Texas v. Rice

TEXAS LONGHORNS v. RICE OWLS
Hello, Texas fans!

We’ve had a week off due to Hurricane Ike, and I’m excited to get back to work. Before I get too far along, let’s take a trip down memory lane and recap the highlights of the UTEP game. Rumor has it UTEP coach Mike Price didn’t spend any university dollars after the game, despite the disappointment with his team’s performance – way to keep your job another week, coach. Let’s also look past Arkansas for now, and focus on the Rice Owls and their spread offense (compliments of former Texas QB and current Texas RB coach Major Applewhite, I might add). Right now in Vegas, Texas is a 29.5-point favorite.

If you’re interested in carpooling to the game-watching event with other Texas Exes in your area, post a message to the Yahoo! group and we’ll make sure the group sees it – to reply, please respond to the original poster (not the whole group).

The Recap: Texas v. University of Texas-El Paso
Final Score: 42-13
I won’t go over all the details except to say Texas looked pretty solid in this game. Not outstanding, but they looked good. Colt had another solid day, the running game did sufficient work, and the defense stepped it up after the first two UTEP drives to hold the Miner’s to only another TD. Overall, a lot to improve on from that game, but everyone pretty much stayed healthy, including defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, but we can look forward to what will be a tough schedule in the coming weeks. Some quick highlights/lowlights from El Paso below.

Highlights:
Well, my prediction of course – I was within 7 points!

Colt McCoy was more or less fantastic yet again, hitting seven different receivers. He completed 20 of 29 attempts for 282 yards, with one INT and four TDs.

A total of seven Texas players had rushing yards, totaling 122 yards, with RB Fozzy Whittaker leading the way with 12 carries for 72 yards (6.0/per carry average).

Texas WR Quan Cosby had a big day, leading the wide receiver core with eight catches for 154 yards (19.3/per catch average) and one TD. He also had the highlight of the game when he returned a missed UTEP 65-yard field goal attempt more than 50 yards to set Texas up for another score.

The game was dictated by the passing attack — of Texas’ total points scored, four were receiving TDs (Cosby, Shipley, Buckner, and Irby), with only one rushing TD (Johnson).

True freshman WR Dan Bucker had the first TD catch of his young career.

The Texas defense held UTEP to 7 points after their first two possessions – outstanding.

LB Rod Muckelroy had a fumble return for a TD – way to be in the right place at the right time.

No Texas players had DUIs or run-in’s with the law since the UTEP game.

Lowlights:
Texas was outgained 411-408 in total yards, and had 13 minutes less time of possession. On a positive note, the ‘Horns still won by a ton of points despite those statistics…but, we’re still giving up a lot of yards on defense to inferior teams.

The Texas defense gave up 145 yards rushing on 31 carries (4.6 yards per carry), and 267 yards passing on UTEP’s 25 total passing completions (just over 10 yards per completion).

Other UTEP Post-Game Coverage:
AA-S: “NCAA Game Summary – Texas v. UTEP”
ESPN: “McCoy passes for 282 yards, 4 TDs as No. 10 Texas rolls”

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 59, Rice 23

Looking a little past the Rice game, I am getting nervous…we’ve got some tough games coming up. Rice is another team that will help us practice defending the spread offense, but defensive coordinator Will Muschamp this week admitted, “I’m not real pleased where we are on defense. We haven’t exactly been dominant. I understand that.” When asked when the Texas secondary might gel, he said, “I hope this Saturday.” I love his attitude – the best part is, they will never be good enough in Muschamp’s mind, which means they’ll always be driving to get better. Texas fans will agree with Muschamp – the team has got to get better on the defensive side of the ball in a hurry, especially with Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas on the horizon.

This week shouldn’t provide too many concerns for the ‘Horns, but they can’t be complacent. The team needs to continue to grow and improve week-in and week-out. On a positive note, all of the guys have been getting good reps and game-time to figure things out…the game will “slow down” for them the more the season progresses.

On the offensive side of the ball, I will admit I’m pretty happy with things. Colt looks fantastic at QB – he’s got time to throw (thanks to his offensive line), and he’s making good decisions and spreading the ball around. Although his star TE from week 1 Blaine Irby only had one catch against UTEP, I don’t think offensive coordinator Greg Davis has forgotten about him…yet. At a minimum, he’s served as a great safety valve for Colt. The running game could continue to improve, but I think each of the running backs brings something to the table and I like that – I just don’t want them to get “siloed” the way RB Brett Robin did a few years ago (they would only put him in on 3rd down plays, and throw to him out of the backfield…any opposing defensive coach that saw him come in the game for Texas knew to have their linebackers cover Texas’ ensuing screen pass). Anyway, they all look strong in their own right, but I hope they continue to improve each week, and Fozzy Whittaker really has the chance to be something special for the ‘Horns.

