Trey Hopkins

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Senior left guard Trey Hopkins knew little of losing when he first arrived at Texas.

He enjoyed a stellar career at North Shore Senior High School in Houston from 2007 through 2010, where he helped lead the Mustangs to an impressive 42-8 record.

Although Hopkins expected similar results at the college level when he committed to Texas, the Longhorns have gone just 25-18 in his tenure. Despite this, the senior remains pleased with his career at Texas so far.

“It’s been different, but I think it’s been worthwhile,” Hopkins said. “I came from a [high school] program where winning was easy. It was never anything to think about. It was almost the same thing at Texas, but now we’ve really gone through the process where there’s really more to go into winning than just showing up.”

Hopkins realized the need to ramp up practice habits and improve weekly preparation once he arrived at college. He believes the increased work ethic and ability to overcome adversity that he adopted at Texas continues to mold him for the future.

“That’s a lesson that a lot of guys can take from this place,” Hopkins said. “Things aren’t going to come easy for us like a lot of our high school programs did. It’s really taught me how important preparation is as opposed to just what jersey you are wearing.”

Hopkins refuses to look too far ahead, though. The Longhorns stand in an early tie for first in the Big 12 with a 2-0 record, and the senior figures to be an enormous part of Texas’ run at a conference title.

At 6-foot-4-inches and 300 pounds, Hopkins possesses ideal size and athleticism for an offensive lineman. While he plays most of his snaps at left guard, head coach Mack Brown believes Hopkins’ ability to play all five positions on the line, coupled with his consistency, makes him an invaluable part of the Texas offense. 

“Trey is a guy that is kind of an unsung hero,” Brown said. “He does the same thing every week. He plays great, he’s really smart and he doesn’t make any mental errors. He can play all five spots. He’s just been a really good football player for us.”

In addition to his on-field prowess, Hopkins impacts the Longhorns as a leader in the locker room. While he refrains from rowdy speeches to amp up his teammates, the senior takes it upon himself to ensure the entire roster remains focused on the same objectives.

“My leadership role is more of the big picture guy,” Hopkins said. “I’m not the big rah-rah guy. I don’t make the speeches everyday, but I will address something. I’ll speak for the whole senior class if there’s something being repeated over and over again.”

Fellow linemen believe his leadership is instrumental in helping younger linemen adapt to the position. Senior right guard Mason Walters remembers Hopkins playing a major role in the growth of junior college transfer Donald Hawkins last season, and he said the Longhorns know what to expect each week from the left guard.

“He plays very consistent,” Walters said. “He’s got such a unique, good frame for an offensive lineman — extremely long arms, rangy and he moves really well in space. I think one of the things most telling about Trey is that when Donald Hawkins first got here, he didn’t know the offense. Trey really helped him out because he had such a great understanding of things.”

When the Longhorns battled injuries along the line earlier in the season, Hopkins helped maintain order in the trenches. His accountability both on the field and in the locker room continues to make him one of Texas’ most valuable players, and his contributions to the Longhorns this season remain undeniable.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Cedric Reed blew through the line and slapped a paw from his 6-foot-6-inch frame at Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters. The ball bounded away for a second until defensive tackle Chris Whaley pounced on it with under a minute remaining.

With that, the Longhorn crowd exploded.

Cheers rained down on a Longhorn defense that had finally performed up to expectations, and seconds later the wake of the season’s first inspired “Texas! Fight!” could be heard across Austin.

Why not celebrate after all?

The fumble sealed a Longhorn win, moving them to 1-0 in conference play and, at least for a week, muzzled the fire-Mack-Brown talk. Texas sits at 2-2 on the season, and the players just looked relieved to win.

“This win specifically, after all that we went through the past few weeks, is a great one,” senior offensive guard Trey Hopkins said.

The team’s respite was palpable after the game. Carrington Byndom and Case McCoy spent their entire press conference sharing inside jokes, and even soft-spoken co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite cracked a one-liner that sent around ripples of laughter.

