Tag Archives: Big 12 Conference

Texas’ 2010 Football Recruiting: Locked & (Re)Loaded

If Texas football coach Mack Brown and his staff are still feeling as if they let one get away after last month’s disappointing loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship game, then Wednesday should help put the Longhorns’ coaches in position to make another run at the success that eluded them January 7th in Pasadena.

The title of “Mr. February” has long been retired ever since Brown put to rest the stigma that he “couldn’t win the big one.” Texas’ run to Brown’s first Big 12 and national championships in the 2005 season validated him as a game day coach, and mythical titles have since been replaced by more tangible ones.

But with that said, the first Wednesday of every February is Texas’ time to shine – at least it has been since Brown restored recruiting order in Austin – and this National Signing Day was no different as he and the Longhorns’ staff secured signed letters of intent from 25 of the nation’s top prep athletes en route to another consensus top 5 recruiting class for Texas.

Among the group signees announced on Wednesday, seven were named Parade All-Americans, three earned first-team USA Today All-USA honors and two others earned second-team All-USA honors. All told, 17 players earned All-America status, 15 players were listed among ESPNU’s Top 150 national prospects and 20 were listed among all-state teams.

The 2002 class that would eventually carry Texas during Brown’s memorable 2005 season is considered by many to be the standard by which Mack Brown classes should be evaluated. It featured several impact contributors such as offensive lineman Justin Blalock, Lyle Sendlein, and Kasey Studdard, defensive back Aaron Ross, tight end David Thomas, defensive end Brian Robison and, of course, quarterback Vince Young.

And while Brown isn’t willing to rush to any hasty judgments of a group that hasn’t played a down of collegiate football, he didn’t back down from entertaining such comparisons either.

“Some will want to compare this group to some of the other great classes we’ve had at Texas and based on their accomplishments coming out of high school, they have the potential to be in that conversation,” Brown said Wednesday afternoon during his signing day press conference. “But, as a staff, we’ve been doing this for a long time and we’ll evaluate them in four or five years at the end of their run and not now.”

While the 2010 class’ legacy is yet to be determined, they do stack up well with other top classes in the country. Rivals rated the Longhorns class third behind only Florida and USC.

“Texas’ class is certainly right up there with any program in the country when you factor in how much talent the Longhorns are bringing in and how well they’ve filled their needs,” said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree to Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods.com. “Any other year, this would be the clear No. 1 class in the country.”

For the fourth time in the last five years, Texas finished in Scout’s top 10, also at No. 3 where they followed Florida and Oklahoma. The Longhorns’ most favorable ranking came courtesy of ESPN, which ranked Texas second behind only Florida.

Texas’ class is obviously loaded with plenty of star power capable of supporting its lofty ranking, but according to Brown, the class also carefully addressed key areas of need as the Longhorns look to improve depth throughout the roster.

“Of our 13 classes at Texas, this group addresses every position more so than any other class we’ve had,” Brown said. “We were fortunate enough to sign a talented young player at every position which is very unusual for a class.”

The intent is that improved depth will improve competition as the Longhorns begin preparations for the 2010 season with spring football rapidly approaching.

“We will prepare all of these guys to play this season and I expect many of them will,” the 12-year Texas coach continued. “This class, along with the outstanding young players we have returning next season, will provide immediate help and also be a great foundation for success in years to come.”

Also impressive is the efficiency the Longhorns staff exhibited while identifying and ultimately landing this year’s class. As Brown indicated Wednesday, the Texas coaches extended 30 total offers, and hosted just 25 of the 62 official on-campus visits permitted by the NCAA. All 25 of those official visits resulted in signatures on Wednesday.

No stranger to signing day drama and losses – uttering the name “Ryan Perrilloux” is still liable to spark bitterness among the burnt orange and white nation, Brown was happy to enjoy an uneventful signing day.

“It’s a whole lot worse to be No. 2 in recruiting than it is No. 5,” Brown said. “Because if you lose today, you not only lost the guy you lost, but you lost the guy you would have taken if he hadn’t come. So actually, you lose two or three players when you lose a guy late.

