RB Malcolm Brown (Jr.)
Before last week’s Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma, Brown had been a ghost, carrying the ball 23 times for 63 yards through the first five games of the season. But Brown practically gashed the Sooners’ vaunted defense for 120 yards on 23 carries. This marked Brown’s best performance since his freshman year and the first time he topped the century mark since last year’s opener against Wyoming. If Brown continues to play like this, watch out: he and Johnathan Gray could form a dangerous 1-2 punch out of the Texas backfield.
RB/WR Daje Johnson (So.)
After a sizzling start to the season against New Mexico State, injuries had either made Johnson a non-factor or forced him to sit out games altogether. Johnson scored for the first time since Texas’ season opener when he returned a third-quarter punt 85 yards for a touchdown, flashing his impressive speed en route to giving Texas a comfortable 29-13 lead. Whether it’s in the running game, as a receiver or as a returner, Johnson has shown he has the game-changing talent to reach the end zone any time he touches the ball.
S Adrian Phillips (Sr.)
For much of this season, Phillips had been the primary target for criticism of the Longhorn defense. Whether it was in coverage or tackling, he was typically the first to be blamed for the defense’s many costly mistakes. But he has rallied and played well for Texas, providing senior leadership for a unit forced to adjust to a new coordinator in Greg Robinson. Phillips looked especially strong in the run game against the Sooners, totaling nine tackles, five of which were solo.
Although Texas excelled against Oklahoma in the punt return game, netting an 85-yard touchdown in the third quarter by Daje Johnson, the team struggled to cover kickoffs. On his only two return attempts, the Sooners’ Roy Finch totaled 97 yards, including a 73-yarder that set Oklahoma up for an easy touchdown just before halftime.
WR Jaxon Shipley (Jr.)
Despite being back to full health, Shipley has struggled to make a consistent impact for this Texas offense and still has not reached the end zone this season, leaving many shaking their heads. Through six games, Shipley has 347 receiving yards, less than 60 yards per game. His numbers have dropped significantly since the Longhorns began Big 12 play, during which he has 13 catches for 119 yards in three games. Considering the connection he and senior quarterback Case McCoy have had in the past, this lack of production is shocking.