Tag Archives: Mike Leach

Week 3 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

“Grrr. Give me all of your loot! Aarrghh! I’ll sink your ship and bury you on the West Texas plains!” Is that a bit of Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” character, Captain Jack Sparrow? No, it’s… Wait, what’s that? Mike “The Pirate” Leach is no longer the head football coach in Lubbock? Creative blogging FAIL.

Former TTU head coach Mike Leach

[Long pause]

[Cue internal debate consuming EyesOfTX writers on whether it’s worth writing about Texas Tech football from now on…]

[Solution: Shed tear for lack of pre-game comedy and post-game hilarity with Leach; proceed with a quick Mike Leach “roast,” prepare selves for boring ‘ol Tommy “T” in the Big 12!]

Don’t fret. Even though we’ve lost the conductor of the Big 12‘s crazy train, there is still an opportunity to see the man who is as nutty as a PayDay bar. While Leach fully expected he’d be coaching again this season (he’s not) – just not anywhere near Craig James’ son, Adam (and, he’s not) – instead, he’ll be announcing Conference USA football games this fall for CBS Sports. A-maz-ing. In such a good way; honestly, it could be more epic than Obama balancing the budget. One assumes, in this instance, CBS has been setting aside a substantial amount of advertising dollars to pay-off the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) for Leach’s on-air hilarity, vulgarity and general mis-fires. It’s going to happen, if he doesn’t stick he co-anchor or cameraman in a closet first. Who else can’t wait to see this debacle unfold?

Truth be told, even though the mad hatter is no longer in Lubbock, the Red Raiders don’t seem to have lost a step with former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville taking over the reigns.

We’re not big Red Raider fans, so let’s revisit some favorite bone-crushing and hilarious moments:

Now that were amped up, let’s check out this week’s tilt with the Red Raiders.

Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders
7:00 p.m. CT (ABC)

Prediction:
Texas 28, Texas Tech 24

Texas Tech’s Keys To The Game:
You read that right, Tech fans. It’s a 7:00 p.m. Central time kick-off on Saturday, which gives you about an hour from the time you arise from your liquor-induced, beer-goggle, not-so-good-in-the-morning sleep to get to Jones Stadium for the game. Yep, believe it or not, you too are a key to the game – as is always the case in Lubbock.

Texas Tech's Jones Stadium

In six previous meetings between the ‘Horns and Red Raiders in the desolate West Texas desert, the two teams have split decisions (3-3) – with the ugliest scenario playing out for ‘Horns fans two years ago when Texas lost its undefeated and national championship hopes on the final play of the game as TTU wide receiver Michael Crabtree celebrated his TD and early departure to…hold out against the NFL team who drafted him. Oh, where were we? That’s right, Lubbock’s a tough place to play – the ‘Horns haven’t lost to TTU at home in Austin (6-0) in head coach Mack Brown’s tenure. Yet, with a plethora of young talent on the field for Texas, Tubby’s Red Raiders have a chance to score another major upset under the lights in the sandy plains.

Even though the puerile Leach has departed, the collective knowledge of the spread offense hasn’t, and neither have the Red Raiders’ on-field general(s), as seniors Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield return at QB. While Tuberville will instill some semblance of a running attack in Lubbock (you had to think RB Baron Batch was licking his chops upon his new head coach’s arrival), he isn’t stupid and he’ll work with Leach’s leftovers until he recruits players that fit his mold. So, the basketball-style scoring system isn’t quite gone with the red and black, but it’ll get there in the year’s to come. In the meantime, Potts is still going to throw for a million yards, and receivers will be flying over the field so much so that you’ll be trying to swipe them away like they’re gnats drawn to your TV screen.

Potts is the starter at QB, and we all know no TTU gun slinger starts their season slow, as he was spot-on in week one against SMU (34-for-53, 359 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) with his game a tad more efficient in week two against New Mexico (22-for-34, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs). He’s well-versed in the offensive scheme, has good repoire with his receivers, and has the arm to make every single throw in the proverbial book. His downside is mental, more than physical – if he’s under constant pressure in the pocket, or takes a good hit early, his mind just isn’t in the game – many analysts would go so far as to say he “talks himself in to injuries.” We say he’s just a 6’5” pansy who cries when everything doesn’t go his way. That’s a Saturday bonus for Texas, if you’re counting. The offensive line remains a legitimate threat to controlling the line of scrimmage, but no longer will you see four yard splits between each offensive lineman – they’re in a tighter formation, which gives the wide receivers more space off the line of scrimmage in passing formations.

