Wyoming

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43.0039679365
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
-108.154049643

David Ash and the rest of the Longhorns trained in the offseason for the higher altitude in Provo. There, the air is thinner making it more difficult to breath. The team ran drills in silicone masks that restricted their airflow, simulating the effects at higher altitude. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Four years ago, the Longhorns thrashed Wyoming 41-10 in their first road game of 2009. Despite the impressive score, head coach Mack Brown believes his team struggled to adjust to the higher altitude in Laramie. 

“We didn’t handle it well at Wyoming a couple years ago,” Brown said. “It got to us.”

Texas will face a similar issue this week when it travels to Provo, Utah to take on Brigham Young University. Although Provo’s elevation is considerably lower than Laramie’s, junior quarterback David Ash expects the thinner air to have a slight impact.

“I’m sure there will be an adjustment,” Ash said. “We played in Wyoming a few years ago at 7,000 feet. It was tough on some guys. This is half that, 4,000 feet. There will be an adjustment, but I think we’ve got plenty of depth and I think we’ll be okay.”

A number of Longhorns seconded Ash, stressing that the team’s depth allows it to filter productive reserves in throughout the game to keep the starters fresh. Because of this, junior linebacker Jordan Hicks doesn’t expect the change in elevation to affect the game.

“We don’t expect it to,” Hicks said. “We’re playing two deep everywhere, so we hope that gives an advantage. We’re not worried about the altitude; we’re just ready to go.”

Despite this, sophomore running back Johnathan Gray said the coaching staff has emphasized the importance of being in prime physical condition for the matchup against the Cougars. Thinner air makes it harder for oxygen to reach a person’s muscles, making strong conditioning a must in preparing for the increased elevation. 

“Coaches are just [stressing] hydrating and getting extra conditioning in,” Gray said. “We’re just doing things that help us prepare.”

Senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is particularly unlikely to be affected by the altitude increase after spending the offseason training in Colorado. Jeffcoat was one of many Longhorns to wear a mask that reduced oxygen as a conditioning exercise over the summer, but he believes it’s hard to emulate the difference in air pressure without playing in it.

“[The masks] were really just to get in shape,” Jeffcoat said. “They were the kind of thing to just teach us how to breath with limited oxygen. It’s different when you are actually in [higher altitude]. They understand there’s going to be a difference in the air. The air is thinner.”

Brown is used to preparing for games in high elevation, as his Texas teams made regular trips to Colorado when the Buffaloes were in the Big 12. Although none of his current players ever made the trip to Boulder, Brown considers his team’s depth and preparation to be enough for the Longhorns to be ready for Saturday.

“We usually handled it well at Boulder,” Brown said. “We’ve been talking about this for a year. Provo isn’t as high as Boulder. I think we’re ready for it and depth should help us.”

Slow starts have been holding the Longhorns back during their first two games of the season. Although Texas got wins in both matchups, this trend could pose a big problem for both the offense and defense moving forward.

Whether it was first-game jitters or facing off against a triple-option offense, Ole Miss and upcoming Oklahoma State will not be nearly as forgiving as Wyoming and New Mexico if Texas continues to start games on its heels.

“It is something we talk about,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “It is something that is very important to us that we start the game fast, start the game early.”

Though the Longhorns eventually defeated Wyoming 37-17, a win seemed to be in question at the end of the third quarter. Wyoming struck first and scored on a 33-yard field goal and later quarterback Brett Smith’s 82-yard pass to Robert Herron put the Cowboys up 9-7 over the Longhorns.

Diaz preaches to his unit the importance of not giving up big plays, but Smith took advantage of the secondary in that quarter to the tune of 158 yards passing.

The Longhorns’ offense started this season with a three-and-out after two rushes by Joe Bergeron and one by David Ash did not produce any results. The offense prefers to start the game so they can come out to score and send a message to their opponent.

“We want to get a faster start,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “That will never change. We want to come out and score every time we get the ball.”

