The Texas offense failed to score on its first five offensive possessions, managing only 136 yards while forfeiting three turnovers.
Five possessions later, the sluggish start was all but forgotten.
The Longhorns exploded for five consecutive touchdown drives between the end of the second quarter and the start of the third en route to a 56-7 blowout victory over New Mexico State.
After the Aggies took a 7-0 lead with 2:28 remaining in the first half, junior quarterback David Ash responded with a 54-yard touchdown strike to junior wide receiver John Harris to even the score. Ash then connected on a 66-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Daje Johnson on the Longhorns next offensive play to give Texas a 14-7 lead at the half.
Johnson added another score on a 24-yard run to begin the second half. The Longhorns continued the offensive onslaught on the next two possessions, as a 55-yard run by Ash and a 74-yard catch-and-run by junior running back Malcolm Brown extended the lead to 28 points midway through the third quarter.
Ash overcame a pair of first half interceptions to rack up 343 passing yards and four touchdowns while running for 91 yards and a score. The junior attributed Texas’ early struggles to turnovers and penalties, and he believes that limiting these things makes the offense capable of repeating its second half success.
“We were getting yards but we just weren’t capitalizing because of turnovers or penalties,” Ash said. “It’s something we just have to cut out. If we do that it’s going to help our game. You’ve got to keep the ball in your hands. If you give the ball to the opponent it’s going to limit your scoring opportunities.”
Despite the slow start, Texas set a school record with 715 yards of total offense. The Longhorns led an extremely balanced attack, rushing for 359 yards and passing for 356.
“I was proud of the way our guys responded,” said co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. “We did not start the way we wanted to. In terms of balance, the offense line did a great job in the second half in being able to run the ball, and then we got some explosive passes in the first half.”
The Longhorn defense impressed in its season debut, limiting New Mexico State to seven points and 346 yards. Texas’ defensive line was particularly active, recording two sacks, six tackles-for-loss and five quarterback hits.
Head coach Mack Brown saw room for improvement for the Longhorns, but he believes that his team’s ability to overcome early adversity made it an ideal opening game.
“You don’t need a scrimmage in an opening ball game,” Brown said. “You need some adversity. You need to have overcome some things. You need for them to play well enough to feel like they can be good but understand they didn’t play well enough to be good. Right now we have some things we got to fix so I thought it was a great opener for us.”