“That’s why we’ve tried to do our recruiting earlier for guys that want to come. We’re very fortunate that we didn’t have drama at the end. All of our guys were honest with us. All of our guys told us exactly what they thought from the beginning, and we really feel like none of our guys wavered. And that’s something that’s very, very important to us.”

This year’s class is predictably dominated by Texas’ top talent as 22 of 25 prospects hail from the Lone Star state. Since taking the Longhorns’ job, Brown has embraced legendary Texas coach Darrell K. Royal’s advice to reestablish ties with the state’s high school coaches, and the program continued its stranglehold in 2010 as all 22 homegrown prospects rank in the state’s top 100 according to the Lone Star Recruiting rankings.

“We look at the young men in the state of Texas first,” Brown noted of his philosophy when it comes to evaluating prospects. “If a young man in the state of Texas is equal in ability with a young man outside the state of Texas, we take the in-state player first. We’ve always done that. We feel that’s very important.”

With regard to evaluating out of state prospects, Brown said that he tries to identify a reason why such a prospect might be interested in Texas. Wednesday, the Horns received signed letters of intent from three out of state prospects, including one ofthe country’s top linebacker prospects in Jordan Hicks from West Chester, OH (his explanation of why he chose Texas). Rarely do blue-chip athletes from Ohio escape Ohio State’s grasp, but in Hicks, Brown landed the first player of his tenure from that talent-rich region.

“This is a proud moment for them, for their parents, high school coaches and teammates who have helped them get to this point,” Brown said of the class. “These kids have worked their whole lives and had a dream to go to college. This is a huge moment for these young people and we’re excited to have them join the Texas family.”

Thanks to John Haynesworth for his contribution on Texas football’s 2010 National Signing Day recap for Eyes Of TX. More to come on Thursday, with in-depth player profiles.

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Filed under Big 12, Longhorns, NCAA Football

Four Opponents Define ‘Horns “March Madness” Dreams

With the season more than halfway over, the #6 Texas Longhorns are in contention for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament come March. But, with recent back-to-back losses to Kansas State and UConn clouding the horizon, head coach Rick Barnes needs to re-focus his squad for the remainder of the Big 12 Conference schedule, and find the keys to his team’s early-season winning ways.

Let’s take a look at four remaining opponents which pose the biggest threats, and opportunities, for the ‘Horns as they close out the regular season. You can also find this post on Bleacher Report.

oklahoma
So, they’re not as legitimate as expected with an 11-8 record, but rivalries exist on and off the football field in Austin and Norman. Guard Willie Warren was expected to be the force behind the sooners squad in 2009-2010, and while he has done his best, with three freshman in the six-man line-up, the team has struggled to a 2-3 record in Big 12 play to-date. While Warren contributes 17.6 ppg, and has three other starters in double digits, the team’s inconsistency has blown their shot at the NCAA Tournament unless they finish strong. With a rivalry in the balance, oklahoma could give Texas a run for their money in Norman on February 6 before a trip to Austin in March.

Texas A&M
It seems as though every year, an Aggie has their coming-out party at the ‘Horns expense. This year, two seniors pose the biggest threat to Texas – guard Donald Sloan (17.5 ppg) and forward Bryan Davis (9.7 ppg) – both who play big and aggressive against the ‘Horns every outing. The Aggies have already given Texas a tough game, a 72-67 overtime loss in Austin, when junior forward Nathan Walkup made his statement with 13 points. In recent years, Texas and Texas A&M (14-5) have split their two conference games, and this season, don’t expect the Aggies to give the Longhorns any less of a fight in College Station. After all, as their fight song alludes, “t.u.” is their most hated foe.

#24 Baylor
Seriously. With a record of 15-3, the Bears history of sporting a solid backcourt continues to define the team’s success. Headlined by starting guards LaceDarius Dunn (19.2 ppg) and Tweety Carter (16.2 ppg), both who may own the best first names in college basketball, Baylor has only lost three games by a combined 16 points – not to mention giving #2 Kansas a run for their money in Lawrence. Add forward/center Ekpe Udoh (14.2 ppg) to the mix, and head coach Scott Drew has his team on the brink of bringing Baylor to the top of the Big 12 heap. Texas has Baylor twice in the closing clip of conference play, and you could see the Bears grab one of those two if Dunn and Carter are hitting their shots.