Red Raiders' WR Lyle Leong

The wide receivers are the key the offense’s production, and the team might as well hire octamom-gone-bachelorette human-being manager Kate Gosselin to keep up with the ongoing rotation. In Lubbock, she’d fit right in for more than a few reasons. There are two wide receivers, however, that stand out as top targets for Potts – his high school teammate, Lyle Leong (16 catches, 217 yards, 5 TDs), and Detron Lewis (9 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD). Regardless of the top target, all those receivers have good hands, agility and the ability to find and sit down in zone coverage to give Potts plenty of space to get them the ball and rake in yards after the catch.

The defense will, once again, provide a test for Texas – if anything, Tuberville has brought a renewed sense of passion on the defensive side of the ball. So far this year, Tech has amassed nine sacks – something even Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp would be proud of – and they will be looking to prey on the young Longhorn QB meat. Everything with the Tech defense funnels to the nose tackle and middle linebacker, and they will largely decide the outcome of Texas’ offensive production on the night. Running inside, and looking for the hot route underneath the linebackers will get Texas in a lot of trouble early.

Texas’ Keys To The Game:
It’s time for Texas to show the world they’re the #5 team in the country. They need to show some emotion and decide they want to win this game. This is the upset game of the week across the country, and the Las Vegas spread dropped from Texas by seven points, to Texas by three points – practically overnight – which means a lot of fans think Tech’s got a shot, especially after seeing Texas play these past two weeks. Frankly, the Red Raiders might not be so full of themselves this year.

Texas, first and foremost, needs to have an offensive game plan that can allow QB Garrett Gilbert to settle in early. Emotions will be high, the environment will be threatening. If offensive coordinator Greg Davis is listening, no bubble screens or dinky-dump stuff – we’re not in peewee leagues anymore. Give Gilbert the easy throws early to help him establish a rhythm. Give him a dose of the running game to help keep Tech honest, but push the ball outside where the receivers have a chance to block downfield for the running backs, and you’ll keep Tech’s defensive strengths playing chase from sideline to sideline. Most importantly, the ‘Horns need to put points on the board when they have opportunities, keep their defensive teammates on the sidelines, and if they’re ahead, eat as much clock as possible to keep the Tech offense at bay.

Texas DB Chykie Brown

On defense, it will be as important as ever for the ‘Horns defensive backs to keep the wide receivers in front of them, put pressure on Potts with the front four to create poor throws and mistakes, and make good tackles. Fundamental football, right? Easier said than done, but Muschamp can usually muster a way to the backfield with his schemes, especially with the depth he’s got at defensive end. The defense just needs to help the offense stay in the game and not let things get out of hand. It’ll be a tough task, but then again, so is keeping Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi away from a hot dog eating contest.

In special teams, Texas has a decided advantage with the points team, as Tech’s kicker looked downright awful against SMU in week one. One could’ve wondered if Tuberville had kept the student Leach “drafted” out of the stands to kick for the team two years ago on scholarship. So, a extra point or field goal block is a possibility for the ‘Horns. Field position will also be key, and if Texas finally decides to shy away from the rugby-style kick, P John Gold could go head-to-head with Tech’s Jonathan Locour in a kicker’s dual.

It’s going to be a battle on Saturday, and the Vegas odds are toying with me. Perhaps Kevin Spacey’s behind the curtain pulling strings. Who knows?! But, since EyesOfTX has never picked against Mack Brown and Texas football since this blog’s inaugural post, we’re not starting now. Barely. And, let’s double-down on an incredible blog post that includes football, Mike Leach, two Oscar-worthy actors, Kate Gosselin, hot dog eating contests, pirate verbiage, basketball, Las Vegas, pansies, gnats, and beer googles. Your winnings for reading this far? That PayDay bar sounds about right.

Hook ‘em!

