TEXAS LONGHORNS v. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Happy Friday, Longhorn fans!
I’m going to start off this week a little differently…I’m going to talk about Corvallis, Oregon. Ever been? I’ve been once, and it is a quaint little city with two main streets with small cafes, boutique restaurants, and small farmer’s markets on the weekends. It was nice. But, it also happens to be the home of Oregon State, which is one of the prettiest campuses in the Pac-10, in my opinion. And, yet again, under the lights at Reser Stadium, the Beavers did the Longhorns – and every other college football fan who is tired of hearing about Pete Carroll and his mighty USC Trojans – a favor. Oregon State upset #1 USC on Thursday night, 27-21…and the game was not as close as the score suggests. So, on this day, I congratulate the “other” school in Oregon, who has defeated USC three of the last four times it has visited Corvallis. Maybe it’s time for Pete Carroll to pay some more money to his top recruits. ESPN’s football analysts got a major wake-up call…USC isn’t all that…time to eat crow, boys.
The Recap: Texas v. Rice
Final Score: 52-10
Well, I was close on my Texas score prediction (59), but Rice’s offense let me down (23). Yet, week-in/week-out, I’ll be happy if the ‘Horns defense holds an opponent under my predicted score. Rice had all the weapons to give Texas a scare for at least a half of football and the boys stepped up and shut ‘em down. And, with another great game, guess who’s finally getting some recognition in the hunt for the Heisman trophy – good ‘ol boy QB Colt McCoy. Here are my highlights and lowlights from the Rice game.
Colt was 19-24 for 329 yards and 4 TDs. He was the team’s leading rusher for the 2nd time in 3 games with 83 yards on 8 carries and a TD. He had 412 total yards.
Colt McCoy threw 4 TD passes, and became Texas’ all-time career leader in TD passes with 62. Major Applewhite is 2nd with 60, and Chris Simms is 3rd with 58.
The Texas offense rolled up more than 600 yards of offense; that’s 9 times in Mack Brown’s tenure to reach that offensive output in a single game.
Jordan Shipley caught 5 passes for 155 yards and 2 TDs, including scoring on a 60-yard flea-flicker that was fantastic.
Backup QB John Chiles was the ‘Horns second leading rusher, with 10 carries for 72 yards.
Freshman RB Cody Johnson, who played primarily in the 2nd half, carried the ball 15 times for 67 yards and a TD.
In its 3rd game, the Texas defense finally allowed a score in the second half by an opposing team. I’ll take that…let’s hold ‘em the 1st half too, boys.
The defense had 7 sacks, 5 blocked passes (at the line).
Rice, who had 11 chances on the goal-line in the 2nd quarter, didn’t score on the Texas defense. That is just unheard of.
Texas TE Blaine Irby was severely injured in the Rice game. If you saw the play, it made you sick to your stomach. He was diagnosed with a dislocated knee and will miss the remainder of the season. On a positive note, given it is early in the season, Irby will receive a medical redshirt and maintain a year of eligibility.
While holding Rice to minimal points, the Texas secondary still continued to give up big yards, to the tune of 301 passing yards last weekend. That won’t fly against the likes of oklahoma, Missouri and Texas Tech folks.
The Texas pass defense ranks #98 out of 111 teams in NCAA football. That is not good.
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 42, Arkansas 7
Quickly, the Texas offense looked fantastic throwing the ball last Saturday. In fact, they were pretty much unstoppable. Colt had enough time to hike the ball, eat dinner, call his girlfriend, plan a vacation, take a nap, wake up again and hit his receivers all over the field. I guarantee you that he and his roommate, WR Jordan Shipley, had a good time replaying the game in their heads in their apartment last Saturday night.
For perspective, here’s what worries me going in to week 4 of the season. Our running game looks pathetic, and I’m not sure who to blame. It’s not bad…all told, they get their chunks of yards for the game…but Texas is absolutely relying on the passing game to win. And, the sad tale goes on to say that Colt is the team’s leading rusher. The QB? Yep. While Colt has been fantastic running the ball this season, we all know his tendency to take a beating over the course of a season – we’ve seen the result of the toll of a season on Colt – and, let’s face it, he’s no Vince Young. I’d like to see the bevy of talented young RBs we’ve got take control of a game and give Colt a 2nd half to relax. Second, we’ve got a major hole to fill at TE. Blaine Irby was looking fantastic, and his loss leaves us with two older, but talented TEs. The problem is they don’t stretch the field like Irby did. They’ll be fantastic blockers up front, but don’t expect to see the TEs playing the explosive role they did in the first 3 games this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mack looks elsewhere for talent on the team and shifts them over to take the starting job. Finally, our secondary – you’ve heard me say it before, and you’ve seen my references to defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s thoughts. The ‘Horns have got to shore up the pass defense – we’ve got two more games to figure it out before the high-octane offenses of the Big 12 come calling.
