1) More emphasis on the running game. OK, so the Longhorns can't simply line up and run it on every down. But the Longhorns achieved such a great balance through three quarters against Oklahoma State that it was easy to see just how effective Texas can be in that respect. The fourth quarter, not so much. Texas had a third-and-goal from the three and threw the ball twice, and the Longhorns didn't give the ball to a running back from the 11:20 mark on. Not surprisingly, things went tougher for quarterback David Ash at that point. Running the ball does a lot of things, from tiring out the opposing defense to giving your defense a breather. But most importantly, for this year's Texas squad, it represents a low-risk way to get the ball into the hands of some of the Longhorns' best playmakers, and takes the pressure off their young quarterbacks. Speaking of which ...
2) Pick a QB, any QB. Here at LonghornDigest.com, we prefer David Ash because he gives you the ability to make every throw, and seems to have the better upside. But we also wouldn't mind Case McCoy for the intangibles and leadership that he brings. JUST. PICK. ONE. And I'm not talking about picking one for one game, then when he fails going to the next. Quarterbacks operate the best when they don't feel a hook coming in behind them to pull them back behind the curtain. So pick one, support him, and run the ball until he can find his footing.
3) More young players on the offensive line. Josh Cochran started his first game as a Longhorn, and had a seemingly boffo performance. And the Texas coaches have insisted that Sedrick Flowers is finally catching up after fighting through some injuries. That's great. Now let's see him on the field. Flowers and Cochran give the Longhorns two players the likes of which they don't really have in the starting lineup. Cochran is the only true tackle among that group, while Flowers is one of the few elite athletes on the interior (Trey Hopkins would count here, except that he's forced to play tackle). Both can only upgrade what the Longhorns already have. And while we're here, kudos to offensive line coach Stacy Searels for upping this unit's toughness.
4) More Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs. Cobbs is just now coming back from injury, and it's just in time: the Longhorns could use him. The player described by his fellow linebackers as the fastest linebacker in the country could be the missing link in terms of the linebacker blitzes finding the quarterback. So far, they've been just a hair slow getting there. Maybe Cobbs' speed is the missing ingredient. And Edmond is one of the truly destructive players (in a good way, if he's playing for your team) that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has at his disposal. Edmond fills his gap with a nastiness and power that can't be replicated, and it could be part of the answer toward shutting down opposing big plays in run situations. Even beyond that, both players need experience in that they'll be called on next year after Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson leave.
5) More Reggie Wilson … or whoever can get to the quarterback. In somewhat of a continuation from the above one, the Longhorns have struggled to get to the passer. While the blitzes not connecting are a concern, it's also a big concern that defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat have had just two sacks on the year (both Okafor's). Jeffcoat has been making more plays in the running game, so maybe Wilson can become a run/pass swap with him. In the spring and through fall camp, several players mentioned Wilson as the hardest to block in passing situations, yet that hasn't led to more playing time. Sometimes, you just have to put the guy on the field for more extended periods and see what he can do.