Ash aims to make Texas a contender
Notebook: Kansas offense sputters; K-State's Klein progressing
It’s been so long since Texas has had good quarterback play — three years now — that many were hopeful coming into this season that David Ash could at least be a “game manager,” one who simply took care of the ball, made sound decisions and let the other, better, players on the team make the difference.
In SEC country last week, Ash threw that preconceived notion out the window, completing 19 of 23 passes for 326 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions as his Longhorns trounced Ole Miss 66-31, posting UT's highest point total since the 2005 Big 12 championship game (70).
“You know the offense was very prepared for this week,” defensive end Alex Okafor said. “They just executed the game – they went out and dominated.”
With several deep throws — Ash completed passes of 47, 45, 46 and 55 yards — complemented by a solid running game, the Longhorns certainly didn’t look like the 2010 and 2011 stagnant versions of themselves. Case in point: they’re No. 8 nationally in scoring offense.
"We haven't shown that ability offensively in a ball game for a year and a half, maybe two,” head coach Mack Brown said.
Obviously, Ash is managing games nicely. His four consecutive starts without an interception say as much. He’s coming into his own as a playmaker – take his 49-yard touchdown run last week – and as a weapon. He still underthrows receivers from time to time, and he misfired to a wide-open Jaxon Shipley in the end zone against Ole Miss, after which the Longhorns had to settle for a field goal. But his arm is giving Texas an added vertical dimension it hasn’t had since McCoy graduated and there’s reason to believe, with the number of skill players around him, last week wasn’t an aberration.
"We took a major step forward in our passing game," Brown said. "We've got to continue to throw it and we've got to continue to throw it downfield."
• The scheduling of a Sam Houston State can merit a “who?” reaction, but it’s important to remember the Bearkats are an FCS power. So it’s not all that shocking Baylor was down by 10 at halftime. Of course, the final score – 48-23, thanks to a big rally in the second half – doesn’t indicate how close the game really was.
“I thought there was a little lull in the first half trying to get back into the flow,” head coach Art Briles said. “We didn't have quite as much energy as we needed, because [the Bearkats] are a good football team. They have 19 of their 22 starters back and went 14-1 last year. I don't know who is going to beat them. They are a well-coached, talented football team that has a good amount of depth for an FCS school.”
• Quarterback Nick Florence turned it over twice but also threw for three touchdowns and 312 yards. Two of those came in the third quarter.
• Baylor has the second-longest winning streak in the nation, with eight. That will be tested in its next game against a Louisiana-Monroe team which beat Arkansas and took Auburn to overtime.
Next Game: vs. Louisiana-Monroe Sept. 22
Iowa State (3-0)
• The soft part of the Cyclones’ schedule is complete. After dispatching Western Illinois 37-3 last week, Iowa State has a week off before conference play begins. At 3-0, the team is halfway to bowl eligibility. “We are sitting pretty good with some of the things we can do,” linebacker Jeremiah George said. “… I think we are going to be able to handle our own.”
• Iowa State is holding opponents to 10.7 points per game and hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its last two games. “We just have the confidence that I don’t think we ever had before,” linebacker Jake Knott said.
Next Game: vs. Texas Tech Sept. 29
Kansas (1-2, 0-1 Big 12)
• The addition of quarterback Dayne Crist and head coach Charlie Weis was supposed to lift the Jayhawks offensively. After a 20-6 loss to TCU, it’s clear it’s not going to be that easy. Kansas is 103rd nationally in scoring offense and 73rd in total, while Crist – no touchdowns, one interception last week – is No. 67 in passing
“The defense played very well [on Saturday], but the offense came out in the second half and didn’t do well,” Kansas running back Tony Pierson said.
• The Jayhawks ran for 77 yards as a team, markedly less than their totals of 263 and 195 yards, respectively, in the first two games. Their next opponent, Northern Illinois, is 56th in rushing defense.
Next Game: at Northern Illinois Sept. 22
No. 15 Kansas State (3-0)
• The game against North Texas had all the makings of a trap game – a week after Miami (Fla.), a week before Oklahoma – and it developed just like that, with the groggy Wildcats letting the Mean Green hang around all game before pulling it out 35-21, thanks to two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“If you don’t prepare yourself well then most anything can happen,” head coach Bill Snyder said.
• The development of Collin Klein continues, with this senior passing for 230 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and only five incompletions. Now comes the true test against the Sooners, who held Klein to 58 yards passing last season.
