For Marquise Goodwin, it capped a week of celebrating. For fellow wideout Mike Davis, it marked a validation of revival.
Sept. 16, 2012
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
OXFORD, MS - They had come to this place - these two speedsters and catchers - from different places. One had been to the White House, the other - by his own admission - had been to his personal dog house.
And together, they were part of an accomplished team effort as Texas thrashed Ole Miss, 66-31, Saturday night before the largest non-conference home crowd in the history of the SEC school.
The defense, which would eventually yield more yardage and points than defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and his crew would have liked, set the tone for the night with linebacker Steve Edmond's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown on the second possession of the game for the Rebels. But it would be a balanced, big play offense that would carry the night for Texas. And right in the middle of it were the guys whose stories we started out to tell you.
The legendary Texas baseball coach Cliff Gustafson once told me, "Bill, speed don't have a bad day." And that would be the theme of the evening for the very balanced Longhorn attack. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was excused from practice on Thursday so that he could travel to Washington to be honored along with 1,000 other U.S. Olympians in a ceremony at the White House, arrived at the team hotel in Memphis late Friday night. Unfortunately for Ole Miss, he did not arrive late in Oxford.
Goodwin blew through the Rebel defense on a 69-yard touchdown run on the Longhorns' first possession of the second quarter. That made the score 17-7, and Texas never looked back.
For Goodwin, it capped a week of celebrating. For fellow wideout Mike Davis, it marked a validation of revival. After a brilliant freshman year in 2010, Davis battled injuries and personal problems last year. He was nowhere close to the same guy who was a smiling, happy freshman - just getting started with a promising career two seasons ago. In January of this year, however, Mike Davis decided to change that.
"When I came back from the break," he said with that characteristic smile in the locker room after the game at Ole Miss, "I made up my mind to leave all of that `stuff' behind me." Saturday, that wasn't the only thing he left behind.
Davis caught five passes for 124 yards, including a 46-yard TD pass from David Ash. Goodwin had two catches for 102 yards, including a 55-yard TD pass. For the night, Goodwin had 80 yards rushing, 102 receiving, and 16 on a kickoff return.
Ash finished the game with 19 completions on 23 tries for 326 yards and four TDs. Nine different players caught passes. But as impressive as the 326-yard passing output was, it was a punishing running game which set the stage.
For several years, Mack Brown has expressed a desire to get back to the 50 percent-50 percent pass-rush yardage output, and Saturday night was about as close as you can get. With Malcolm Brown leading the stats with 128 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, Joe Bergeron doing bruising work early for 48 yards on eleven carries and Jonathan Gray carrying the workload for 50 yards on a Case McCoy-engineered drive in the fourth quarter, Texas ran for 350 yards and four TDs.
The 66 points marked the most by a Texas team since the 2005 National Champions hung 70 on Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game. While the defense left unsatisfied because of surrendering some big plays, on the positive side it intercepted three passes and delivered five sacks for a net loss of 27 yards.
The trip to Oxford turned out to be one of the more successful ventures for the Longhorns, and their fans. UT's allotment of 3,800 tickets went quickly, but Texas fans seemed to manage about a quarter (estimated 15,000) of the 60,000 seats in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
In the world of track and field, where Marquise Goodwin became an international star this summer, there is a classification of excellence called "personal best." The senior continues to blossom as arguably the best two-sport athlete in the college game.
Sharing the spotlight on Saturday, however, was a poignant trip for Mike Davis. There is something that we all celebrate about "come backs." For a college football player such as Mike, it is particularly gratifying to watch. Life is, after all, a series of passages. We all face our personal demons daily. In Oxford, one of the wonderful things about their football experience is the place they call "The Grove." There, thousands come, share their food and drink with friends and opponents alike.
And the lasting testament to The Grove is whatever happens this week, next week is a new beginning.
So let it be for Mike Davis. It is a true story, though shared infrequently over the last year, that his mother really did give him a middle name of "Magic."
Saturday night in Oxford, Mike Davis came out to play. And for him and his Texas football teammates, the Magic was back.