#2 Kansas
This will prove to be the tilt that decides the Big 12 Conference, and potentially a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for both teams. Like many other college basketball powerhouses, Kansas (19-1) simply reloads year-after-year, and despite key losses to graduation and the NBA draft, head coach Bill Self has guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich as the dominant forces leading the Jayhawks this season. Collins (16.0 ppg) and Aldrich (11.2 ppg) are the headliners, but heralded freshman Xavier Henry (14.3 ppg) has made his presence felt, along with forward Marcus Morris (12.4 ppg). The Jayhawks are perhaps the only team in the Big 12 Conference that can even come close to Texas’ bench depth, and their transition offense is purity to the eyes of basketball fanatics across the country. With Aldrich and Texas’ Dexter Pittman battling for space in the paint, and both team’s guards shooting it up from beyond the arc, this has the makings of an instant classic. It’s both a blessing and a curse that these two teams – playing in opposite divisions of the conference – are guaranteed to see each other only once every season.

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Filed under Aggies, Bears, Big 12, Jayhawks, Longhorns, NCAA Basketball, Sooners

Texas TE Dan Buckner To Transfer After Arrest

As if the Texas Longhorns wide receiving corp wasn’t going to be depleted enough with the loss of senior star Jordan Shipley, ESPN is reporting tonight that tight end Dan Buckner, who shifted in to the “flex end” position when injuries ravaged the Longhorns TE depth, would transfer less than 24 hours after he was arrested in College Station, Texas.

Buckner, who started six games yet played in all 14, was Texas’ third-leading wide receiver in 2009, with 45 catches for 442 yards and four TDs on the season. Apparently, Buckner was busted for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest after visiting a female acquaintance at her residence, causing a disturbance, and then refusing to leave the premises when police arrived.

While Buckner and his family believe the charges will be dropped, head coach Mack Brown agreed with the family that it was best for Buckner to transfer to another school and get a fresh start. Thus, he has officially been released from the team and it is unclear at this time where Buckner will transfer.

Hopefully, this ends a rash of off-field issues for the ‘Horns football team this year, including academic ineligibility, DUIs, and criminal arrests. On the plus side, Texas has used the issues to clear some roster space to hopefully bring in even more freshman talent to the program.

Seriously, if you’re going to cause a disturbance in College Station, at least do something to the offend the Aggies – for that, he probably would have gotten some extra book money added to his scholarship.

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Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Colorado Buffaloes

October 10, 2009
6:15 p.m. Central
ESPN

The ‘Horns have had a bye week, and that’s given Eyes Of TX a chance to make the journey back to Austin for this week’s match-up with Colorado. This week’s game preview will be short, given the priorities of hitting up Chuy’s, Salt Lick, Magnolia Cafe, and of course 2nd, 4th and 6th Streets. For gameday, a little tailgating, Posse East, and good friends and a football atmosphere. And, to be honest, when we’re talking about the Colorado Buffaloes this season, there just aren’t many good things to say.

Going in to the week, Texas remained #2 in the USA Today polls, although Florida gained a first-place vote on their bye week – did they rest better than Texas did? – and Alabama continues to creep up on Texas with their total number of votes. It will be interesting to see the standings after the weekend if Texas and Alabama both win, and #4 LSU pulls off the upset of #1 Florida.

Let’s get in to this week’s match-up of the Longhorns and Buffaloes.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 56, Colorado 10

Colorado BuffaloesUniversity of Colorado Buffaloes (1-3)
It’s been a tough year already for Dan Hawkins’ Colorado Buffaloes, and this week doesn’t seem to help their cause. The Buffs are 1-3 this year, with their sole victory a shutout of Wyoming the week after Texas played them. Overall, the team averages just over 20 points per game, but with Texas’ defense, Eyes Of TX doesn’t believe they’ll eclipse that mark this weekend. In fact, Hawkins is only 2-16 in road games since he’s been in Boulder, and even worse, his son and starting quarterback, Cody, averages three INTs a game on the road. Ouch. If that’s a sign, then the elder Hawkins is blind in terms of how to fix it.

