Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:32 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Texas.
Spring Practice Starts: Thursday, February 23
Spring Game: Sunday, April 1
Three Things To Look For:
1. Who will be quarterback? It's becoming somewhat of an annual tradition in Austin that the Longhorns must have a quarterback competition heading into spring practice. Much like last season, David Ash and Case McCoy will be battling with one another for the starting job, though this year incoming freshman Connor Brewer will join the fray as well. Whichever quarterback ends up winning the job, the Longhorns will be better served to decide sooner rather than later and head into the summer with a clear-cut number one.
2. Expansion of the offensive playbook. Last year Bryan Harsin had to deal with not only implementing a new playbook at Texas, but with two quarterbacks who didn't seem capable of fully utilizing that playbook. This spring we shall see if Harsin and the Longhorns plan on expanding it or further driving the basics home. Obviously, the quicker a quarterback emerges, the more Harsin will be able to do.
3. Can the defense improve? Unlike Harsin, Manny Diaz had a bit more established talent to work with on defense in his first season as defensive coordinator. That being said, Diaz will likely begin implementing new things in his second year as well, which means that a defense that was already the best unit in the Big 12 last season could get even better and more unpredictable in 2012.
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Posted on: December 16, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
CALIFORNIA WILL WIN IF: This game is about a small measure of revenge for the Bears, after Texas successfully lobbied for a Rose Bowl bid over Cal in 2004. That doesn't matter much to the current players - some of whom were in middle school at the time - but it's not like they won't be properly motivated for the trip down to San Diego. The key for California to win lies on offense and if they can move the ball against a generally well-regarded secondary. Zach Maynard has been inconsistent at the quarterback position but has plenty of weapons to deliver the ball to.
TEXAS WILL WIN IF: After a disappointing end to the season, the Longhorns can still get a win and use it to build momentum during the offseason with a young team. The defense looked shaky against Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III but has performed much better than expected, topping the pass-happy Big 12 and finishing 14th in the country in total defense. Mack Brown knows how to prepare his team and win bowls (just one loss since 2003) and expect nothing less this time around.
THE X-FACTOR: Brown has already said that both of his quarterbacks, Case McCoy and David Ash, will see playing time at the Holiday Bowl. Neither has necessarily looked good throwing the football around so the health of the running game will be important against a very good Cal defense. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks may not be a name Longhorns fans know much about but he will be after the game as Texas tries to run the ball.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 7:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WON. Baylor took what had been a close game going into the locker room at halftime, and then completely blew the doors off of it in the second half. It was enough to make you wonder if Texas had picked up some kind of virus in College Station last week. Baylor rode a wave of Texas turnovers in the second half to outscore the Longhorns 24-3 over the final 30 minutes. Robert Griffin also got over a slow start in the first half that saw him throw his first interception of the season at home, and he finished the day with 352 total yards and 4 total touchdowns. Whether that will be enough to give him a push in the Heisman race we'll have to wait and see. Terrance Ganaway had another big day on the ground as well, rushing for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Case McCoy finished the day with 356 yards passing and 3 touchdowns, but it was his 4 interceptions that killed the Longhorns in the second half.
HOW BAYLOR WON. With a whole lot of help from Texas. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Baylor offense didn't really get in gear until the second half when the Longhorns started giving the ball away like your grandma does candy. The Longhorns turned the ball over 6 times on Saturday, 4 of which came in the second half, and Baylor was all too willing to take advantage of them.
WHEN BAYLOR WON. Following another Texas turnover in the fourth quarter, Griffin found Terrance Williams for a 39-yard touchdown strike with 7:43 to go to make the score 48-24. Whatever hope Texas still had before that point was quickly snuffed out.
WHAT BAYLOR WON. Since Kansas State also won the chances aren't as great, but it's still possible that Baylor can get an at-large berth to a BCS bowl. I just wouldn't bet my life on it if I were you. Outside of that, it was Baylor's ninth win of the season which means that if it should win its bowl game it'll finish the season with 10 wins, a nice milestone for the program. Also, though they don't keep track of it officially, Baylor became the Texas State Champions of the Big 12 this season, finishing higher in the standings than Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech and let's not forget that win over TCU to start the season.
