Tag Archives: John Chiles

Week 1 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Rice Owls

It’s finally time for the start of the 2010 Texas Longhorn football season, and Mack Brown’s team is looking to avenge their disappointing loss in last year’s BCS National Championship. Honestly, it’s time to put it behind us. EyesOfTX will say it, though: if QB Colt McCoy hadn’t gotten hurt in Pasadena, Calif., the ‘Horns would’ve beat Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide going away. That stupid ESPN “College Gameday” commercial would have Brown bragging about his two championship rings getting in the way during Jenga. OK, done with it. For now.

A few quick notes before jumping in to week one. The 2010 off-season held a lot of question marks for this Longhorns team, as several team leaders and experience took their talents to the next level, including QB Colt McCoy (Cleveland), WR Jordan Shipley (Cincinnati), DE Sergio Kindle (Baltimore), LB Rodderick Muckelroy (Cincinnati) and S Earl Thomas (Seattle; watch this video!) to name a few. That left offensive coordinator Greg Davis (EyesOfTX’s favorite coach to hate) and defensive coordinator / future head coach / crazy man Will Muschamp with some big holes to fill. Luckily, Brown’s recruiting prowess year-in and year-out has the ‘Horns filling out the roster nicely this fall. Some of the key positions will be filled with viable young talent that has learned from watching their elders, and they will only improve as the season progresses. Isn’t that cliche and catchy? Thought so. Worked all summer on it.

Key aspects to watch in September and October will be Gilbert’s progression at quarterback (does his name remind anyone else of the movie “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”), the “007” martini-like offensive line changes, filling the gaps in the defensive line – specifically at defensive tackle, and the using our former-star-QB-turned-running-backs-coach to find the ever-elusive running game. Who’s calling former UT great RB Ricky Williams to push grad school classes?

On a serious note, the ‘Horns are stacked with a mix of experienced talent and young hot shots that will make this season interesting – they could go undefeated, or lose up to three games. How’s that for not being decisive? The team opens the season as the #4 team in the nation according to USA Today, with some select powerhouses – Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida – ahead of them in the race to Glendale, Ariz., and the 2011 National Championship. Watch out for #5 Boise State – if they win on the road against #10 Virginia Tech in week one, and beat #24 Oregon State at home late in the season, have no one stopping them from getting on the national championship ballot come December. Hooray for small schools with blue football turf everywhere!

Texas Longhorns v. Rice Owls
2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN & ESPN HD)

Prediction:
Texas 48, Rice 10

Rice’s Keys To The Game:
The Owls and head coach David Bailiff (of Texas State fame) had a tough year in 2009 (Bailiff’s third season), going 2-10. While they run a spread offense – with no notable wide receivers to speak of – if they have any chance of beating Texas on Saturday, it starts with the running game and Michigan transfer and current RB Sam McGuffie. Name sound familiar? Yes, it’s the McGuffie of YouTube fame – the top RB prospect in the country a few short years ago. Haven’t seen him on film? Take 6 minutes, it’s worth it. EyesOfTX will be here when you get back. [Pause] Told you so. Unfortunately, McGuffie won’t get 100 touches in this game, which means Rice is still up a creek without a paddle, but don’t be surprised if McGuffie makes the fans gasp a time or two at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

Rice RB Sam McGuffie

Outside of McGuffie, the Owls don’t even know who their starting quarterback will be. Junior Nick Fanuzzi is the incumbent, a dual-threat QB, but he struggled last year throwing the ball accurately. They could start Miami QB transfer Taylor Cook, a 6’7” 240-pound behemoth with a monster arm but cement for feet. Or, how about true frosh Tyler McHargue, the better of the dual-threat QBs on the roster? It’s like picking lotto numbers out of tumbler – you don’t know what you’re going to get. Surely, Muschamp had fun writing out this week’s defensive schemes.

