Posted October 1st, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

The Longhorns get conference play started this week with a road game against the Colorado Buffaloes. Texas has been on a roll, while CU enters the game after suffering their first loss of the season last week in [tag]Florida State[/tag]. Last year, Colorado shocked [tag]Oklahoma[/tag] in Boulder the week before the UT-OU showdown so Texas will have to show up to play and not look ahead to Dallas if they want to leave undefeated.

When Texas has the ball

Quarterback [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] has played as good as any other quarterback in the country. McCoy has played as good as any player in the country. Period. The guy has done everything for the Longhorns: he runs, he passes, he pooch punts, if he cleaned the locker room and prepared the food would you be shocked? Me neither. A great quarterback gives a football team a chance to win every game. McCoy is a great quarterback, and shows no signs of slowing down in the first test Texas faces this season. The offensive line has been above average. While the pass coverage has been outstanding, this group must take some of the blame for a lack of production from the backs. Colorado has given up a ton of yards in back to back games to [tag]West Virginia[/tag] and Florida State. A good day would be great for confidence heading into OU week.

The Colorado defense is simple, but good. They don’t blitz a lot, they don’t disguise coverage, they play mostly zone. Expect Texas to pass, and do it often with McCoy getting pre-snap reads on virtually every play. Texas is hopeful running back [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] will be back this weekend. Couple the darting style of Whittaker with the emergent bruising style of [tag]Cody Johnson[/tag] and the struggling Longhorn backfield could become one of the better tandems in the nation. Take into account that both of them are freshman and it should ease the anxiety of a Longhorn fan base that is used to stars toting the rock.

The biggest concern for Texas fans should be the inability of [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag], and to a lesser extent [tag]Dan Buckner[/tag], to become a deep threat that opposing coaches must worry about. I can not remember one deep ball thrown to either of these guys when the ball wasn’t near the goal line. [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] and [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] have been very good, but with the loss of [tag]Blaine Irby[/tag] a threat down the field needs to replace the threat in the middle to allow space for Cosby and Shipley. If the offense can’t find one, the room Shipley and Cosby have been enjoying will dry up quickly.

When Colorado has the ball

Last week we finally got to see what [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] is going to do with the Texas defense. Attack, attack, attack. The Longhorn defense was flying to the ball, and when they got their they made sure Arkansas ball carriers remembered it. Never under [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] has a defense been as fast and aggressive as the defense was this week. When the knowledge and experience that only comes with game snaps catches up with the raw talent and energy of this defense this group is going to remind a lot of people of the old Miami and Florida State defenses UT fans used to beg for. Mack Brown’s best coaching move may be hiring Will Muschamp when it is all said and done.

On offense Colorado is just a solid football team. They don’t do a lot of things great, but they don’t hurt themselves. These are the types of teams that can jump up and bite a better team. If Texas makes mistakes and lets Colorado hang around, the home crowd could put them over the top. However, these types of teams can also be overwhelmed if the better team applies pressure from the beginning. The best way to silence a crowd is to make big plays with your defense.

UT has already scored twice this year on the defensive side of the ball. Texas is ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, and has been applying a ton of pressure the last two games. The combination of [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] and [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] has to keep opposing quarterbacks awake at night. With those two coming off the edge, it has almost been a guarantee someone is getting to the quarterback. Add [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag], [tag]Henry Melton[/tag], [tag]Sam Acho[/tag], and [tag]Eddie Jones[/tag], and you can see how Texas has recorded seven sacks in each of the last two games.

Muschamp biggest contribution could be the job he is doing as the linebackers coach. Last year this same group of players looked lost in many situations. The scheme seemed to have them playing on their hills, a skill the collective group lacks. The scheme brought in by Muschamp has the linebacker’s core playing downhill and loving it. And while the group of [tag]Rashad Bobino[/tag], [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag], Sergio Kindle, and [tag]Jared Norton[/tag] have been great; the next great linebacker at Texas may have had his coming out party against Arkansas in the second half. His name is [tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag]. The freshman was everywhere, and just appeared to be playing at a different speed. Muschamp loves speed. I don’t know whose snaps will be taken away, but Robinson is going to play more and more.

The secondary is coming together, and it has all hinged on the play of safety [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag]. The secondary is what it is, but if Thomas can play with his swagger, and the front seven keeps applying pressure they have a chance to improve greatly. The best friend to a secondary is a pass rush, and I expect Texas to blitz a lot from here on out. The young secondary will get beat a few times, but so far they have gotten better each week. Muschamp will make sure that continues.

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Posted September 18th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Texas heads into this week’s game against [tag]Rice[/tag] off an unexpected bye week thanks to Hurricane Ike. Going into this game, the emphasis will not necessarily be on winning (that should come from just showing up), the emphasis will be on setting a tone for the upcoming Big 12 season.

When Texas has the ball

Through the first two games, one thing has become unmistakably obvious: this is Colt McCoy’s football team. This year’s Longhorns will go as far as he takes them, and so far that seems to be a good thing. After a sophomore slump that saw McCoy’s interceptions jump up significantly from his freshman year, McCoy has started off his junior year in spectacular fashion, including only throwing one interception.

On top of his improved passing game, McCoy is also leading the Horns in rushing. He is the only Longhorn to have over 100 yards on the season. This needs to change, and luckily for UT the Rice Owls are just what the doctor ordered for the Texas running game in the past few years.

New running backs coach [tag]Major Applewhite[/tag] has stressed ball security and pass blocking over explosive plays in the running game, but if Texas wants to get to their yearly goals of playing for the Big 12 championship and reaching a BCS game both need to happen. Texas ranks 23rd in the nation in pass offense, but sixth in the Big 12. The good teams in conference will be able to put up points, and with the youth in Texas’ secondary, UT’s offense must find a way to control the ball and shorten the game. This offense will not be able to score with the likes of [tag]Missouri[/tag] and [tag]Oklahoma[/tag]. In games like this weekend’s versus Rice, the running game needs to start asserting itself.

Texas’ offensive line should be able to physically dominate the smaller Rice defense. Expect the line to come out and quiet the naysayers after being out rushed by [tag]UTEP[/tag].

The receiving corps has been solid with [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] and [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] being the go to guys. Against Rice look for Texas to try and get [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] and [tag]Dan Buckner[/tag] deep, these two flankers need confidence heading into the upcoming schedule. So far, the biggest surprise has been the play of tight end [tag]Blaine Irby[/tag] who has scored in the first two games.

When Rice has the ball

Another week, another spread offense for Texas’ young secondary to deal with. The preseason schedule has worked out perfectly in terms of giving this group practice seeing the types of offense they will in the Big 12. The talent will obviously be a step up once conference games begin, but don’t be surprised if the Owl offense presents a challenge for the defense. Quarterback Chase Clement and wide receiver Jarrett Dillard are no slouches, especially Dillard who could be the best player to come out of Rice in recent memory.

Texas ranks 98th in the nation against the pass so look for defensive coordinator [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] to start bringing more pressure as the season wears on. In a game like this one where the outcome isn’t in much question UT may play close to the vest on offense and defense, but if Rice has success early look for [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] to be unleashed. Texas has worked on a “Buck” package with Kindle coming off the edge. This should become more and more a staple of this defense.

Rice offers no real threat to Texas on the ground. The linebacker corps has played as good as it ever has under [tag]Mack Brown[/tag]. Texas’ emphasis moving forward in the season is to create more turnovers and to create more pressure. With offenses running the way they do now, sacks are not as easy to come by. Muschamp keeps track of pressures and hits on the quarterbacks each week. He would like the number to continue to go up.

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