Thanks to Johnathan Gray having a strong day on the ground and David Ash not making any foolish mistakes, the pressure is slightly off of Mack Brown to turn in the keys to the Texas Football program, although it wasn’t convincing enough to make anyone think that this season is going to end with optimism and plenty of smiles.
Texas beat Kansas State 31-21 thanks to a stronger than usual defense and especially a very strong running game, as Johnathan Gray ran for 141 yards and scored a couple of touchdowns, Texas’ first 100-yard rusher on the season. The defense was probably the even more surprising aspect of the win, as Texas forced three turnovers in the second half and limited Kansas State to only 115 yards, averaging 3 yards per carry.
You always want to start the conference off right. We wanted to prove a point and hit them in the mouth. We came out fired up. This was a team we hadn’t beaten in a while. I said I’m going to be doing everything I can do to beat Kansas State. I haven’t heard one word of it. This can be a really good football team before we finish.
The Longhorns managed to avoid their first 1-3 start since 1956, while ending a five-game losing streak to Kansas State, who look like a shadow of the team that was one loss away from being ranked at the number one spot in the nation and playing for the BCS title last season.
David Ash played for most of the game after being cleared before the game, although Case McCoy still got some time on the field. Ash, obviously the superior quarterback but not someone who has made anyone too confident about his ability to bring Texas into a BCS bowl in the remaining two years he has in Austin, finished with 14-of-25 for 166 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t commit any turnovers, but was shaken up a few times by the Wildcats defense.
Eventually, the big key was the running game and defense, as Texas outgained Kansas State by 112 yards on the ground. Texas is now 51-2 in the last 10 seasons when having a rushing margin of +112 yards. The two losses? Against Kansas State in 2006 and 2011.
The defense, and the ability to slow down the KSU running game was more important than anything else. Texas were allowing at least five yards before first contact on a third of their opponents 155 carries. Against Kansas State, it was halted at only 7 out of 38. Instead of giving up 3.5 yards before first contact, they allowed only 1.3. Kansas State averaged 4.9 per carry entering the game, and the Texas defense, giving up an AQ Conferences worst 130.3 yards after contact this season limited them to only 3 yards per carry.
Mack Brown doesn’t have a championship team being built under his hands, but he may have a point about fans being fickle and criticism being too harsh. There’s still time to make this season a happy one, or at least as decent as the previous one, ending with a bowl game win an nine victories. Unless the Oklahoma game turns out to be another blowout, he might have a point in keeping the optimistic spirit alive.