TEXAS LONGHORNS v. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Hook ‘em Horns!
Another week down, and as luck would have it, Iowa granted Texas a big late-season wish as they beat #3 Penn State last weekend. That means the new #3, the Texas Longhorns, continue to have their shot at getting in to the Big 12 championship game and possibly the national title. But, not before two more games against some stingy opponents including the “fighting Mangino’s” this week in Lawrence.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be in Austin and go to the Baylor game. For all my excitement this season watching big game after big game with our Seattle group, I was not disappointed with my game-day experience this year. It was the perfect day for football – 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. After enjoying the Texas Exes center for pre-game, I was restless to get in to the stadium. Let me say this – the stadium looks amazing. The new north end zone is nothing short of spectacular, and the stadium as a whole is louder than any place I’ve ever been (save a Seahawks’ playoff game). My girlfriend experienced her first Texas game, and she was at a loss for words. I think she nearly bought out the Co-op of every orange piece of clothing they had. Folks, she’s been converted. I also had the luck to bump in to Colt McCoy and his girlfriend at Magnolia Café on Sunday morning, and while I was tempted to buy him a bowl of “Magnolia Mud,” I thought it would be best served if it came from his offensive lineman instead, who let him get beat up on Saturday. Rather than breakfast, though, I’d rather they helped keep his jersey clean this week in Lawrence. Needless to say, Colt’s company that day made me think it must be nice to be QB for the University of Texas.
The Recap: Texas v. Baylor
Final Score: 45-21
I’ll say this – the first half wasn’t pretty. The team played well, but let Baylor stay in the game during the first half. For those keeping track, note that you will hear a lot more about Baylor QB Robert Griffen because he will be spectacular. Once Baylor gets some talent around him, Baylor (gasp!) might be a team to be reckoned with in the coming years. He literally reminds me of Vince Young. Luckily, in the second half, Texas got back to playing their brand of football and marched away with a victory. While we did pull out the win, if we had lost, my superstition might have prevented the girlfriend from ever returning to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. So, lucky her – she’s invited back for now. All in all, a good rebound for the ‘Horns coming off the ugly loss in Lubbock.
QB Colt McCoy, when not getting put on his rear-end by the Baylor defense, had another good day tallying 300 yards on 26-of-37 passing for five TDs.
Coming off a game-ending injury in Lubbock, WR Quan Cosby had a field day recording eight catches for 111 yards and two TDs. Nice to have you back in the line-up, Quan.
The Texas running game, we found it. For last weekend, anyway. The RB combination of a healthy Fozzy Whitaker (77 yards) and Vondrell McGee (55 yards) combined for 132 yards on 25 carries.
Game-changing 22-yard INT for a TD thanks to CB Ryan Palmer in the second quarter. Texas never trailed after that.
Otherwise, the “other” WRs (“other” being those not named Quan or Jordan) did well this week too and stepped up to play a key role in the game.
Two INTs, and one at the end of the half with nothing to gain. Stupid. The other, Colt got completely lit-up as he threw the ball and it was an easy pick for the Baylor defense. Hello? Offensive line, are you home?
Defending the option. I’ll give the Baylor QB credit, because he ran the option to hear perfection. Actually, it wasn’t even really the option because he rarely pitched it. Griffen just ate up the Texas defense. When Griffen’s your threat, stop him and don’t worry about the pitch man. This is football 101, boys.
More injuries: OL Adam Ulatoski left the Baylor game with a dislocated elbow. Surprisingly, he’s practiced this week and very well might play against Kansas. In addition, starting C Chris Hall sprained his knee in practice this week and is out this weekend; true freshman David Snow (who has played a lot this year at various positions on the OL) will take his place. Worth noting our starting TE is the back-up center this week.