If the Owls offense is anemic without a running game, then the defense isn’t much better. They were 117th out of 120 teams last year in total defense, and gave up the most points per game – 43 – of any team in the country in 2009. In a 4-2-5 scheme, with four down lineman, two linebackers, and five defensive backs, they’ll play to Texas strength (passing game), but get brutalized by Texas’ punishing ground attack. Like how that was set up?


Texas’ Keys To The Game:
Let’s be clear – Texas can drop way more than 48 points on Rice. But, they won’t. On purpose. Per the commentary the fans have heard all off-season, this game is all about clock control and the to-date-non-existent Texas running game. Stop messing with you, right? Honestly, prepare to be David-ized – “is this real life?” You won’t believe what you see. Rumors have it that Cody Johnson will start at RB for the ‘Horns after dropping virtually no weight, but changing that fat to muscle and becoming a fast as all get-out, extremely conditioned athlete in the off-season. Texas rolls for more than 200 yards rushing on Saturday.

Texas QB Garrett Gilbert

Expect to see “experienced” QB Garrett Gilbert come out firing too, though. Reports have it that he threw only one interception in all of fall ball. Against what is being touted as the best defensive backfield in the country in 2010. Plus, he’s able to make throws that McCoy just couldn’t – I’m referring to downfield, of course. You’ll see more (gasp!) I-formation, with (gasp!) Gilbert under center, and (gasp!) a fullback…er, H-back. Promise. Although the offensive line was juggled around in the off-season, the starters are solid contributors with some experience under their belt. And, they’re finally being asked to fire off the ball in run blocking schemes, so they shouldn’t be a bunch of gigantic pansies blocking for the zone read as in year’s past. They want to go knock someone over. Preferably two.

The wide receiving core is re-tooled as well, but Brown has recruited well at the position, and after 7-on-7 drills this summer it sounds like WR Malcolm Williams found some consistency. He’ll be the scoring threat, with cohorts John Chiles and James Kirkendoll holding down the fort, and the quickness of D.J. Monroe or Marquis Goodwin adding sub-4.4 speed. Expect to see youth get some playing time here – the ‘Horns are deep on talent on the edge.

Defensively, this could be the year that no one forgets. Brown is already saying this could be his best unit ever at Texas. When you had the #1, #3, #4, and #8 defenses in the country in the last few years under Greg Robinson, Gene Chizik, and Will Muschamp, that’s hard to believe. We do know this – the secondary will be lights out…a perfect compliment to the offensive schemes of most Big 12 teams they’ll play. The defensive ends stay the same, with All-American talent and a lot of young studs to add depth. The tackle spot is a question mark, but some guys have stepped up this fall to fill the void. Linebackers will be lethal again this year too, although you’ll see one new name at starter on the weak side – Dravannti Johnson.

Let’s start the season off on the right foot – go get ‘em ‘Horns! Hook ‘em!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Big 12, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Owls

Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Kansas Jayhawks

November 21, 2009
7:00 p.m. Central
ABC (regional)

It has been a week of distractions for both these teams heading in to their late-season match-up, although the situation for Kansas coach Mark Mangino is much more dire. This week, several players – both current and former – have come forward and said Mangino is verbally abusive and had inappropriate physical contact during practices. To that end, Kansas’ athletic director has launched an investigation in to the accusations, and it remains to be seen whether Mangino will remain the Jayhawks coach after the season, only two years removed from being named the AP’s coach of the year.

For Texas, the distraction was different, as kick returner D.J. Monroe – only 20 years old – was arrested for a DWI last Saturday night after the Baylor game. Monroe has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Mack Brown, and might not play again until the bowl game, assuming his legal issues are resolved by that time.

For both teams, the key this week will be focus and preparation, and Texas seems to have the clear advantage in those two categories, if you disregard pure talent and this season’s success – which you can’t. Texas is three games away from playing for the national title, and they need to maintain their composure, play to their level, and help QB Colt McCoy get his 43rd win as the starter – an NCAA record for the winningest QB in history.