Texas’ defense was not invincible during its shutout against New Mexico, either. In the Lobos’ first drive, Texas gave up a 26-yard and then a 16-yard play.

Not something you would expect from what is considered one of the best defenses in the country against an unranked New Mexico team. The Texas defense gave up 92 yards in that quarter. They conceded just 149 total yards during the next three quarters.

The Texas defense finished the first quarter of the game against New Mexico with a touchdown, but in the next three quarters the team scored 10, 14 and 14 points. The offense couldn’t complete a pass game during that quarter and the touchdown was scored on a 49-yard run by Ash.

During halftime, Harsin made some adjustments and the team came back to overpower the Lobos’ defense, scoring 38 more points in the second half.

“We got a slow start offensively,” said head coach Mack Brown after the game. “We tried to start with up-tempo because we thought that would make them more vanilla. But then we just didn’t do well in it so we came out of it and did a better job with conventional tempo with our offense.”


Brown credits some of the early defensive struggles to the young linebackers trying to figure out the defense. He also said that instead of preparing for the Lobos, the defense focused more on getting ready for its following two games, which are against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.

Though starting strong is important, Diaz believes there are more important things and starting well doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win.

“I know this, we started games well last year that we did not play very well in when it was all said and done,” Diaz said. “There are some games last year that we didn’t start great on the first drive and we got better and better as the game goes on.”

Senior safety Kenny Vaccaro feels the trend of starting slow has been a trend for the Longhorns the past two years.

He also thinks there is a need to change that, especially with conference play coming up soon.

“The good teams will step on your throat,” Vaccaro said. “We need to be fighting the whole game to make sure that at halftime we’re not in a hole too deep to dig ourselves out of.”

It was a wonderful Friday morning two weeks ago when Longhorns fans with AT&T U-Verse woke up to find out their cable provider had begun carrying the Longhorn Network.

It was announced that the Longhorn Network would carry each of Texas’ first two football games against Wyoming and New Mexico, meaning if you wanted to see those games, you’d likely have to buy a ticket to see it in person. Now that those games have been played, however, it may mean that the clock has struck midnight on the Longhorn Network getting any further distribution until next fall.

“There’s nothing like it anywhere in collegiate athletics,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said of the Longhorn Network. “It’s unique. Obviously, it’s lucrative. I don’t know if anyone else is going to have a chance to do it again.”

The 20-year, $300 million agreement the University of Texas and ESPN signed last year does not require the Longhorn Network to televise any football games, but it’s gotten exclusive rights to two games each of the last two seasons, with the possibility of adding more this year. If it doesn’t, fans with Time Warner might have to wait until next season to get the network.

Disney and ESPN Media Networks executive vice president David Preschlack estimated that more than a million AT&T U-Verse customers can now watch the Longhorn Network on channels 609 and 1609. But without the demand generated from the promise of another exclusive Longhorn Network football game, there might not be another major cable provider willing to carry it.

“This is another example of how we continue to deliver the content customers want,” Jeff Weber, AT&T Home Solutions president of content and advertising services, said. “We know fans are passionate about watching Longhorn football, and we’re thrilled to offer Longhorn Network to U-verse TV customers in Texas and nationwide.”

If the Longhorn Network does pick up another football game this year, it would likely be Texas’ contest against Kansas in Lawrence Oct. 27. The Longhorns’ 43-0 win over the Jayhawks last year, along with a victory over Rice, were both exclusively televised by the Longhorn Network.

Without another football game to have to call its own, the draw to coverage of other sports will be stronger than last year but still may not be enough to convince a provider like Time Warner to carry the Longhorn Network. Men and women’s basketball teams that failed to win an NCAA tournament game, a baseball team that didn’t play in the postseason for the first time since 1998 and a softball squad that came five outs short of a Women’s College World Series should all improve from last year to this one.

If you want to watch the Longhorn Network, find a friend with AT&T U-Verse. Because even with an improved group of non-revenue squads combined with the pressure of people considering switching to AT&T U-Verse, there isn’t enough to convince Time Warner or any other major cable provider to carry the Longhorn Network now that the Wyoming and New Mexico games have been played.

