First games are educational (unless you happen to be the Alabama Crimson Tide) which is why most college football teams try to play, shall we say, lightweights before facing off against their conference foes. Listen to Head Coach Mack Brown: "Opening games are hard. They scare you to death."
The Texas Longhorns showed flashes of what they can be this season and those flashes should get fans pretty excited. The Texas Longhorn football team is just fine thank you very much. Yes, they started a little slow, and yes we hope that will be a first game jitters kind of thing and not a perpetual problem as we've seen in seasons past. But the Longhorns have a defense to be envied and feared, and they have one of the nation's best running attacks that is only getting better. Finally, they have a quarterback who at the very least knows enough to protect the football, not make stupid mistakes and let the horses behind him run out of the stable at full gallop.
The Wyoming Cowboys may not challenge the AP rankings, but nor are they lightweights. They're picked to win their Mountain West conference and they have a star sophomore quarterback in Brett Smith. So let's take a look at some of the insight learned by coaches and fans.
Texas defense started slow, but at times they dominated. Two gorgeous interceptions, the first by Kenny Vaccarro just looked pro. Vaccarro came underneath a deep route, jumped about a mile high and pulled down the Smith pass setting up Texas second TD. The second, by Carringtom Byndom was set up by Vaccarro's biltz pressure. It was a great test of the defensive backfield which gave up 276 yards to Smith.
Wyoming relies on the pass, Texas held them to just 69 yards rushing. Still, wouldn't it be nice to just once not see Texas get burned with a 80 yard pass? It was actually 82 yards off a flare from Smith to Herron who outran everyone on the field. Still, this secondary is the strength of the defense and free safety Kenny Vaccarro should get Longhorn Nation's heart pounding as he played lights out disrupting Smith on the blitz, making an interception and five tackles.
Texas highly touted defensive ends did not dissappoint either. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor had 11 tackles between them and Okafor registered his first sack.
It took a scare to bring out the best in the defense. That 82-yard touchdown pass? It put Wyoming in the lead at the end of the first quarter, 9-7. Wyoming tallied 178 yards of offense in the first quarter, the Texas defense held the Cowboys to 167 yards the rest of the game. That all adds up to an outstanding performance against a decent Wyoming football team.
Again a slow start, although the offense woke up much faster than the defense. After three plays and out to start the game and a Wyoming field goal, the offense woke up and drove 68 yards down the field. Joe Bergeron ended the drive pounding the ball over the goal line from a yard out.
As expected Texas punished the Wyoming defense with 280 yards rushing. Both Bergeron and Malcolm Brown ran for over 100 yards. Texas ran the ball almost 50 times. Johnathan Gray made his freshman debut to cheers. Gray is not the man this year... yet. But he will see more action. "We feel like that we can run the ball well right now, and should be able to run it against anybody. We're really confident with our running game, but they came in trying to stop the run because they gave up so many rushing yards last year," explained Brown.
Quarterback David Ash did what was expected, in other words, he didn't mess anything up. Ash completed 75 percent of his passes, but the longest went for only 16 yards. Ash did badly under throw a couple of long passes, one in particular to Mike Davis after Davis had managed to break free. "We need to hit on some of those deep passes," said Brown. 'We had pass interference on one of them. We had a couple other deep balls that were just missed. I've seen us complete them in practice. We've got to make that transition to the game."
Jaxon Shipley was his normal spectacular self making a 19 yeard diving catch for the touchdown that put Texas in the lead for good.
Two missed field goals, one from 46 yards out and one from 44. Freshman Nick Jacobs caught a case of the yips, but he made all his PATs and kicked one good from 31 yards. Jacobs will be fine. He was playing because Penn State transfer Anthony Fera is hurt.
The stars of special teams might be freshman Alex King who averaged over 53 yards per punt and Nick Rose, a kickoff specialist who regularly put the ball at the Wyoming goal line. It's been a few years sine the Horns could reliably kick the ball into the end zone.
Mack Brown likes what he saw. "I feel good. I wanted to get mad some. You give up an 80-yard run after the catch, and we can fix that. Those are things that we can fix. It's good that the offense had success tonight throwing and running because that will boost their confidence a little bit going into next week."
Next week New Mexico comes into town. That game will be a chance for Texas to get their younger players some experience as it's unlikely the starters will be in long.Yeah, New Mexico is not very good.