In theory, Colorado is a line-it-up-and-run-it-at-you kind of team. In game situations, at least so far this year, that has yet to become reality. As mentioned, the Buffs offense is led by the coach’s son, Cody Hawkins, but the running game is keyed with Rodney Stewart and Darell Scott. While the running game should be a strength, the Buffs average under 100 yards rushing per game – in large part probably because their offense has been trying catch-up in almost every game this season.

Stewart is the smaller running back of the two, but he has good speed and vision, and he has taken the reigns as the team’s most productive backfield option. While Scott is the larger, more every-down back, he has yet to show that he can be consistent and produce. Rumor has it he’s had a great week of practice, through, so Texas fans will have to evaluate what that means. Hawkins is small for a quarterback, and so far this year, he’s had to do most of the work for the Buffs offense, as he throws the ball about 47 times per game, but is only completing 52 percent of his passes. The wide receivers are an unimpressive bunch as well; they will do the work, but no one player is elite. Given Texas’ secondary, they should be a non-factor in the game. However, the ‘Horns will need to keep an eye on Colorado tight end Riar Geer, who is a 6’5” 250-pound monster who can get down the playing field, and with excellent hands, make some big catches and free up the other wide receivers. All of these possibilities assume the offensive line is providing adequate blocking – for both the run and pass – and, pure and simple, they just won’t. They’ve given up 10 sacks through four games, two of which were against poor teams, and the lack of rushing yards per game also shows the deficiency there. It will be a long, long day for Hawkins and the offensive line this week.

On defense, the Buffaloes have definitely struggled – maybe more so than the offense. The defensive line also lost it’s best player, when defensive end Lagrone Shields quit the team. The line has given up an average of 201 yards rushing – one of the worst in all of D-I football. However, the linebackers can be solid, and are led in the middle by Marcus Burton who is an absolute beast a 6’0” and 265-pounds. In general, the linebackers might be able to hold their own filling the gaps on defense, but if Texas can run the ball laterally, or even take advantage of the linebackers in the passing game, it will get ugly quickly.

To put the wrapper on it, the Buffs special teams is just as woeful – if not worse – than the rest of the team. Horrible.

Texas Longhorns#2 Texas Longhorns (4-0)
Without going in to all of the details, Texas will win this game. Hands-down. It shouldn’t even be close, and if it is, then Texas is too worried about next week’s match-up with oklahoma, and the coaching staff has done a horrible job getting them prepared for this week.

Texas should be able to control this game through the air or on the ground – really, it’s their choice. Eyes Of TX suspects, however, that Greg Davis will stick to his game plan and won’t get any extra work in for the running backs. Too bad, this is the game to do it. Expect McCoy and Co. to have a huge day on offense, and Sergio Kindle and his defensive juggernaut to continue to dominate – maybe 5-6 sacks and a couple INTs? On special teams, Shipley and Monroe have a huge opportunity to light up the stat books this week.

All in all, stay healthy, get the win, and start the “ou sucks” chants early and often at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Pre-game Resources
2009 Texas Longhorns Roster
2009 Colorado Buffaloes Roster
University Co-op Gameday Newsletter / Pod casts

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Filed under Big 12, Buffaloes, Longhorns, NCAA Football

NCAA Football: Week 6 Viewing Guide

NCAA FootballAre we really already halfway through the season? It’s week six in the college football season, and this is when things get interesting as conference play is in full effect and the national rankings have begun to sort themselves out. Of course, “now things get interesting” only relates if you’re not a Big 12 Conference fan.

There are a great set of games to check in on this weekend, so here’s your week six NCAA football viewing guide.

Thursday
#21 Nebraska 27 at #24 Missouri 12
If you missed this game on Thursday night, here’s a quick recap – a near-tsunami came through Columbia, Missouri, on Thursday night and it wasn’t either team’s offense for the first three quarters. Special teams mistakes and the punting game were the outcomes of heavy rain, but in the fourth quarter, Nebraska found some magic and scored three TDs in just over 3 minutes to seal the victory. As Eyes Of TX expected, this puts Nebraska and Kansas in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 North title. If you haven’t been watching Nebraska, you should begin thinking about defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a Heisman Trophy candidate – he is unbelievable.

