- David Ubben, College Football
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Record: 4-2, 1-2 Big 12
Just about everyone thought the Longhorns would have the Big 12's best defense, but that unit's shortcomings have been the biggest development of the first half of the season, as well as the biggest reason for the Longhorns having two losses already.
Defensive linemen Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor have been productive and about as good as advertised, but tackling issues have plagued the rest of the unit and negated the development of sophomore quarterback David Ash, who has looked like a new man and had Texas' offense humming before suffering a wrist injury in Saturday's 63-21 loss to Oklahoma.
The secondary has been a disappointment, but the biggest hole has been at linebacker, where inexperience and injuries are showing up in painful ways for the Longhorns, who are giving up 5.14 yards a carry. That's the worst mark in the Big 12 and 111th nationally. There's a whole lot to fix on defense.
Despite the offensive struggles, you can't ignore what David Ash has done to this point, though it may be Case McCoy's show for awhile entering the second half of the season. He's thrown 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions and ranks 17th nationally in passer rating. The running game has been solid, too. The Longhorns are fourth in the Big 12 in rushing offense. Surviving without Ash is the biggest task awaiting the second half of the season, though. The onus for doing that has to be on the defense.
Offensive MVP: David Ash, QB. Ash was money in a huge win at Oklahoma State, and though an injury against Oklahoma and some struggles against Oklahoma have marred his season, he's still completing 72 percent of his passes and his decision-making is much, much better than a year ago. He's already accounted for 1,389 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and three picks. Ash's wrist isn't fractured, but how much, if any, time will he miss?
Defensive MVP: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE. He narrowly edges out his almost equally productive teammate, Alex Okafor. Jeffcoat's been all over the place, though, scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery against West Virginia and currently sits in second in the Big 12 in both tackles for loss (9.5) and third in the Big 12 in sacks (4.0). You could make a case for either of these guys, but at least Okafor will keep playing. Jeffcoat is out for the season after tearing his pectoral.
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2dJake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon