What more can you say about David Ash?
Forget the (admittedly very impressive) numbers for a minute: his pass to D.J. Grant on fourth-and-six in a rocking stadium was the most clutch pass the Longhorns have seen, potentially since Colt McCoy hit Quan Cosby against Ohio State. Most Longhorn fans came into this season hoping that Ash wouldn't be a detraction. But he's been outstanding and the passing game has been one of the Longhorns' strengths as the schedule has gotten harder. And don't sleep on the pass to Mike Davis, either. Sure, it was a jump ball. But the Longhorns have been looking for a player who could get the ball up in positions for their playmakers to make plays for awhile, and it appears Ash isn't shy about pulling that trigger.
Texas's receivers were WAY underrated prior to this season
This was a group that I thought had the potential to be pretty good before the season. After all, Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley and Marquise Goodwin all had 100-plus-yard games in 2011. But I didn't think they'd be this good. The three might be one of the better all-round groups in the league. Sure, West Virginia, Baylor and Texas Tech put up bigger numbers. But I'm not sure any group in the Big 12 blocks as well, while at the same time providing the vertical presence that the Longhorn receivers do. Davis and Shipley both made tremendous catches in one-on-one coverage down the field, while Goodwin converted two third downs and a fourth down play. Even true freshman Cayleb Jones saw some time in specific packages.
Longhorns get help from offensive depth
It's the fourth quarter, with Texas trailing and the season on the line. And the player getting most of the carries was … Johnathan Gray? The true freshman filled in for an injured Malcolm Brown and finished as the Longhorns' leading rusher, including five rushes for 45 yards on that key fourth-quarter drive. Backup Jeremy Hills provided a pretty nice impact as a third-down back. And when left tackle Donald Hawkins struggled, Texas rotated Luke Poehlmann at right tackle and rolled Josh Cochran to Hawkins's spot. In recent years, Texas hasn't had the kind of depth to absorb injuries or poor play. But they're getting back to that point.
Motion causes emotion
Want to know what created the Cowboys' two longest runs, a 69-yard touchdown from Joseph Randle and a 50-yard run by quarterback J.W. Walsh? On both plays, the Cowboys sent somebody into motion across the formation, creating favorable numbers and big running holes.
On Randle's touchdown, the Cowboys sent slot receiver Josh Stewart into motion to the right, with Texas linebacker following him across. When left guard Jonathan Rush double-teamed the defensive tackle, and was able to get to his outside shoulder, that created a massive hole with nobody there to plug the gap. Add in a missed play in space by safety Kenny Vaccaro and safety Adrian Phillips, and you have a touchdown.
The Longhorns didn't give up a touchdown on Walsh's run, though the drive led to one. Starting off in the shotgun, Walsh sends Randle into motion to his right, with two players actually following Randle: linebacker Dalton Santos and safety Josh Turner. That meant that Walsh actually had one more blocker than Longhorn defender on the left side (play side, in this case) of the box. The left tackle, guard and center all get a hat on a hat, with nobody allocated for either Walsh or fullback Kye Staley, his lead blocker. The wide receiver pancakes Byndom, and Staley gets a block on the first defender he reaches, safety Mykkele Thompson. Finally, Quandre Diggs, the back-side cornerback, runs him down on the sideline. Diggs was the first player to touch Walsh on the play, 50 yards downfield.
It's not unusual for motion to cause people problems. Especially with the Longhorns playing so many inexperienced linebackers. The Cowboys took advantage, gaining 119 yards on those two plays. Oklahoma State was effective through the night, rushing for 275 yards overall. But take those two plays out and it's a more manageable 4.1 yards per carry, as opposed to 6.9.
Longhorns win a close one against a good team on the road
Last year, it seemed like the Longhorns were only a few plays off from winning 10 games. And Saturday night, they made those plays. The defense, for all its issues, held Oklahoma State to a field goal when it mattered most. And the offense showed poise in driving the length of the field and scoring the game-winning touchdown. Now, Texas enters the West Virginia game with a few needed fixes, but without the downside of having to learn those lessons from a loss. Win Saturday, and Texas will enter Red River as the favored team for the first time in a few years.