Texas 38, North Texas 7: Horns start strong

Posted August 30th, 2014



Texas has beaten North Texas, 38-7.

The Longhorns improve to 1-0. The Mean Green are 0-1.

Next up for Texas: BYU (6:30 p.m. Saturday, at Royal-Memorial Stadium, on Fox Sports 1). Next up for UNT: SMU, in Denton (6, Fox Sports).


Why Texas won: Well, let’s be honest. This was a mismatch. But Texas came out with strong energy (Strong energy?), especially on defense, and controlled things throughout. The three turnovers didn’t hurt either. David Ash didn’t wow anyone, but was competent, and the running game was productive.

Why North Texas lost: There was a reason why this nine-victory bowl team from last year was a 25-point underdog. New quarterback Josh Greer drew a tough defense to make his UNT debut against, and the offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks last season struggled to contain the Texas pass rush. Too many turnovers. Terrible on third-down conversions.

Cheers: (1) Where have you been, John Harris? (2) Mykkele Thompson was making hard tackles. Who knew? (3) Ash made it through his first entire game since September 2013. (4) A good night for the secondary, especially new faces Dylan Haines and Adrian Colbert, each of whom had picks. (5) Texas played great defensively, forced turnovers, made big plays and, yes, looked tough.

Jeers: (1) Dominic Espinosa’s ankle injury resulted in the senior center being carted off the field. (2) His backup, Jake Raulerson, allowed a sack and fumbled a snap exchange in his first few plays. (3) Nick Rose missed a 38-yard field goal. (4) Weren’t we supposed to see freshmen wideouts Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe? They played, but were uber-quiet. (5) Not a good night for Sedrick Flowers, either (gave up a sack/big hit on Ash, then caused a fumble in the endzone that blew the shutout. (6) Did Ash really need to play the entire game? (7) And where was the crowd? Only 93,201 were on hand to witness the first game of the Charlie Strong era.

Final stats:

First downs: Texas 18, UNT 8

Rushing: Texas 163 yards, UNT 79

Passing: Texas 190 yards, UNT 15

Total yards: Texas 353, UNT 94

Turnovers: Texas 2, UNT 4

Individual rushing: Texas, Johnathan Gray 16-82, Malcolm Brown 13-65-2, D’Onta Foreman 2-37. UNT, Reggie Pegram 15-50, Antoinne Jimmerson 9-30, Jeffrey Wilson 5-22, Carlos Harris 2-8, Jarrod Lynn 2-7.

Individual passing: Texas, David Ash 19-34-190, 1/0; UNT, Josh Greer 2-11-8, 0/2

Individual receiving: Texas, John Harris 7-110-1, Jaxon Shipley 6-43, Jacorey Warrick 2-30, M.J. McFarland 2-7, Marcus Johnson 1-7; UNT, Carl Caldwell 2-11, Jeffrey Wilson 1-4.

Defense: UT, DE Cedric Reed 6 tackles; DT Hassan Ridgeway 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss; S Mykkele Thompson 5 tackles, .5 sacks, 1 TFL; LB Jordan Hicks 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT; LB Demarco Cobbs 5 tackles, .5 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 INT.

Earlier updates …


There’s 3:32 left.

It’s Texas 38, North Texas 7.

North Texas’ fourth turnover — another interception, this one on Andrew McNulty — was an interception return by Longhorns linebacker Demarco Cobbs, who picked the ball off after UNT’s Darvin Kidsy tipped it into mid-air.

On the previous drive, Texas’ Nick Rose, who missed from 38 yards earlier, kicked a 34-yard field goal.

We thought we’d see freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman, who’s been drawing raves in preseason camp, make a play or two. We were half right. His brother, D’Onta — a relatively unknown freshman running back — broke a 34-yard run up the middle to set up the field goal.

David Ash took his fifth big hit of the game on that drive, from a blitzing linebacker on third down that led to the field goal.

Earlier updates …


There’s 7:17 left.

It’s Texas 28, North Texas 7.

Texas’ second turnover resulted in North Texas’ first score of the game. There goes the shutout.

