Texas was supposed to be the outlier, the anomaly in the pass-first, pass-second, pass-third Big 12.
The Longhorns were meant to rely on their defense, spend most of their snaps on offense feeding their talented tailbacks while David Ash took the occasional shot downfield and tried not to turn the ball over too often.
But Ash and his teammates flipped the script this weekend — scoring 66 points, piling up 676 yards in a win over Ole Miss — and proving that the Texas offense’ ceiling was higher than most thought. The Longhorns picked a good time to unleash the offensive fireworks as they get a week off before beginning Big 12 play against Oklahoma State in Stillwater two weekends from now.
“We thought David Ash, our most valuable player on offense, had by far his best game,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said. “We were running the ball very well in the first two ballgames and we were accurate in our passing games but we weren’t getting what we wanted to downfield. We thought the biggest difference Saturday was that down the field, we made big plays.”
The OSU Cowboys beat Louisiana-Lafayette 65-24 this past weekend, getting four touchdown passes from their backup quarterback J.W. Walsh after starter Wes Lunt exited with a knee injury. Even without Lunt, Oklahoma State will still bring an explosive offense into its Big 12 opener. Joseph Randle complements a productive passing game and has run for more than 100 yards in each of his three games this season. Like Texas, the Cowboys are off this week.
“We need the week off,” Brown said. “You’re going into a very difficult conference, so there’s no easy teams from here on out. It’s conference play. Our guys will be excited in two weeks to get started.”
Texas has totaled at least 676 yards in a game only two other times — once in a win over Rice in 1998 when Ricky Williams ran for 318 yards and six touchdowns and also in a 1969 victory against SMU when James Street ran the wishbone for the Darrell Royal and helped the Longhorns win their second national title.
More than three decades later, Texas would win another national championship by topping USC 41-38 in the 2006 Rose Bowl. A month before that, Vince Young and the Longhorns dropped 70 points on Colorado in the 2005 Big 12 Championship, marking the last time they scored as many points as they did in Oxford last weekend.
“Everybody in our league can score and they can score fast,” Brown said. “We had more explosive plays offensively than Ole Miss, and Ole Miss is a very explosive football team. So we do feel like we took a major step forward in our passing game Saturday night. We’ve got to continue to throw it and continue to throw it down the football field.”
Last weekend, it was Ash leading Texas to a lopsided win, completing all but four of his 23 passes, throwing for a career-high 324 yards and four touchdowns without getting picked off.
“I think you’re just seeing it click for him right now,” Brown said of his sophomore signal-caller. “We didn’t know, if against a good opponent on the road when you couldn’t even hear yourself at the line of scrimmage and being on national television, what he would do. He answered the bell.”
Printed on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 as: Texas set for Big 12 after 66-point burts