Saturday
12:00 PM ET
#17 Auburn at Arkansas, ESPN
Auburn has entered the top 25 with a 5-0 record. Arkansas isn’t likely to stand in their way to a rise up the rankings, but Ryan Mallett – whether he sticks with football or pursues a Major League Baseball career – has the potential to keep the ‘Hogs close. This is a nice way to kick off a great afternoon and see what’s going on in the SEC.

3:30 PM ET
#3 Alabama at #20 Mississippi, CBS
Alabama has been gaining ground on Texas in the polls and Ole Miss was positioned in the top 5 only a few short weeks ago before being exposed at South Carolina. The Rebels could redeem themselves with a victory at home, or the Tide could make a case for themselves as the best team in the country. Either way, this is must watch.

Wisconsin at #9 Ohio State, ABC/ESPN
ABC has a quad-fecta of regional games Saturday afternoon so check your listings for what’s available to you. Wisconsin enters this game unbeaten and unranked, sitting at the top of the Big 10 standings – yet they are still unranked. That is hard to fathom given Washington was ranked earlier this season, but we digress. Tyrelle Pryor has the potential to use his legs to win this one for State, then again, everyone has been saying Pryor can run and Eyes Of TX has yet to see it on display. Maybe Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to come to town and breathe some life in to the Ohio State offense. It will be interesting to see what both of these teams are made of this week.

#13 Oregon at UCLA, ABC
Oregon still has a lot to prove after their opening week loss to now #6 Boise State, but could make a case for themselves as the best team in the Pac-10. They’ve looked solid the past few weeks, including a beat-down of then-#6 California,and their quarterback could be back from this match-up. Neuheisal’s already got bets on the outcome of this game, from what we hear.

Baylor at #19 oklahoma, ABC
ou is floundering, and Baylor has never beaten the sooners, but there’s no time like the present. After the close loss to Miami last week, the sooners desperately need a win in their final lead up to the Red River Shootout, but Baylor hasn’t had a team as likely to pull off an upset of a top 25 team in a long time. Unfortunately, that Baylor team had a healthy Robert Griffin, and he’s out for the season. ou quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to start his first game since the week one injury, so we’ll see how his recovery has gone over the course of the game.

UConn at Pittsburgh, ABC/ESPN
This game rounds out the four top for ABC and doesn’t add much to the conversation, but the game is on TV whether you like it or not, so you might as well be aware. If anything, it’s a good opportunity to get a chuckle at Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt’s moustache.

7:15 PM ET
Colorado at #2 Texas, ESPN
Hopefully, Texas isn’t looking ahead to ou weekend in Dallas. The ‘Horns should be able to put this away early, as Colorado continues to struggle through a four quarter game. Coach Dan Hawkins club just can’t seem to get it together, and with the ‘Horns bye week and the offense hitting its stride against UTEP, this is another scary match-up for the ‘Buffs. On a positive note, if this game gets out of hand early, it allows us all to check out what’s happening in Baton Rouge.

8:00 PM ET
#1 Florida at #4 LSU, CBS
CBS has the game of the week with this top 5 showdown. The storylines for this game don’t need repeating here, this week is all about what takes place in Death Valley. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has been dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered against Kentucky, and his play tonight is a game-time decision. If Tebow sits this one out, Eyes Of TX believes there is a huge opportunity for an upset.

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Filed under Bears, Big 12, Buffaloes, Cornhuskers, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Sooners, Tigers

Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. UTEP Miners

September 26, 2009
2:30 p.m. Central
FSN

Last week, the ‘Horns escaped with a critical redemption win against Mike Leach’s Red Raiders in Austin, winning the game 34-24. “Escaped” because the offense didn’t play great in the first half, but the defense continued its dominance despite giving up 420 yards to the Red Raiders passing attack.