Texas enjoyed the win, and rightfully so. It went through one of the toughest stretches a group can have emotionally during the past 

few weeks, and as a human, it’s more than acceptable that the group basks in their victory.

But, as always, perspective is needed. It was up to Brown to provide it.

The 16-year veteran at Texas had a smile spread across his lips. Yet, when questions peppered him about the future of the team, he relented. This win is just the first step.

“This is a start, this isn’t the end,” Brown said. “We had to get this game tonight.  We had to get back on the right track.  We had to get 1-0 against the Big 12 champs from last year .”

Brown’s right — it certainly is just the beginning. Texas still has eight games remaining against one of the deepest conferences in America. The team’s stated goal is a Big 12 title, and despite the win, the way it played on Saturday isn’t good enough to run the table.

Texas played admirably after the loss of David Ash and Jordan Hicks, but a 10-point win at home against a rebuilding Wildcat team doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. 

Lost in the shuffle of the win were the Nick Saban 2014 T-shirts sprinkled throughout the stands, and the school’s reluctance to show Brown on the big screen. But that’s OK, the negatives don’t always have to shine.

The players want to bask in the glow of the win, as they should. But it’s a telling sign. Would the 2005 or 2009 Longhorns celebrate with this vigor over an un-ranked Kansas State squad?

Simply, no.

And that’s all you need to know about the eventual result of this season.

The Longhorns offensive line suffered two considerable blows last Saturday when senior right guard Mason Walters and junior right tackle Josh Cochran left the game against Ole Miss in the first half after sustaining injuries.

Walters (knee) and Cochran (shoulder) each entered the week listed as questionable for Saturday’s Big 12 opener against Kansas State. While the Texas coaches remain hopeful that both veteran linemen can suit up against the Wildcats, they realize that neither should be expected to play the entire game.

Sophomores Sedrick Flowers and Kennedy Estelle filled in admirably against Ole Miss after Walters and Cochran went down, and they both figure to be a major part of the game plan again this week. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said that while both Flowers and Estelle have room to improve, he expects each to step up again this week when needed.

“We’ll need both of those guys to step up and play well for us Saturday night against a good defensive front,” Applewhite said. “They did some good things. Obviously there’s going to be some plays you want back in the game, but overall I thought Kennedy and Sedrick did some really good things when they’re in there.”

Head coach Mack Brown listed Estelle as the starter at right tackle on the depth chart on Monday, while Flowers remained behind Walters at right guard. That said, both should receive considerable playing time this week, and senior left guard Trey Hopkins is excited to see what the sophomores can do.

 “We’re upset whenever one of our starters goes down but I’m excited for guys like that to get an opportunity to play,” Hopkins said. “I think they both stepped up pretty good. They’re both young and haven’t played that much in game situations, especially Kennedy. I think he’s really working hard this week in practice to really pinpoint what he needs to get
better with.”

With the offensive line potentially losing the experience of Walters and Cochran this week, sophomore running back Johnathan Gray believes it is up to the Longhorns’ veteran starters to limit mistakes on the field and help ease Flowers and Estelle into the lineup.

“With those guys down, we have to do a better job of being more focused and have less mental errors when they get hurt and new guys come in,” Gray said. “We definitely have to get the job done and can’t lose a step.”

Regardless, Hopkins remains optimistic that Walters and Cochran will line up to his right on Saturday, and he believes they are doing everything in their power to play against
Kansas State.

“I’m very confident that they’re going to do whatever they need to do to get back on the field,” Hopkins said. “I know they’re very dedicated to doing whatever they need to. They both love playing this game they wish they were in the game with us last week. I know they’re going to fight as hard as they can and do whatever’s in their will to get back out there.”

If they remain inactive, though, the Longhorns believe both Flowers and Estelle are highly capable of filling the void, and they do not expect the offensive line to miss a beat. 