On a third-and-10 from Texas’ own 1-yard line, David Ash fumbled in the endzone when guard Sedrick Flowers bumped into the ball before Ash could hand it off to Malcolm Brown.

The Mean Green recovered.

Senior center Dominic Espinosa, who’s started every game of his Longhorns career, has left with a right ankle or foot injury. North Texas linebacker Anthony Wallace — who delivered the first big hit of the night on David Ash, in the first quarter — rolled on Espinosa’s foot or ankle as Espinosa was blocking on a run.

Redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson has entered the game at center. He had an under-whelming start — allowing a sack and big hit on Ash by getting beaten up the middle, and then fumbling the snap exchange with Ash.

Tonight’s attendance: 93,201.


There’s 10:35 left.

It’s Texas 28, North Texas 0.

Texas’ biggest weapon tonight — no, it’s not David Ash, or Malcolm Brown, or Johnathan Gray, or Jaxon Shipley, or Marcus Johnson — has scored a touchdown to put the 25-point favorite Longhorns up by four scores.

Biggest weapon? Senior receiver John Harris.

Ash has been looking Harris’ way all night. Harris has 7 catches (a career high) for 110 yards and a touchdown — Texas’ latest score, an 8-yard toss from Ash.

Harris had five catches all last year.

Texas’ drive: 9 plays, 75 yards, in 4:25.

Earlier updates:


Texas leads North Texas, 21-0.

So far, it’s been an impressive night for the Texas defense, and a so-so evening for the offense.

The Longhorns have forced three turnovers — all interceptions (Dylan Haines, Jordan Hicks, Adrian Colbert) — and one quarterback change. There haven’t been the missed tackles that have been identified with the defense for the past couple of seasons.

The Mean Green have produced only 31 total yards.

All three Texas TDs have come on short runs — two by Malcolm

Brown, one by David Ash.

Ash has taken three big hits so far.

Let’s look at some stats:

Total yards:
Texas 180, UNT 31

Rush yards:
Texas 72, UNT 27

Pass yards:
Texas 108, UNT 4

First downs:
Texas 8, UNT 2

Texas 0, UNT 3

Ash 10-17-108, Josh Greer (UNT) 1-7-4, 2 picks

Malcolm Brown 9-27-2, Johnathan Gray 10-62; Reggie Pegram (UNT) 7-23

John Harris 5-85, Jaxon Shipley 2-22, M.J. McFarland 2-7; Carl Caldwell (UNT) 1-4


There’s 2:41 left.

It’s Texas 21, North Texas 0.

Update: Johnathan Gray is just fine.

Update, Part II: So is David Ash. We think.

They both combined to put the Longhorns up by three touchdowns. Gray, playing this drive, popped to the left side for 42 yards, setting Texas up at the UNT 3-yard line.

From there, though, things bogged down. On first-and-goal, Gray carried down to the 1. On second-and-goal, Gray was stopped for no gain. On third-and-goal, Gray was stopped for no gain.

Texas went for it on fourth down, and Ash kept it, running to the right, outpacing two Mean Green defenders and diving into the corner of the endzone for the score.

Ash has taken two big hits so far this game.

Texas’ scoring drive: 8 plays, 53 yards, and it took 4:24 off the clock.


There’s 9:13 left.

It’s Texas 14, North Texas 0.

The Longhorns have turned North Texas’ second turnover of the game into their second touchdown of the game, a 3-yard run by Malcolm Brown. It’s Brown’s second score of the day.

Senior linebacker Jordan Hicks picked Josh Greer off to set up the scoring drive, at UNT’s 31. It was Hicks’ first interception of his career.

Texas’ scoring “drive:” 2 plays, 31 yards. It took 39 seconds off the clock.

Brown’s run was set up by a 28-yard pass from David Ash to John Harris, who so far is leading the team with 4 catches for 65 yards.

Note: North Texas has lifted Greer, who has thrown two picks. Andrew McNulty is now playing quarterback.


Texas leads North Texas, 7-0.

The Longhorns forced a punt after their touchdown drive, and have the ball at their own 43 to start the second.


There’s 4:06 left.

It’s Texas 7, North Texas 0.