It was confirmed that Texas QB Colt McCoy had the flu earlier in the game week, and that could have affected his slow start, but unfortunately, Eyes Of TX sees the flat-footed offensive output as one aspect of Texas’ game this year that has been consistent. To their credit, the ‘Horns picked it up in the second half, as they did against both Louisiana-Monroe and Wyoming, but they need to fix this before seeing the likes of ou and Oklahoma State later this season. To Tech’s credit, junior QB Taylor Potts looks fantastic – he was spot on against Texas, and looks to have absolute command of the offense – expect see hear more on Potts, as every Big 12 writer in drooling over his capabilities. The play of the Tech game was, no doubt, Texas DE Sergio Kindle’s sack of Tech QB Taylor Potts in the 4th quarter which has been the center of controversy this week among football pundits and Leach who has officially complained to the NCAA. To be clear, there was no penalty on the play for a helmet-to-helmet hit, and it looks as though Kindle’s helmet hits Potts’ shoulder pads first.

All in all, another good win for the ‘Horns in week three, and they maintain their #2 ranking in the latest USA Today polls. On the national scene, while #1 Florida won a battle with unranked Tennessee, they looked unimpressive doing so, and combined with former #3 USC’s loss to Washington, there was some re-shuffling in the top five this week. Alabama has moved up to the #3 spot, Penn State continues to quietly creep up the standings at #4, and former Texas QB Jevan Snead couldn’t will his #5 Ole Miss Rebels to a win against South Carolina on Thursday night, so his Heisman campaign and the Rebels top 10 ranking are all but over, and Cal might creep in to the #5 spot if they win this weekend.

Let’s get in to this week’s match-up of the Longhorns and Miners.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 49, UTEP 13

University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) Miners (1-2)
While UTEP gave Texas an early run for its money last year in El Paso, this year figures to play out differently. Coach Mike Price and the Miners have struggled early this season with losses to Buffalo and Kansas, before beating New Mexico State last week for their first win. In Austin, with the defense playing at an extremely high level, Eyes Of TX doesn’t see this game being competitive. Then again, if the Texas offense stalls for a half of football again, anything can happen.

Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe returns for the Miners, but his 2008 numbers have not. He’s a solid athlete, with both running and passing ability, although it’s nothing spectacular. This year, however, he hasn’t seemed to click offensively, as he’s only completed 55 percent of his 102 pass attempts for 602 yards for one TD and one INT. He seems to be running the ball less this year as well, accounting for just 40 yards through three games. Those just aren’t the offensive numbers you want your QB putting up for your team. At wideout, he has talent in Jeff Moturi and Kris Adams, but they have generally been as unproductive as their QB. Moturi is the smaller, faster wideout who will sacrifice his body over the middle of the field, and Adams is the deep threat and leads the team with 13 catches for 117 yards and no TDs. UTEP seems to try and utilize their running game to set up the passing game, but running back Donald Buckram has been largely ineffective with exception of New Mexico State game when he rushed for 113 yards and two TDs. The problem is the offensive line for the Miners, which has allowed nine sacks in three games and is only allowing the running game to average 3.6 yards per carry. Sounds like the anemic Texas running game of “old.” Coach Price will probably try to spread out the Texas defense and attack the sidelines consistently to set up the run, as the Texas front seven just won’t budge. Expect to see a lot screen passes and hot routes, or Vittatoe rolling out, to try and combat the constant pressure from the Texas defensive line.

On defense, the Miners run a 3-3-5 scheme, which puts more speed on the field and allows them to attack the line of scrimmage with their linebackers. Last year, UTEP’s consistent blitz threw off the Texas offensive line in the first half before they adjusted. Nothing has changed this year, the Miners still blitz more than any team Texas will face all season, with the exception that this year they’re not getting the production in sacks or tackles for loss. The defensive line is small up front, although defensive end Aaron King is their top threat – he’s accounted for three of the team’s four sacks on the season, including two tackles tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and 13 tackles total. If they get pressure on the quarterback with their blitzes, the secondary is capable of takeaways, tallying three INTs and six pass break-ups. The linebackers will need to be more productive this week, however, or else the Miners secondary will be picked apart by McCoy and Co.

The UTEP special teams is decent, although their biggest deficit is kick coverage. They give up 23 yards per return on kick-offs, and 12 yards per return on punts, meaning opposing teams have typically started with excellent field position.

#2 Texas Longhorns (3-0)
Overall, the Longhorns need to make sure they don’t overlook this game. There is no way the Miners should compete with the ‘Horns, but with another slow start or a focus on next week’s bye week could create some early tension on Saturday.

