September 12, 2010

Texas still seeking identity on offense with Tech up next

1. Mike Davis is big time.

I get that Wyoming's defense gave up 384 yards (191 yards rushing) to Southern Utah last week. But I said before the season, I thought Davis would lead the team in receiving (receptions and yards). I'm not backing off that.

Davis had seven catches for 104 yards, and it would have been more, but a pass that would have been a nice gain was thrown behind Davis by Garrett Gilbert.

And you all are going to love this guy.

First of all, he patterns his game after DeSean Jackson of the Eagles. And he loves playing to the crowd.

"I saw all those people in the stands, and I have to give them something, had to entertain 'em," Davis said.

One of the things about Davis that leaps out is his yards after catch (I compared him to Michael Crabtree in fall camp).

"I can't let the first guy bring me down," Davis said. "I gotta get some YAC. Give the crowd some excitement. I'm always running for daylight. If I see it, I gotta get it. Every time I get it, I'm trying to get to the house. That's how I feel about it."

Davis said he wouldn't be denied during seven-on-seven during the summer, when freshmen can sometimes become bystanders as veterans take turn after turn. Teammates said Davis made sure he got his turns.

"Mike was a guy who came in during the summer and was very eager to learn the offense," Gilbert said. "He was jumping in there in seven-on-seven. He's a very smart guy."

"Mike wasn't shy," said running back Foswhitt Whittaker. "He's a confident guy, and he made plays all summer. It wouldn't shock me if he leads the team in receiving."

Davis was the subject of a story told by Greg Davis after showing up 40 minutes early for a 6 a.m. meeting. Mike Davis said he is not a morning guy.

"I was just ready," Mike Davis said. "I'm still hungry, but I'm humble. I want to do what I can to make the coaches trust me and show them I want it. I take my playbook to my room, even though I have to turn it in. I take it to my room and look it over and over and try to give the coaches a good vibe about me."

On his 45-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, which gave Texas a 20-7 cushion with 1:36 left in the half, Davis said, "That was a good feeling. I saw daylight and just had to go get it. I saw all the fans, and I had to make them smile, make them happy."

Last week, Davis played 38 plays but didn't have a catch.

"Patience is a key for me," Davis said.

The inside receiver spot for Texas is a critical spot in the Texas offense. It's a thinking man's position because there are a lot of option routes based on how the defense is playing.

"There are a lot of mismatches against linebackers and safeties in that spot, and Mike is tall and quick and can make something happen after the catch," Mack Brown said. "Last week, he played a lot. The ball just didn't come to him. We didn't throw very much.

"Tonight, the ball was in his hands. John Chiles hurt his groin a little bit, so he had to come out of the game. Marquise Goodwin got hurt a on his reverse, and he had to come out of the game. We were thin there right before the end of the half when all of this started happening.

"They probably saw how (Mike Davis) played and got well. They came back in the fourth quarter and played better. Mike Davis is going to be a good player. We're glad to see Darius White getting more opportunities as well."


2. The offense started to form an identity against Wyoming, but the coaches have a big week ahead to narrow down exactly what this offense does well before leaving for Lubbock.

Last week, Texas ran it 46 times and threw it 24. This week, Texas ran it 29 times for 167 yards and threw it 35 times (completing 22) for 222 yards and Garrett Gilbert's first TD pass of the season. Texas ran some five wides and mixed things up on offense a little bit.

"Felt much better this week about the balance we had on offense," Mack Brown said. "We used a lot more formations. Garrett put us in some different things. We went through another game without a turnover on offense. We did not have a sack again, for the second week in a row. I think we had two plays that lost yardage.

"We sputtered some, didn't finish drives consistently. We dropped a touchdown pass. So we have some things we can improve, but I think we're starting to get an identity. And we didn't have an identity last week."

The offense was in the shotgun much more than last week, and there were some strong runs, especially the counter by Fozzy Whittaker for a 39-yard TD run with 3:24 left in the half right after Wyoming had taken a 7-6 lead. (Britt Mitchell pulled on the play and delivered a crushing block.)

Gilbert missed some open targets, but he completed 63 percent of his passes and had what looked to be a TD pass down the right sideline dropped by Marquise Goodwin.

"What we've been trying to do is figure out who we are," Mack Brown said. "Last week, we wanted to run the ball. This week, we wanted to be more balanced. Really and truly, I think that happened. "Wyoming came in after the way we ran it last week and stacked everyone inside. They were playing inside techniques. Greg was trying to be stubborn early, and we just decided to be who want to be and be more wide open and more balanced. That's why we picked it up in the second quarter."


3. Greg Davis may not have enough to go on to figure out what this offense does best. But he has more than he had last week.

"We're trying to figure out how all the roles are going to be defined," Davis said. "The main thing is we have to be more consistent. I see flashes of things that are extremely exciting. But the inconsistency is the thing we have to work on heading into conference play.

"Look up and there's 5:50 left in the first half and you're down 7-6. To come back the way we did gives your entire team a boost."


4. Fozzy Whittaker is finally healthy and running well. He averaged nearly 9 yards per carry (7 for 62 and a 39-yard TD run, 8.9 ypc)

Mack Brown said after the game Fozzy deserves more playing time. Texas could have its third starting RB in three games if Whittaker steps into that role against Texas Tech.

Whittaker is ready.