Let’s take a look at the details.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 55, Kansas 17

Kansas Jayhawks (5-5)
Kansas had big expectations this year, despite the loss of two offensive lineman and their stout linebacker core to graduation. With the return of QB Todd Reesing, as well as WRs Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier, they had the offensive firepower to compete in the Big 12’s North division. Unfortunately, after a 5-0 start taking them as high as #15 in the rankings, they fell apart, and have lost five straight games in conference play. Now, they’re scratching to simply become bowl eligible.

This will be a homecoming game for senior QB Todd Reesing, who played his high school football right down the road at Lake Travis High School outside Austin. That high school coach should be proud, as he’s produced some big name QB recruits in recent years with Reesing, Gilbert (Texas), and potential Texas recruit Michael Brewer. Reesing has been the heart and soul of the Jayhawks during his tenure as a starter, but this year he has been nagged by injuries and tension with Mangino, who has pulled him during games in favor of his back-up. Reesing’s numbers are still stellar – 2,862 yards passing, 18 TDs, and only eight INTs with a 62 percent completion rate – but he hasn’t looked as comfortable or efficient as year’s past. There are rumors Reesing is still recovering from a nagging injury, and his lack of mobility is a liability, so a trip back home could prove disappointing in his last year in Lawrence.

The wide receiving corps for Kansas is as good as Texas will see all year. Starters Briscoe and Meier (the former QB turned WR) are both legit NFL draftees come April, and they are Reesing’s top targets in the passing game. Briscoe leads the team in receiving, with 994 yards, and TDs with seven. His 6’3” 202-pound frame makes him a big target downfield, and he is Kansas’ deep threat. Meier, on the other hand, is the big possession receiver at 6’3” 221-pounds, and has accounted for 885 yards and six TDs on a team-leading 83 catches. Both players have big play ability, will be the focal point of the KU passing game on Saturday, and will challenge the young but stout Texas defensive backs.

The Jayhawks running game is similar to Texas’ in that they have two backs who are complete opposites. The starter, Jake Sharp, is 5’10” 195-pounds and quick, with good hands out of the backfield (185 yards receiving and three TDs), accounting for 398 yards and three TDs on the ground this season. His complement is freshman Toben Opurum, a 6’2” 235-pound beast who moves the pile similar to Texas’ RB Cody Johnson. Opurum leads the running attack with 543 yards rushing on the season. Both backs offer different looks for opposing defenses, and given field to work with, they can be dangerous weapons to complement the KU passing game.

The Jayhawks’ offensive woes live in the line, where they start two freshman. Potentially the reason for Reesing’s on-going injuries is the inability to keep him upright, as the o-line has given up 24 sacks on the year. But, if the offensive line can open some holes for the running game, and give Reesing time to throw in the pocket – particularly if Kansas picks up on the weakness they saw in Texas’ defense of the bubble screen last week in Waco – then they have a chance to be very productive on the day. Against Texas’ front seven, though, it seems like a long-shot on Senior Day in Austin.

The defense is solid, but not outstanding, and their defensive line headlines that side of the ball. Overall, the defense gives up 351 yards of offense, 241 yards through the air, and an average of 24.9 points per game. They’ve also given up 32 opposing TDs this season, good for ninth-best in the Big 12. The defensive line’s success comes from the ends, namely Jake Laptad and Maxwell Onyegbule. While the defense s a whole has combined for a respectable 26 sacks on the season, Laptad and Onyegbule have accounted for 11.5 of them – so, that is where McCoy will see pressure on Saturday. As noted above, the weakness in the KU defense is the secondary – despite future NFL safety Darrell Stuckey – and they have only hawked seven INTs on the year. While the secondary steps up in the red zone, the defensive line has given up 18 rushing TDs on the season. Expect the secondary to get torched by McCoy and his receiving core on Saturday.

