johnson ran harder than he has in a while which may because it was his late brother’s birthday this Saturday. He trucked two or three BYU defenders in short yardage and goal line with the only blemish being the 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter we couldn’t convert. Berryhill had another effective outing as a lead blocker.
DJ Monroe as the lightning to Mal Brown’s thunder had his best performance as a Longhorn. He ran hard and didn’t go down as easily as he has in the past. He’s a difference maker on the edge for us and he’ll only get better as he gets more touches more consistently—especially in the Ash package.
At receiver, the picture is starting to get much clearer. We know what Mike Davis gives us. The early coming of age of Jaxon Shipley is a welcome sight as well. Is this kid not Lance Alworth? His hurdling of Cougar defenders on the second to last drive had me pulling up old YouTube clips of the San Diego Charger aptly nick-named "Bambi". Who knew Jaxon had an arm to boot? (Answer: The Asset)
John Harris needs to start taking snaps from Darius White next weekend. Harris is our best blocking wideout and it’s not close. He handled a BYU linebacker on DJ Monroe’s run to the goal line in the third quarter. Overall, he’s always giving great effort as a blocker with wildly successful results. Darius White, on the other hand, shows very little in the run game and has yet to make a play for his QB in the passing game. The lone downfield throw from Ash being the case in point. Was it the most accurate throw? No, but an above average college wideout makes that catch. I’m all for Miles Onyegbule working his way into the mix until Darius wakes up, but John Harris definitely needs more snaps now that we’re going to be more of a running team.
And finally there’s the QB position. This site has been the leading edge in terms of reporting on the QB position for the last nine months and we’re not going to stop now. So here’s the deal. David Ash gives this team the best chance to win bar none. I get that the staff wants to bring him along slowly but that time might have come and gone now that Garret Gilbert is struggling. Case McCoy has not shown himself to be the answer in practice to this point according to The Asset, and I saw very little in this game to make me think McCoy the younger is anything more than a stop gap until Ash gets up to speed. Ash is a true dual threat quarterback who not only has better arm strength than Case, but has shown to be more accurate in practice than Case as well.
In other words, Ash is the future. And all of a sudden the future is now.
Get him more reps in practice and in games throwing the football. As for the Ash package vs. BYU, I thought Ash played solid with the exception of some poor decisions on read/option plays. Frankly, I thought he kept the rock too much and should have gotten Brown and Monroe the ball a bit more in some of these looks. Still, there’s no denying the team responds to Ash and his fearless attitude. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a hell of a talent.
Overall, this win is going to lead to bigger and better things for the program. We’ll get the correct guy under center sooner, and we didn’t have to endure a confidence sapping loss to get there. The toughest decision has been made, and it didn't cost us anything. Now is the time to capitalize.