With McCoy healthy again, we’ll see if he can return to 2008 form, and he seems to have found a new favorite target in flex wideout Dan Buckner, which takes some of the pressure off of Jordan Shipley to be the go-to wideout. In addition, John Chiles and James Kirkendoll have proved solid in various games this week, and fans saw a bit more of the “Wildcat” offense with Chiles taking some snaps last week – although they’ll need to let Chiles throw the ball from time-to-time make to give opposing defenses something to think about when he lines up in the backfield. The running games seems to have found some stability with Tre Newton, and based on his experience in the Southlake Carroll spread offense, Eyes Of TX likes his ability to pick up the blitz, catch the ball out of the backfield, and run north-south. This week, Texas needs the running game to run downhill via the I-formation, as the zone-read could seriously be disrupted by UTEP’s consistent blitz and the running backs starting flat-footed. And, believe it or not, running back Fozzy Whittaker might have recovered from his knee injury enough to play a bit this weekend – can he stay healthy?

Expect the defense to absolutely dominate the Miners offense, as Kindle, defensive tackle Lamarr Houston and linebacker Rodderick Muckelory should be living in the backfield and creating misery for Price’s offense. They need to play smart, not over-pursue, and have the secondary shed blocks to make tackles on screens and the edge.

From a special teams perspective, anything is possible with Shipley back returning punts, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some more fireworks there this week.

Overall, if the ‘Horns focus, they’ll get a well-deserved mid-season bye week next Saturday (during Austin City Limits Festival in Austin) to heal some injuries and continue to tweak and fix those minor issues leading in to Big 12 play against Colorado on October 10.

Pre-game Resources
2009 Texas Longhorns Roster
2009 UTEP Miners Roster
University Co-op Gameday Newsletter / Pod casts

Hook ‘em!

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Filed under Big 12, Conference USA, Longhorns, Miners, NCAA Football

Big 12 Football Tidbits After Week 3

NCAA FootballWatching sports fodder come across the wires over the course of the week, a few relevant Big 12 Conference bits worth sharing.

ou QB Bradford Returns to Practice
This week, oklahoma sooners quarterback Sam Bradford returned to practice after sitting out several weeks after suffering from a third-degree separation of his right, throwing shoulder against BYU in week one. Bradford only threw short, 5- to 10-yard passes in practice, and wasn’t allowed to follow-through completely. Head coach Bob Stoops doesn’t want to put any speculation on Bradford’s return, and back-up Landry Jones has filled in nicely for the sooners in the interim. Expect Bradford to sit out at least one more week, and his status for the Miami game in a couple weeks could become more clear as he tests his shoulder further.

Texas Longhorns v. USC Trojans?
Rumors were confirmed this week that Texas was in serious negotiations with USC for a home-home series with the Trojans for the 2019-2020 non-conference football schedule. Don’t get your hopes up too much, as USC said they were talking to several schools about potential match-ups. There is no doubt ESPN analysts are already speculating on the dominance of the 2019 & 2020 USC Trojans teams. Again. Eyes Of TX remembers what happened the last time they made those assertions – 2005.

Kansas Jayhawks In-Fighting
Earlier this week, it was reported that members of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball and football teams got in to two separate fights on campus in two days. Did someone call head football coach Mark Mangino a bad name? Did a game of H-O-R-S-E go bad? It’s unknown who “waved the wheat” first, but apologies were issued, and it doesn’t sound like there will be any suspensions for either group of players at this time.

Longhorn LB Jared Norton To Have Surgery
The Texas Longhorns star senior linebacker, Jared Norton, was injured in a week one victory against Louisiana-Monroe. While the shoulder injury initially seemed mild in nature, further tests have determined that Norton will need surgery and rehab on the shoulder. To that end, it was confirmed this week that he will be out for the remainder of the 2009 season. It is expected Norton will apply for a medical redshirt and a sixth year of eligibility with the NCAA, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be granted. In his place, back-up Rodderick Muckelroy has looked solid and will continue to fill the void for the vaunted Texas defense.

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Filed under Big 12, Jayhawks, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Sooners