Posted January 7th, 2010 by Brian
Filed under: Bowls, Feature, Football

Colt McCoy will need to use his legs to complement his arm to beat Alabama.

Colt McCoy will need to use his legs to complement his arm to beat Alabama.

The big one is finally here. We’re less than a day away from the Texas Longhorns taking on the Alabama Crimson Tide for the BCS national title. No more waiting. No more listening to national experts drone on and on about how the Horns have no chance based off one game. The two teams will finally take the field and decide everything head to head.

The Longhorns are 4-point underdogs, what can they do tonight to swing things in their favor?

1. Pick up the Alabama blitz.

The Texas offensive line has been the subject of much chatter and consternation both for fans and the national media since the [tag]Nebraska[/tag] debacle. Ndamukong Suh doesn’t play for Alabama but Terrence Cody and Rolando Mcclain do and they’re not too shabby. Cody however has 4.5 tackles for loss on the season, the same number of sacks Suh on [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] in one game.

Cody is more space-eater than playmaker, but his size and strength in the middle frees up other defenders to make plays. As a 3-4 defense the Crimson Tide will blitz frequently and from various different positions than most teams the Longhorns played this year. That will put a lot of pressure on McCoy, center [tag]Chris Hall[/tag], and the Texas running backs to identify who is coming on every play and give Colt enough time to find the open hot route.

2. Don’t give up a big pass play on blown coverage.

The huge pass play on a blown coverage between [tag]Chykie Brown[/tag] and [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] early against A&M was one of the reasons the underdogs were able to grab some momentum and keep up with the Horns. Those two players along with [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag], [tag]Curtis Brown[/tag], and [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] form one of the best secondaries in the history of UT football season. That’s high acclaim for a school with as strong a recent history as Texas with multiple Thorpe Award winners and former players littered throughout the NFL.

Against inexperienced Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy the secondary should be a big strength, but if they make mental mistakes and let someone get wide open deep (as has happened too often the last two years) McElroy and Julio Jones will make you pay. Force the Tide to drive down the field and make them pay for their own mistakes, don’t give it to them easy thanks to assignment errors.

3. Get Colt McCoy involved in rushing attack.

The Horns need Colt McCoy’s legs not only for the running game but to get the senior QB settled in for the passing attack as well. McCoy has stated several times that a big run and even getting tackled helps get him into the rhythm of the game quicker. Texas is a pass-first team but they need to run to keep the Alabama defense honest and to open up the playaction pass. McCoy on a few designed runs (zone read, speed option, QB draws) and also some improvised scrambles for big yardage would be the difference against an excellent defense like Bama’s.

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Roddrick Muckelroy and the Texas D will try to shut down Zac Robinson's arm and legs. (Image: InsideTexas)

Roddrick Muckelroy and the Texas D will try to shut down Zac Robinson's arm and legs. (Image: InsideTexas)

This week Texas faces possibly their toughest remaining test against [tag]Oklahoma State[/tag] on the road. The Cowboys have rebounded from an early season loss and are sitting at 6-1 and ranked number 14. In years past the Longhorns have let the Cowboys get out to leads and had to stage remarkable comebacks, what must the Horns do tonight to keep that from happening again?

1. Try not to fall behind by 28 points.

This is a simple one. Cut it out. I know it’s Oklahoma State, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall behind big early and then stage a giant comeback. Seriously. It’s bad for my health.

2. Don’t be surprised by Zac Robinson’s mobility.

Zac Robinson is easily the best quarterback the Longhorns have faced this season (eight plays from an 80% strength Sam Bradford doesn’t count) and he’s also the most mobile. In a lot of ways the Cowboys’ QB is similar to Texas’ [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], efficient throwing the football and the ability to beat you with his feet. He might not have the top end speed McCoy does, but he certainly can scramble to make plays throwing and beat you with repeated 5-10 yard runs after avoiding a sack. [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] loves to bring the blitz, especially early in the game, but can’t sell out or Robinson could run wild in the open secondary.

3. Throw it deep to Malcolm Williams.

The move to insert receivers [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] and [tag]Marquise Goodwin[/tag] into the starting lineup last week against [tag]Missouri[/tag] worked perfectly. They combined for 9 catches and the moves allowed [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] to have a huge day back in his old spot inside. This week against the Cowboys the Horns should open things up even more and take at least three deep shots to Williams. Making opposing defenses respect a deep threat will make it easy for McCoy to find open guys underneath and for the run game to find big running lanes.

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Posted September 19th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Texas will need Colt McCoy's arm and his legs to outscore Texas Tech.

Texas will need Colt McCoy's arm and his legs to outscore Texas Tech Saturday night.

