After starting the season off 1-2, with losses to BYU and Ole Miss, the Longhorns finally got back on the winning track Saturday night. Texas defeated the Kansas State Wildcats, 31-21 in their Big 12 opener and showed signs of improvement on both offense and more importantly defense.
The hot seat talk for head coach Mack Brown of Texas had been the main topic in the week leading up to the game against Kansas State. Brown was able to quite the critics for one week with a big win for himself and the program. Texas will have to use this sense of urgency as they progress through the season.
The offense on Saturday against the Wildcats seemed to be much more in sync with the return of starting quarterback David Ash. Ash was able to hit some big plays down field off of the play action pass. The success of the running game from Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray was huge for the Horns. Texas wanted to have a more up tempo offensive system this year, but with backs like the Longhorns have it makes it tough to go away from them.
The defense of Texas that allowed a school record 550 rushing yards in their week two loss against BYU showed major signs of improvement. The new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, that Texas brought in after the firing of Manny Diaz in week two, seems to have the guys playing with more heart and spirit. This seemed to be lacking in their two disappointing performances against BYU and Ole Miss.
The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 this season, but will need to play with that sense of urgency we saw Saturday against Kansas State and will need to stay healthy. The health was a huge problem the Horns faced last year as their top two defensive players, Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks, missed multiple games in 2012.
Saturday against the Wildcats, linebacker Hicks had to be carted off the field with an injury and the early word is that the injury could be season ending. If this is the case, the Longhorns could be starring at a repeat of the 2012 season. Hicks has appeared to be the leader of this defense the last two years, but health has had a tremendous halt on his development and playing time.
The offense for Texas put up 31 points against K State, but also has been dealing with numerous of injuries. Ash had to miss the second half with reoccurring concussion like symptoms. This led Case McCoy, most notably as being former Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy's younger brother, to lead the charge in the second half. McCoy was able to do just enough to hold on for the much needed win.
The Longhorns also have been dealing with the injury of their most explosive offensive player Daje Johnson who was injured in the opening minutes of they BYU game. Johnson's big play ability that he showed against New Mexico State in week one has been a huge loss for the Texas' offense.
The Longhorns have a bye week next week before traveling to face Iowa State on Thursday, October 3. The Cyclones always seem to be a tough test at home, but Texas certainly has the talent to make this a blowout. The heart and desire just needs to be present before they do so.
Texas showed the fans on Saturday that this season is not lost just yet win it comes to winning a Big 12 title. The national title hopes are long out the question, but the chance of representing the Big 12 in a BCS bowl game is very much alive. It will just take the same emotion and passion they displayed Saturday and carry that with them throughout the season.
The key will be getting back injured key players like Ash and Johnson on offense and stay as healthy as possible on defense. Robinson seems to be having a nice impact on the Horns defense thus far and this will have to continue if there is any hopes of a Big 12 title coming to Austin. Texas has the talent, but they will need the passion if they want to continue the success that they gained on Saturday night against the Wildcats of Kansas State.