The Austin Chronicle

Making Minced Meat of Mean Green

By Eric Sollenberger, September 2, 2014, 11:30am, The Score

Texas’ defensive line put on a clinic Saturday night, holding North Texas’ quarterbacks Josh Greer and Andrew McNulty to 15 total passing yards and a combined quarterback rating of 0.0.

The Mean Green scored its only touchdown on a fourth quarter fumble recovery, and picked up eight first downs all game. Only running back Reggie Pegram eclipsed 50 yards of anything. They would have been more successful punting each possession.

Saturday’s 38-7 runaway came on account of the good guys’ massive attack from a four-man rush, which hurried Greer and McNulty and allowed Texas’ defensive backs and linebackers to make UNT look more like INT. All told, Texas forced four aerial turnovers Saturday night. When the Horns did blitz with extras it got ugly. Not only did they dominate the pass, the UT defense allowed only 1.8 yards per carry.

This was all expected. UNT isn’t exactly Oklahoma – or even Rice – but the Longhorns aren’t cast from iron either. The encouraging part is that the defensive line and running backs – the two positions where new coach Charlie Strong inherited the most talent – played exactly as well as you’d expect them to play against North Texas. Johnathan Gray scampered for 82 yards on 16 carries. Senior Malcolm Brown pushed forward for another 65. Merely living up to expectations is a victory for a program that came into this game with a recent reputation of underplaying their potential.

You only hope no one gets hurt in a blowout, but alas, Monday bore news that QB David Ash’s head’s now hurting again. Strong said Ash notified team trainers that he began feeling the effects of headaches and dizziness after the game – likely because of a fairly routine hit in the first quarter. He’s already been ruled out against BYU, and the training staff should take a long look at whether Ash should return to the field at all. His replacement, second-year player Tyrone Swoopes, is young but also a six-foot-four stallion who took plenty of starting reps in the spring game. He brings a real running threat to the position, but still has a long way to go in terms of development as a passer.

The Longhorns also incurred an injury to Dominic Espinosa, their best offensive lineman. The Cedar Park center broke his right ankle and will likely miss the rest of the season, leaving a big, experienced hole in front of Swoopes’ protection. The injury is a big hit for an offensive line that was already considered to be one of the teams’ biggest question marks, making next week’s tough task against a Brigham Young team that only allowed 2.3 rushing yards per carry against UCONN even tougher.

UT plays BYU at home on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 6:30pm. Read Eric Sollenberger's game preview in this week's issue, on stands Thursday.

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