WHAT TEXAS LOST. This would have been a nice win for Texas for a few reasons. First, it's always nice to beat your in-state rivals in the conference, but a win also would have meant the Longhorns finished the regular season 8-4. Instead Texas has to settle for 7-5, and though that's better than last season's 5-7, it's not exactly the type of year that Texas likes to hang its hat on.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:50 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: The most important factor in this game will be the availability of quarterback Robert Griffin. Griffin did not play in the second half of Baylor's win over Texas Tech after taking a blow to the head and suffering a concussion in the second quarter. Ben Florence came in and did a very admirable job to lead the Bears to victory, but there's a giant difference between the Texas Tech defense and the Texas defense Florence would be facing this weekend. This isn't a knock on Florence, but the fact of the matter is that when you lose a player as dynamic and as special as Griffin, your chances to win a game do not increase. Still, whoever plays quarterback for Baylor in this game, the key will be finding a way to move the ball through the air against the best pass defense in the Big 12. Baylor has a balanced offense and is the only team in the country that averages over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing per game. Odds are it won't reach both of those totals against Texas, but the good news is that with the struggles Texas has had on offense, Baylor's offense won't need to be at 100% to win this game.
TEXAS WILL WIN IF: Texas is not going to stop the Baylor offense for 60 minutes. The unit is just too explosive and will find ways to put points on the board, so the key for Texas in this game will be the Longhorns offense. Texas isn't built to compete with Baylor in a shootout, but this offense has struggled to put points on the board for most of the season. The good news for Texas is that its best games on offense came against Kansas and Texas Tech this season, who just happen to be the two worst run defenses in the Big 12. Well, the third-worst run defense in the Big 12 belongs to Baylor, as the Bears are allowing nearly 200 yards rushing per game and 5.26 yards per carry. It's also allowed 24 rushing touchdowns this season, more than any other defense in the Big 12 aside from Tech and Kansas. So the Longhorns will definitely want to try and move the ball on the ground in this contest.
X-FACTOR: Case McCoy. McCoy took over the starting job against Texas A&M last week, and although the Longhorns won that game, McCoy didn't exactly light up the A&M secondary, completing 16 of 27 passes for only 110 yards and no touchdowns. The big difference for McCoy this week is that he'll go from facing a defense that has 43 sacks on the season to one that has only 17. Which means McCoy should have a lot more time in the pocket to find open receivers, and if McCoy can finally get the Texas passing game going in this contest, then the Longhorns are a lot more likely to pull off a win.
Posted on: November 25, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 11:57 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It said it all.
Texas' band spelled out 'Thanks aTm" and played Thanks for the Memories as the Kyle Field crowd politely applauded. It was in many ways the warmest moment the two schools had in months, if not years.
For Longhorns and Aggies alike, the memory of the 118th and final scheduled time the two schools play will last.
It will hurt for some and be the source of bragging rights for others.
Texas' come back victory on Thanksgiving night was anything but a line in the record books that reads "Texas 27, Texas A&M 25."
The pain - the anguish - that typically lingers from every game will last a bit longer for the maroon side after Thursday. The pride - the jubilation - will last even longer for the burnt orange side.
"Sports can be really cruel," head coach Mack Brown said. "It was a great college football game. I don't think you can call either team a team that loses. We're the ones that had more points on the board."
The poignant thank you from the band at halftime might have been the final 'good' memory for Aggies as members of the Big 12 conference, witnessing yet another second half collapse in a season full of them.
"it seems like it's the same comment," coach Mike Sherman said. "This is a devastating loss for out team.
"I take nothing away from Texas, they played well, but it's a game we should have won and didn't."
Same old story for the Aggies, who once again said "Gag'em" after a first half full of "Gig'ems."
