You could say that the Texas Longhorns were, to paraphrase the legendary hip hop group Public Enemy, "too fast, too strong" Saturday night in their 45-0 defeat of the New Mexico Lobos before 100,990 at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.
But while it was UT’s ability to eventually wear down a Lobo squad that had little of the depth that a team like Texas takes for granted, it was also UNM’s own mistakes that doomed UNM, which falls to 1-1 on the season with the loss. Texas Improved to 2-0, with both wins over Mountain West Conference teams.
The Longhorns again had a sluggish first half but were able to get enough big plays to hold a 10-0 lead as the second quarter turned towards halftime. Texas took the lead on the first of many Lobos mistakes when sophomore quarterback David Ash ran for a 49-yard touchdown on fourth and one.
In the second quarter, a critical stroke of bad luck hit the Lobos when senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook was knocked out of the game with what was later diagnosed as a rib contusion. True freshman signal caller Cole Gautsche, who had gotten a few snaps early on, was thrust into the spotlight and Texas’ defense no longer worried about the UNM passing game out of the Pistol offense, choosing the focus on the run.
"B.R. is a key, key player for us because he does give us balance," Davie said. "With those other two guys in there (Gautsche and Quinton McCown), we are truly an option team. But I think both those guys can grow as throwers, but it's not going to happen overnight."
On the drive prior to Hobrook’s injuries, the Longhorns then took advantage of another Lobo miscue, blocking a punt to set up a 7-play, 19-yard drive that resulted in a Texas field goal to make the score 10-0. Yet UNM was still showing some spark on offense – until Holbrook left the game.
But the deepest cut came at the end of the first half, when the ‘Horns converted a third-and-16 opportunity with 28 seconds left in the half with a pass from Ash to Mike Davis to give Texas a 17-0 lead going into halftime.
The Longhorns then scored touchdowns on two long third quarter drives while diffusing the UNM attack to take control of the game.
"Early in the game, we moved the ball pretty easily with B.R. in there," said Davie. "We couldn't sustain it enough to score points.
"It's frustrating because we got exposed from an execution standpoint We have to be perfect to try and score points and we aren't good enough to be perfect yet, particularly against a good team."
After playing a mostly error-free game against Southern in week one, New Mexico lost some of the discipline against Texas. The Lobos fumbled three times – losing one – and was penalized eight times for 50 yards (Texas had no turnovers and only three penalties). The defense showed some flashes, particularly in the first half, but the weakness in the secondary came through as the ‘Horns were consistently able to extend drives and make clutch plays when they needed them.
"I was really proud of how we played both offensively and defensively, but we made some silly mistakes," said Davie.
Texas converted 10-of-14 third downs to 6-of-15 for UNM. The Lobos won the time of possession battle, 33:52 to 26:08. Texas was 4-of-4 in the red zone while the Lobos never made it that deep into Texas territory.
"We got them to third down quite a few times, but we couldn't execute enough on third down to get off the field," Davie said.
The Longhorns managed 431 yards of total offense to 241 for New Mexico. UT outgained UNM 285 yards to 35 through the air, while New Mexico managed 206 yards on the ground.
Holbrook went 5-of-8 passing for 32 yards and added 39 yards on the ground. Gautsche went 0-of-4 through the air with one pick and ran for 35 yards.
Ash finished with 273 yards of total offense, going 16-of-22-0 for 221 yards passing. The sophomore threw two touchdowns and ran for another and was the team’s leading rusher.
"It's not as good as it was last week. It's not as bad as it is this week, said Davie said of UNM's process of getting better. "Somewhere in the middle of that is what reality is.
"We're too early in this process to start making a bunch of strong statements about where we are. We just need to look at the tape and try to get better."
New Mexico next travels to Lubbock to play Texas Tech next Saturday at 5 p.m. Mountain time. The Red Raiders (1-0) opened the season Saturday night with a 58-10 dismantling of Texas State in San Marcos, Texas.