Printed on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 as: LHN could keep fans waiting till next season

Adrian Phillips and the rest of the defense are looking ahead to TexasÂ’ first away game of the season. Though they shut down New Mexico, Ole Miss is a much tougher matchup.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ defense struggled to contain Wyoming’s strike passing attack, allowing 17 points and 345 yards. However, the unit rebounded against New Mexico this past Saturday to shutout the Lobos.

It was a combined tackling effort. Each player on the field stayed in his lane to contain the Lobos’ triple option offense.

It wasn’t perfect. Texas allowed 241 yards, but never let New Mexico enter the red zone, holding the Lobos to the middle of field. It was a bend-but-not-break mind-set and it was effective.

The Lobos’ goose egg has given the team a boost of confidence, but the defense is now focusing on Ole Miss.

“It feels good, but we can’t worry about that shutout anymore,” safety Adrian Phillips said. “It’s in the past. We have to worry about Ole Miss. A shutout is a good thing, but we’re not worried about that anymore.”

Players not worried about showdown with SEC squad

Much has been made about the Southeastern Conference being the best conference in America — the last six Bowl Championship Series national champions have hailed from the SEC — though many members of the Big 12 beg to differ with that statement.

Texas players do have a certain level of conference pride — the Big 12 is often labeled as a high-quality conference from top to bottom — but all of the players downplayed Saturday’s matchup with Ole Miss as a Big 12 and SEC showdown.

“There are a lot of things people have been trying to hype up,” defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “But when you look at it, it’s two different teams coming against to play each other. All of that is just making a bigger deal than it is. Realistically, everybody thinks their team or conference are the best. “

Backs will all see carries after limited touches on Saturday

On Saturday, the rushing attack combined to produce 146 yards and three touchdowns, but a lack of touches by sophomore running back Malcolm Brown and freshman running back Johnathan Gray stirred the pot.

Brown only received two carries in the win, and the highly-touted Gray, had seven. These are low numbers for a group of backs that Brown said he would prefer to see 15 carries each.

But the team has downplayed its lack of distribution with the ball, and the running back room has stayed united. However, questions have been asked, and Brown stressed that everyone will touch the ball this week.

”We’re going to play Malcolm and Joe, and Johnathan Gray, and [senior running back] Jeremy Hills,” Brown said.

Former Longhorn WR Roy Williams retires from NFL

Former Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns great Roy Williams announced his retirement from the NFL Saturday on his Facebook page.

Williams, who compiled 3,866 yards and 36 touchdowns receiving in his four years on campus, left as the schools’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. The impact he left on the Texas program is not lost on Brown.

“Roy is one of the great players to ever play,” Brown said. “He’s changed history here. He set that standard really high, and there aren’t many of him out there. I’m really proud of him.”

In his first year as New Mexico head coach, Bob Davie is looking forward to facing a familiar rival in Texas. New Mexico is the second Mountain West opponent for the Longhorns in as many games.

Davie, who was an assistant coach at Texas A&M from 1985 to 1993 is 10-1 all-time against the Longhorns as a coach. While at A&M, David built up an 8-1 record against Texas as an assistant coach and then went 2-0 at Notre Dame as defensive coordinator and interim head coach.

The Lobos opened this season with a 66-21 victory over FCS Southern at home, an impressive start for the first-year coach and the first season-opening victory for the Lobos in seven years.

No. 17 Texas holds a 2-0 series lead over the Lobos, with the last meeting coming in 1988. The Lobos also have a 13-game losing streak in the state of Texas.

“This isn’t the first time for the guys that have been here playing against this caliber of team,” Davie said.

A third of the New Mexico roster is composed of true and redshirt freshmen. The game in Austin should be an eye opener for the young team.

“For our younger guys they’re probably so naive, they probably don’ realize that it is different.... Obviously the results, things aren’t going to look like they did Saturday, but we still can improve,” Davie said.