Arkansas Razorbacks (2-1)
The coaching carousel brings former Louisville and NFL Atlanta Falcon head coach Bobby Petrino to Little Rock to lead the Razorbacks this year. And, as expected with a new coach, a new system has been installed in Hog country. Let’s break it down…
On offense, they return QB Casey Dick, who – after watching their first 3 games – looks as though he is still trying to grasp the new playbook. He’s a talented athlete at 6’2” and 215-pounds, but he’s looked a bit slow in his reads and, honestly, hasn’t had a lot of help from his boys up front to stay upright and deliver the ball downfield. On the season, he’s thrown for 831 yards and 5 TDs, but he’s also thrown 4 interceptions. While he’s got the wheels to run, the coaches haven’t let him break out of the pocket this season and I think that has hurt their overall productivity. They’ve played mediocre teams, with the exception of top-10 Alabama, and their offensive numbers aren’t reflective of the team’s they’ve played. In truth, Dick is their only big offensive threat…they’re extremely young across the board. They start a junior RB, Michael Smith, who is only 5’7” and 173 pounds. He’s quick, and small enough to get lost at the line of scrimmage, and he has good hands out of the backfield with 10 catches for 90 yards and a TD this season. At WR, they start 3 freshman, with Greg Childs being the main target on the outside – he’s got good size and speed, but I think they have too much inexperience to give Texas a run for their money in the secondary. I can’t believe I’m even saying that, but I think it’s true this week. The biggest threat in the passing game is their TE, D.J. Williams, a 6’2” 250-pound guy who is Dick’s top receiver this season with 15 catches for 217 yards and 2 TDs. All told, the offense line is the real let down. The starting center, Jonathan Luigs, will be a test in the middle of the line, but that’s about it. They’ve given up 10 sacks this year in 3 games, so I expect the ‘Horns to bring the blitz and put whoever’s in the backfield on the grass in a hurry. No offense in college football can be successful without an offensive line to protect the QB and open running lanes for the RBs.
Like Rice, Arkansas’ defense is miserable. They’ve given up an average of 33.3 points per game, and they are young across the board as well. The defensive line is nothing to write home about, and they’ve been absolutely pathetic stopping the run this season. Greg Davis, are you listening? Every single one of their LBs are fast and talented, but they’re all freshman and learning the game as they go…meaning, they should be exploitable via Texas’ zone read and play action schemes. For context, against Alabama, the Hogs defense allowed 328 yards and 4 TDs to the Crimson Tide’s running attack. That is just brutal. If you’re any good at math, you can put 1+1 together – with no defensive pressure from the front seven, their brand new secondary (all of whom are new this year), might very well be the biggest losers on Saturday because they’ll be stuck on the field way too long. I’m not even going to talk about the special teams for Arkansas because, well, they haven’t done anything to write about – they’ve missed 2 field goals (the only 2 they’ve attempted this year), and missed an extra point. Their punt and kick-off returns are meager at best, and I expect them to make their own mistakes this week.
Last week, I had a fellow Longhorn tell me had people worried about Rice after my game preview. Well, I hope you’re a little more settled reading this week’s preview. But, I want to be clear about one thing. Every year, no matter where we’re ranked and where oklahoma is ranked going to the Red River Rivalry, I always say anything can happen in the Cotton Bowl because of the rivalry. Anything…I’ve seen it happen. This game is no different. On paper, this isn’t even close – Texas wins hands-down. On paper, Arkansas should be competing with Division II schools all year. On paper. But, the game is played on the field for a reason…emotions are high, the adrenaline is pumping, and be assured that even with a new coach, the hatred that the Hogs have for Texas has not waned one bit. Texas needs to come out of the gate and prove they own that field. Hit hard and remind the opposing sideline where they are. Let’s run the ball north/south, with a healthy combination of Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson, and take advantage of the passing game when it allows it. Let’s play a complete game, and show Arkansas that they should be scared when we come to Little Rock down the road.
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