"I'm healthy, and it's a great feeling to be able to contribute any way I can," Fozzy said. "Last week, we didn't have an identity. We were searching for one. And this week, we were able to fill our shoes into an identity. Right now, I think we can go in the gun or underneath or five-wide and mix the tempos up and keep the defense off balance and feeling uneasy."

Whittaker said he's not bothered by a second straight slow start. Against Rice, Texas had zero points in the first quarter. Against Wyoming, Texas had 3 points in the first quarter.

"We're finding our way to our identity, and we still haven't found it completely yet," Whittaker said. "But I feel like as the season comes along, we'll be picking it up."

Cody Johnson ran 9 times for 46 yards (5.1 ypc). Tre' Newton, Saturday's starter, ran 8 times for 23 yards (2.9 ypc).

"I thought Fozzy ran good throughout the game," Mack Brown said. "He's earning more playing time. I was really proud of Cody at the end. He was moving the pile the way we expect him too, and hopefully he came out of the game with his ankle fine.

"We've got to look at how you play them because the two are so similar and Cody is so different. We need to figure out does Cody start the game or is he better in the fourth quarter when everyone is tired. He moved the pile."


5. The offense couldn't finish drives in the first half, but for the second straight game there were no turnovers by the Longhorns' O.
Gilbert also didn't take a sack.

There were plenty of penalties that contributed to Texas' offensive ineptitude in the game:

*Kyle Hix false start with 12:30 left in first quarter.

*Britt Mitchell false Start with 2:17 left in the first qtr.

*Illegal crackback block by Malcolm Williams negates a TD run by Tre' Newton with 8:29 left in the half. Drives ends in 36-yd FG that put Texas up 6-0.

*Barrett Matthews false start with 4:40 left in half. Brings up second and 8.

*Illegal block in the back by Mason Walters on a big gain on a screen by Fozzy. Questionable call. But negates big gain and brings up 2nd-and-20 from the Texas 23. Kills drive, results in punt.

Texas finished with nine flags for 80 yards.


6. The defense had four penalties on third down in the third and fourth quarters that helped keep drives alive. But UT didn't give up any points in the second half.

"We had 12 on the field and got flagged," Muschamp said. "We were trying to get a lot of guys into the game, but we've got to be able to get that communicated. The penalties on third down are glaring. They came on third down on four different occasions I believe."

--Keenan Robinson was called for pass interference on third-and-4 from the Wyoming 26, giving the Cowboys a first down.

--Blake Gideon was called for a personal foul (targeting) for a helmet-first hit on a receiver on third-and-10 from the Wyoming 31, giving the Cowboys a first down.

--The defense had 12 men on the field on third-and-2 from the Texas 31, giving Wyoming a first down.

(But a fake field goal on fourth-and-2 from the Texas 18 was snuffed out by Curtis Brown for a loss of 2 yards, meaning the three penalties on that drive did not help lead the Cowboys to points.)

--On third-and-19 from the Wyoming 32, Jackson Jeffcoat was called for roughing the passer, and Muschamp was not happy about the call. But after the game, Muschamp said, "I have no comment."


7. The defense makes it a goal to create three turnovers a game but came up with none against Wyoming. But the Longhorns' D did sack elusive QB Austyn Carta-Samuels three times.

Eddie Jones, Keenan Robinson and Sam Acho all had sacks. Blake Gideon and Jones tied for the team lead in tackles (8). Sam Acho had three tackles for loss against Wyoming.

"Defense played hard, played tough," Mack Brown said. "We couldn't get the quarterback on the ground. The guy is really slippery.

"We had corner blitzes three different times that could have ended in sacks or knocked him around and maybe gotten a fumble, and we couldn't get him on the ground. He threw some balls up for us and we couldn't get our hands on them. We had too many penalties."


8. Justin Tucker bounced back with a nice game after going 2-of-4 on field goals in Week 1.

Not only did Tucker make both of his FG attempts from 45 and 36 yards out, he had three touchbacks on seven kickoffs. That's a step in the right direction after zero touchbacks last week at Reliant Stadium.


9. Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown continue to have a nice battle for the punt return job. But Texas' punting so far this season has been a disappointment.

Williams had punt returns of 13 and 18, while Curtis Brown had a return of 32. All of the returns ended up with nice field position for the offense. Brown's 32-yard return to the Wyoming 31 helped set up a 36-yard field goal after Texas could muster only 12 yards on 9 plays.

John Gold averaged just 35.5 yards on four punts, and Justin Tucker had a punt of 17 yards. This area has to get better in a hurry.


10. Whether the offense has an identity or not, Texas players are ready to get out to Lubbock and start conference play next weekend.
Fozzy Whittaker remembers all too well the last trip to Lubbock in 2008.

"That feeling going into that last offensive drive, we knew we had to lay it all on the line," said Whittaker, who had a key run on a touchdown march that gave the Longhorns a brief lead with a minute and a half to play. "And to know that wasn't enough, it just inspires us more to come back for the years to come to give them payback."

Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson said the pass rush will be ready.

"We want to get this first conference win, go out there play hard, and go out there on their territory and win. We have a bad taste in our mouth," Robinson said.

After facing mobile quarterbacks the first two weeks, Texas will face Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts, who is anything but mobile.

"They have Steven Sheffield who can come in and make plays with his feet as a change of pace," Robinson said. "Last year, Taylor was getting knocked around by our guys. I hope we can do the same thing again, maybe knock him out of the game or something like that. I don't know."

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