With each easy Texas early-season win, Texas fans file into Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium looking for answers. And knowing that most of their questions will, in fact, not be answered within the four quarters of football that they will witness.
That was the case again Saturday night, as Texas dominated the New Mexico Lobos, 45-0.
Obviously there was plenty to like about Saturday night's performance: any time a team can throw a shutout - and this was the 10th shutout in Mack Brown's era - certainly the defense deserves plenty of praise. On special teams, the Longhorns blocked a punt and continued to excel - and perhaps even intimidate - in their kick coverage (witness the Lobos' hesitation to bring the football out after the first kickoff of the game).
Offensively, David Ash was what David Ash is probably going to be, at least for this season: an effective offensive conductor who will make the necessary short-to-medium throws and not strike with the long ball very often at all. As for the runners, they are highly effective between the tackles, immensely talented, and the offensive line was formidable. There was even a tight end sighting - hello, D.J. Grant - and Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley made plays at receiver. And Daje Johnson, very nice to meet you, too.
But coaches - and fans - like to spend much more time trying to solve perceived "issues" than enjoying what went well. Especially against a team like New Mexico, who clearly did not pose any threat at all to the Longhorns on Saturday night.
The most glaring of those issues might be on defense - which is hard to imagine, considering the Lobos scored as many points as a dead man Saturday night. But if we're asked to nitpick - and we are - let's start with this: the Longhorns must figure out why they are getting off to such slow starts defensively before playing the "real" teams on the schedule.
In both of their games, the Longhorns have allowed opponents to gobble yardage in chunks as the games have started, in various ways: against Wyoming, Texas was "big-played" early. Against New Mexico on Saturday night, Texas looked completely perplexed by the option attack by the Lobos, despite the preaching of Manny Diaz early in the week warning that his squad must be disciplined, smart, etc. The Longhorns knew what was coming against an underwhelming opponent, and couldn't stop it initially.
The Lobos did exactly what they wanted to do early, keeping Texas on its heals defensively, milking the clock and antagonizing a defense that may - or may not - have been reading any magazines this week. By the time Texas had knocked New Mexico starting quarterback B.R. Holbrook out of the game, the Diaz group appeared to have figured out the option, but against a stronger opponent (i.e., Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU), this early hole-digging could end up haunting Texas.
As for the kicking game, though the kickoff coverage team is lights out (again, with the realization that these teams cannot match Texas in talent), another missed field goal by the Longhorns Saturday night leaves coaches and fans wondering just what they can expect from that unit.
Offensively, though Ash was once again efficient (16 of 22 for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns) with his passing and downright electrifying on a 49-yard touchdown run to open the scoring, he still made some youthful mistakes, and was fortunate that one pass in particular was not intercepted. He still has some tightening up to do.
But how can you criticize a 45-0 win? You can't, not intelligently. And so the Longhorns - and their coaches and their fans - will continue on with the season's journey, with the understanding that much is yet to be discovered about this football team.
Next week Texas will face its toughest opponent yet, Ole Miss, on the road. The crowd will be hyped along with the players, and though Texas will once again have a considerable talent advantage, that talent gap will not be nearly as great as it has been the last two weeks, and Texas must play in front of a team that wishes them ill.
Saturday night was impressive, but do we know much - if any - more now that we did before the game? No, but we knew that would be the case before the ball was even kicked off. The real tests begin next week in Oxford.