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Filed under Big 12, Conference USA, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Red Raiders

Quick Big 12 Conference Football Updates

A few key bits of Big 12 Conference football news to share this Thursday evening, from the campuses of oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State.

ou QB Sam Bradford Undergoes Successful Shoulder Surgery
After injuring his shoulder for a second time this season against Texas in the Red River Rivalry, quarterback Sam Bradford elected to have surgery on his right, throwing shoulder on Tuesday by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama. After the 35-minute surgery, Andrews said, “It went as expected.” Bradford should spend 4-6 months recovering, and be ready to enter the NFL Draft in April.

Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant Ruled Ineligible For 2009
After lying to the NCAA about his meeting with former NFL player Deion Sanders and being suspended for the last four games, the rules committee ruled on Tuesday to suspend Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant for one year. Although Bryant would be eligible to play again midway through next season in Stillwater, many believe he will give up his remaining college eligibility to play in the NFL, where Bryant is expected to be a top 10 choice in April’s draft.

Texas Tech To Start Redshirt Frosh QB?
For the first time in Mike Leach’s tenure at Texas Tech, the head coach will likely switch his starting quarterback for this this week’s game against Kansas without an injury to a player impacting his decision. Leach has said he feels former starting QB Taylor Potts has “confidence issues” and with second-string QB Stephen Sheffield out with an injury, he might defer to redshirt freshman QB Seth Doege to start against the Jayhawks this weekend. Doege played in Saturday’s home loss to Texas A&M, where he accounted for 146 yards passing on 18-for-25 attempts.

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Week 4: Big 12 Football Updates

Updated 9/30: Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller out 4-6 weeks with broken leg. More in Comments.

As with every week so far this college football season, some highlights and lowlights from week four. Unfortunately, most of the news out of the Big 12 Conference this week isn’t good. Let’s look in to what’s going on.

Baylor QB Robert Griffin Injured, Out For The Season
Very early in the game against Northwestern State, star quarterback and leader of the Baylor Bears football team, Robert Griffin, injured his knee. While he was taken to the sideline and briefly sat out, Griffin returned to the game in the first half with his knee heavily wrapped to throw for 226 yards and three TDs. At halftime, another examination of his knee revealed a slight tear of his ACL, and he will be out for the remainder of the season. With the lifeblood of the Bears offense out, what looked to be optimism in Waco has suddenly turned in to despair. Filling the QB void will be senior Blake Syzmanski, who looked decent in the second half, was 3-for-5 for 58 yards and one TD. The Bears won the game handily, 68-13, to go to 2-1 on the season, and they take on Kent State on Saturday.

Texas Tech Suspensions…and Twitter
Not only has head coach Mike Leach put a ban on his players using Twitter due to a player’s Tweet that he shouldn’t have to be at a team meeting when the coach was running late, but starting offensive lineman Brandon Carter has been suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules. So far, no additional details have come out on his suspension, but we suspect he might have used too much face paint during last week’s game. OK, not really, but that guy is scary for many reasons. The lack of Twitter content coming from Lubbock is a huge setback for the growing Eyes Of…Twitter resource on this blog for sure. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have Leach Tweeting? It’d be journalistic gold.

‘Horns Set Big 12 Conference “Player of the Week” Record
After another spectacular defensive performance on Saturday, the ‘Horns were rewarded with another surprise early this week. Safety Earl Thomas was tabbed the Big 12 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week after tallying two INTs against UTEP. It’s the third week in a row that a Texas defender has been named the conference’s player of the week – a conference first, no matter the category – and Thomas follows Lamarr Houston (Wyoming game) and Rodderick Muckelroy (Texas Tech). There are 12 players on defense, and more than 12 weeks in a good football season…hmmm. Who’s stepping up against Colorado?

New York Yankees…Bowl Game?
Yep, you read that right. The New York Yankees have announced that, beginning in the 2010 bowl season, the new Yankees stadium will host a college football bowl game. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to play a bowl game in New York City in December when its cold, rainy and possibly snowing? What will they call it? The Steinbrenner Bowl? The Salary Cap Bowl? The Raise Money To Get Another Yankee Hall of Famer Bowl? Rumor has it that the bowl will be tied to the Big East and Big 12 Conferences, so expect to see a middle-of-the-road Big 12 team (probably the #7 conference team) taking on a Big East wannabe (#4 conference team) – can you feel the excitement in the air? If a Big 12 team isn’t eligible, then the Yankees would defer to Notre Dame. Does that mean NBC will broadcast it? In addition, the Yankees organization has signed up Army to play four regular season games at the stadium over the next five years, including tilts against Notre Dame and Rutgers.

