AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Longhorns have shown they can run the ball with power and speed. The question now is whether quarterback David Ash can open things up with his arm.
Texas is likely to remain a run-first offense all season, but the Longhorns want Ash to develop into a more reliable stretch-the-field passer to keep opposing defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage.
Ash was effective throwing short passes last week against Wyoming, but misfired on his deep throws. Coach Mack Brown likely wants to keep testing that arm when No. 17 Texas (1-0) hosts New Mexico (1-0) on Saturday night in a game the Longhorns are heavily favored to win.
"You have to go get more explosive plays in the passing game," Brown said.
Ash was solid if unspectacular in his first game after winning the starting job over Case McCoy in training camp. Ash was 20 of 27 passing for 156 yards, but most of those throws went from sideline to sideline or to running backs in the flat. His longest completion was 16 yards.
Ash also underthrew two deep throws to junior wide receiver Mike Davis, another player who has shown flashes but is yet to develop into the deep threat the Texas coaches have expected him to be. Davis had four catches for 40 yards against Wyoming.
Brown generally praised Ash's first game performance but also said Ash was late on the deep throws and needs to work on his timing.
Ash said the Texas coaching staff graded him as "solid, winnable" for his effort against Wyoming, the highest rating he's received so far.
"We won, that's the main thing," Ash said. "There's a couple of times I took a hitch step which threw off the timing which means the ball is going to be late. For me, the main thing is trusting my reads, trusting my feet, and getting rid of the ball."
New Mexico's first problem will be containing a Longhorns rushing attack that ran up 280 yards against Wyoming behind bruising sophomore tailbacks Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown, who both topped 100 yards.
The Lobos gave up just 83 yards rushing in a 66-21 win over Southern, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, and were never really challenged in winning their season opener for the first time since 2005. The win also matched their season total for the last three years.
For Lobos coach Bob Davie, it was his first win in 10 years. The former Notre Dame coach stepped out of the broadcast booth - where he had done commentary for several Texas games in the past - to return to the sideline at New Mexico.
The fun likely won't last. After playing Texas, the Lobos go on the road to Texas Tech, another Big 12 school.
"We all know what's coming in the next few weeks," Davie said of skill level and raucous crowds that will be waiting for the Lobos the next two weeks.
He should. Davie was an assistant coach at Texas A&M for several years before joining the Notre Dame staff. Davie said former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum called him on Monday.
"He said, 'What the heck are you doing scheduling Texas?'" Davie said.
"This isn't the first time, for the guys that have been here, playing against this caliber of team," Davie said." For our younger guys they're probably so naïve, they probably don't realize that it is different, so I'm not going to say much about that. Our eyes our open."