Senior guard Trey Hopkins fields questions at last month's Big 12 Media Days. One of five returning starters on Texas' offensive line, Hopkins can play guard, tackle or center if needed.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

As Texas employs its revamped up-tempo offense for the first time on night, much of the focus will be on how quickly the Texas skill players can get down the field and score.

While the running backs and receivers prepared all offseason for offensive coordinator Major Applewhite’s scheme, the offensive linemen could very well be the ones forced to make the biggest adjustment.

The linemen have spent the offseason sprinting to the line between plays and practicing getting the snap off quickly in order to keep the fast-paced offense in rhythm. Senior guard Trey Hopkins said that quarterback David Ash is adamant on running through plays as quickly as possible to keep defenders on their toes, and he believes that the difference will be evident in Week 1.

“I feel like we have David pushing us in the backfield saying ‘Come on, let’s get up to the line,’” Hopkins said. “We’re really limiting the amount of time, squeezing every last second out of the amount of time we can get from snap to snap. I think that’s something that will be really noticed in the season.”

Hopkins joins fellow senior Mason Walters as a starter at guard for the first game at left guard, with Dominic Espinosa lining up at center. Josh Cochran and Donald Hawkins bookend the line as the starting tackles.

Junior college transfer Desmond Harrison recently received clearance to practice after being deemed ineligible due to taking a course through BYU over the summer. Despite Harrison’s lack of practice time, head coach Mack Brown expects the junior to see considerable playing time at left tackle against New Mexico State.

“We still expect him to play quite a bit on Saturday night,” Brown said. “We’re just going to put him out there and turn him loose. We still feel like he needs to be out there and he needs to continue working on his conditioning and learn what to do and be ready to go by the time we get to Big 12 play for sure.”

The Longhorns’ veteran line figures to be among the best in the conference due to its depth and experience. Even though Texas only allowed 16 sacks last season, Hopkins wants the team to play with greater consistency and dominance in 2013.

“Our goal for the offense line is to be dominant in every phase,” Hopkins said. “I think last year we had glimpses of where we were dominant against certain opponents or we had a really great run game or we had really great protection one game but could never really sustain that throughout the whole season and that’s one thing we have as our goal is to maintain consistency throughout the season no matter who our opponent is.”

Junior running back Joe Bergeron believes that the offensive linemen work well together, and this should help open for holes for him in the running game come Saturday.

“All of them are in sync,” Bergeron said. “All of them are working together. All of them are communicating better. It definitely it is a good feeling knowing that you’re going to hit in one place, and just like you practiced you should hit in
the game.”

The Longhorns offense expects to score early and often under the new offensive scheme, and the continuity and depth of the offensive line is a major part of that.

Texas head coach Mack Brown talks to seniors Adrian Phillips and Jackson Jeffcoat at the Big 12 Media Days last week.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

DALLAS — Some changes are coming to the 40 Acres this fall as the Longhorns enter fall workouts. 

Last week’s Big 12 Media Days in Dallas highlighted several important changes that fans would see in the upcoming football season. Head coach Mack Brown was enthusiastic about junior David Ash’s cemented role as the starting quarterback and the Longhorns’ new up-tempo offense.

In addition, the Longhorns will have to get used to a new controversial rule regarding targeting.

For the first time in his career, Ash won’t be entering fall workouts in the middle of a quarterback controversy. 

“We’re so excited to have David with experience, with maturity,” Brown said. “We think we’ve got better players around him now. We should be better in the offensive line. He is much more confident.” 

Ash has been in a battle with teammate Case McCoy for the starting spot ever since he stepped on campus. However, after his performance in last year’s Alamo Bowl, the team has not questioned his ability to lead. 

“He’s doing an outstanding job,” said senior offensive guard Trey Hopkins. “He’s more comfortable as a leader. He’s doing a job just communicating with each and every player. The respect was building after that Oregon State game.” 

Even though he has no current competition, Ash is still in the media spotlight and will enter the season with a target on his back. Expectations of championships surround him. 

