Longhorns scoring in bunches
Texas using offensive diversity to light up the scoreboard this season
AUSTIN, Texas -- In the wake of all the oohing and aahing over West Virginia's Gatling gun offense, there is one fact that has very nearly become drowned out by the Mountaineers' 70-point performance.
Texas put 66 on the board just two weeks earlier.
In fact, in the past two games, Texas has scored 107 points. West Virginia has managed a measly 101.
Added Texas hybrid back D.J. Monroe: "We have fast guys, too. They've got to stop our fast guys as well."
To date, no one has stopped Texas' fast guys. Sure, there have been moments and certain facets of Texas' offense that have been slowed. Oklahoma State stymied the run game through the first three quarters. But that just played right into Texas' hand.
"Our guys are understanding that a 4-yard run is a good play," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "And that 4-yard run turns into a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter."
But it is the explosive pass plays that have separated this Texas offense from its recent predecessors.
"The whole offense is in sync now for the past two weeks, I think, for the first time in a long time," Brown said. "I don't know what kicked in at Ole Miss and then carried over. But the offensive staff has a lot of confidence now in who we are and what we are doing."
What Texas has been able to do is establish the identity it talked about for the entire offseason. There is enough talent and depth to be a hard-nosed running team, enough speed and skill at wide receiver to go vertical, and enough diversity to keep the defense off balance.
The Longhorns have five consistent running threats with Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, Monroe and Daje Johnson. Then, at any time, the Longhorns can run plays on which Marquise Goodwin gets the ball on handoff and goes 69 yards for a touchdown like he did against Ole Miss. Plus, quarterback David Ash can get out and run. He had a 49-yard run for a touchdown against Wyoming -- on a fourth down, no less.
Added to that talent is the commitment to running the ball.
"Sometimes in the past we have given up on the run game, and [co-offensive coordinator] Bryan Harsin didn't do it," Mack Brown said. "And we made those yards in the fourth quarter and the last two drives [against Oklahoma State]."
Texas rushed for 77 of its 136 yards Saturday in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns scored 13 in that frame as well.
"We ran it late to dominate the game," Brown said. "When you let someone be two-dimensional, your whole playbook is there. They wouldn't allow Oklahoma State to make us one-dimensional even though it wasn't easy. They kept working it and working it."
Texas will do much of the same against West Virginia.
"We will provide some different formations than what Baylor did as far as being in heavier sets," Harsin said. "They will have to adjust to that, and we will run the ball, and that is what we do."
Clearly the passing game has become one on which the Longhorns can lean. While Texas has not shown depth at receiver, it has shown playmakers. Mike Davis grabbed a 32-yard pass inside the Oklahoma State 5-yard line to set up the winning score Saturday.
That's not a catch he would have made last season, Brown said. Especially after dropping one earlier in the game.
Goodwin has vertical speed -- so much so that he drew a pass interference on a deep pass again -- but has shown the ability to go over the middle and become a possession receiver. And Jaxon Shipley had three touchdowns, leads the team with 17 receptions and has Ash talking about how he has not gotten him the ball as much as he should.
"They are very explosive and aggressive and tough," Harsin said. "They are guys who can make plays."
Coupled with that is the fact West Virginia has been a defense that cannot make plays, especially against the pass. The Mountaineers' are No. 118 nationally in pass defense, allowing 352.75 yards per game.
Given that, and the fact that Texas is ninth in the country in scoring offense (47.25) and West Virginia is third (53), there could be a few more oohs and aahs when it comes to the scoreboard Saturday night.
"The sky is the limit," Davis said.