How Texas (4-2, 3-0) has graded out for the first half of the season:
David Ash and Case McCoy have combined to give Texas the Big 12’s fourth-ranked passing offense. Ash is 53 of 87 for 760 yards, with seven touchdowns and two picks. Case McCoy is 75 of 123 for 764 yards, with four touchdowns and one pick. Basically, Ash has played 10 quarters, McCoy 14. Ash’s concussion situation is one of Texas’ biggest question marks moving forward.
RUNNING BACKS: B
The Big 12’s third-rated rushing offense, averaging 202.7 yards a game, has clearly become Johnathan Gray’s to lead. He has 111 carries for 583 yards and four touchdowns. Malcolm Brown (46-183-1) has come on over the past two weeks, while Joe Bergeron (25-146-2) has faded. Gray, who has averaged nearly 107 yards over his last five games, trails only Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk among Big 12 rushers. Gray and Brown are running effectively.
You won’t find Mike Davis or Jaxon Shipley among the Big 12’s top wideouts statistically, but they — along with newcomers Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson — have been an effective unit. Davis (27-325-5) and Johnson (7-137-1) have become the deep threats, while Shipley (32-347) and Sanders (25-240-1) have helped McCoy and Ash on third downs. John Harris has only five catches, but it seems as if every one has been important.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
Texas’ front has experienced a bit of a resurgence during Big 12 play, and that’s even with some juggling to both left and right sides. Right tackle Josh Cochran (shoulder) hasn’t played since the Ole Miss game, and right guard Mason Walters (knee) is splitting time. Kennedy Estelle has looked good at right tackle. The O-line struggled early but is coming off a dominant performance against Oklahoma, its best game of the year.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B-
Just a B-minus? Keep in mind that these grades reflect all six games of the first half, not just the last couple of wins over Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma. There were some stinker performances against BYU and Ole Miss. But ends Jackson Jeffcoat (five sacks, nine quarterback hurries) and Cedric Reed (the team’s leading tackler, who also has three sacks and two forced fumbles) are playing at a high level, while Malcom Brown has shored up the middle. And everyone’s healthy.
As healthy as the defensive line is, the linebackers aren’t. Jordan Hicks, who remains the No. 2 tackler on the team despite playing only five games, has been lost for the season for the second straight year. Texas has tried to find the answer at his weakside spot — first with Timothy Cole, then with Steve Edmond, who manned the spot against Oklahoma. Dalton Santos is growing into a solid middle ’backer. There were too many missed tackles and poor games earlier in the season to salvage much of a midseason grade.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B-
We haven’t heard a lot from the secondary. Quandre Diggs has been quiet at nickel back. Carrington Byndom is looking for his first interception, as is Diggs. Duke Thomas, with two picks, has been a nice addition, but he’s also had some coverage lapses. Adrian Phillips has made and missed his share of tackles, and Mykkele Thompson has been good in spots. The secondary will be tested in the coming weeks.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Anthony Fera, who has made 8 of 9 field-goal attempts and is averaging 42 yards a punt, is looking as good as we thought he would last year, when he struggled with injuries. He’s been solid. Daje Johnson, who returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown against Oklahoma, looks as if he might be a difference maker in the return game. Kickoff coverage has been a problem; Texas ranks next-to-last in the Big 12.
OFFENSE AS A WHOLE: B
DEFENSE AS A WHOLE: C+
— Richard Tijerina