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t want to be in a place where 9-4 is a good season,” Ash said. “That’s not what I came to Texas for. I came to Texas to win a national championship.”

Ash is one of two returning quarterbacks that have significant experience starting in the Big 12. Casey Pachall is returning for TCU after sitting out most of the 2012 season after being arrested for driving under the influence. 

 

Up-tempo offense expected to help both sides of the ball

The Longhorns will debut their new up-tempo offense when they take the field at the end of August, a move coaches and players praised at the Big 12 Media Days last week. Texas is following in the footsteps of a host of other Division I schools, such as Ohio State and UCLA, who have utilized these faster offenses in past seasons. The faster pace is expected to increase the number of plays in a game from 60-70 to around 80-90, according to Brown.

“I think that changing to the up-tempo will help our defense more than our offense,” Brown said. “Nobody was substituting and the ball was being snapped so quickly.

... It was a real disadvantage to our defense that they didn’t get to see tempo at any time during practice."

Players on both sides of the ball are in favor of this new style of offense.

The new up-tempo offense employs the same play schemes but features shorter intervals between plays. There is less time to substitute players or decide on calls. 

“It’s been an adjustment,” Ash said. “I’m really glad that’s the direction we’re going. It’s going to benefit us a lot.” 

The Longhorn defense has already been given a look at the up-tempo offense in practice in order to prepare them for the upcoming
season. Brown said the defense struggled in past games when facing up-tempo offenses without the proper preparation. 

“Almost every team in the Big 12 does the tempo offenses,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “It helps us analyze offenses quickly, get our reads before the snap.”

SC head coach Lane Kiffin has exhibited concern with player safety and the referee’s ability to officiate a faster game. Conferences are considering an extra official to rectify this. The Big 12 is experimenting with an eighth official this season whose primary job is to retrieve the ball and set it for play.

 

Controversial rule change won’t affect how Longhorns approach the game

The NCAA and Big 12 are introducing several rule changes this fall, including a new controversial rule regarding targeting. Targeting is when a player intentionally hits an opponent with the top of his helmet in the opponent’s head or neck region. This foul results in a 15-yard penalty and the ejection of the player. However, the ejection is automatically reviewed by the officials in the booth and the disqualification, but not the foul, can be overturned if it is clear that the player did not intentionally target his opponent. 

If a player is ejected, he must sit out the remainder of the game. If the foul was committed in the second half of the game, he is required to sit out the first half of the team’s next game.

Officials have instructed coaches to rework the way they teach tackling in preparation for the upcoming season. The rule was changed in order to increase player safety.

“The culture of the game has to change relative to how players have to act,” said Walt Anderson, Big 12 head of officiating. “You’ve got to lower your strike zone ... If your target zone is high, you’re going to be suspect.”

Despite this new rule, players at Texas aren’t worried about it. They said that they need to just continue playing and working with integrity. 

“It doesn’t really affect the way you have to practice for hitting,” Jeffcoat said. “When you’re taught to hit, you’re not taught to lead with your head and hit somebody in their head, so sometimes it just happens.“

 

David Ash passes the ball off to  freshman running back Johnathon Gray,  but struggled to jumpstart the running game against TCU on Thanksgiving Day, recording only eighty-six rushing yards. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Eighty-six yards rushing.

That’s all the Longhorns mustered last Thursday against TCU, 93 yards below Texas’ season average. Johnathan Gray received 15 touches, Joe Bergeron carried the ball only five times and Malcolm Brown didn’t tote it once.  

The lack of production was, in part, caused because the Longhorns were forced to throw the ball in the second half, attempting to catch up to the Horned Frogs. Still, it was a frustrating evening for the coaching staff and everyone involved in the ground game.

“We’d like to [run it],” head coach Mack Brown said. “We didn’t run it much the other night. It wasn’t a running game night. I wish it would’ve been.”

But Brown’s assessment was mellow compared to offensive lineman Trey Hopkins’ when talking about the Longhorns’ pedestrian total on the ground.

