If you want to know why Texas has turned its season around, look no further than Carrington Byndom.
The 6-foot, 180-pound junior cornerback had struggled mightily this season, uncharacteristically missing tackles and getting beat by wideouts that would not have happened last year. But Byndom bounced back in a big way in the Longhorns’ 31-22 win over Texas Tech Saturday.
He broke up a two-point conversion throw from Seth Doege that would have tied the game at 24 in the third quarter. He came around the edge to block a fourth-quarter field goal that would have brought the Red Raiders within six points of the Longhorns.
And his effort was representative of how far this Texas defense — without key cogs like Ashton Dorsey, Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks — has come since the first half of the underwhelming win over Kansas last week.
“He has to be one of the stars of the game,” head coach Mack Brown said of Byndom. “He broke up the two-point conversion. He played with a lot confidence and he’s more healthy, too.”
The Longhorns were eight-point underdogs going into this past weekend’s game in Lubbock, where better Texas teams have played worse. David Ash threw for an efficient 264 yards and led the Longhorns into the end zone on their first three drives. He capped the third score off with a beautifully placed 75-yard bomb to his favorite target, Mike Davis.
Davis, as his nickname would suggest, was magical Saturday. He made four catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns, both career-highs, and is averaging a whopping 25.5 yards per catch on the 15 grabs he’s made in the last three games.
“Mike makes the big catch at Oklahoma State. He makes the big catch at Kansas last week, and he makes the big catch today,” Brown said. “I’m really proud of David today. He came back and played a really good football game. No turnovers on offense, again.”
As great as Ash, whose status as the team’s starting quarterback was in question entering last week, and Davis were, it was Texas’ defense that allowed it to top Texas Tech. And it’s going to be Texas’ defense that determines how the rest of this season goes.
If the Longhorns are as hard to score in their last three regular season games as they were this past Saturday, they’ll finish the season with nine wins and a chance for a 10th in a bowl game.
Considering where they were just a couple weeks ago — left for dead, with some calling for the head coach’s head, and many thinking Texas would win as many games as it lost this year — this turnaround is remarkable.
And, if the Longhorns can keep playing this kind of defense, the kind that they were expected to play all year, they can win 10 games this year.