Finally, the special teams for the Jayhawks are mediocre at best. Their kicker, Jacob Brandstetter has a big leg, but has only made 10-of-15 field goals on the year. Their return game is horrid (6.1 yards per punt, and 20 yards per kickoff), and they give up big chunks of yards to opposing kick returners (11.4 yards per punt, and 22 yards per kickoff). Expect some big plays from the Texas return game, even without Monroe.

#3 Texas Longhorns (10-0)
The game plan for Texas needs to be balanced, both offensively and defensively this week. On defense, the ‘Horns need to put pressure on Reesing and make him scramble or make quick decisions. The secondary will have to keep both Briscoe and Meier in front of them and hold their coverage as long as possible to give the defensive line time to get to Reesing. By the same token, the safeties – Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas – will have to keep an eye on the backfield, as Sharp and Opurum both have the potential to make some big plays running or catching screen passes. If the defense plays up to their potential, they could tack up another non-offensive TD – something the Texas fans have come to expect this season. Another solid game from LB/DE Sergio Kindle also wouldn’t hurt his chances to win this year’s Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker, as he was named one of five finalists for the award on Friday (along with the Big 12’s Sean Weatherspoon).

On offense, the ‘Horns should continue to hone their running game as they wind down the season, and last week’s production from Johnson and the return of RB Tre Newton, produced a balanced attack in Waco. Expect Johnson to get the start again, and to once again try to lead a balanced Longhorns attack. Of course, McCoy and Shipley will be keys to the offensive game plan, and both will want to go out on a high note in their last game in DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Expect to see John Chiles or Malcolm Williams join Shipley on kickoff returns this week, with the suspension of Monroe. With the Jayhawks porous kick coverage, anything is possible, including some quick fireworks to change the atmosphere inside the stadium.

Something to keep an eye out for: could this be the week the ‘Horns don the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms? If not, fans will seem them at least once before season’s end. While they sound cool in theory, there are some things in college football you just don’t mess with – one of those is the Longhorns’ classic uniforms. Let’s leave the weekly uni-watch to the folks in Oregon.

Another big win and another step closer to Pasadena are easily possible if the ‘Horns stay focused and keep taking one game at a time. This is the time in the season when any team can lose its edge by looking too far ahead, but this team and the senior leadership seem to have the ‘Horns headed in the right direction. Besides, who doesn’t love Pasadena in January?

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

Hook ‘em!

1 Comment

Filed under Big 12, Jayhawks, Longhorns, NCAA Football

Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Missouri Tigers

October 24, 2009
7:00 p.m. Central
ABC (regional)

Last week wasn’t pretty. But, a win in Dallas in a win in Dallas. Of the ‘Horns tough three week stretch, they’ve started off on the right foot. There are still some changes that need to happen on offense, but as expected, the defenses dominated at the Cotton Bowl. In Eyes Of TX’s opinion, ou made a horrible decision in bringing back QB Sam Bradford from injury to play in this game – and, when he went down on second series of the game, you could feel the life being sucked out of the sooners sideline.

With the ou game behind Mack Brown and the ‘Horns, they face two match-ups this week and next against Missouri and Oklahoma State, respectively, away from the safety of DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Let’s check out the game this week, with rebuilding M-I-Z…Z-O-U.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 30, Missouri 17

Missouri TigersMissouri Tigers (4-2)
It’s homecoming in Columbia, Missouri, this weekend and that means that the playmakers from last year’s Tigers team might be back. On the sideline. This Missouri team is re-building, and despite the loss of several starters from last year’s team, have a nice complement of players that have replaced them this season. That starts at the quarterback position with Blaine Gabbert, a 6’5” 240-pound gunslinger. The strong-armed quarterback is also mobile in the pocket, although not necessarily a running threat. He’s thrown for 1,620 yards, 12 TDs, and five INTs this season, but is only completing 57 percent of his passes. All five of his INTs have come in the last two games – losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma State – and he also sprained his ankle in the Nebraska game and that has limited his mobility since. At wide receiver, Gabbert has a solid group, including Wes Kemp, Jared Perry, and Danario Alexander. Alexander is the biggest threat, at 6’5” 215 pounds, and he has 66 catches for 627 yards and five TDs on the season, and Perry is the deep threat with the ability to get behind defenses. All told, the wide receivers will need to have a solid day to ease the pressure on the Missouri running game, although with the Texas front seven and secondary, it might be difficult for Gabbert to have the time to find open receivers down field.