Against Southern, junior running back rushed for 103 yards, becoming the Lobos’ first 100-yard rusher since Desmond Dennis in 2009.

In 2011, New Mexico rushed for 1,358 yards and had a 56.6 completion percentage on its passes.

The Texas defense, which had a little trouble at first containing Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith, should have an easier time with New Mexico’s option-style offense.

While the Texas offense seems shaky to most Longhorn fans, New Mexico is concerned about the weapons Texas will field in quarterback David Ash, senior running back/wide receiver D.J. Monroe, and sophomore receiver Jaxon Shipley.

“[Ash’s] weapons. What concerns me is he’s a guy who’s smart, he executes, he’s big, strong, and athletic, but he gets the ball to those weapons, and they have a lot of them,” Davie said. “They have a lot of speed at receiver...those guys are like world-class sprinters...Shipley’s a heck of a player.”

On defense, the Lobos forced four turnovers, converting two into touchdowns in their opening game. They held Southern to 83 yards on the ground and 242 yards in the air. New Mexico will face a better rushing offense with Texas backs Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, and Johnathan Gray this weekend.

This weekend Davie is anticipating a more active Longhorn passing game then was seen against Wyoming last weekend. At A&M, Davie was known for his “Wrecking Crew” defense while employed as defensive coordinator. He hopes to use his prior experience and knowledge of the Longhorns’ style of play (he covered many Texas games as an ABC analyst, including the game against UCLA last season) to give his overmatched team a leg up.

“Texas didn’t try to throw the ball down the field a lot,” Davie said. “I expect them to try and launch it on us and get some big plays. What they did was just line up and ran the ball mostly and pounded Wyoming.”

David Ash vs. Wyoming.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas has become accustomed to its running backs taking over games and scoring most of the points. But that isn’t enough for this year’s offense.

Head coach Mack Brown has been pushing for a more balanced offense since last season, but with the quarterback struggles, it has been difficult to maintain a consistent passing game.

Now, he and co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin want the offense to capitalize on explosive plays downfield.

“We feel like we need to throw the ball more often deeper. And we have to make more yards on the short passes,” Brown said. “That’s something that we’ve been concerned about.”

Ash’s longest pass against Wyoming was 16 yards. There were five long downfield throws called, according to Harsin.

Two downfield passes to wide receiver Mike Davis were underthrown by Ash. Brown believes that as the season progresses, Ash will get more comfortable and the team will have more success when throwing the ball downfield. Harsin says ultimately the goal is for the team to send two shots downfield each quarter.

“We had some shots in there that we’ve got to hit,” Harsin said. “Those are game changing plays.”

Ash threw eight interceptions last season and a goal of the offense this season is to avoid turnovers. Last season, when the Longhorns won the turnover ratio, they won the game. Ash wasn’t picked off by the Cowboys, so that’s a start.

Though being responsible with the ball is important for Ash and the offense, throwing the ball downfield is still a necessity.

“I played a pretty much mistake-free game,” Ash said. “I missed out on some opportunities that I need to be able to exploit...there’s a couple of times I took a hitch step which threw off the timing which means the ball is going to be late. So for me that’s the main thing is trusting my reads, trusting my feet, and getting rid of the ball.”

Against Wyoming, the offense had 280 rushing yards and 156 passing yards. Having a running total that is higher than passing was a common theme for the Longhorns last season.

In a conference where teams scored 84, 69 and 59 points in their openers, the Longhorns will need more than Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron handling the ball in order to contend for the Big 12 title.

A deficit in explosive plays is nothing new for the Longhorns. They were seventh in total offense in the Big 12 last season. With newcomers West Virginia and TCU, the offense simply needs to score more points.

During Texas’ game against New Mexico, the team will have the opportunity to improve how it capitalizes on long passes downfield.

‘We’ve got to hit those big plays,” Harsin said. “I think it will change the outcome.”

