Win huge for Horns on many lev­els

From Ash, Good­win to a stout de­fense, Texas turned in a solid per­for­mance.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Byj­ef­fhowe RODOLFO GON­ZA­LEZ / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN HOOKEM.COM com. Hookem.

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.

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