Five quick hits from Texas' 21-10 win over Cal in the Holiday Bowl:
1. Turnovers proved to be key in this game. Cal had five, Texas had zero. The Longhorns only capitalized on one, turning the Bears' fourth giveaway into a touchdown on the ensuing series.
Manny Diaz deserved MVP for the way his defense played lights out football. Cal quarterback Zach Maynard was able to move his team down the field in the early goings, but once Texas got the gist of what was going on, Maynard got flustered, go-to receiver Keenan Allen became a non-factor and running back Isi Sofele was held to one of his lowest rushing totals of the year.
The Longhorns held Cal to a net of seven yards rushing on 36 attempts and sacked Maynard six times.
2. Texas' running game, originally the unit that was predicted to be the key to victory, didn't really ever establish itself. The Longhorns ran for 109 yards and freshmen phenoms Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron only accounted for 44 of those yards.
Brown's longest run of the night was a 19-yarder on Texas' first drive of the second half. Cal had come in after being down 7-3 at halftime and Allen caught three balls for first downs that resulted in the Bears taking a brief 10-7 lead. Brown jump-started the ensuing four-play drive for UT that ended up in the Longhorns taking a 14-10 lead.
Mack Brown said at Tuesday's press conference he didn't know which player would be starting at the Holiday Bowl, but when Ash was asked in the post-game press conference when he knew he'd be starting, he said he had a feeling he was going to a week before Texas left for San Diego because he was getting more reps.
Ash completed 14 of 23 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. He didn't turn the ball over once against a strong Cal defense and he was awarded MVP honors after the game.
As he got on stage to accept his award, his teammates chanted, "Speech! Speech! Speech!" It was impressive to see the young gun take the microphone and address his teammates, coaches, media and remaining fans. One thing he said at the end, "We're gonna make it to a BCS bowl soon."
Looks like he's the guy heading into the spring.
4. Texas' defense played salty. Jackson Jeffcoat had two of the team's six sacks and he, combined with Alex Okafor, were scary off the edges. Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell stuffed the run up front and Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho led the team with eight tackles apiece and a few for loss in their final game as Longhorns.
The secondary, specifically Quandre Diggs and Kenny Vaccaro, were two of the most impressive players on the field. Diggs got Texas' juices flowing early. Cal started off fast, but Diggs had two pass break ups and an interception in the first half to prevent any Maynard-Allen connection.
Vaccaro, who said after the game that he is coming back for his senior season, had three tackles, two for loss and a sack for a loss of eight yards, which was quite the acrobatic move that is one of SportsCenter's Top 10 plays of the day.
5. Imagine what this game and really this season would have been like if Marquise Goodwin didn't come back? Tonight, he played an important role, making a few big plays, including a 47-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to put Texas ahead for good.
There were a couple 40-something-yard passes that would have counted as explosive plays for the Longhorns – and strong throws by Ash – but Goodwin stepped out of bounds on both.
With a lack of depth out wide, Goodwin provided some experience and stability.
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