Texas Longhorns Denied NCAA Reinstatement
While defensive back Deon Beasley was recently reinstated by the NCAA for academic ineligibility in advance of the Texas Tech game, his fellow ‘Horns were not so lucky. Safety Christian Scott and wide receiver Brandon Collins were denied their appeals to the NCAA on Monday, and will not play for the Longhorns this season. They will still be allowed to practice with the team, and both have two years of eligibility remaining – Scott is a redshirt sophomore, and Collins is a junior. Luckily for the ‘Horns, the offense has begun to click with quarterback Colt McCoy getting comfortable with wide outs John Chiles and Dan Buckner, and the defense has looked extremely solid despite the lack of Scott, although fans might see less nickel packages against the Big 12’s potent passing attack from defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Barring any injuries this season at those critical positions, head coach Mack Brown’s squad should be able to get by just fine without those players.

Texas, no…Baylor, no…an SEC school?
Standout Midway (Waco, TX) High School safety Ahmad Dixon, who initially verbally committed to play for the Texas Longhorns in February 2009, and later switched his commitment to the Baylor Bears in May 2009, is now apparently taking visits to some SEC schools, ESPN reports. Dixon is the #15 player on the ESPNU top 150 list. To be a fly on the wall when Dixon is trying to pick out what to wear to school each day – it’s amazing he ever makes it to class.

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Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

September 19, 2009
7:00 p.m. Central
ABC

Is anyone else surprised that the ‘Horns stayed #2 in the polls despite #3 USC’s win over #9 Ohio State in week two? There is no room for error now, boys, Carroll’s studs are close on your heels!

Needless to say, all of you have tried to block out last season’s devastating loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock. It ruined the ‘Horns Big 12- and national championship hopes in 2008, and ABC and ESPN have kindly reminded viewers of Tech’s win and Michael Crabtree’s amazing catch for the last eight months. Personally, Eyes Of TX is tired of it. It’s time for Mack Brown and the #2 Longhorns to show why the Big 12 should be part of the national championship picture this season, and it starts on Saturday night with ESPN’s College Gameday in town.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 52, Texas Tech 42

Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-0)
Every sports writer should just copy and paste their game preview of Texas Tech from the previous year, replace the name of the quarterback and wide receivers, and guesstimate the over/under on how many touchdowns they will score. In other words, this year is no different for the undefeated Red Raiders as they come in to Austin.

On offense, head coach Mike Leach has had to replace his starting quarterback, but he claims the new signal caller is his best ever in Lubbock. Taylor Potts, a NFL prototype quarterback, stands at 6’5” and 215 pounds, and has the best arm of any of Leach’s previous quarterbacks. He has the ability to hit his check-down receivers while throwing the deep ball better than Graham Harrell, B.J. Symons, or any of his predecessors. Potts’ biggest obstacle will be his lack of experience – this will be the junior’s third game, and first on the road. While less than stellar in his debut, throwing three INTs against North Dakota State, he more than made up for it in week two against Rice throwing for more than 400 yards and seven TDs. In other words, he’s capable of running the complicated Tech offense, but his game experience and presence under pressure is yet to be seen against a legitimate team.

The wide receivers are just as important to the Tech offense as its signal caller. In week two, 13 different wide outs caught passes. While standout wide receiver Michael Crabtree has departed for the NFL (well, he got drafted but didn’t sign), Leach has reloaded going in to 2009. Detron Lewis, a 6’0” 205-pound junior is the top target for Potts, and he is a a formidable threat – running good routes and taking on defensive backs across the middle. Second, Potts’ high school teammate in Abilene, 6‘1” 195-pound Lyle Leong, who caught three TDs against Rice last weekend. Their third, fourth and fifth receivers will range between Edward Britton, Tramain Swindell, and Alex Torres – all of which have great hands, decent size, and are quick in space. One difference this year is that all of Tech’s receivers are 6’0” or taller – keep an eye on this in the game, as the smaller Texas defensive backs could be challenged deep or on fade routes when Tech is in the red zone.

