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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1 Comment

  1. reply to  #1


    good to read what ya got to say – i agree … McCoy has taken ownership of the team

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