Last week’s first-half mistakes will prove more costly if repeated in Provo

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Mike Davis can't make the catch during Texas' 56-7 romp of New Mexico State last Saturday. Davis caught five passes, one of them a leaping touchdown grab, in the win but also fumbled on the Longhorns' opening drive. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

There shouldn’t be a lot to complain about after a team racks up a school-record 715 yards and scores 56 points. 

But when you consider that none of those points came in the first 28 minutes, there’s cause for concern heading into Saturday’s game against Brigham Young University. 

Facing a New Mexico State team that went 1-11 last year and gave up the fifth-most points per game in the country, the Longhorns committed three turnovers and trailed the Aggies, 7-0, with two minutes left in the second quarter. 

Texas won’t be able to get away with a start like that this week when it faces a BYU team ranked third in both points (14.0) and yards allowed (266.1) per game 
last year. 

“There’s no doubt we were ready to go,” senior wide receiver Mike Davis, who fumbled on Texas’ opening drive, said. “I just feel like not all 11 men were doing everything correct. I’m not pointing fingers but somebody probably wasn’t doing their job.”

Davis made up for the miscue, catching five passes for 63 yards and an acrobatic fourth-quarter touchdown. David Ash, who threw two early interceptions, racked up a career-high 414 yards and scored five touchdowns. 

“We definitely left some points out on the field,” Ash said of the 56-7 win. “I don’t think there was a point in the game when everybody decided we’re going to play hard or not or if we’re going to quit. It never came to that. It was always like, ‘That was not good but it’s going to happen on the next play.’”

Ash was picked off by walk-on linebacker Andrew Barnard in the second quarter of that victory, the Longhorns’ third turnover in their first five drives. He’ll be going up against a defense that includes All-American linebacker and projected top-10 pick Kyle Van Noy when Texas travels to Provo this week.

“That’s something that can’t happen,” junior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley said. “We’re really trying to work on getting a fast start. That’s something that we work on in practice. If we can go ahead and score that first drive and just get the momentum going, I think that will help us in the long run.”

Although Andrew McDonald’s touchdown toss to Joshua Bowen in the corner of the end zone was the culmination of the 28-minute meltdown, the Longhorns defense played well in the opener. In the other four possessions New Mexico State entered Texas territory, it committed three turnovers and ended another drive with a turnover on downs. 

“Our job is to stop people and we did that,” senior cornerback Carrington Byndom said. “We did a good job of that, only allowing one touchdown in the first half. We were just holding on until the offense got into their groove. That’s our job. When one side of the ball isn’t doing well, we’re there to pick up the slack.”

As disappointing as the first 28 minutes of the Longhorns’ season was, how productive they were in the final 32 minutes of their season opener shouldn’t be overlooked. After scoring touchdowns of 50 yards or more six times last season, Texas scored four such touchdowns last Saturday. The Longhorns ripped off 11 rushes of at least 10 yards and six passes of at least 15 yards, including a 54-yard scoring strike to John Harris and a 66-yard touchdown to Daje Johnson on consecutive throws. 

After being shutout for the first 28:12, Texas reeled off touchdowns on five consecutive drives, scoring 35 unanswered points in a 8:37 span. 

“We could have dominated a little bit more,” junior running back Malcolm Brown said. “We know what we can do and we know how we can play but, at the same time, we know we did make those mistakes and we need to start a whole lot better than we did.”

That’s how they’ll need to play for 60 minutes this weekend.