I was going to do one of these for the Rice game, but the season snuck up on me. Here is my preview for the game this Saturday.
What this game will tell us: Where we stand going into the game against Tech. Not to take the focus off this week, but this really is a test of how things will go in our first conference game. Playing a mid-level Mountain West team at home won't compare to the hostile crowd and eerie upset magic the Longhorns always see in Lubbock.
Mack Brown said against Rice we were focused too much on the future and not living in "the now." Well, there's no time like the present. Vegas favors Texas to win this game by about 30 points, but can the players improve their focus to keep from playing as sloppy as they did in the opener?
We'll probably see a little bit more balance in the game this week. And by a little, I mean a little. Expect there to be a few more passes early, probably of the downfield variety. Getting Garrett Gilbert more game reps and improving the run game are our priorities, so expect the play selection to reflect that.
Gilbert didn't look in rhythm last week, and I suspect that's why he was kind of all over the place. I expect—and maybe this is just wishful thinking—that there won't be four run plays called in a row this week. On defense, we should see more blitzes, and be more solid all-around. Wyoming throws the ball way more than Rice, and the secondary should be better. If not, what we thought would be a strength going into this season may be a weakness.
The Story: This game was an early scare for the Longhorns, and the beginning of some of our offensive woes. We were 5-of-17 on third down, and averaged 5.3 yards per carry on the ground. A late second-quarter rally and strong second half made the game seem less close than it actually was, because we trailed Wyoming 6-10 before a Kirkendall TD in the second quarter, and went into the locker room up 13-10.
The coaches said the slow start was to due to the altitude, which sounds like an excuse to me, but I've never played in Laramie. This year we'll be closer to sea-level, and hopefully we'll know the Cowboys will mean business. They return 16 starters from last year's team, so an upset isn't out of the question if the offense doesn't step up.
Predictions: The Longhorns take the victory in this one. It will seem like Garrett Gilbert throws it more than he actually does. I expect him to have 25-30 pass attempts, and look much sharper. The defense will look better, although I could foresee some problems on kickoff coverage.
In terms of the running game, I think Tre Newton will have a solid game. I'm also going to say Garrett goes out with 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Score: 35-7. Halftime score: 24-0. Gilbert: 17/25 200+ yards. Rushing yards: 225+. Newton: six yards per carry.
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