The third quarter was A&M's achilies heel, as Texas capitalized on turnovers to swing a 7-16 deficit into a 24-16 lead. Despite a double-digit lead for the 11th time this season, the Aggies squandered it with two Ryan Tannehill interceptions - one returned for a touchdown - and mistake after mistake.
The team fell to 6-6 on the season thanks to flipping the switch to 'off' during halfitime, A&M outscored 86-0 in the third quarter alone in each loss.
"Well I think if you look at the games, we definitely have turned the ball over too many times," Sherman said. "We have to make the plays we have to make."
The Aggies didn't, the Horns did, the story of the series that Texas now leads 76-37-5. Tannehill's pick-six made it a two-point game. A punt on the next drive resulted in a 81-yard Quandre Diggs return and an eventual field goal to take the lead. Yet another interception put the Longhorns in business deep in A&M territory before senior Cody Johnson punched it in for a one-yard touchdown.
All it took was 13 plays and 27 offensive yards to completely snatch momentum away in a game that the Aggies didn't need to win as much as they couldn't lose.
"It was an emotional night," quarterback Case McCoy said. "We didn't play well at all the first half but our defense got us back in it. I'm proud of how hard we fought."
Case was the latest McCoy to torment Texas A&M. After what looked to be a game winning drive following Jeff Fuller's 16 yard catch and run to muscle into the end zone, McCoy took over an offense that had struggled all night. But he made the play of the game on a 25-yard scramble right up the middle to set up Justin Tucker's game-winning 40-yard field goal.
"What a great feeling to end this rivalry and celebrate Thanksgiving," McCoy said, minutes after sharing an emotional hug with offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, who was 3-1 against A&M himself.
The Aggies end their football tenure in the Big 12 with a loss, closing the book on an era in which they won just one conference title. The first line of the fight song late in the game was perhaps the saddest, most painful of all the Lone Star Showdowns because it meant far more than 'we'll see you in 365.'
"Goodbye Texas University…" the Kyle Field crowd sang in unison, swaying in different directions for the final time in 2011. The third-longest rivalry in major college football was, suddenly, over.
"It's Texas but...," A&M running back Ben Malena, the lone bright spot on the night with 93 all-purpose yards, "We're going to the SEC, we have bigger and better things to worry about."
"It's one of the great traditions we have in college athletics," athletic director Bill Byrne remarked. "But it's just part of the change".
"It takes two to sign a contract. We've expressed sincere interest in every sport to continue the relationship. So far we've had no takers. The question doesn't need to be asked of me, it needs to be asked of (Texas AD DeLoss) Dodds."
The Longhorns seem to want no part of it. As soon as Tucker's field goal went through the uprights, they ran straight to the 'Lone Star Showdown' logo and jumped with joy. Players started an "S-E-C" chant. The Longhorn Network's twitter account provided the final salt in the wounds however.
"Goodbye and Good Luck."
As the Longhorns left Kyle Field for what could be the last time in decades, they did so with as satisfying a win as ever. The only team Texas A&M has lost to from the state in two years: the University of Texas.
Thanks for the memories indeed.
Posted on: November 25, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 12:22 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
TEXAS WON. A rivalry that has gone on for 118 years may have come to an end on Thursday night, and there may not have been a better way to put an end to it than the game we got. Particularly if you're a Texas fan. Following a formula that's become all too familiar for Texas A&M this season, the Longhorns came back from a 16-7 deficit at halftime by outscoring the Aggies 17-0 in the third quarter. However, this time the Aggies would battle back and retake the lead with 1:48 to go after Ryan Tannehill hit Jeff Fuller for a 16-yard touchdown pass to give A&M a 25-24 lead.
But then Case McCoy went Colt McCoy. A Longhorns offense that struggled all night got things together on a final drive, one that featured a 25-yard scramble from McCoy that put the Longhorns in field goal position. Of course, the drive also featured a questionable personal foul call against Texas A&M, so you can be sure you'll hear a lot of conspiracy theories coming from College Station in the next few days. Then it all ended with Justin Tucker splitting the uprights with a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns what could be their last victory over Texas A&M for a long time.