The Longhorns are on the board, thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Malcolm Brown.

Brown set up his own score on a tough carry to the 1, for a first-and-goal. On the very next play, he followed blocks from Geoff Swaim and Alex De La Torre into the endzone.

Texas’ scoring drive: 9 plays, 63 yards, 3:30 off the clock.

What’s happened so far:

David Ash took his first big hit, on an awkward run toward the sidelines on a third-down play. A UNT linebacker blasted him. Ash got up.

Nick Rose missed a 38-yard field goal try on the next play. Wide right.

Dylan Haines, a walk-on safety from Lago Vista, made the first big play — intercepting a tipped pass from UNT’s Josh Greer, who’s making his first start.

And John Harris has two early drops. But he also has two nice catches. Ash has thrown to him more than anyone else.


And we’ve kicked off at DKR.

The Longhorns will kick off first. Which means we get an early look at the new defense.

Updates coming.


Three UNT players that the Longhorns will be watching extra close:

Josh Greer, QB: The juco transfer was named the starter earlier this week. It’ll be his first game for UNT. He’s big (6-5, 220) and threw for 1,205 yards and 8 TDs in his six games last year for Navarro College. He’s replacing Derek Thompson, who left as one of UNT’s greatest quarterbacks ever.

Cyril Lemon, RT:
Get this — UNT folks say that Lemon is the only player in the country who has started every game since his freshman year (he’s a senior now) who also has made all-conference his first three seasons. Last year, UNT allowed only 11 sacks all season. That ranked sixth nationally.

Derek Akunne, LB:
He’s been second on the team in tackles each of the past two years, and has 2 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions in his career. This will be his 28th start.

And don’t forget UNT receiver Darius Terrell, who’ll be making his first start for the Mean Green after transferring out of Texas in 2012. He redshirted last year.

This week’s Big 12 schedule:


North Dakota State 34, Iowa State 14: Cyclones are 0-1.

2-Alabama 33, West Virginia 23: Well, that was a lot closer than we all expected …

Kansas State vs. Stephen F. Austin (6 p.m.): In Manhattan. The Wildcats lost their season opener last year.

4-Oklahoma vs. Louisiana Tech: Former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, now running La Tech’s D, gets another crack at the Sooners. And it’s not pretty. OU leads in the first half, 21-0.

TCU vs. Samford (6, FSN): In Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs are up 14-0 in the second quarter.

Texas Tech vs. Central Arkansas (6, FSN): It’s 7-3 Red Raiders, in the second.

Oklahoma State vs. 1-Florida State (7, ABC): Big stage (Jerry World), bigger chance for the Cowboys, drawing the defending national champs.

Texas vs. North Texas (7, LHN): Hello, Charlie Strong.


Baylor vs. SMU (6:30, Fox Sports 1): The Bears open their new McLane Stadium.


Things I’m looking for out of Texas-North Texas:

No. 1: Texas .. or exas?
Charlie Strong wants to put the T back in Texas, which stands for toughness. The Horns are 25-point favorites tonight. Will they look like it? Is this going to be a lopsided with some lingering questions or concerns, or will this be a win with plenty of good mojo moving forward?

No. 2: Lots of new:
There’s so much newness with this team and program. How will it all look? From Shawn Watson’s playcalling to David Ash’s throws to the running game to the offensive line to what’s supposed to be a more aggressive defense, what’ll it all look like? And what will the energy level be?

No. 3: The crowd:
Sellout or no sellout for the first game of the Strong era? Where will tonight’s crowd rank among UT’s biggest?

No. 4: Hits on Ash:
Ash has been protected throughout the spring and summer. He’ll certainly get hit tonight, but will he take a big hit? Because you have to figure those are coming over the next two weeks against BYU and UCLA. I’d like to see how Ash responds to a big hit.

No. 5: Johnathan Gray:
He must’ve looked as good as coaches say he has during fall camp. He went from Malcolm Brown’s backup to an either/or spot on the two-deep. Will Gray have the same speed, quickness and ability to cut that he did pre-Achilles injury? Brown’s as close to a sure thing as you can get. Gray, however, needs to show he’s all the way back.