“That’s just unacceptable as an offensive lineman,” Hopkins said.

The offensive line and the running backs know the rushing production must change against Kansas State for the Longhorns to defeat a talented, disciplined and balanced Wildcat team. It won’t be easy, however. The Wildcats are 18th in the nation against the run, allowing opponents an average of 121 yards per contest.

Kansas State is stout in the front seven, especially its linebacker core. Arthur Brown, one of the top linebackers in the country, was a preseason All-American selection. His 80 tackles and six tackles for loss this season have done nothing to knock down his stock. He’s not the only playmaker in the middle of the field. Junior Tre Walker was a preseason All-Big 12 selection, and he and Brown cover the field from sideline-to-sideline exceptionally well, keeping both the run and passing attack in check.

“They have two linebackers that are as good as anybody in the country,” Mack Brown said. “They can cover you man-to-man and pass rushing.”

However, it is imperative the Longhorns establish their rushing attack early. The ground game puts the offense into its flow, forcing the defense to stack the box with eight or more players later in the game. This allows one-on-one coverage to the outside, which opens up areas in the secondary for the passing attack. Perhaps most importantly, it would allow newly-minted starter Case McCoy a little time to get adjusted to the pace of the game.

“If we make people load the box, it will definitely take that pressure off of Case,” Hopkins said.

In the loss to TCU, the Longhorns abandoned the run early in the second half in an attempt to find an offensive spark after the Horned Frogs jumped out to a sizable lead. That won’t work against Kansas State. If the Longhorns become one-dimensional through the air, it’s a recipe for disaster.

If Kansas State forces Texas to throw, it will expose Case McCoy’s all-or-nothing tendencies. McCoy has an innate ability to extend plays and make something out of nothing, but the skill also causes errant throws that have been McCoy’s greatest criticism.

The absence of Malcolm Brown was notable in the loss to TCU. He didn’t touch the ball, and his powerful yet elusive running style could have made a difference against the eight man fronts the Horned Frogs presented.

It seems the coaching staff still isn’t 100 percent certain Brown is ready to carry the load coming off of a left ankle injury. He’s continuing to rehab his leg, but from what they’ve seen in practice, his teammates feel he’s ready to contribute.

“All our running backs are talented,” Hopkins said. “Johnathan Gray can’t get every snap in the game. I hope they wouldn’t do that to him, and then his feet might not be as useful. We have to use all our running backs, and I think [Malcolm Brown] realizes that. We need him back as quickly as possible.”

Printed on Thursday, November 29, 2012 as: Running a struggle for Horns

Senior TCU linebacker Kenny Cain sacks quarterback David Ash on Thanskgiving Day. Ash threw two inerceptions and committed one fumble in the 20-13 loss to the Horned Frogs. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

David Ash reverted to his 2011 form and Case McCoy failed to engineer another last-minute Thanksgiving Day comeback, leading to a BCS-shattering loss to TCU this past Thursday.

Ash threw a pair of interceptions, fumbled once and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. That performance, coupled with a dominant showing on the ground by the Horned Frogs — they rushed for 217 yards — and a last minute pick was more than enough to spur the Horned Frogs to a 20-13 victory.

“Four turnovers to one, you’re going to get beat most of the time,” head coach Mack Brown said. “In fact, it’s about 100 percent.”

On the first drive of the game, Ash led Texas downfield, but then, on a first-down play from TCU’s 30-yard line, Ash made his first mistake. Mike Davis broke open on a post pattern over the middle of the field, but Ash underthrew him, resulting in an interception.

The throw wasn’t far behind Davis, but the small mistake epitomized Ash’s and the Longhorns’ day.

TCU capitalized. The Horned Frogs worked a physical and persistent 94-yard drive, their longest of the season, completing a fourth-down conversion by pounding away at the Longhorns up the middle.

The Longhorns were in the red zone on their next drive, but a dropped pass by Ryan Roberson, on what would have been a first-down conversion, forced the Longhorns to settle for a field goal.

