Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/5/11
AUSTIN One injury release came out just before game time Saturday. Texas released the second one right after the game had started. And so the Longhorns entered their contest with Texas Tech down true freshmen Jaxon Shipley and Malcolm Brown, the team's leading receiver and leading rusher, respectively. No Shipley, no Brown, no problem. Texas turned to two other true freshmen, emerging running back Joe Bergeron and rapidly improving quarterback David Ash in rolling to a 52-20 win over Texas Tech. "No matter what, we're always going to be able to do it," Bergeron said. "If one person goes down, we still have to have confidence that another person will be able to step up." "That was a really fun game," Texas coach Mack Brown. For the third consecutive week, the Longhorns bunkered behind their running game, though Ash was responsible for the first big play. His 47-yard burst at the end of the first quarter not only set up the Longhorns' first touchdown, but it also represented the longest Texas run from scrimmage this season. But Ash's mark didn't hold up long. About five minutes later, Bergeron ripped off a 51-yarder of his own, finding a massive gap blown open by a physical Longhorn offensive line. Bergeron finished with 191 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries in his first start as a Longhorn. He had 113 yards by halftime in helping the Longhorns build a 31-6 advantage at intermission. His running style was simple. "Hammer 'em," Bergeron said. "After a while the defense will crack. When you keep just pounding the ball, pounding the ball, then eventually they will crack. And then you keep pounding the ball for all four quarters. "The linemen put the holes there," he said. "We run where they ain't." With the Longhorns piling up 439 rushing yards, Ash only threw the ball seven times, completing four passes. But he averaged better than 30 yards per completion, supplying the vertical passing game the Longhorns have lusted after all season. Receiver Mike Davis caught two of those passes for 72 yards. He also rushed for 59 yards on four carries. "I thought he did a nice job," said Bryan Harsin, Texas offensive coordinator. "You can see his ability to make a big play. We're trying to set plays up to be successful. I think he's making progress." Perhaps most importantly for Harsin, Ash managed the game. He didn't turn the ball over, and the Longhorns never punted. They went 7-of-9 on third downs, converting a fourth down on one occasion and kicking a field goal on the other. And Texas scored a touchdown all six times the Longhorns entered the red zone. "He showed me he's tough, and he's growing up," Davis said of Ash. "I think he's ready to lead us down the road to the promised land." Even when Ash wasn't at quarterback, things were rolling. Three of the touchdowns came from the "Wild" formation (the Longhorn's name for the Wildcat) with Fozzy Whittaker as quarterback. Whittaker rushed for touchdowns of 12 and eight yards out of the formation, while another occasion saw him hand the ball off to speedy junior D.J. Monroe on a jet sweep. Monroe juked a Tech defender and flew into the end zone from 12 yards out. Meanwhile, the defense harassed Red Raider quarterback Seth Doege, sacking him four times and hitting him countless others. While Doege earned his yards 381 of them the Tech offense didn't find the end zone for the first time until after Texas had built a 38-6 lead in the third quarter. "It wasn't a perfect performance, but I thought that when the game was in the balance, we really played well," said Manny Diaz, Texas defensive coordinator. The Longhorns were best against the run, allowing just 30 yards on 27 carries. Only one Red Raider ball carrier averaged more than 2.5 yards per carry, and that was Bradley Marquez, who only had one tote. "If you don't turn the ball over, you run the ball, stop the run you have a chance," Brown said. "You have a chance each week. Right now, we're being really physical. "We're all preachers of history and you go back and look and Texas ran the ball when we were good," Brown said. "That's who we were. And we would throw deep. And then we played great defense. That's what we want to get back to." That's an attitude that's resonating with the players. "If the run game's like that, keep doing it until it doesn't work anymore," Davis said. "To be a BCS team? Pound it. Pound it. If they start stopping it, then we'll throw it over the top." That the Longhorns were able to do just that despite missing two of their best players speaks volumes. Texas grabbed its sixth win and the bowl eligibility that eluded the Longhorns a season ago without changing their style or philosophy. Now, Brown said they'll start pointing at a different win number: 10. That's the minimum number of wins the Longhorns grabbed every year from 1999-2009, and would represent a major step in the right direction. "The sixth win is significant, and we understand that," said Texas senior safety Blake Gideon. "We weren't able to achieve that last year, but we aren't going to stop at six. We still have a few big games left to keep in mind." To get there, Texas will need to keep its identity, no matter who's on the field. "That's just who we are now," Davis said. "We're winning. Why change?"
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