The Tech running back is always an unknown, but in this case, the ‘Horns know Baron Batch. While he won’t dominate the game in Leach’s offensive scheme, his niche use can be devastating when the passing game has lulled an opposing defense to sleep. Expect to see some timely runs and lots of screen passes to Batch to make the ‘Horns commit to watching another guy scamper around the field.

The biggest difference from last year’s game to this 2009 will be Tech’s defense. Last year, the Red Raiders dominated the ‘Horns early in the game, living in the backfield and causing quick throws and even a safety early in the game. This year, they have lost some of their defensive line talent to the NFL, but return some key guys that could cause the ‘Horns some problems. Inside, Colby Whitlock can hold his own and create some pressure up front for McCoy and the Texas running game, and his support with come from the edge in defensive end Daniel Howard, who has two of the team’s eight sacks so far this season. If you watch film from last year, Tech was successful at pressuring the Texas offense from the edge, and then using delayed blitzes or pressure up front while McCoy was in the pocket to create poor decisions or hurries. McCoy isn’t at his best throwing out of the pocket, and unless he recognizes those pass rush situations early and uses his legs, the offense could be in trouble again from the outset. The Tech linebackers are solid, but they will have trouble covering Texas’ 4- and 5-wide sets and their speed on the outside. In addition, the Red Raiders secondary adds three new starters this year, and inexperience at those positions against a potent Texas offense doesn’t pan out well. In addition, ESPN is reporting two key starters on the Tech defense didn’t make the trip to Austin based on injuries – defensive end Ra’jon Henry and strong safety Franklin Mitchem. Tech will be extremely thin at defensive end, and they might need to roll some back-up linebackers down to that position to spell the starters, who might play most of the game.

Special teams won’t be anything spectacular for the Red Raiders. In fact, a field goal will be rare, and a punt will be considered extinct with the Tech offense on the field. Texas should, assuming some major issues were fixed after last week, dominate in special teams. At a minimum, in the return game.

#2 Texas Longhorns (2-0)
This will be the first test for the ‘Horns this season, and no matter what anyone says, it’s a redemption game. Quarterback Colt McCoy seemed to hit his Heisman form in the second half of the Wyoming game, but a slow start against the Red Raiders offense won’t be acceptable this week. Each week, McCoy’s receivers seem to step up just that much more, and Kirkendoll, Chiles and Bucker have played great recently, taking some of the pressure of Jordan Shipley – expect more from them in week three. The running game continues to have its ups-and-downs, as Vondrell McGee will be out this week due to an ankle injury, but Tre Newton stepped up in a big way in Laramie, and he could very well take over the starting role if he continues to play well. He rushed the ball well, picked up the blitz, and had good hands on several catches out of the backfield – he looks to be the all-around back Texas has been searching for, and this week we’ll see if he’s able to be consistent.

The defense was extremely impressive in week two against Wyoming and their spread offense, although Tech’s execution and talent will be much better this week. The key for the ‘Horns will be getting pressure on Potts – not necessarily sacks – and making him get rid of the ball before he’s ready. The linebackers and secondary need to keep their man in front of them and make sure tackles after the catch. Tech will roll up their yards on offense, but the key will be holding them early in down and distance and creating more difficult long-yardage 3rd and 4th down plays. It would be great to see a couple INTs this week as well, especially Texas safety Blake Gideon, who needs some redemption after last year’s game-sealing drop.

Texas needs to fix the kicking game before this week, because Leach will look to come after the punters if he believes there is an opportunity. Fix it, ‘Horns. Be smart, play field position, and play clean, intelligent football and you should win the game going away.

Pre-game Resources
2009 Texas Longhorns Roster
2009 Texas Tech Red Raiders Roster
University Co-op Gameday Newsletter / Pod casts

Hook ‘em!

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Big 12 Football: Week 1 Predictions

College football is finally here. Eyes of TX is giddy with excitement. So many good games today, so many games that are lame-ducks, both of which can be found in the Big 12’s week one schedule. Some quick looks at today’s Big 12 Conference college football games.

Thursday, September 3
Iowa State 34 v. North Dakota State 17
Just as it should have been. Congratulations to Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads, he may have just won more games than former coach Gene Chizik in Ames.

