The eyes of Texas were upon Charlie Strong on Saturday. They just might have liked what they saw.
At least on defense.
With Mack Brown looking comfortable as a member of the media, a new era got underway in Austin on Saturday as Strong led the Longhorns out onto the field for the first time. The team walked away with a 38-7 win over North Texas that had plenty of positives and negatives for the burnt orange faithful.
Much like last season, the offense looked good in spurts. Running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown were naturally the focal points out of the backfield, each averaging over five yards a carry. Quarterback David Ash appeared fully healthy and operated the offense efficiently at times, throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown in an encouraging quality start.
The story was the defense, however. Much maligned after getting run over, around and through last season, Strong and coordinator Vince Bedford appear to have a quality unit on their hands, even if the opponent was North Texas.
At one point early in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns allowed just 39 total yards to the Mean Green. They finished with 94 by the end of the game and were forced into four interceptions on the night. Texas' front seven was active and made its presence felt against a quality team out of Conference USA.
If anything, the defensive prowess Texas showed on Saturday only made upcoming games against BYU and UCLA much, much more interesting. They'll be tested more in the coming weeks, but the bottom line is the defense looked better than it has in ages on the 40 Acres.
Things were slow at times on offense and that's likely where any criticism of the team will be focused. Texas went just 4-of-15 on third down and the vanilla game plan didn't lend itself to many major plays in the passing game. Such a style of play didn't work out too well for previous offensive coordinators, but for a first effort under a new coaching staff, it might be deemed acceptable for now.
Tougher tests await. The good news for the Longhorns is that under Strong they looked and acted tougher on the field.