Running back Joe Bergeron ran for 110 yards and two douchdowns on 15 carries to top Wyoming, 37-17.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Joe Bergeron delivered the knockout blow to the Wyoming defense with his 54-yard fourth quarter run, but it was the combined efforts from the Longhorn running backs that laid the groundwork for the burst.

Specifically, it was the 33 physically bruising rushing attempts prior to the big gainer that wore out the Cowboys’ front seven and enabled Bergeron to blow through to the second level.

The Wyoming defense was exhausted at that point, and the running backs smelled blood as they looked at the physical anguish on the defenders’ faces.

“You can see it in their body language,’ Bergeron said. “You can see it when they tackle you from the first hit to the second. It’s not as hard. You will break tackles easier than what you would have the first time.”

Utilizing Texas’ depth and skill in the backfield to wear down opposing defenses is a huge part of the Longhorns‘ offensive game plan for the season. Sophomores Bergeron and Malcolm Brown blend to form one of the country’s best one-two punches at running back, and when you add in the nation’s top overall tailback recruit, Johnathan Gray, the backfield has the potential to be incredible.

Texas had flashes of that ability Saturday when the Longhorns combined for 280 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Two of the touchdowns came on the shoulders of Bergeron; Brown had one and senior D.J. Monroe added a score as well.

That’s a very balanced mix, and it didn’t even include Gray or senior Jeremy Hills, who is expected to see a fair share of carries. Texas’ ability to come at teams in waves is a huge advantage for the squad, and it made a big difference in the second half of Saturday’s contest.

“We have a stable,” Bergeron said. “It’s hard to wear down a running back when he has somebody behind him ready to go ... Once they get tired you have somebody else coming in and they’ll beat you down. While the defense is still out there and they’re getting tired, we’re having a nice rotation going.”

Head coach Mack Brown has stated that he would like to see Malcolm Brown, Bergeron and Gray each receive 15 carries a game. If Mack Brown can find a way to strike a balance with the passing game while giving the backs 45 touches a contest, the offense would be difficult to contend with.

Bergeron is the hammer of the Texas backfield at 230 pounds and should see the majority of the Longhorns’ goal line carries. Brown is the most balanced of the running back stable; he has excellent quickness in space and the speed to break away from defenses. Gray is the outlier of the group. If he can adjust to the speed of the college game, he could be the Longhorns’ lightning to Bergeron’s thunder thanks to his game-breaking, quick strike skill set.

It may sound difficult to balance the playing time of these studs, but according to the players and the coaching staff, it won’t be an issue.

“Those guys have to feed off each other and the nice thing is that both are in the game getting very good reps and playing time,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “So when that does happen, when one needs a breather, the other guy can come right in and we are not going to miss a beat.”

Texas may not have any issues, but if the Longhorns rotate effectively, opposing defenses may have to invest in some high tech oxygen masks.

Printed on September 5, 2012 as: "Longhorn backs break it down"

Junior cornerback Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips attempt to bring down Wyoming wide out in Saturday's victory. Byndom and the rest of the secondary had a tough game allowing 276 yards through the air.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas allowed Wyoming only one third-down conversion in 11 tries, but that one stood out like a sore thumb.

“When you give up an 80-yard pass, you can’t say your secondary played well,” Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said.

Brett Smith dropped back on third-and-6 and hit Robert Herron for one of his five catches near the first-down marker. Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips — two stalwarts of what is expected to be one of the nation’s best secondaries — collided while trying to bring Herron down.

Instead, Herron got the first down and a lot more.

“It’s my fault,” Byndom said. “I should have made the tackle. I’m not going to put the blame on [Phillips]. We just have to put the guy on the ground.”

He went 82 yards into the end zone and gave Wyoming a 9-7 lead that it would hold onto until Texas scored 24 unanswered points and put the game out of reach. Herron went on to catch another long touchdown pass from Smith, but the pieces of an elite defense were on display in the Longhorns’ 37-17 season-opening win over the Cowboys.