The running game goes through Derrick Washington, although he is only averaging 4.2 yards per carry, and an average of 16 carries per game. He’s only scored three TDs on the season, and Missouri ranks 91st in rushing in the country. That means the Texas secondary needs to have their eyes on the man in front of them as Gabbert will likely be winging the ball all over the field. If the offensive line is having trouble with the Texas front seven — and they did against Nebraska — then they could try to defer to quick screen passes and hot routes to try and slow down the Texas rush. With the Texas linebacking core playing lights out, though, it won’t help their offensive efforts.

On defense, Missouri has been less-than-impressive. Against good competition, they’ve given up points, including 33 to Oklahoma State last week and the disaster against Nebraska in the final minutes of the game as well. The defense is led by stud linebacker Sean Witherspoon, who will surely be playing on Sunday’s next year. He leads the team with 50 tackles on the season, and he is the emotional leader – their play will largely be based on his success or failure on Saturday. The defensive line is solid, but nothing that poses a huge threat against the ‘Horns offense. They can hold their own, but don’t put much pressure on the quarterback. In fact, the defense as a whole only blitzes on 24 percent of their defensive plays, and most of the team’s sacks come from the linebacking core, and not the d-line. The secondary is suspect, as they give up an average of 210 yards per game, and they only have two INTs on the season – that seems like a big opportunity for Texas.

This might be on the best special teams groups that Texas will play this season. Their punter, Jake Henry, averages 42 yards per punt, and they give up very little (under a yard) on punt returns. Their kick-off coverage isn’t quite as good, giving up an average of 24 yards per return. Their field goal kicker, Grant Ressel, is lights out, hitting 12-of-13 field goal attempts, and all of his extra points. If they don’t make any mistakes on Saturday, it could be even-Steven in the special teams match-up this week.

Texas Longhorns#2 Texas Longhorns (6-0)
Texas needs to get it together on offense. Fans have been waiting all season to see the Texas offense explode, like last year, but week-in and week-out, the ‘Horns have failed to produce. This week, you’ll see some changes in the wide receiving core. Freshman Marquise Goodwin, who stole the show in Dallas, will get the start, as will Malcolm Williams who has apparently finally earned some playing time. With John Chiles being ineffective, and James Kirkendoll’s stupid head-butt in the ou game, Eyes Of TX feels good about the change, as it will put more speed on the field for Colt – let’s just hope the consistency is there with some new faces on the field. In addition, Jordan Shipley will move back over to the flanker position, where he was so successful last year. With Missouri’s linebackers not being great covering wide receivers in space over the middle of the field, Shipley could have a big day. The running game picked up last week, and Fozzy Whittaker looked healthy and quick, and he’s earned the starting job this week as well. Keep it up!

On defense, just keep doing what you’re doing. Will Muschamp’s troops have looked sharp, and they’re getting strong play up and down the depth chart. There is no doubt that Texas has one of the best defenses in the country. The secondary needs to focus on keeping Missouri’s wide receivers in front of them and making sure tackles against the larger Tigers’ wide outs, while the linebackers need to cover the running backs on screens and hot routes while using strategic opportunities to put pressure on Gabbert in passing situations.

All in all, Texas should win this game. No doubt Missouri will be jacked up for this game with homecoming this weekend, but if the ‘Horns keep their heads, play their game, and manage the clock, they should escape Columbia with a victory.

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

Hook ‘em!

Leave a comment

Filed under Big 12, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Tigers