September 5, 2009
6:00 p.m. Central
By the time Eyes Of TX posts this entry, it will be t-minus 1 day and a few hours to the start of the 2009 Texas Longhorn football season. Can’t you see it now? New field turf at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the jumbotron leading players out on to the field through a sea of smoke, the Texas Cowboys and Silver Spurs dressed to the nines and overseeing Bevo and Smokey the Cannon, the “Showband of the Southwest” playing as loud as they’ve played in months, and current students and Texas Exes flooding the streets around the stadium tailgating while telling tales of Texas football-past and expressing their hopes for the future. Love. It. For the next 13 Saturdays, there is only one thing top of mind – football – and only one goal – a national championship. Let’s get down to it.
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 56, Louisiana-Monroe 10
Louisiana-Monroe (4-8 in 2008)
The check being paid to ULM from UT athletic director Deloss Dodds must be significant, because it is absolutely 150% unfair what will happen to the Warhawks in Austin on Saturday night. While ULM may hold their own in the Sun Belt Conference this year, there is absolutely no way they stand a chance against an upper echelon, Big 12 Conference, chip-on-their-shoulder, #2-ranked Texas Longhorn team led by 2008 and 2009 Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Colt McCoy. Nonetheless, here’s the breakdown of this week’s game.
On offense, the Warhawks are led by quarterback Trey Revell, who while large in stature, is a duel-threat player with good feet and a solid arm. Unfortunately, he’s only started one game in his college tenure, while playing in eight others, for around 280 total yards on the season. His supporting cast on offense includes 6‘0” 220-pound wide receiver Darrell McNeal, who was the team’s leading receiver last year, catching 51 passes for 558 yards and four touchdowns, as well as 6’1” 190-pound Anthony McCall, who caught a team-leading six touchdowns last season. In the backfield, 5‘9” 203-pound Frank Goodwin will try to keep the offense balanced, and he rushed for 783 yards and five scores in an injury-shortened season in 2008. The biggest problem for ULM is going to be the offensive line – either keeping Revell upright or opening holes for Goodwin. The Warhawks o-line gave up an astounding 31 sacks last year, which is absolutely atrocious in any conference, but they played in the Sun Belt Conference, mind you, we’re not exactly talking about the SEC or Big 10. Expect ULM to score, but not until late in the game, on the second- or third-team defense, and when the Texas players are already wondering which video game they’ll be playing that night.
On defense, you’ll see ULM switch to a 3-3-5 alignment, from the 4-2-5, this year to allow more of their linebackers to be on the field at one time. This could be an advantage for Texas’ running game to get going, assuming the ‘Horns offensive line or fullback can pick up blocks in the second layer of the defense. The linebackers are pretty solid, and led by 6’2” 230-pound Cardia Jackson, who was all-conference last year, as he amassed 127 total tackles, good for nearly 11 per game. All the linebackers, including Jackson, are quick enough in pass coverage to make things interesting, but with a lack of a decent pass rush, and a solid – not spectacular – secondary, Eyes Of TX predicts Texas’ McCoy will have all the time he needs to find the open wide outs, or the running backs will have ample room in the gaps to gain credible chunks of yardage and keep the clock moving.
Finally, the Warhawks’ special teams are absolutely horrible – last year, they missed point-after’s, were under 50% accurate on field goals, and had a punt average of around 35-yards per kick. Expect to see something from Texas’ special teams in this game, as opportunities for blocks, and returns, should be aplenty.
Texas Longhorns (12-1 in 2008)
Expect more of the same from the Longhorns in 2009. No single running back has stepped up, so a healthy rotation of backs (Vondrell McGee will start, Cody Johnson, Tre Newton, and perhaps Chris Whaley) can be expected to see who will step up against weaker competition and lead the charge in to conference play later this year. McCoy should be lights-out, as usual, although we’ll see what impact the loss of wide receiver Quan Cosby has on his passing game – the wide receivers will need to step up and take some pressure off of sixth year man Jordan Shipley, and one of them could be former quarterback-turned-wide receiver John Chiles.
The defense should have a field day, especially with Will Muschamp firing up the troops, and defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle leading the charge on the turf. Saturday night, back at their hotel, the Warhawks’ Revell should expect to be losing sleep because of nightmares of Kindle and true freshman defensive end Alex Okafor. If the second-team defense gives up a score, Eyes of TX fully expects Muschamp to go ballistic on the sidelines…and, we’re OK with that (and hope it blesses us with some YouTube material).
From a special teams perspective, there is no doubt Texas should dominate, and viewers might even see some fireworks from some new names this year – Okafor, Acho, and Goodwin to name a few. By the second half, expect to see superstar true freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert (from Austin’s Lake Travis High School) getting some reps and game-time experience – he’s looked sharp enough in fall camp to take over the back-up role from Sherrod Harris.
The key to this game will be getting the Longhorns legs underneath them to start the season off right. Stay healthy, get some younger guys some playing time, and come out with the win. No big mistakes, no stupid penalties, no lost fumbles or silly interceptions. Clean football and a substantial win. Tee up the argument for the Big 12 and BCS championship starting Saturday. Hang 100 points on ULM if you have to, Mack.