Posted September 24th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Texas vs. Arkansas

Texas vs. Arkansas 1969

Texas faces old rival [tag]Arkansas[/tag] this weekend in Austin. The game was supposed to take place two weeks ago, but the threat of Hurricane Ike caused UT to postpone the game two weeks. The Longhorns have yet to face a team that deserves to be on the same field as them this season, and even though Arkansas is a SEC team, the Razorbacks are going through a rebuilding year after losing their best two players and hiring a new coach. The Razorbacks barely snuck by two lower divisional schools, and got thumped by Alabama last week. This week should be another one where the success and outcome of the game will depend solely how Texas plays.

When Texas has the ball

Not enough can be said about Colt McCoy’s play this season. Without him, Texas is no better than the sixth best team in the conference. With him, the Longhorns have a chance to win every game on their schedule, even OU and Missouri. Great quarterbacks have the ability to cover up the weaknesses on their team while exploiting the weaknesses of the opponent. So far Colt has been almost perfect, throwing for 11 touchdowns and leading the team in rushing. Expect no different this week against a young Arkansas defense.

Texas’ running game has problems. The offensive line has been solid, but the backs have struggled. When your quarterback is not named [tag]Vince Young[/tag], he shouldn’t be your team’s best running threat. Starting running back [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] has struggled against lackluster competition. Backup running back Foswhitt Whittaker has been sidelined with injuries to both knees. The best two running backs have been versatile [tag]Chris Ogbonnaya[/tag] and bruiser [tag]Cody Johnson[/tag]. The deficiencies running the ball have been masked by the play of McCoy and the fact that all of the games have been blowouts. As the competition gets better, one would think McCoy’s success will not come as easy. The major question for this offense will be to figure out where to get yards on the ground when they need them.

UT’s offense suffered a huge blow when [tag]Blaine Irby[/tag] went down with a dislocated knee. Texas’ tight ends will now be counted on for blocking more so than in the passing game. Expect Texas to use more four to five receiver sets in obvious passing downs. If the offense struggles do not be surprised to see Ogbonnaya get some snaps at tight end because of his experience at wide receiver. [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] and [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] have performed at an all conference level, but the team still needs a go to third receiver, preferably one that can get deep.

The Arkansas defense has struggled giving up 33.3 per game.

When Arkansas has the ball

The good news is Texas is only allowing 11 points a game, and only [tag]Rice[/tag] has scored in the second half. Each opponent has thrown the ball with success against the Longhorn secondary, and the tests should only get tougher from here on out. Texas ranks ninth in the Big 12 in Pass Defense Efficiency, allowing opposing quarterbacks to attain a 112 passing rating. Arkansas’ Casey Dick is averaging over 300 yards per game through the air. The tackling has improved in the secondary, but the group is still giving up too much easy yardage and allowing too many third down conversions. Safeties [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] and [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] must continue to improve each week if the defense has any chance of helping the offense win a conference title.

The best way to help out the inexperienced secondary is to apply pressure. Texas recorded seven sacks against Rice, many of them coming in the second half. This proves that the defensive line can wear out an offense. In today’s age of quick passing sacks have lost some value, but applying pressure on a quarterback to change the timing of the routes as well as disrupting footwork is still key. Defensive coordinator [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] keeps a stat on number of pressures the team has, so far they are up to 45 through three games.

The run defense has been great, which could be a result of the offensive philosophy that UT’s opponents have used. Texas has a good rotation along their front seven. The line backing core this year has performed better than any group under [tag]Mack Brown[/tag]. Muschamp is becoming a cult hero in Austin, and his desire and work ethic has directly influenced this group.

If Texas wants to get better, and they do, the defense needs to start creating more turnovers. Opposing offenses are giving the secondary too many chances to have only recorded one interception. Texas’ defense has been great in the red-zone giving way to the assumption that they are playing a bend but don’t break type of defense, but truly the lack of execution and talent has provided opportunities for stops. Does anyone believe this defense could stop the Big 12 powers 11 times within the 10 yard line?

Texas should once again be tested, but this is another week where the result isn’t truly in question. Texas’ goals are to be more consistent and allow less big plays while making a few more of their own.


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