Tag Archives: Taylor Potts

Week 4 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. UCLA Bruins

Was anyone else stressed out last Saturday? The referees seemed to try to steal the game from the ‘Horns for much of the night, but the defense stepped up in a big way and kept the offense in the game until it was time to catch the plane home. For the ‘Horns, it was the first hurdle in a challenging 4-game stretch that includes the Red Raiders, UCLA Bruins, #8 oklahoma sooners, and #6 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Write in down in the books – Texas moves to 4-3 in the Mack Brown era in Lubbock. And, EyesOfTX’s prediction that Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts would be “injured” at some point in last week’s game comes to fruition.

On to week 4, let’s get to it…

Texas Longhorns v. UCLA Bruins
2:30 p.m. CT (ABC)

Texas 35, UCLA 14

We remember, don’t we Texas fans? It doesn’t matter that both coaches weren’t in their respective coaching positions yet. It doesn’t matter that most of the players in this weekend’s game were 70-pound youngsters the last time these two powerhouses saw each other on the playing field. The score was 66-3. And the ‘Horns weren’t on the winning end of that debacle.

It’s time for redemption. Longhorn fans have waited too long for it, and it’s finally here. It’s time to show UCLA why they’re lucky the ‘Horns didn’t venture West this off-season in the conference realignment. It’s time to jump to 4-0, and get “right” before the showdown in Dallas in October.

UCLA’s Keys To The Game:
In uncharacteristic fashion for a West coast team not named Oregon, this match-up is all about the running game for UCLA. While the Bruins return an experienced QB in Kevin Prince, he won’t be the one to watch on Saturday. After all, in 3 games, Prince has only thrown for 258 yards (or, 86 yards per game), one TD, and – count ‘em – four INTs. Not the stats you want from the field general when trying to run a balanced offense. In fact, even going in to last weekend, Prince’s job was up for grabs – and he won it back. Not sure what that says about head coach Rick Neuheisal and offensive coordinator Norm Chow’s recruiting in SoCal, but I’ll venture a guess – it sucks.

UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin

Instead, all eyes will be on the two guys that will share carries and line-up in Chow’s “pistol” formation – Johnathan Franklin and Malcolm Jones. The pistol is basically the zone read formation that Texas has “enjoyed” for several years, but instead of lining up next to the QB, the RBs line-up behind the QB. This allows the backs to getting a running start before getting to the line of scrimmage and thus hitting the gaps the offensive line creates with a full head of steam. Can you imagine that? Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis can’t. Franklin (291 yards, three TDs) and Jones (101 yards) will be the keys to UCLA controlling the clock, wearing down the interior of the Texas defense, and keeping Texas’ offense off the field while scoring points.

The Bruins defense – at least on paper – doesn’t look that great. But, don’t be fooled. The secondary can more then hold their own, as can their very physical linebackers, but what those position players bring to the table is off-set by a less than stellar defensive line that can’t help their back seven by putting pressure on the QB or stop the running game. The defense ranks near the bottom of Division I schools in stopping the running game, but this early in the season, it’d be easy to argue that their first game of the year against Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas didn’t help pad their run defense stats. That being said, the opposite will likely be true on Saturday, as the ‘Horns offense can’t put any semblance of a running game together through September. If the Bruins defensive line can’t stop the Texas running attack (can we even call it that?), and then force QB Garrett Gilbert to force throws or make bad decisions, it’s going to be a long day for a secondary who actually does a credible job of holding opponents to a mere 155 yards through the air.

Texas’ Keys To The Game:
It’s a flip of the switch for Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s boys this week. Whereas last week the ‘Horns ran a nickel package with an extra defensive back on the field to corral all of Tech’s wide receivers, this week is all about loading up the box and stopping the power running game from the boys in baby blue. The Texas LBs and defensive line – namely that rotation of defensive tackles and defensive-ends-turned-defensive-tackles holding down the center of the line of scrimmage – will have their hands full with Franklin and Jones, but they can’t sit back in third-and-long situations either, as they need to force Prince to throw in to Texas’ highly-touted defensive backfield.

