Posted November 13th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Texas enters their last road game of the year with a beat up football team. The weather is supposed to be bad with wind and cold weather in the forecast and a number of Longhorn players are banged up. As always players such as Colt McCoy and Roddrick Muckelroy will need to play well for Texas to keep their conference and national championship hopes alive, but some guys under the radar will have to step up to come away with the win.

[tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag]

With the emergence of Chris Ogbonnaya and the comeback of a healthy Foswhitt Whittaker, the sophomore has become a forgotten man in the Longhorn backfield. Ogbonnaya is still suffering through an ankle injury while Whittaker doesn’t have the body to carry an entire games worth of runs. Because of this McGee has found himself still getting carries after a slow start to the season. In fairness to McGee he was banged up as well early in the year but appears to be back close to 100%. Quietly McGee has played extremely well in the last few weeks. On the road, especially in windy and cold conditions, good teams need to be able to get some plays out of the running game. Whittaker will be the main guy, but if McGee can come in and keep the chains moving the Longhorns may be able to wear out an undersized Kansas defense. McGee performs best when he is coming off the bench and with Whittaker and maybe Ogbonnaya in front of him this week McGee is right where he needs to be.

[tag]David Snow[/tag]

Last week many were wondering if the true freshman from Gilmer was beginning to push the older guys at the guard position for some serious playing time. The coaching staff loves Snow’s mean streak and competitive nature. This week starting center Chris Hall went down in practice with a leg injury and with the dismissal of Buck Burnette for racist comments on the internet Snow finds himself the starting center for the first time in his career. Snow should get a challenge in his first start because it is on the road and opposing teams have been found of blitzing Colt McCoy. Snow has played mostly guard on the season, but Mack Brown says he still practices snaps before every practice. Certainly Snow has concentrated more on center for the past week and a half after the dismissal of Burnette. Having the quarterback in the shotgun for the majority of the game should help the young center, but if Texas looks lost in blitz pickup we’ll know the freshman is taking his lumps.

[tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag]

Of course everyone looks for Kindle every game. He has become a dominant force on the Texas defense, and may have done enough over the season to become a hot target in this year’s NFL draft. This week don’t necessarily just watch Kindle’s play, watch where the junior lines up. Kindle is listed as a linebacker, but as the season progresses he has been lined up more and more at defensive end. For the first part of the season he only did this on obvious passing downs, but with Brian Orakpo missing last week’s game Kindle lined up at defensive end almost exclusively. Kindle excels when playing downhill and coming off the edge. He has struggled in space on pass coverage, so Will Muschamp has turned Kindle into Texas’ version of Lawrence Taylor. Orakpo is expected to be back, but it is unlikely he will be at full strength. Look to see the ratio of snaps at defensive end to linebacker for Kindle this week.

[tag]Earl Thomas[/tag]

The red-shirt freshman safety played his best game of his young college career last week against Baylor, a week after being one of the two players that gave up Michael Crabtree’s winning touchdown in Lubbock. It was huge for Thomas to bounce back and he did, showing the mental toughness that Muschamp has been glowing about since spring practice. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the young Texas secondary faces another tough test in the passing game. The young safeties have had their struggles on the season but they have played extremely well for the most part. The best evidence for that was the long pass play the Texas defense gave up on the first play Thomas was out with a minor injury. Ben Wells came in to replace Thomas and got beat deep for the only long passing play Baylor was able to muster against the Longhorns. Thomas was able to come back into the game and continued to play well. He may have been the best player on the field for UT’s defense last week and that kind of play will be huge again for Texas to avoid an upset in Lawrence.

[tag]Ryan Bailey[/tag]/[tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag]

Most fans are hoping this game doesn’t come down to a field goal. Not because they don’t have confidence in the Texas kicking game, but because they feel UT should be able to win big against a struggling Kansas team. The last time Texas went to Lawrence they barely came out with a victory, so a close game is not out of the question. After being the place kicker last year Ryan Bailey lost his job in fall camp to Hunter Lawrence. The change had come without much fanfare because Lawrence was perfect on the season. That changed last week when Lawrence missed both of his field goals. In the end the misses did not matter, but when Texas lined up for their third field goat attempt Ryan Bailey trotted out for the try. Bailey made the kick and the questions about who would be the kicker going forward began before the referees even raised their arms. Bailey didn’t appear to do anything to loss his job, and he has proven he can make big kicks as he did in Nebraska. The coaches said Lawrence didn’t kick the last field goal because he was “sore”. We will know on the first field goal attempt if this was just lip service or not.

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