Five Things I Think

Five things I think after Saturday's victory over Nebraska in Lincoln.

* For all the heat Greg Davis takes, encouraging quarterback Garrett Gilbert to run against Nebraska was a masterstroke. With the way the Cornhuskers defensive backs shut down Texas's receivers, allowing just one catch, the Longhorns needed something to keep the defense honest and allow the line and running backs to move the ball. Gilbert responded well, helping to set up Texas's first 10 points. In a game dominated by defense, that early advantage was the difference.

* Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was right after the game that the Longhorns didn't do anything complicated in shutting down 'Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez. But that didn't make it any less impressive. Longhorn players were consistently in the right place, wrapped him up and hit him with multiple guys. The numbers (21 yards on 13 carries) were impressive defensively, and even more impressive when you figure in that Martinez darted for 14 yards on one run in the first quarter.

* If Cody Johnson is feeling any ill effects of his ankle injury, he didn't show it Saturday. Johnson showed it all, pounding ahead physically and displaying a burst not seen from the bruising junior after his second carry of the season. Johnson's 73 yards marked the highest number put up by a Texas back this season. The added carries for Johnson (11 carries) and Tré Newton (10) meant that speedster D.J. Monroe didn't get any touches. But the duo took those 21 carries for 114 yards, so no complaints here. Kudos also go out to the offensive line, for not just creating holes early, but also when the Longhorns needed to run out the clock late.

* Texas's next-man-up mentality paid off in a big way with the play from true freshmen Jordan Hicks and Adrian Phillips. The Longhorns hold their backups to a high standard, and consistently tell those players that they must be ready to jump in at any time. An athletic safety, Phillips has been a special teams standout. But neither he, nor HIcks, had received many reps in the flow of the defense so far this year. That they were prepared to not just play, but make an impact speaks both to their character and to their coaches' preparation.

* The win was somewhat bittersweet. The sweet was obvious: the Longhorns not only beat a top-10 team on the road, but held that team without an offensive touchdown and held a 20-3 lead before a pair of mistakes allowed Nebraska to close the final margin to 20-13. But the bitter was that Texas is now through the toughest part of its schedule, and while a 4-2 record isn't the end of the world, Texas certainly was capable of better. This is a team that, despite its inexperience in certain spots, could have been 6-0 at this point and aimed at another potential BCS Title Game berth. Instead, Texas will have to fight to get to a BCS bowl.


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