The Texas Longhorns have already played two games, but the season really gets started tonight as they take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a primetime matchup on ABC. The Horns are looking for revenge and more importantly the number 2 team in the country is looking to get another win closer to a BCS title shot.

Check out our keys below to beating Mike Leach on International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

1. Pressure QB Taylor Potts with a 4-man rush.

There’s two things you can’t do against the Tech offense: let the quarterback have all day to throw or blitz too often. If you give Potts too much time to throw he’ll be able to take his time and pick apart the defense underneath. If you send extra blitzers at him he can quickly get the ball out and you better cross your fingers the defensive backs don’t miss a tackle. The ideal is that your front four are able to get consistent pressure without bringing extra help, but with [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] playing defensive end and [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] drawing things up you’ll likely see Texas bring 3-5 rushers from all over the field. Through two games Kindle is still looking for his first sack of the season, will he blow up the Texas Tech offense tonight?

2. Call just enough designed Colt McCoy runs.

McCoy had -3 rushing yards in the first game and 44 yards in the second on very few designed QB runs. When the offense was sputtering against Wyoming in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, offensive coordinator Greg Davis called Colt’s number to kick start the offense. Tonight against the Red Raiders they’ll likely need that boost from the very beginning and we should see McCoy run some QB draws, the zone read, and the option. McCoy is the franchise and you have to protect him, but this offense isn’t as explosive without him running the football.

3. Commit fewer than 5 penalties.

Through two games the Longhorns have been flagged for 19 penalties, and that doesn’t count penalties that the opponents declined. Those kind of unforced mistakes will kill you in a close contest. Penalties wiped several big 3rd down conversions off the board against [tag]Wyoming[/tag], that can’t happen against higher quality Big 12 opponents. Defensively, the last thing you want to do against Texas Tech’s offense is give them extra chances.

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Posted October 18th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Jeremy Maclin

Don't let Jeremy Maclin beat you

Another week, another tough opponent for the Longhorns. This week it’s [tag]Missouri[/tag] and their Heisman candidate quarterback Chase Daniel in a national primetime game on ABC. The Texas defense will be trying to slow down the Tigers’ offense while [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] and the offense attempt to continue to put up huge numbers on the scoreboard.

Read on below to see what the keys are for the Longhorns to come out on top:

1. Use Missouri’s wide splits against them.

ESPN was useful for the first time in years when they posted a video breakdown of how Oklahoma State’s defense slowed down the Mizzou offense. The defensive end instead of trying to get outside simply takes advantage of the wide splits and speeds right at the quarterback while the defensive tackle twists outside to provide contain pressure. The Missouri offensive coaches better either have come up with a counter for that or change strategy completely because if they don’t [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] and [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] are going to blow things up all game long.

2. Don’t let Jeremy Maclin change momentum with a kick return.

Last week against [tag]Oklahoma[/tag] the Longhorns were down by 11 when a big [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] kickoff return for a score completely flipped the game’s score and momentum. Texas can’t let Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin do the same thing in this game. Texas needs punter [tag]John Gold[/tag] and kickoff specialist [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag] to either kick it away from Maclin or put it high enough and deep enough that the coverage teams can do their job.

3. Continue developing third receiving option.

Last week Shipley and [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] together absolutely torched the OU defense but at some point this year the Horns will face a team with cornerbacks who can man up against those guys. The team needs to find another option Colt McCoy can rely on. Sophomore [tag]Brandon Collins[/tag] caught three passes against the Sooners and may be becoming that guy. Now that the Texas offense will be using more four wide receiver sets both Collins and [tag]James Kirkendoll[/tag] will get their chances and need to step up.

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Posted October 4th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Vince Young scores against Colorado

Can Colt McCoy make like VY against the Buffs?

Texas opens up Big 12 play tonight at 6pm against a good [tag]Colorado[/tag] team coming off their first loss of the season. The Buffaloes are a talented team heading in the right direction thanks to head coach Dan Hawkins and the play of his quarterback son, but the Longhorns are 13-point favorites and if they do their job they’ll win the game.

Read below for the Longhorns’ keys to beat the Colorado Buffaloes:

1. Don’t look past Colorado to next week.

Texas fans are already making plans and looking forward to next week’s huge match-up with [tag]Oklahoma[/tag] but the team can’t do the same. The Buffaloes are easily the toughest team Texas has faced and can easily pull off the upset if the Horns don’t play as well as they should.

