September 07, 2011
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE BYU GAME ...
We'll roll our sleeves up and get into our predictions later in the week, but I'll go ahead and throw it out right now that I expect Texas to win this game. First off, it's at home, which should account for something (if you throw out the 2010 season, as every Longhorn fan wishes he or she could do). Second, I'm just not sure BYU is that good.
Sure, the Cougars come in 1-0 and picked up a decent win on the road against Ole Miss, but this is a team that really struggled in the opener, coming back from a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to steal a 14-13 win. The BYU offense and highly-touted QB Todd Heaps scored all of one touchdown in the game (a TD grab by former Longhorn commitment Ross Apo).
My problem ... I still have no idea what to make of this 2011 Longhorn team. Will Texas resemble the dismal first-half showing it rolled out against Rice, or will the Horns continue the momentum they established in the second half of last week's game? Everyone has an opinion on that question, but the truth is, not even those within the UT program can definitively say how Texas will respond this week.
The first half of the BYU game, in my opinion, will be very telling and could give an accurate picture of how the rest of the Horns' 2011 season could play out. Think about this ...
Does Garrett Gilbert come out and continue where he left off in the third and fourth quarters against Rice, or is it more inconsistency? One would think Gilbert gained some confidence with the way he finished the season opener, and being relaxed should help him correct some of the inaccuracies he suffered in the opener. If not, and if Gilbert struggles early, it may already be time to admit that he's going to have to scratch and claw his way to success from game to game.
Can true freshman running back Malcolm Brown continue the strong work he showed in the third and fourth quarters against Rice? No doubt about it, Brown gave the UT ground game some extra bounce - he ran hard, the OL seemed to block better and the yards just seemed to come easier. Did the linemen suddenly get a shot of adrenaline when Brown entered the game? Is Brown that good that he made the OL look better? Or was Rice simply wearing down in the second half? Assuming Brown gets in the game much earlier this week, the first half will be telling.
Can the Texas defensive front correct some of the errors it made last week and slow down BYU's aggressive ground game against a starting offensive line that averages more than 306 pounds? Rice was able to grind out some yards between the tackles, and BYU is much more physical than are the Owls. UT's run defense up the middle was an Achilles Heel last year. It seems like every week, the players and coaches were saying they were a step here, an assignment there, from getting things corrected. We heard the same things this week. Longhorn fans better hope the adjustments actually happen this year. My gut says Manny Diaz gets things on track.
The betting line opened at Texas -4.5 and has jumped to Texas -7. Over/under at 48. Midweek guess says the under and though the Horns win, they don't cover the 7.
A FEW RECRUITING NOTES TO CHEW ON
--- One of the country's top 2013 talents, Jake Raulerson, visited Texas and Texas A&M last week. He gave both stops very positive reviews, but seemed really impressed with the crowd at the Aggies' win over SMU.
Should UT fans read too much into that? Not yet.
The guess here is that Raulerson could still come down to Texas and Florida, assuming both programs turn in strong 2011 seasons. If either team was to struggle, that could certainly impact things, but we were told by someone close to the situation over the summer that the Horns and Gators had the clear inside track.
Keep an eye on where Raulerson's twin brother, Josh Raulerson, winds up. If he lands at a school in the Central Texas area, Texas' chances increase dramatically.
--- Orangebloods.com first reported in last week's War Room that the state's top player for the 2013 class, Whitewright QB Tyrone Swoopes, would be visiting Austin for the BYU game.
Long way to go on this one, but this visit will be key for the Longhorns to really impress Swoopes, and perhaps more importantly, his family.
Swoopes took in a pre-season practice at TCU last month and people close to the Horned Frog program feel they're the team to beat at this point, especially after Swoopes sometimes used words like "we" and "us" in describing the TCU program. This one's far from over though and the guess here is that Texas makes a very strong impression on Saturday night.
--- What to make of the nation's top overall prospect for the 2012 class, Springfield Hillcrest WR Dorial Green-Beckham? Hard to say because Green-Beckham rarely talks about the recruiting process.
Before DGB's summer visit to Texas, there was some talk from people who would know that Texas was an afterthought and DGB was all but locked in to OU, with Missouri having an outside shot. People we've talked to feel things have changed after DGB's mid-June visit and though the Horns still have ground to make up, Texas is very much in the picture.
--- A small handful of Longhorn commitments have mentioned the possibility of taking a visit or two to programs besides Texas, but it's too early to get worried about those comments.
Most, if not all of those players will settle into their commitments after they spend some time on the phone (or face-to-face) with the Texas coaches. The only way I see players like Kennedy Estelle and/or Thomas Johnson stepping foot on another campus is if UT's season goes in the toilet something similar to 2010.
ONE LAST NOTE
I'm a little late to the party with this one, but best of luck to former Longhorn QB Connor Wood on his transfer to Colorado.
In Wood's short time on the Forty Acres, he always handled his business with class and he was always one of my favorite recruits to cover coming out of Second Baptist High School. Hope he goes on to accomplish great things both on the field and in the classroom.