Rice Owls (2-0)
Rice is full of smart kids. They could probably draw up the most intricate and innovative football playbook you could ever imagine. To Texas’ benefit, they wouldn’t be able to execute it to the degree necessary to beat any competitive team. That’s not to say they don’t have some talent on their team, but not anywhere near Texas’. Here’s a look at the smart kids…and my shout-out to their extremely funny band, The Mob.

Senior QB Chase Clement is a talented athlete at 6’1”, 220-pounds, and for an option-oriented QB, he can throw the ball which has benefited him in Rice’s spread offense. Last year, Clement threw for more than 3,400 yards and 29 TDs – that has GOT to be a Rice record – and so far this year had completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 825 yards and eight TDs. Believe it or not, the kid also leads Rice in rushing with 194 yards (4.5/yards carry) and three rushing TDs. Texas can’t sit back on its haunches and watch him throw the ball…Clement can run and pass, and Texas had better be watching both. He is far and away the leader for the team, and their offense. Their top wide receiver, and he’s an unknown phenom in my opinion, is 5’11”, 190-pound Jarrett Dillard. Believe it or not, he leads the NCAA (yes, you heard right) in career receiving yards (3,088) and TDs (45). So far this season, he has 22 receptions for 260 yards and five TDs. He could very well be the most dangerous player Texas faces this year…that’s right, don’t underestimate him! Other top receivers for the Owls are Corbin Smiter and Patrick Randolph, combining for 200 yards receiving and two TDs this year – they both demand enough attention to free up Dillard, which is a scary thought, and then the ‘Horns have to worry about TE James Casey, who is a huge guy that leads the team in receptions with 29 for 376 yards and one TD. Running the ball, on the rare occasion they do, will fall to either Clement or, well, no one. Their ground game is miserable and is basically used for pass protection. The Owls’ offensive line is decent – they’ve recovered from being young and having some injuries – but, they’re not elite. If Texas does what they should, which is blitzing and putting pressure on Clement, expect to see short, quick passes from the Rice offense to save Clement from eating grass all game long.

Looking at the defensive side of the ball, Texas has to be smiling. Rice gives up an average of 401 yards to opposing offenses (and those haven’t been great teams, to-date), and 33.3 points per game. Their one star player is DE Scott Solomon, and he’s about it. My guess is offensive line coach Mac McWhorter will double-team Solomon, and have some of the OL pull their blocks from that side of the defensive line to get the opposite edge so the RB’s can run downhill on the outside. Otherwise, expect Texas to exploit every aspect of Rice’s defense. Their linebackers are small and should have little influence over the game. Their secondary has five interceptions this season, so Texas will need to play smart and within themselves and not force anything in the secondary – just take what’s given to them, and the game should play out as planned. Look for Texas to take advantage of some fakes, as the defensive backs will likely try to jump coverage, which could lead to some big plays for the ‘Horns down the field. I fully expect, however, that Texas will run the ball all day long, keep the ball away from Rice’s offense, and set up Fozzy Whittaker to solidify his starting role as Texas RB for this season.

On special teams, expect to see some big plays from Texas – Rice should be punting a lot, and they are horrible on special teams. I’ll call for a block or a big return from Duane Akina’s special team’s players.

In the end, Texas’ defensive line desperately needs to pressure Clement to help out their boys in the secondary who will be running in circles all game long. The linebackers will have their hands full this week keeping their eyes on Clement, and covering Rice’s TE in the passing game. We need a showcase game from the defensive front, and the secondary needs to continue to mature this week…it’s only going to get tougher. Let’s also step up the running game, and show oklahoma that we can do more than throw the ball…otherwise, it will be a long day for Colt in the Cotton Bowl in a couple weeks.

Other sporting news
Got any Washington State friends? Feel free to remind them that Baylor – yes, the ugly duckling of the Big 12 – pummeled the Cougars 45-17 in Waco. Tough season so far for the ‘Cougs. On a positive note, the Bears are 1-1 this season, which should be about half their win total for the year. Or the last 12 years, you decide.

Resources
Texas Exes Alumni Association Web site: http://www.texasexes.org/
Texas Exes Membership Department: 1-800-369-0023 (for membership card requests)
Texas Exes Puget Sound Chapter Web site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/texas_exes_puget_sound/

Hook ‘em, and see you on Saturday!

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