Texas coach Mack Brown challenged the Longhorns this week to make more explosive plays.
Keeping with that spirit, speedster Daje Johnson boasted to receiver Mike Davis that every time he touched the ball, "you're going to hear the fight song."
"The first time he touched it, I think you heard it," Davis said afterward.
Not quite. Johnson's 45-yard explosion the one that blew open the doors for a 45-0 Texas win over New Mexico occurred on his second touch of the game. But it did serve as a huge play in a contest that was still a bit too close for comfort after Texas entered halftime with a 17-0 lead.
The Lobos (1-1) rushed for 110 yards in the first half, holding the ball for nearly 20 of the 30 available minutes and going 4-for-8 on third downs. The Texas (2-0) defense held, as New Mexico never entered the Longhorns' red zone. But that offensive movement, and more specifically, the accompanying time of possession, meant that the Longhorns had just four first-half possessions offensively, and led 10-0 with less than three minutes left in the half.
Texas actually averaged 6.5 yards per play in the first half, and created scoring opportunities on all four of those possessions. But the Longhorns settled for field goal attempts on two of the first three, making a 38-yarder and missing a 45-yard try. That left the score at 10-0 before cornerback Quandre Diggs returned a punt 35 yards, setting up Texas at the New Mexico 27 with 2:37 remaining.
That's when Texas's receivers went to work. Facing a third-and-16 from the 22, David Ash fired a short pass to Davis, who danced around a textbook block from fellow receiver Marquise Goodwin, finding the end zone and a little bit more breathing room with 28 seconds left to go in the half.
"It felt great," Davis said. "I just have to thank David Ash and that line for protecting him long enough to get it out. It felt really good. I hadn't been to the end zone in a minute."
On the first possession of the second half, Johnson caught a short flip from Ash with a wide-open lane in front of him. The true freshman, who clocked a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at The Opening as a high school senior, burst through the gap and outran the secondary for a 45-yard touchdown, prompting the Texas band into action.
"I told Mike that," Johnson said, confirming his boast. "I was just joking ... well, not really. I guess I was right."
Johnson had earned rave reviews for his speed and playmaking ability all fall, but missed the first game for violation of team rules.
"I just learned not to make bad decisions," Johnson said. "The coaches handled that, and moved on. So no more bad decisions for me."
Texas scored on its next drive as well, with Joe Bergeron finding the end zone from one-yard out. The backups added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a physical six-yard run from D.J. Monroe, and another when Case McCoy hit tight end M.J. McFarland for a 13-yard score.
In all, Texas put points on the board on seven of its nine possessions six touchdowns and a field goal and only punted once (in the fourth quarter). The only other stop came when kicker Nick Jordan missed a 45-yard field goal try.
"The first half, we did some good things," said Bryan Harsin, Texas offensive coordinator. "We made some adjustments in the second half with just some of the things we were seeing and some of the personnel and things like that."
The Longhorns came out of the gate with an explosive mentality, with Ash missing Davis on an attempted bomb on Texas' first offensive play. The miss was one of a few on the night for Ash, who completed 16 of 22 passes for a career-high 221 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 49-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-one play.
"I wanted to get some shots, and we started off the game with a shot," Ash said. "I wanted to get it to Mike, but it didn't work out, and that's OK. We went to work after that."
Defensively, Texas clamped down when it mattered early, holding New Mexico to just 85 yards in the second and third quarters combined, when the outcome was somewhat in doubt. The shutout was Texas's second in 15 games under Longhorn defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, along with Kansas in 2011.
"I think it's a testament to what we talked about last week," Diaz said. "If you don't give up long runs or passes for touchdowns, you always have a chance.
"We were out there for more snaps at times than we wanted to be, but we never gave the big one away," Diaz said. "They never got in our red zone. I don't know what their furthest penetration into our part of the field was, but that's a pretty strong testimony to the Texas defense's ability to finally make a stand."
Brown described the game as "a night to work on things," and the Longhorns did just that. Eight players carried the ball with starters Bergeron and Malcolm Brown combining for just 13 carries and 12 players caught passes. Meanwhile, the third-teamers defensively were a part of the group that held for a shutout.
"That's what you strive for, not allowing teams to get into the end zone," said defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. "It's big for us, and it's great for us. It's good momentum for our next game."
Texas will face its first road test of the season next Saturday, making a trip to face 2-0 Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.