2. Don’t give up a big kickoff return.

WR Josh Smith is Colorado’s biggest weapon, particularly on kickoff returns. Nothing kills momentum worse than giving up a backbreaking return after a touchdown. The kickoff coverage team has been solid so far but they haven’t faced a guy like Smith. Kicker [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag] needs to what he’s done all year and put his kickoffs high and in the end zone and he’ll completely neutralize Smith’s abilities.

3. Pressure quarterback Cody Hawkins.

After back-to-back weeks of seven sacks the Texas defense suddenly has one of the top pass rushes in the country. The Colorado offensive line has been decimated by injuries and [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] and company need to take advantage. The real test comes next week but this will be a good indicator of what the defensive line and linebackers can do against an offensive line that doesn’t average sub-260 pounds. Texas needs to hound Cody Hawkins and bring him down for at least three sacks tonight.

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Posted September 26th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Butch Hadnot runs against the Piggies

Butch Hadnot runs against the Piggies

Saturday afternoon Texas will face [tag]Arkansas[/tag] in a game rescheduled by Hurricane Ike. The 7th ranked Longhorns are 3-0 but will be facing their first BCS conference opponent of the season in the 2-1 Razorbacks. They barely won their first two games against bad competition and got blown out by Alabama, but that doesn’t mean they’ll roll over for the Horns.

Read below for the Longhorns’ keys to beat the Arkansas Razorbacks:

1. Match their intensity/hatred.

The Texas/Arkansas rivalry isn’t what it used to be back in the days of the Southwest Conference, but the hatred for the Longhorns in Fayettenam hasn’t waned. On the field the Horns can’t let the Razorbacks ride that energy to a quick start. The talent Mack Brown will be putting on the field Saturday easily overmatches that of new Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, if the Horns come out and score early they should be able to pull away and win easily.

2. Keep an eye on RB Michael Smith.

5-foot-7 junior running back is leading the Razorbacks in rushing and is also on of Casey Dick’s top receiving options. He’s averaging nearly 125 yards per game on the ground and has also chipped in 10 catches for 90 yards. The Horns have problems in the secondary so they need to be able to bottle up Smith and make Arkansas one-dimensional. [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] needs to introduce himself Mr. Smith early and often.

3. Get one of the Texas running backs rolling.

The top two rushers for the Longhorns against [tag]Rice[/tag] were the starting and backup quarterbacks. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] is leading the team with 194 rushing yards through three games and while he needs to keep running he’ll need one of his running backs to step up behind him. Speedy [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] is likely out for the game so it’ll be up to [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] and big [tag]Cody Johnson[/tag] to provide ground support. Alabama ran all over the Razorbacks last week (328 yards rushing) and the Horns need to do the same, even if it takes 30 carries from Johnson to get there.

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Posted September 6th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Keys to Victory vs UTEPThe [tag]UTEP[/tag] fans and players have likely had this weekend circled on the calendar for months. Their match-up against the Longhorns might be the biggest game they’ve ever played in the Sun Bowl. After the Miners’ loss to lowly Buffalo last week this game lost a little luster, but the Texas team still has plenty to work on both for this game and the rest of the season.

Read below for the Longhorns’ keys to beat the UTEP Miners:

1. Don’t sleepwalk to start the game.

A 9:15pm game time is not normal for the Texas players but they can’t let it affect the way they start the game. There’s going to be a lot more downtime for the team on gameday but the players need to find a way to get into their routine and be ready for the opening kickoff. If it takes Texas two quarters to wake up, UTEP will gain confidence and start believing the upset is possible.

2. Secondary play must improve.

The young secondary certainly looked inexperienced in the first half against FAU before they settled down a bit. UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe had a rough season opener but was great in 2007 and will test the pass defense. There have to be fewer mental mistakes and fewer missed tackles this week and the safeties in particular need to improve quickly. The passing defense may not hurt the Horns this week or even against Arkansas, but when the team travels to Colorado in October they better not be playing like freshmen anymore.

3. Get more big plays out of the running game.

[tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] and [tag]Chris Ogbonnaya[/tag] were both solid last week but the longest run of the game came on a 25-yard scamper from QB [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag]. The offense was near perfect but not explosive, this week it would be good to see McGee take one 30+ yards to the house. Getting the speedy [tag]Fozzy Whittaker[/tag] back will certainly help but he’s still not full strength yet.

4. Hit UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe.

The best way to help out the secondary is by getting after the quarterback. The defensive line did get decent pressure on FAU QB Rusty Smith but didn’t record a single sack. That has to change this week. Against UTEP the Horns will likely stay pretty vanilla on defense but the team should still be able to get to and hit Vittatoe repeatedly. I want to see at least one sack each from [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag], [tag]Henry Melton[/tag], and [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] Saturday night.

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