Saturday, September 5
Baylor v. Wake Forest
It is to be seen if, after all of the off-season hype for quarterback Robert Griffin, Baylor can turn it around after 2008 season’s 4-8 campaign – they got more hype than other team in the Big 12 coming in to the year. If the Bears can keep up with the Demon Deacons early, expect the Bears to lock in a nice non-conference win.

Kansas v. Northern Colorado
Let Jayhawk quarterback Todd Reesing’s long-shot Heisman Trophy campaign begin. This should be a blowout, and the Fighting Magino’s offensive line should make sure Reesing don’t get a single grass stain on his jersey. KU wide receivers Dezmond Briscoe and Kerry Meier will have a girl fight on the sideline to see who can catch more passes on the day.

Kansas State v. Massachusetts Minutemen
In 1996, if you dismiss “official” NCAA records, Massachusetts had a good basketball team. You may remember, Marcus Camby played for them and they went to the Final Four. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder must have been in his 70s at the time, and now he’s back on the sidelines again in Manhattan. Expect the Wildcats to pull this one out, although it won’t be pretty. Kind of like Camby’s NBA career.

Missouri v. Illinois
Illinois has a quarterback named “Juice” and a coach that goes by “Zook.” There was once a Texas football coach that came from Illinois, and he didn’t leave a good impression on Eyes Of TX or any other UTexas alum. Missouri’s re-loading across the board, and with the exception of star linebacker Sean Witherspoon, they will be searching for their identity while the Illini are running away with the win.

Nebraska v. Florida Atlantic
This might be interesting for a quarter or two, but Nebraska should win handily. Owls quarterback Rusty Smith has a good arm and the talent to create some opportunities, but the Cornhuskers will overpower them down the stretch with coach Bo Pelini’s defense. For the sake of FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger’s moustache, let’s hope they score 10 points.

oklahoma v. Brigham Young
“BCS Bob” has made sure all his players were off work at the Norman, Okla., car dealership and have made the jaunt to Dallas for the game in Jerry Jones’ new Dallas Cowboys stadium – that’s a start. ou tight end Jermaine Gresham is out of this game with a knee injury. This could go BYU’s way if Stoops and crew aren’t careful; otherwise, expect oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to look lost on the field (seriously, doesn’t he always look confused, mouth hanging open?) on his way to Heisman Trophy candidacy again.

Oklahoma State v. Georgia
The highest pre-season rank for OSU, and a Bulldogs quarterback making his second career start and that has been sick all week with the flu. With the ‘Pokes offensive balance, they should win (assuming their defense finally helps keep them in a game down the stretch), but SEC talent is nothing to shake a stick at. If coach Mike Gundy and crew can get past one of the SEC’s upper echelon, then they deserve their high pre-season ranking.

Texas A&M v. New Mexico
There are 12 football games on the Aggies schedule this year, assuming they don’t go to the post-season. If everything goes as planned, this will be one of coach Mike Sherman’s only wins this year. Bottom dwellers unite!

Texas Tech v. North Dakota
Is it exciting for the North Dakota players to go to Lubbock, Texas? Hopefully, it is the highlight of their season – the city, of course – because this game will be a debacle. Really, Eyes Of TX is just waiting to see how many yards Red Raider quarterback Taylor Potts shaves off his 4,000-yard season goal, as well as coach Mike Leach’s post-game press conference sound bites. Will he brag about his win to Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman? Likely.

Sunday, September 6
Colorado v. Colorado State
Does anyone outside Colorado care about this game? They both hate each other, and both coaches have something on the line. Colorado should win, with the talent they have on the sidelines, but then again they are the kings of under-achieving.

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Filed under Aggies, Bears, Big 12, Cornhuskers, Cowboys, Cyclones, Jayhawks, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Red Raiders, Sooners, Tigers, Wildcats

Big 12 Football Predictions: South Division

Since we’re talking Big 12 Conference predictions, let’s get serious and talk about the South division. In all honesty, its really unfair to have all these powerhouses in the same conference, nonetheless the same division.

Last year’s Big 12 South title was an absolute debacle, as Texas, oklahoma, and Texas Tech all ended the season with one conference loss – to each other. We all know how that story ended, to the chagrin of Longhorn fans everywhere, as oklahoma advanced to the Big 12 championship game on the division tie-breaker and then to the national championship game where “BCS Bob” blew it against the ESPN-deemed “ungodly” Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators.