• Tyler Lockett returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown for the third time in his career on Saturday, and is two away from tying Brandon Banks’ school record of five (2008-09).
Next Game: at Oklahoma Sept. 22
No. 6 Oklahoma (2-0)
• Pretty good timing for a bye week, as the Sooners will have had two weeks to prepare by the time Collin Klein and the undefeated Kansas State Wildcats roll into town. In the meantime, wideout Justin Brown, a Penn State transfer, is working on developing a rapport with quarterback Landry Jones. Brown has six receptions for 87 yards this season.
“I think it’s coming along good,” Brown said. “With Landry and [receiver] Trey [Metoyer], we’re always staying around after [practice] and I think it’s going good. I only had two weeks here so I had to get the timing down real quick.”
Next Game: vs. Kansas State Sept. 22
Oklahoma State (2-1)
• A 65-24 win against Louisiana-Lafayette is fine and dandy, but the kneecap injury to freshman quarterback surely dampened the Cowboys’ day. Lunt hurt his left knee on the sixth play of the game in a collision with a UL-L cornerback and left the stadium on crutches. Head coach Mike Gundy does not plan to release any information on Lunt’s injury until the day before OSU’s next game – against Texas in two weeks.
• Backup J.W. Walsh had a big day replacing Lunt, going 21 for 30 for 347 yards and four scores. He also ran for a touchdown.
“The way the offense clicked [last week] was just amazing,” Walsh said. “Everyone, they were in the right spots, they were doing the right things, and it's just good to know that you've got the offense moving like it was.”
Next Game: vs. Texas Sept. 29
No. 12 Texas (3-0)
• A week after having just two carries, Malcolm Brown was given a heavier load against Ole Miss, toting the ball 21 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow running back Joe Bergeron ran for 48 yards but left the game early with a shoulder injury and freshman Johnathan Gray offered a glimpse of what made him the nation’s top back coming out of high school, scampering for 50 yards, with a long of 19.
• Texas has a bye week before taking on Oklahoma State on the road, which will give several injured players time to heal. Linebacker Jordan Hicks limped off the field in the first half and kicker Anthony Fera hasn’t played in a game due to a strained groin.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State Sept. 29
No. 17 Texas Christian (2-0, 1-0 Big 12)
• A slopfest ensued in Kansas last weekend, with the Horned Frogs and Jayhawks combining for six turnovers and just two touchdowns. At the end of the day, another sensational performance by TCU quarterback Casey Pachall was enough to clinch the team’s first Big 12 win. Pachall, who didn’t throw an incompletion in the season opener, went 24 for 30 for 335 yards and two touchdowns, both to Brandon Carter. The Horned Frogs led at half 10-6.
“We came out a little flat,” Pachall said. “We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. We felt like they couldn’t stop us, but at the same time, we were stopping ourselves.”
• The Horned Frogs extended their nation’s-best winning streak to 10 games. They also won their 25th consecutive conference victory – 24 coming in the Mountain West – which is also tops in the country.
• Pachall completed his first five passes of the game to set a school record with 16 consecutive completions, carrying over from the team's game against Grambling State. Pachall is second nationally with a 84.6 completion percentage. This weekend’s opponent, Virginia, is 40th in passing defense.
Next Game: vs. Virginia Sept. 22.
Texas Tech (3-0)
• Quarterback Seth Doege played two full quarters before giving way to his backup early in the third quarter -- and he still finished with six touchdowns and 340 yards as the Red Raiders rolled past New Mexico 49-14. Doege became the ninth player at Texas Tech to throw for 5,000 career yards. He also leads the nations in touchdowns with 12.
• Running back Eric Stephens boasts a high rushing average this season, with 238 yards on 34 attempts – good for 7.0 yards per carry.
Next Game: at Iowa State Sept. 29
No. 8 West Virginia (2-0)
• Quarterback Geno Smith continues to put up out of this world numbers. He leads the nation in completion percentage, is second in QB rating and third in yards per game. In a 42-12 win against James Madison, Smith went 34 for 39 for 411 yards and five scores.
“I had five incompletions,” Smith said afterward. “I could’ve completed all five of those.”
• Receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin each had 100 yards receiving by halftime. Bailey finished with 173 yards and three touchdowns while Austin had 113 and one score.
Next Game: vs. Maryland Sept. 22