Call it a modest start for Mack Brown’s rebuilding program, as his Longhorns lead the Rice Owls 13-6 at halftime of their opening game of the season. With the kickoff moved to 7:00 to avoid the Austin heat, Brown’s new staff showed what style of offense and defense Texas will play.
With motion before almost every snap, Bryan Harsin’s offense has shown numerous formations and player packages, lining up freshmen QB David Ash at receiver and WR Jaxon Shipley behind center. The end result has been solid but a bit underwhelming, as Texas has moved the ball for 197 yards but only has 13 points with one touchdown aided by a short field.
The Longhorns have piled up 83 yards on the ground on an impressive 6.0 yards per carry, aided by a 12-yard end around by Shipley and a 24-yard scramble by Garrett Gilbert. Their touchdown came on the ground, with Cody Johnson rumbling in from one yard out. Gilbert has thrown 16 times for 114 yards, but he’s been hurt by a trio of dropped passes.
Defensively, the Longhorns have hurt themselves with drive-extending penalties that have kept a plodding Rice run game on the field. Rice averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, but they’ve netted 62 yards, led by Tyler Smith’s 40 on five carries. Rice has also benefited from a strong game by their placekicker Chris Boswell, who has hit from 42 and 49 for Rice’s points.
Texas will have the ball to start the second half. Gilbert’s unit will look to create a little separation in a game that is currently too close for comfort.