Eyes of TX’s Prediction
Texas 38, Kansas 24
While I’m tempted to write a bunch of jokes about KU coach Mark Mangino and whether or not he’ll gain more weight during this week’s game, I won’t. I’m also not going to do a huge breakdown of this Kansas team for two reasons. One, their offense is balanced and loaded which means I’ll focus there. Two, their defense is not worth writing about – at all. Want to know why Kansas is 6-4 and not 9-1? Thank their defense. The offense can put up points and their defense couldn’t hold back Miley Cyrus from attending her own Hannah Montana concert. In fact, Mangino’s got a better shot if he ate her for pre-dinner snack. Anyway, down to business…
The offense is led by none other than Lake Travis native Todd Reesing. You’ll remember his name from the accolades he rolled up in Kansas’ Orange Bowl-winning season last year. He is extremely talented, and has a good arm that runs this offense up and down the field. He also benefits from having a trio of RBs that help balance the offense. Reesing has thrown for 2,942 yards this year, and his accuracy is right around 66% which is fantastic. That production has accounted for 23 TDs, although he’s also thrown 10 INTs. His interception total can, in large part, be blamed on a lackluster OL, which has given up a horrid 22 sacks. If DE Brian Orakpo is back this week, look for him to licking his chops as the Texas DEs will rush the passer against two freshmen playing at the tackles for Kansas. The WRs are fantastic, although the top two – Kerry Meier (794 yards, five TDs) and Dezmond Briscoe (976 yards, 11 TDs) – are Reesing’s favorite targets. Believe it or not, Meier is the former starting QB, and has become a great WR for the Jayhawks, and he will catch anything within the same zip code of Lawrence on Saturday. The receiving core will be lead by those two, but they have several WRs that can make plays. The running game has been good in support of the passing game this year, and they are lead by RB Jake Sharp, who is a speedster with 737 yards rushing and 10 TDs this season. They like to get him outside and in space to break tackles, but he is balanced by two bruising RBs in Angus Quigley and Jocques Crawford who you will see on short yardage and goal line plays. All three RBs are very good receivers as well.
The Jayhawks defense gives up 276 yards per game passing, and have let opponents score 20 TDs through the air this year. While they have 13 INTs, their secondary is nothing if unpredictable. Given time to throw, Texas should have a field day playing catch around the wheat fields in middle-America. The Kansas DL is small, but quick, and I think they’ll be exploitable with the “hot” routes that McCoy and Shipley run so well. The running game will be matched against the Jayhawks LB core, and they’re not nearly as good this year as in years past. Texas should be able to control the clock with a balanced pass-first, run-second game plan, but the weather will play a huge role in that approach. KU’s special teams play is – believe it or not – worse on kick coverage than Texas. I predict a Jordan Shipley kick return for a TD this week.
Wind will play a big factor in this game. Texas will want the wind, probably in the second half, in case the game is close and it comes down to the kicking game. It is supposed to be cold and windy, and expect the KU crowd to give the Jayhawks something to play for – they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games at home, and are 5-1 there this year with their only home loss to #2 Texas Tech. They’ll be ready. The ‘Horns had their rebound game last week, and they need to come out and show they’re on track and are worthy of that #3 ranking for at least another week. For more pre-game information, check out Trey McLean’s “From the Stands” newsletter here.
BCS Ranking Notes
A couple quick points on how the season will shape up, since there are some misperceptions about how Texas could end up playing in the Big 12 championship game. For all of the scenarios below, assume #3 Texas wins against Kansas and Texas A&M to finish the regular season 11-1.
If #2 Texas Tech wins out, against oklahoma and Baylor, they will go to the Big 12 championship to face Missouri.
If #2 Texas Tech loses one of their games, there will be a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 South division. In that case, the South division representative would be the team with the best BCS ranking. Right now, we have #2 Texas Tech (bye this week), #3 Texas (v. KU), and #5 oklahoma (bye this week). The question is, if (no, when ) Tech loses, how far do they drop and if they lose to oklahoma, does ou jump past Texas in the BCS rankings?
The only thing in Texas’ control is our two games. Win those, and let the rest play out. Let’s say this – as disgusting as it sounds, I am rooting for oklahoma next weekend against Tech in Norman. Stoops’ Sooners have only lost twice at home in his tenure in Norman, and they are playing extremely well. I predict the upset and hope they don’t jump us in the standings.
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