One thing hasn’t changed – the Big 12 tie-breaker – as the coaches decided to maintain the current system for deciding the division champions. Unfortunately, that could hamper three South teams again this year. As scary as it is to write this, Eyes Of TX believes the same scenario could play out again this year, albeit with Texas, oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. For the namesake of this blog, and the sanity of Texas football fans everywhere, Eyes Of TX predicts the Texas Longhorns will win the Big 12 South division in 2009-2010 and will play Nebraska for the conference championship, and potentially a shot at the national title in Pasadena, Calif., at the Rose Bowl.


Baylor Bears
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 4-8 in 2008 season.
Quick Thoughts: There is something to be excited about in Waco, and its not the Dr. Pepper museum. Head coach Art Briles has brought back a sense of optimism to the Baylor football program, led by highlight-reel and Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year quarterback Robert Griffin. For the first time in many years, the Bears are not expected to be the bottom-dwellers in the South division.
Strengths: The potential of quarterback Griffin; with a year under center, the offense is poised to make some noise and compete with Griffin leading the charge, especially with eight starters returning.
Weaknesses: Baylor plays in the South division, and while they might give some teams fits this season, Griffin can’t do it on his own; the defense returns some starters and should improve, but the secondary could continue to get torched by pass-heavy Big 12 offenses.
Depth Chart: See the 2009 Baylor Bears roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/10 @ oklahoma; 10/24 Oklahoma State; 10/31 Nebraska; 11/14 Texas
Standout Player(s): Quarterback Robert Griffin, with another off-season under his belt, he’s poised for a big sophomore campaign.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: Linebacker Joe Pawelek.
Bowl Projection: Texas Bowl.


oklahoma sooners
2009 Pre-season Rank: #3 (USA Today); 12-2 in 2008 season.
Quick Overview: Another loss in the BCS in 2008, and another top 5 projection the following season. The sooners remain stacked at the skill positions, and with a Heisman Trophy winner still leading the offense, and a defensive front seven as stout as ever, expect the sooners to be at the top of the Big 12 South race, and in contention for the national championship, all season long.
Strengths: It starts with quarterback Sam Bradford, the returning 2008 Heisman Trophy winner; depth at running back, with both DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown returning and healthy; tight end Jermaine Gresham will continue to be an impact and stretch the field (assuming he returns and stays healthy); linebacker Ryan Reynolds; defensive line…they are always outstanding, until January.
Weaknesses: An unknown offensive line, as they lost four starters from last year’s team – although left tackle Trent Williams returns, head coach Bob Stoops has moved a former tight end over to play center; wide receiver depth…who’s running routes other than Ryan Broyles; new safeties in the pass-happy Big 12.
Depth Chart: See the 2009 oklahoma sooners roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 9/5 BYU (in Dallas); 10/17 Texas (neutral site); 10/24 @ Kansas; 11/7 @ Nebraska; 11/21 @ Texas Tech; 11/28 Oklahoma State
Standout Player: If he can keep his jersey clean this year with a new offensive line, quarterback Sam Bradford.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: The offensive line, due to its success or massive failure; future NFL’ers in defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and DeMarcus Granger.
Bowl Projection: Fiesta Bowl (via BCS berth).


Oklahoma State Cowboys
2009 Pre-season Rank: #11 (USA Today); 9-4 in 2008.
Quick Overview: Believe it or not, head coach Mike Gundy has made Stillwater, Okla., relevant again for the first time since he was handing off the ball to star running back Barry Sanders. The ‘Pokes are loaded with talent on offense, they just need the defense to step-up and help them win some of the big games, notably versus Texas or oklahoma, to be relevant in the BCS discussion.
Strengths: The offense – quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter, and wide receiver Dez Bryant all return with potent skills at each position.
Weaknesses: New defensive coordinator, Bill Young – could be good, or could provide the team with a major learning curve this year; loss of three starting cornerbacks on an already porous secondary; loss of star linebacker Orie Lemon to injury and dynamite tight end Brandon Pettigrew to graduation.
Depth Chart: See the 2009 Oklahoma State Cowboys roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 9/5 Georgia; 10/31 Texas; 11/28 @ oklahoma
Standout Player: If last year’s Holiday Bowl loss is any indication, Okie State is nothing without wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: Running back Kendall Hunter will define his career in Stillwater.
Bowl Projection: Cotton Bowl.