On offense, the ‘Horns need to eliminate some errors – namely, stupid penalties, dropped passes, and turnovers. The coaches and fans alike want to see any kind of consistency in the offensive line’s run blocking, more consistency from the wide receivers corps as a whole, and see Gilbert making smart decisions with the football. The Texas offense is still adjusting to a new QB and offensive scheme, and it’s the last week to test things out and open up the game a bit more than they have before the sooners become top of mind. Repetition and mental acuity are key. Forget about fried Oreos and turkey legs at the Texas State Fair, because next week’s match-up won’t matter if the ‘Horns don’t win this week.

Overall, Texas should win this game going away. The ‘Horns might not score 60 points on Saturday – or hell, in any game this season – but the defense will remain an elite unit, giving the offense time to get settled, and every single player on the burnt orange sideline will battle it out for four quarters. With focus and effort at every position, improvements can be made, and victories are had. Even Neuheisal would bank on that.

Hook ‘em!


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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)

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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Thoughts: Week 1 in College Football

It was an exciting five days of college football to open the 2010 season, and more frequently than not, additional beverages, food, DVR space, and beverages (and perhaps a brief nap) were needed to keep pace with the torrent of games hitting the airwaves. It was a football nirvana that exists only once a year, and that is nearly orgasmic for any college football fan…no matter your allegiances.

Before we look ahead to week two, let’s take a look at some highlights and lowlights, as well as some perspectives on the ‘Horns after their 34-17 win over Rice in Houston.

Of the “contenders,” no team lost in week one that shouldn’t have. While Virginia Tech might argue, it was clear Boise State was the better team throughout Monday’s contest. You saw it here first, Boise State will play for the BCS National Championship in January 2011.

FBS schools Jacksonville State and North Dakota State made some noise with victories over BCS conference teams Ole Miss and Kansas, respectively. Not the way Turner Gill wanted to re-load in Lawrence…give him time, though.

sooners QB Landry Jones

oklahoma struggled. And we loved every minute of their metal-row-stadium-seat-squirming in Norman. While RB Demarco Murray looked in mid-season form, QB Landry Jones played mediocre at best. If you’re Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis, the ‘Horns throw the ball on every play against the sooners and run up the score in October at the Cotton Bowl.

Don’t read much in to Oklahoma State or Texas A&M’s victories in week one. The Cowboys might as well have played the local high school’s JV team for a more competitive match-up than they had with Pac-10 bottom-dweller Washington State. And the Aggies – who did show more defensive prowess in their new 3-4 scheme than at any time in 2009’s campaign – had less rushing yards on more carries (55 carries for 192 yards) against a lesser opponent than did Texas against Rice (46 carries for 197 yards). Yep, you read right.

The Tuberville era began in Lubbock, and despite the victory, QB Taylor Potts didn’t look that spectacular and the defense was mediocre at best against SMU’s defense. All-in-all, it wasn’t a performance to write home about. What did look familiar was the half-empty stands at Jones Stadium from the third quarter through the end of the game – with the game’s outcome still in question. Time for the afternoon drunken pass out in the West Texas plains.

While Kansas State eeked out a victory over recognizable-name UCLA at home on Saturday, it was unimpressive. UCLA is dragged down by head coach Rick Neuheisel (“Hey Rick, who do you have in the national semifinals of the 2011 NCAA tourney bracket?”), so they basically don’t count. Plus, the Wildcats remain a big question mark without the legs of RB Daniel Thomas. Yep, he’s a stud.

The ‘Horns, while racking up 197 rushing yards, looked unimpressive and flat on offense. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to reset fans’ expectations of the running game – it’s not going to change overnight – but it did look better than any point last year. But, it was also Rice. The defense hasn’t missed a beat – they looked solid (after the first series in a base scheme) – but need to hold on those picks for TDs. Solid, but unenthusiastic…there is work to be done. Rice is going to rebound big time from last year’s 2-10 record, they looked solid in a week one game against a top contender.

Finally, it’s 12:24 a.m. Pacific time and ou still sucks. Week two represents a big weekend for a lot of the top 25 – perhaps determining 2010 BCS legitimacy – so rest up, my legions, and get focused.

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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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Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. UTEP Miners

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

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

Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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

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

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.


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