Win huge for Horns on many levels
From Ash, Goodwin to a stout defense, Texas turned in a solid performance.
SAN ANTONIO — Texas’ 31-27 win over Oregon State wasn’t just a muchneeded victory. It wasn’t just a well-earned victory, and it wasn’t just a victory to provide something positive to carry into a monumental offseason in the Mack Brown era. It was all of the above. Breaking down the Horns’ come-from-behind Alamo Bowl victory:
Ash’s big game: The final numbers for David Ash were solid. He hit on 21 of 33 passes for 241 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a key rushing touchdown. He proved that he can use his legs when called upon, and the plays he mentioned that sparked the offense were largely ones he delivered.
His performance against the Beavers doesn’t answer the question of whether he’s a championship quarterback. But it was a step in that direction.
“He’s a young guy still, but I think he’s got the determination; I think he’s got the mindset,” co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. “Games like this, games like Stillwater, games like Ole Miss — those are games that he just has to continue to build confidence in, and we’ve got to simplify things and make it easy for him so he can play fast.”
So that was defense: Manny Diaz talked about how being relentless wasn’t good enough, that his defense needed to be something else. In this game, the Horns were finishers. The Beavers’ seven second-half possessions ended with four punts, an interception, a touchdown (Ash’s lone interception of the day), and a turnover on downs. A defense that couldn’t get out of its own way all season finally had things fall into place, giving the players a performance to hang their hats on.
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A show of hands: Marquise Goodwin and the Texas receivers were the difference, with clutch play after clutch play.
Darrell Wyatt’s bunch was led by eight catches and 88 yards from Jaxon Shipley, but Goodwin had the winning touchdown catch and a huge 26-yard grab on a scoring drive, and Mike Davis made big catches on the final two drives as well.
Running wild: Johnathan Gray made plenty of big plays in critical spots during his high school career at Aledo. But he admitted that he’s never felt more pressure than he did when he had to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Wild formation just one play before the winning touchdown pass from Ash to Goodwin.
“In high school, everybody assumed I was just going to get it,” Gray said. “At this level, you have to be on your p’s and q’s. I bounced it out, and I told my team that I was going to get it.”
A freshman who plays with that kind of confidence is special.
O-line’s woes: It wasn’t a good night for the offensive line. If you take away Goodwin’s 64yard touchdown run, Texas’ running game had 53 yards on 30 carries.
But the line continues to block in space. Mason Walters had a great block to spring Gray on a screen pass, and Donald Hawkins delivered the key block to wall off a defender on Goodwin’s run.
The work in the quarterback run game late and the pass protection got the job done against Oregon State, but this group has to get better for the offense to do anything consistently.
Texas QB David Ash (14) makes a cut as Oregon State’s D.J. Alexander tries to stop him during the second half of the Alamo Bowl on Saturday night. Ash threw for 241 yards and 2 TDs.