It wasn’t a turnover, but it might as well have been. Though the Longhorns moved the ball well, they were able to produce only a single touchdown in four trips to the red zone.

“Crucial mistakes in the red zone that really hurt us in the long run and killed morale a little bit,” offensive lineman Trey Hopkins said. “It just put us in bad spots.”

Ash’s biggest mistake of the game came on a late second quarter drive with Texas down, 7-3. After Johnathan Gray was stuffed on first down, Ash looked for Mike Davis streaking across the middle. But he failed to see safety Elisha Olabode jumping the route and was intercepted again.

The play earned Ash a seat on the sidelines for the remainder of the quarter, as McCoy entered to finish the half.

“It kills you when you throw interceptions,” Brown said. “It really kills you in the red zone.”

Ash returned, but only led Texas to three points over the next quarter and a third. With 10 minutes remaining, McCoy entered the game and provided a spark. He led the Longhorns on their only touchdown drive, capped off by Jeremy Hills’ eight-yard rushing score.

“Case had a little bit more drive [than David],” running back Gray said. “He got the guys going and told us ‘Hey, the game’s not over, we can still make plays.’”

The defense forced a quick three-and-out on TCU’s next possession, giving Texas and McCoy a second straight opportunity to make a magical comeback — McCoy led the Longhorns on a last minute drive to beat Texas A&M last Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t to be done against a new Turkey Day foe though.

McCoy scrambled for 13 yards on the first play of Texas’ last drive. On the next play, the gunslinger scrambled right, left and then right again. McCoy lobbed the ball deep downfield into a sea of mostly purple and white, throwing his first interception of the year.

It was Texas’ fourth turnover of the night, and an anti-climactic end to what would’ve been a legendary moment.

“Case came in and had that fire in his eyes,” Hopkins said. “I definitely thought we were going to pull that one out.”

The loss put a sour taste on senior night and eliminated any possibility of a BCS Bowl for the Longhorns.

“The loss leaves a really bad taste in our mouths right now,” offensive guard Mason Walters said. “We’re doing a lot of things right now that are good during the week. We just need to show up on game day.”

Printed on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 as: TCU hands UT crushing loss

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

David Ash reverted to his 2011 form and Case McCoy failed to engineer another last minute Thanksgiving Day comeback, leading to a BCS-shattering loss to TCU. 

Ash threw a pair of interceptions, fumbled once and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. That performance coupled with a dominant showing on the ground by the Horned Frogs -- they rushed for 217 yards -- and a last minute pick, was more than enough spur the Horned Frogs to a 20-13 victory.

“Four turnovers to one, you’re going to get beat most of the time,” head coach Mack Brown said. “In fact, it’s about 100 percent.”

The problems ensued for Ash early on. On the first drive of the game he led Texas right down the field, but then on a first down play from the TCU 30-yard line, Ash made his first mistake. Mike Davis broke open on a post pattern over the middle of the field, but Ash underthrew him, resulting in an interception.

The throw wasn’t far behind Davis, but the small mistake epitomized Ash’s, and the Longhorns, day.

TCU capitalized on the ensuing drive. The Horned Frogs worked a physical and persistent 96-yard drive, their longest of the season, converting on a fourth down conversion and by pounding away at Longhorns right up the middle.

The next possession the Longhorns, once again, moved the ball into the red zone. However, a dropped pass by Ryan Roberson, on what would have been a first down conversion, forced the Longhorns settle for a field goal.

It wasn’t a turnover, but it might as well have been. The Longhorns moved the ball well, but in four trips to the red zone they were able to produce only a single touchdown.

“Crucial mistakes in the red zone that really hurt us in the long run and killed morale a little bit,” offensive lineman Trey Hopkins said. “It just put us in bad spots.”