Senior safety Kenny Vaccaro made an athletic, leaping interception in the second quarter, and senior defensive end Alex Okafor forced Smith into making a weak toss into traffic that Byndom picked off to end Wyoming’s next possession.

“We did get good pressure on [Smith],” junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “We got in his face and made him throw interceptions. He gave us two, which set our offense up to score. That’s 14 points right there.”

After not recording a sack in Texas’ first three games last season, Okafor gave the Longhorns, who racked up 16 quarterback hurries, their only sack of the day. But like many of his teammates on defense, he conceded that Texas’ defense has much to improve.

“I thought there were some bright points, like when we got a couple turnovers in a short amount of time,” Okafor said.

“That’s when we’re at our best. Then we had some low points when we gave up big plays.”

Okafor, however, does expect more out of the Longhorns’ defense.

“I’m not going to lie to you. We want to be the No. 1 defense in the nation,” he said. “We showed that we could be a dominant defense.”

It’s only the first game of the year, and the Longhorns have several weeks between now and when they face a team with a chance of beating them. Armed with a talented and deep defense that doesn’t allow many sustained drives, it’s paramount that Texas limits the big plays it allows. At the moment, that’s what is keeping its defense from being able to lay a legitimate claim to being considered the country’s best.

“I’m not sure how many missed tackles we had, but it was too many,” Jeffcoat said. “We’re going to be home again, so it should be exciting and it should be a different story.”

Printed on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 as: Defense isn't best in nation...quite yet

Joe Bergeron sprints up the field en route to a 54-yard run in the fourth quarter of TexasÂ’ 37-17 season opening win against Wyoming. The running backs paced the Texas offense in the game, combining for 280 yards and four touchdowns.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

David Ash may have been the headliner leading the game Saturday, but it was Texas’ rushing attack that stole the show.

Texas’ running backs combined for 260 yards and four touchdowns, pacing the Longhorns to a 37-17 victory over Wyoming.

“The running backs did great,” Ash said. “They really wore the D-line out during the game. As the game went on, we saw some big runs. Joe [Bergeron] and Malcolm [Brown] did a great job tonight.”

Heading into the game the backs would agree the goal was to rush for over 250 yards, and thanks to a strong second half performance they were able to eclipse that total. Most of the mileage came on the legs of Brown and Bergeron, who each surpassed the 100-yard mark (Brown 105, Bergeron 110) and contributed three touchdowns between them.

Most of their success came late in drives, when the backs’ size and ability to rotate in and out wore down the Cowboys’ defense. A process that Bergeron compared to construction work, well, construction on the defense that is.

“You have to pound them and eventually they’ll give it up,” Bergeron said. “It’s like hitting a wall basically, and after a while that wall will just crumble, and you’ll get to go through, and then you will get those big runs.“

While the backs were busy wearing down the Wyoming front seven, Ash was efficient in his role as a leader and a game manager.

He went 20-for-27 in the pocket for 156 yards and a touchdown. But most importantly, he avoided the costly turnovers that derailed many of his appearances in 2011. Ash did have one fumbled snap that gave Wyoming premium field position in Longhorn territory in the fourth quarter, but other than that, he controlled the game well.

Ash worked the underneath routes all game long, and was accurate on his short and mid-range throws. He left a few long pass attempts short, but overall, the coaches were pleased with what they saw.

“I thought David did a nice job,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “David did everything we asked him to do. As far as decision-making goes, I am really proud of what David did. With the way they played us, that’s where those balls needed to go.”

However, the biggest play of the game didn’t happen on offense. With the Longhorns down 9-7 in the second quarter, Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith lofted a deep pass over the middle that looked like it might go for a big gain. But senior safety Kenny Vaccaro swooped in to undercut the route and snatch the ball, then turned on the jets for a return of 19 yards. From that point on, Texas went on a 17-0 run to enter halftime.

Head coach Mack Brown called the interception “the play that made the difference in the game.”