No. 6: Cedric Reed:
He’s supposed to be the defensive line’s alpha dog. Will he play as well this year without Jackson Jeffcoat on the other side? Or will he play even better because of that?

No. 7: The freshmen:
I want to know whether we should be excited about what Foreman and Joe can bring to the table this year. And I want to see what Jason Hall does starting at safety.

No. 8: The pass defense: Tonight will be a good peek into what to expect from this pass defense. UNT’s line allowed only 11 sacks last year. Can Texas get its pass rush going? And what will the secondary look like? Taysom Hill looked plenty good last night — BYU’s in town next week, then Brett Hundley and UCLA the next. Texas’ pass defense will need to be at the top of its game for those.


Here are Ryan Autullo’s five questions facing Texas tonight:

No. 1: How many big plays will Texas surrender?
Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said he won’t be happy if his defense gives up passes of 20 or more yards or runs of 15 or more. Last year, Texas was all too willing to give those out — the Longhorns ranked 102nd in the country with 198 plays that netted 10 or more yards.

No. 2: Will Tyrone Swoopes play?
Probably not, coaches say, barring an injury to David Ash or a huge fourth-quarter lead. Still, with Ash’s concussion history, you’d like to see his backup get some meaningful snaps.

No. 3: How many catches will the tight ends make?
Last year, there were only 6. All season. In Shawn Watson’s offense at Louisville, tight ends caught 43 passes in 2013. Guess who’s calling the plays tonight?

No. 4: Can Will Russ be a consistent punter?
Anthony Fera was last year, averaging 40 yards a punt. Russ, a senior, has been inconsistent during preseason camp. Some of his punts have been great, some have been awful, some have been split down the middle.

No. 5: How many true freshmen will play? Your top candidates are safety Jason Hall, who should start, along with freshmen receivers Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe.


… and we have launched our first game chat of the 2014 season. You can find us here. We’ll keep going through the end of the game.

Texas’ main storylines tonight:

(1) The Longhorns were 8-5 last year and lost to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

(2) Texas went 1-2 in non-conference last season, beating New Mexico State in the opener but losing at BYU and then at home to Ole Miss.

(3) It’s the start of the Charlie Strong era. You can make the case it’s also the start of the Mack Brown era — at ESPN.

(4) Keep your eye on quarterback David Ash, who’ll be playing for the first time since September 2013. Concussions kept him out for most of the season. He has yet to take a hit during spring football or preseason camp. Running back Johnathan Gray (Achilles) and linebackers Jordan Hicks (Achilles) and Steve Edmond (lacerated liver) also are coming back from season-ending injuries.

(5) New offense, new defense, new special teams, new coaching staff. How will these Longhorns look:?


These teams haven’t met since 2006.

Charlie Strong is the 29th coach in UT history, but only the sixth in the last 58 years. He went 37-15 in his four years at Louisville, which was 15-21 in the three years before he got there. Strong was the Big East’s coach of the year in 2010 and 2012. He led Louisville to four bowl games, and won three, including one BCS bowl. And over the past two years, Louisville was the nation’s fourth winningest program, behind only Florida State, Ohio State and Alabama.

Texas is 101-17-3 in season openers, including a 79-7-2 record when playing at home.


 It’s a gorgeous, sunny evening here at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Texas players are warming up and stretching, Shawn Watson is watching David Ash and Tyrone Swoopes take snaps on the side, and we’re less than an hour away from the 2014 kickoff.

Game 1: Texas vs. North Texas

7 p.m. tonight, DKR.

Looking to watch it on TV? It’s a Longhorn Network game for Time Warner, DISH and AT&T Uverse customers. DirecTV folks won’t get it. Looking to listen to it on radio? KVET (1300, 98.1) has it.

Today’s Texas-North Texas line: The Longhorns are favored by 25.

We’ll launch our live game chat at 6:30, or 30 minutes before the real kickoff. We’ll be chatting live from the DKR press box, including comments from columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden and beat writers Brian Davis and Ryan Autullo. Rick Cantu will be your moderator.

We’ll also be updating this game thread on Bevo Beat throughout the night.

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