Ash’s biggest mistake of the game came on a late second quarter drive with Texas down 7-3. The Longhorns moved the ball 62 yards to reach TCU’s 18-yard line, and after Johnathan Gray was stuffed for no-gain on first down, offensive coordinator Brain Harsin called for a shot to the end zone.  Ash took the snap and looked for Mike Davis streaking across the middle. But what he failed to see was safety Elisha Olabode moving down to jump the route, resulting in a pick.

The play earned Ash a seat on the sidelines for the remainder of the quarter, as McCoy entered to finish the half.

“Don’t need to have it anymore,” Brown said in reference to Ash’s second interception. “It kills you when you throw interceptions. It really kills you in the red zone.

Ash returned in the second, but only led Texas to three points over the next quarter and a third. So, with 10 minutes remaining McCoy entered the game once again, this time providing a spark.

He failed to produce on the first drive, but on the second he delivered a touchdown to launch Texas back into the game.

“Case had a little bit more drive [then David],” running back Jonathan Gray said. “He got the guys going and told us ‘hey the games not over, we can still make plays.”

The defense forced a quick three-and-out on TCU’s next possession, giving Texas and McCoy a second straight opportunity on Thanksgiving to make a magical comeback – McCoy led the Longhorns on a last minute drive to beat Texas A&M last Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t to be against a new turkey day foe though.

Texas received the ball with 1:44 remaining, and on the first play McCoy scrambled for 13 yards. He’d look like he might make a similar play on the next snap too, but his gunslinger mentality got the best of him. McCoy scrambled right, left and then right again to shed a charging TCU pass rush, and instead of stepping out of bounds for a five-yard gain, he took a risk. McCoy lobbed the ball down the field to a streaking Cayleb Jones despite having three defenders in the area, and the Horned Frogs came down with the ball. It was Texas’ fourth turnover of the night, and an anti-climactic end to what would’ve been a legendary moment.

“I was 100 percent sure that was going to be the situation,” Hopkins said. “Case came in and had that fire in his eyes. I definitely thought we were going to pull that one out.”

The loss put a sour taste on senior night and eliminated any possibility of a BCS bowl for the Longhorns.

“The loss leaves a really bad taste in our mouths right now,” offensive guard Mason Walters said. “We’re doing a lot of things right now that are good during the week. We just need to show up on game day.”

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

It was an upset on the cusp.

Texas cornerback Carrington Byndom had just blocked a field goal and left the Longhorns with a two-possession lead with only five minutes remaining against then No. 18 Texas Tech last Saturday. Now, all the offense had to do was wind down the clock for the Longhorns first win over a ranked team in 27 games.

And with a power rushing style rarely seen from the speed oriented Texas offense, the group delivered a five minute display of dominance on the ground.

“We were able to run the clock out on the road and we’re probably going to be asked to do that again,” offensive lineman Mason Walters said. “Knowing that we can do it is a good feeling.”

Walters went on to say that the Longhorns success on the final drive came on almost the exact same play every time, a run up the middle by freshman Johnathan Gray.

The freshman back took the closer’s role by pounding the Tech defense for six and seven yard gains to eat up clock. The offensive line was opening up holes in the right spots and Gray was waiting patiently to take what was available.

The runs up the middle were a bit different than the outside rushes Gray is usually asked to provide to utilize his breakaway speed, but he showed no hesitation to enter the land of giants in between the tackles.

“Whatever the role is given to him by the game plan, he’s taken as much advantage as possible,” Walters said. “He’s been called on a little bit more, and he’s stepped up and been doing a great job.”

However, for Texas, the winding down of the clock was a total team effort. Not just the result of a dominant performance by the offensive line and the backs. Actually, the players on offense credited the defense and the blocked field goal for fueling the final drive.

“We just got our energy from our last field goal block,” offensive lineman Trey Hopkins said. “That’s what really gave us life on the last drive.”

Hopkins went on to say that it was the first time all season in which the team had a total overall effort, with both sides of the ball working in succession to motivate and respond to the other.

“It was the offense and defense working together, finally having a total game,” Hopkins said. “It was just us feeding each other ... playing for each other like it’s supposed to be played.”

