Five Quick Thoughts: Texas 38 - UNT 7

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By Justin Wells, Inside Texas Web Editor
Posted Aug 30, 2014
Copyright © 2020

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Cedric Reed gets ready. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas opened the Charlie Strong era in true Strong fashion. The offense controlled the clock and ran for three scores while the defense pitched a shutout (UNT scored on offensive fumble recovery).

Welcome to the new age.

Here are my Five Quick Thoughts following the 38-7 Texas win in Charlie Strong's first game in Austin.

1) The Texas defense is something serious. UT held North Texas to 31 yards in the 1st half, 39 by the 4th, forced two fumbles, nabbed four picks, and added six tackles-for-loss, and a pick-6. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford dialed up pressure from all angles, all night, and it worked. When you add pressure, bad decisions increase and that certainly was the case. UT's four interceptions were the most since traveling to Oxford to beat Ole Miss in 2012. There were nice contributions from DeMarco Cobbs, Adrian Colbert, and Hassan Ridgeway. Also, North Texas QBs stats: 3-17, 15 yards, 4 INTs, 4 sacks. 

2) The Achilles brothers - Jordan Hicks and Johnathan Gray - are coming off two of the worst injuries an athlete can experience; a torn Achilles. It was the first night back for the disabled list tandem and from all indications, they are stronger than ever. Gray has those feet he displayed in high school and the explosion and burst he's developed as one of the strongest workers in the weight room. Hicks was sideline-to-sideline, making tackles, crossing passing lanes, and just hitting folks while adding a pick and TFL on the night. It's a great sign for two Texas veterans.

3) The offensive line has to keep David Ash off the ground. I figured this goes without saying and when adding the top OL coach in the nation, Joe Wickline, to the staff, I guess I expected a better effort in keeping Ash's jersey clean. He was hit entirely too much - twice North Texas took clean shots - especially in the 1st half. I don't need to get into detail the importance of keeping Ash upright - we've (Inside Texas staff and members) discussed this in length during the 8-month offseason that felt more like eight years. If I know Strong and Wickline, adjustments will be made. There is talent in the program along the UT offensive front, protecting a fragile quaterback needs to be lesson No.1. Senior center Dominic Espinosa suffered a high ankle sprain late in the 3rd quarter, per Longhorn Network. He was replaced by RS freshman Jake Raulerson. Out of all the players Texas could afford to lose, Dom is invaluable along the line.

4) After a somewhat sluggish 1st half, the Texas offense picked up things in the 2nd half. Two reasons: Running the ball effectively and John Harris. The 5th-year senior, who had five total catches in 2013 and had two drops early in the game, delivered his best performance as a Longhorn. He finished with 110 yards and a score, on seven grabs. Texas topped 300 yards by the 3rd quarter (357 total) behind a balanced attack - 176 rushing, 190 passing. UT rushed for 4.5 yards per carry with Malcolm Brown (two TDs) and Johnathan Gray combining for 147 yards.

5) Texas has a QB. If UT and the o-line can keep David Ash healthy, and that is a possibility, the UT has a damn good QB that they can rely on. Ash went through his progressions, made adjustments, extended plays, and was a good "game manager". Just what Strong desires and the Texas program needs. This also increases the likelihood of Jerrod Heard redshirting, which is another positive.

One final thought: Even after one game, I can see a difference within the Texas team. The body language is better. There are adjustments made after the 1st half. Mainly, UT fans need to be excited about this defense and the direction of this program. The attitude is getting fixed.

Quotable quote: "I saw toughness tonight," said Charlie Strong, on what he saw from his players tonight after UT's season-opening 38-7 win over North Texas.

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