WHY TEXAS WON. It's defense and special teams did the job. This was not a pretty game offensively on either side of the ball, as the two teams combined for only 565 yards of total offense, went 9-for-34 on third down and committed 6 turnovers between them. However, the Texas defense put the clamps down on A&M in the third quarter, causing three turnovers, one of which was an interception returned for a touchdown by Carrington Byndom. A few minutes later Quandre Diggs had an 81-yard punt return to set Texas up with a first and goal. The Longhorns only got a field goal out of that drive, but another Tannehill interception a few plays later set up another Longhorns touchdown. It was that 15-minute stretch that ultimately sealed the fate of both teams in this contest.
WHEN TEXAS WON. Aside from that third quarter completely turning this game around, things weren't official until Justin Tucker's 40-yard field goal went through as time expired. A remarkable feat for Tucker considering how tired his leg had to be after punting 11 times on the night.
WHAT TEXAS WON. Not only does this win get Texas to 7 wins on the year, but let's be real, what this game really won Texas is perhaps the final bragging rights over Texas A&M. The Aggies won't be getting a chance for revenge anytime soon, and may not ever get that chance if Texas continues to get its way.
WHAT TEXAS A&M LOST: This is another terrible loss for the Aggies. Another blown lead, and now a season that began with so much promise sees the Aggies finish the regular season at 6-6. Also, it's not like Mike Sherman wasn't already sitting on a hot seat coming into this game, this loss sure isn't going to help cool it off, and then there's the fact that it's Texas and this could be the final meeting for both schools. What I'm saying is, this was a terrible night for the Aggies.
THAT WAS CRAZY: In it's 6 losses this season, Texas A&M has been outscored 83-0 in the third quarter. You don't need to look past that number to know how the Aggies lost those games. Still, what's crazier than anything is that this rivalry is coming to an end. It's one of the best rivalries in college football, and it's going away. I mean, I grew up in Chicago and I'm having a hard time imagining a season in which Texas and Texas A&M aren't a part of my Thanksgiving tradition. I can only hope that cooler heads prevail sooner rather than later, and these teams meet again on the gridiron.
Posted on: November 24, 2011 11:31 pm
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Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 12:14 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF: The defense that shows up against Kansas last week returns for an encore performance. In the Aggies three-game losing streak before the Kansas win, they were allowing 44 points a game. Kansas only managed to score 7 against them last week, and though there's quite a difference in talent between Kansas and Texas, the Texas offense has been in a rut the last few weeks. Texas A&M needs to make sure they stay there. Especially considering that the Aggies offense has lost Christine Michael and may be without Cyrus Gray as well in this game. Which means Ryan Tannehill may have to shoulder a lot of the load, and it won't be easy to do against the best defense in the conference. The good news for Texas A&M is that the Longhorns don't provide much of a threat through the air, and that may be playing into Texas A&M's strength as the Aggies defense is allowing a conference best 2.74 yards per carry.
TEXAS WILL WIN IF: The Longhorns have had trouble establishing a passing attack all season long. They average only 181.6 yards passing per game, and the team's efficiency rating of 119.45 is the lowest in the Big 12 outside of Iowa State. If there were ever a week to find a passing attack, this may be it. While the Texas A&M defense leads the Big 12 in sacks, its secondary is also allowing 292.3 yards per game and nearly 3 touchdowns for every interception. So whether it's David Ash or Case McCoy under center on Thursday night, Texas would be well-served to try and move the ball through the air. The Longhorns defense is the best in the conference, but Texas A&M should be able to put up some points against it over 60 minutes, and I don't believe the Longorns offense can outscore the Aggies if it remains so one-dimensional.
X-FACTOR: Case McCoy. McCoy has been Texas' "throwing quarterback" for the most part this season. Despite the limited amount of time he's seen under center, he's thrown more touchdowns on the year than David Ash (4 to 3) and is also yet to throw an interception. So if Texas is going to get a passing game going against the Aggies on Thursday night, then it's going to be McCoy who has to get the job done for them. The more successful he is, the more successful the Longhorns will be.