For much of the year it had been the offense leading the defense. But on Saturday it was the opposite. The defense pitched its best performance in conference play against the 12th-ranked offense in the country, limiting the Red Raiders to 22 points, 16 under their season average.

And it was the defenses’ outstanding play that almost forced the Texas offense to respond.

“We start to get that feeling of urgency, like, Hey our defense is laying it all out there; we’ve got to go lay it on the line,’” Walters said. “Being able to run the clock out is something to where we able to get our juice back and say ‘Hey we got you D.’”

The offense played well the entire game, except for a poor stretch in the third quarter, but the most encouraging moment was at the end of the game.

It’s an area the offense has come up huge the past three weeks. First, when they wound down the clock in the final minutes against Baylor. Then, on their game-winning drive in Lawrence, which allowed Texas to sneak out of Kansas with a victory. Most recently, the Longhorns’ showing in Lubbock; the team’s best overall fourth quarter presentation of the year.

It’s been three games, but Texas’ tough fourth quarter mentality is something it plans to build upon to help finish the season. 

David Ash looks downfield during Texas’ 63-21 loss to Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl last Saturday. Ash suffered a broken left wrist in the fourth quarter of the defeat but will still take the field when the Longhorns face Baylor at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

If you didn’t already know he was hurt before he spoke to reporters this week, you would have thought the wrapping on his left wrist was decorative.

The last time David Ash’s non-throwing wrist was seen without something covering it up, it looked like a black and blue golf ball was lodged under his palm. A source told The Daily Texan that the doctors who treated Ash believe his wrist is broken but could not find exactly where the break took place.

But, somehow, Ash was back on the practice field Sunday, taking snaps and throwing passes. The day after that, he spoke of playing Saturday against Baylor as if it was a foregone conclusion.

And that’s exactly what Texas needs right now.

After suffering the third worst loss in the 186 games that the Longhorns have played since Mack Brown took over as head coach in 1998, their injury list is a long one. Jordan Hicks has missed the last three games with a hip injury. Malcolm Brown has missed the last two with a hurt ankle. Jackson Jeffcoat is out for the rest of the year with a torn pectoral muscle. Donald Hawkins (ankle) and Brandon Moore (neck) were hurt against OU and may miss this week’s game as well.

“It definitely looks worse than it feels,” Ash said, shrugging off the injury. “When it hit in the game, I just kind of said, ‘Shoot, that kind of hurt.’ I was running off and looked down and went, ‘Oh, shoot.’ Everyone started freaking out. I threw a towel on it and I walked out.”

There’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. You can’t play if you’re injured. But if any of those guys are hurt, they need to follow Ash’s example and get on the field Saturday.

“It shows a lot of toughness,” junior guard Trey Hopkins said. “We have a lot of guys banged up. Just the fact that he was out there with us [Sunday], shows how he’s continuing to be a leader on the team. I think that really shows how he’s stepped up as a person. That’s what we really need with so many guys banged up. We need everyone to know that you can still play through it.”

Without knowing the intricate details of his teammates’ injuries, here’s to hoping Ash playing through pain this weekend sets a precedent that can help turn this season around. Texas’ defense has sorely missed Hicks since he went down a month ago. Hawkins and Moore, both junior college transfers, have provided a valuable presence at the line of scrimmage. And, while freshman Johnathan Gray has impressed in his first few games as a Longhorn, Malcolm Brown is Texas’ best option at tailback.

“I try not to listen to the injury repot on Sunday after a loss because it’s long,” Mack Brown said. “Maybe it’s partly because we have a younger team. You may get banged up more when you’re younger than you do when you’re older. You also have more guys hurt after a loss than you do a win. They’re down. They’re tired. They’re frustrated and mad, so there’s more guys in the training room.”

Like Ash, the Longhorns need those guys on the field.

Printed on Thursday, October 18, 2012 as: Hurt Horns should follow Ash's lead