Texas Longhorns
2009 Pre-season Rank: #2 (USA Today); 12-1 in 2008.
Quick Overview: The longest 10+ wins season streak is on the line again, and there is no reason the ‘Horns can’t compete for the Big 12 or national championship this year, assuming a few key pieces comes together early in the season. Second-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will have the more experienced secondary, in addition to a re-tooled front seven, amped to make a statement this year. And, the offense will be lead by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Colt McCoy in his final collegiate campaign.
Strengths: Quarterback McCoy will bring his NCAA-record season completion percentage back to a potent passing game; wide receiver Jordan Shipley will lead the re-loaded receiving core; defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle will be making his case for a 1st round NFL selection; experienced secondary with depth.
Weaknesses: Depth at defensive tackle; a consistent (or existent) running game beyond quarterback McCoy; playing both oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Depth Chart: See the 2009 Texas Longhorns roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/17 oklahoma (neutral site); 10/31 @ Oklahoma State; 11/21 Kansas
Standout Player: 2008 and pre-season 2009 Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Colt McCoy.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: True freshman defensive end Alex Okafor; freshman track standout and running back/wide receiver/kick returner Marquise Goodwin.
Bowl Projection: Big 12 North division champions; Rose Bowl (national championship).


Texas A&M Aggies
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 4-8 in 2008.
Quick Overview: Things aren’t pretty in College Station, but then again, have they ever? Since the “Wrecking Crew” departed in the mid-1990s, the Aggies have been searching for an identity that has been lost under former coach Dennis Franchione and current coach Mike Sherman. The Aggies look poised to have their second straight season as the worst team in the Big 12’s South division. Eyes Of TX believes A&M can turn it around in coming years, but Sherman needs a couple more years of recruiting under his belt, including recruiting success over other top Texas (and Oklahoma) football program contenders.
Strengths: Head coach Mike Sherman’s ongoing war-of-words feud with Texas Tech’s head coach Mike Leach. Unlike the football team, at least that will continue to be entertaining.
Weaknesses: Everything. The defense struggled to put pressure on opposing offenses last year, and that doesn’t look to be any better – including the secondary; while quarterback Jarrod Johnson has potential, the coaching staff doesn’t seem sold on him; lack of a solid running game.
Depth Chart: See the 2009 Texas A&M Aggies roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/10 Oklahoma State; 11/14 @ oklahoma; 11/28 Texas
Standout Player: Since there has to be one, how about wide receiver Jeff Fuller, who looked strong in the spring game.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: Incoming freshman running back and high profile recruit, Christine Michael – he’ll likely see immediate playing time this fall.
Bowl Projection: None.


Texas Tech Red Raiders
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 11-2 in 2008.
Quick Overview: Some things never change, and head coach Mike Leach producing an unknown 4,000-yard passer is one of them. The offense, even with a new starting quarterback, Taylor Potts, should continue to shine. A key loss will be standout wide receiver Michael Crabtree who departed for the NFL…kind of. One difference of this Tech team in recent years has been the ability to actually play defense – expect they’ll continue to incrementally improve. The Red Raiders should play spoiler to a team or two in the Big 12 South this season.
Strengths: The offense. Pure and simple, they can score and will do so practically at will; Leach’s ability to give the world the most prolific (and hilarious) sound bites.
Weaknesses: The offensive line lost three starters, and they’ll need time to gel, although the wide splits Tech is known for will cover up some of their weaknesses early in the season (they gave up 9 sacks in the spring game, after allowing only one per game last year); the experience and learning curve of quarterback Taylor Potts; new starters and depth at both safety and defensive end.
Depth Chart: See the 2009 Texas Tech Red Raiders roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 9/19 @ Texas; 10/17 @ Nebraska; 10/31 Kansas; 11/14 @ Oklahoma State; 11/21 oklahoma
Standout Player: With some game-time experience, quarterback Taylor Potts.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: The numerous wide receivers that will be running rampant over Big 12 secondaries.
Bowl Projection: Alamo Bowl.

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