Longhorns find their offense

Who knew it was in Oxford, Miss? Texas racks up 676 yards, 66 points in rout

Updated: September 16, 2012, 10:44 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

OXFORD, Miss. -- Welcome to the Big 12 Ole Miss.

And, Texas, a welcome to you as well.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Spruce Derden/US PresswireDavid Ash and the Texas offense made big play after big play Saturday, getting it ready for the gunslinging Big 12.
Yep, for the first time in quite some time, the Longhorns behaved like they belonged in the wide-open, high-scoring, rooten-tootenist conference that side of the Mississippi River, as the No. 14 Longhorns (3-0) rolled to a 66-31 win over Ole Miss (2-1) in front of 61,797 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night.

"They now know they can hold their own," Texas coach Mack Brown said of his offense.

Now when it comes to Texas, there appears to at least be some bridging of the gap between its offense and that of its opponent in two weeks, Oklahoma State. Not just because of the point total, which was the highest since the Longhorns scored 66 against Kansas in 2005 and the most Ole Miss has given up since 1917 (when it lost 69-7 to Sewanee). It was the manner in which Texas scored those points.

Hold onto your Stetson here, but Texas actually went deep ... more than once. Quarterback David Ash hit on passes of 55, 47, 46 and 45 yards. The more cynical might note that three of those passes were woefully underthrown. The more optimistic might note that the receivers at Texas are now coached to adjust to just such a throw. (See Marquise Goodwin's 55-yard TD in the fourth quarter.)

"I think I mastered the underthrow," Ash said.

He mastered a few other things as well. Ash threw for a personal-best 326 yards and four touchdowns on 19 of 23 passing. So what if a few throws were short? It worked with aplomb against the Rebels.

So what that a pass interference penalty was called on one of the aforementioned deep throws? When things are rolling, they are rolling.

As for rolling with this offense into the Big 12, there is little reason to suspect Texas won't do just that. At least against Oklahoma State. Remember, for all the points the Cowboys have scored, they did allow 59 points to Arizona.

"Each guy did their job, and when that happens it's amazing what can happen," Ash said. "We finally took advantage of the opportunities that had been there in the first two games. And then I had some guys out there make plays."

Of course, there is the drawback that Texas has a bye week. While normally that might be seen as a benefit, it could be construed as a hazard given the Longhorns' penchant for tinkering. But there might not be that much offensive film watched. Not with all the defense miscues.

That side of the ball had the sort of confusing narration and misguided characters more commonly associated with a Faulkner novel. There was Quandre Diggs missing tackles. Carrington Byndom misplaying the ball in the air. Demarco Cobbs running the wrong way, albeit fast, but the wrong way just the same.

Although Brown was not overly or at least overtly worried.

"Hard to be concerned when you are at 66-31," he said.

True, there were also the three picks, one returned for a score by Steve Edmond, as well as five sacks in the first half while the game was still relevant.

Then again.

"The film never says whether you win or lose," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. "It's just a stack of plays you have to correct."

There were plenty of those. Ole Miss scored on a 75-yard pass play and had plays of 48, 36 and 30 as well as 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

"Our resume right now says we are a defense that will give up big plays," Diaz said.

At least now the offense has a complimentary resume that reads it can make big plays. And just in the nick of time, with actual Big 12 play starting in two weeks.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation