Three observations from Texas’ crazy comeback win over BYU

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Tide turned after Gilbert was pulled

Before junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert’s last play early in the second quarter, Texas was sluggish on offense, gaining just 59 yards in five possessions, with only 27 of them coming during the 15 plays.

Gilbert was on the field. The Longhorns committed two turnovers (both interceptions), had one first down (on a 13-yard by freshman running back Malcolm Brown) and no points. Then, sophomore quarterback Case McCoy replaced Gilbert, and the Texas offense took off. McCoy and freshman quarterback David Ash worked wonders with a two-quarterback system. With McCoy and Ash at the controls, the Longhorns churned out 230 yards and all 17 of their points in 46 plays.

“Being the backup, you have to be prepared every game,” McCoy said. “I thought our team played well in the second half. We came back, and we fought hard. That was a big win for us.”

McCoy, who completed seven of his eight throws, may have separated himself and earned the starting quarterback job. Brown made his case to be the squad’s No. 1 running back after getting 53 of his 68 yards after halftime. Another piece of well-executed trickery fittingly sealed the deal as freshman wide receiver Jaxon Shipley’s 23-yard toss to Ash clinched the Texas victory.

Texas defense improved as game wore on

The Longhorns took pride in bending but not breaking against Rice last weekend when they didn’t allow the Owls in their end zone. BYU’s sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps, however, hit freshman wide receiver Ross Apo for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 13-0 second-quarter lead. But the Texas defense bounced back, holding BYU to 67 second-half yards and 43 rushing yards for the game. The Cougars carried the ball only nine times after halftime and just twice in the fourth quarter. But BYU could not get anything going in the passing game either, as Heaps threw for only 39 yards in the second half.

“Well, you could tell by the second quarter that it turned into more of a passing game,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “There was no question that was the difference in the game.”

Longhorns stubborn about running on first play of drive

Texas had a dozen possessions against BYU, some better than others. But they all had one thing in common — a rushing attempt on the first play. On 12 first down runs to begin a drive, the Longhorns produced only 26 yards as Texas’ other 55 offensive plays were more than twice as productive. Brown was responsible for five of those possession-opening rushes, which netted only nine yards. His other nine carries, on the other hand, got him 60 yards.

“I thought Malcolm Brown really stood out again,” said head coach Mack Brown.

Printed on September 12, 2011 as: Press Box Observations