It wasn’t all perfect for the Texas defense. As a group, the Longhorns gave up some big plays through the air, and the 82-yard touchdown pass they allowed in the first quarter really bucks the team’s mantra of not allowing game-changing completions.

But Texas forced two turnovers — Carrington Byndom followed Vaccaro with a pick of his own — and blocked an extra point. The defense was also stingy on third downs, only allowing the Cowboys to convert on 1 of their 11 attempts. With the good and the bad, it was a game defensive coordinator Manny Diaz can use as a teaching tool.

“There are a lot of things that we saw,” Diaz said. “I don’t think anything was terrible and as a coach that is what you want. We just need to get back and start fixing the mistakes.” 

Running back D.J. Monroe scores a touchdown in the second quarter of the game against Wyoming.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

David Ash may have been the headliner heading in, but it was the Texas rushing attack that stole the show.

Texas’ running backs combined for 280 yards and four touchdowns, pacing the Longhorns to a 37-17 victory over Wyoming.

“The running backs did great,” Ash said. “They really wore the D-line out during the game. As the game went on, we saw some big runs. Joe [Bergeron] and Malcolm [Brown] did a great job tonight.”

The backs would agree, heading into the game the goal was to rush for over 250 yards and thanks to a strong second half performance they were able to eclipse that total. Most of the mileage came on the legs of Brown and Bergeron, who each surpassed the 100-yard mark (Brown had 105, Bergeron got 115) and contributed three touchdowns, Bergeron with two of them, between themselves.

Most of their success came late in drives, when the backs' size and ability to rotate in and out wore down the Cowboys’ defense -- a process that Bergeron compared to construction work.

“You have to pound them and eventually they’ll give it up,” Bergeron said. “It’s like hitting a wall basically, and after a while that wall will just crumble and you’ll get to go through and the you will get those big runs.”

While the backs were busy wearing down the Wyoming front seven, Ash was efficient in his role as a leader and a game manager.

He went 20-for-27 in the pocket for 156 yards and a touchdown. But, most importantly, he avoided the costly turnovers that derailed many of his appearances in 2011. Ash did have one fumbled snap that gave Wyoming premium field position in Longhorn territory in the fourth quarter, but other than his handling of a low snap, he controlled the game well.

Ash worked the underneath routes all game long, and was accurate on his short and mid-range throws. He left a few long pass attempts short, but overall the coaches were pleased with what they saw.

“I thought David did a nice job, said co-offensive coordinator Brian Harsin. “David did everything we asked him to do. As far as decision making goes, I am really proud of what David did. With the way they played us that’s where those balls needed to go.”

However, the biggest play of the game didn’t happen on offense, the momentum of the game changed after a spectacular pick from senior safety Kenny Vaccaro early in the second quarter in a 9-7 game. The free safety turned on the jets to undercut, and pick a deep pass over the middle from Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith. Before Vaccaro entered the frame it looked like a sure big gainer, instead Texas reclaimed possession and went on a 17-0 run to enter halftime.

It was a play that head coach Mack Brown labeled as “the play that made the difference in the game.”

It wasn’t all perfect for the Texas defense. As a group they gave up some big plays through the air, and the 82-yard touchdown pass it allowed in the second quarter really bucks the team’s mantra of not allowing game-changing completions.

But as a group the Longhorns did cause two turnovers blocked an extra point. They were also stingy on third downs, only allowing the Cowboys to convert on 1-11 attempts. Still, even with decent numbers the defense wasn’t thrilled with their play, as they attempt to live up to the lofty standards that have been placed upon them.

“We have to be able to be the defense everybody has been hyping us as,” said junior linebacker Jordan Hicks. “We have to tighten up and fix some of the things we messed up."

Still, the win laid the foundation for the Longhorns rise back to prominence. It wasn’t the cleanest execution, but it’s a start.

“Our motto right now is R.I.S.E. and I feel like we rose to the occasion,” said sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. “It was sloppy here and there, but it’s good that we got the W.”