Will this be a healthy and recuperative season for Mack Brown’s Texas Longhorns football team? The reputedly richest college pigskin team in the Lone Star State is set to start their recovery from the sickening (for UT fans) debacle that was last season.
What better way to get off to a good start than by opening a box of Texas whoop butt on the Houston area’s Rice University Owls? If Texas can get off to a good start with a resounding win over a state rival, then it’d be doctor's orders.
Can Brown, the resident football doctor, provide the cure for this season’s version of the Longhorns? Maybe he doesn’t need to. Maybe the seniors and juniors have injected new anti-venom, intensity and energy into the underclassmen.
Since January 17, the day Longhorns reported back to Austin for workouts, the Horns have been looking forward to the opening salvo of the season to be fired this Saturday. This game is going to resonate from Westheimer to West Lake, from Luckenbach to Lubbock.
The upset-minded Owls will hoot and holler on the same field with the resurgent-minded Longhorns from Austin. It’s a matchup of two teams who’ve become strong-minded by baking in this year’s extraordinary Texas heat.
This will definitely be like a championship boxing match. Each team will punch one another in the mouth. The stronger of the two meeting force with fire will win.
I’m anxious to see if Texas will play with a ring of fire burning around their guts. They want to start off the season firing on all cylinders and prove to the college football world that 5-7—their record last season—isn’t what they are about.
Last season, the Rice Owls finished 4-8. They lost to the Longhorns 34-17 in the first game on their schedule. Competing in Conference USA’S West Division, it wasn’t a very flattering record in the eyes of the college football public.
The public at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium will have their eyes on the Longhorns. They’ll be watching to see if their native sons can make it back to a bowl game.
Last year going into the first game, Texas was ranked No. 5 in the nation. Their star quarterback had moved to Cleveland with the Browns. They were hoping to show they could cope without Colt McCoy.
The legendary UT quarterback’s younger brother, Casey, played in last year’s Longhorns-Owls game as a reserve. Running back Tre’ Newton scored three touchdowns and made the Owls feel the full brunt of the new ground-and-pound style of offense. Unleashed quarterback Garret Gilbert was green in his burnt orange jersey.
Like humans tend to be sometimes, he proved to be inconsistent throughout the season. The young man often struggled last season, but he has an opportunity to bounce back in a big way. He’d bounce a pass, but later zip one perfectly into tight coverage for a completion.
Coming into this season, I’ll be providing you with tight coverage and watching to see if the Longhorns’ signal-caller has his deficiencies covered. If not, McCoy is in reserve. I’m not sure if the Owls have changed their spots, but I’m expecting spotty coverage against Texas’ receivers.
Both teams could run the ball a lot in this one. Last year in the matchup, Cody Johnson had 15 carries for 59 yards and Fozzy Whittaker added 51. Sam McGuffie played sparingly for the Owls against Texas after transferring from Michigan, but he could decide tonight’s game.
Rice’s first touchdown in the 2010 game went down on a fluke play—a dropped pass scooped up by Randy Kitchens, who carried a Texas defender, draped around his ankle, into the end zone just before the half. It was all the Longhorns' running game after that as Newton, Johnson and Whittaker took over.
Asked what gives, Brown waxed philosophically, if not idealistically: “I am at a point where I would rather win,” he said, according to the AP. “I don’t care. I really don’t. I liked Colt McCoy completing 80 percent of his passes. Some people didn’t. It really bothered them. (They) got emotional, got counseling. I liked Garrett completing a bunch of passes tonight.”
Gilbert completed 14 of 23 for 172 yards.
70,445 people saw him do it at Reliant Stadium—home of the Houston Texans. It was obvious the Longhorns had much more than half of the fans in the building. Brown hopes the Horns can keep building off their disappointing season and avoid an upset.
Good news: The Longhorns will win, 35-22.