Saddle up! Wyoming is coming to town!

Hey y’all! Football season officially kicks off for the ‘Horns on Saturday, and OU still sucks!

We’ll get to that, but first, a little bit about me. I’m a UT alumna and Austin native, transplanted to Oregon in 2004. Wait, what did she say? Yes, that’s right, I am smack in the middle of Duck country. Don’t knock it–Eugene is a beautiful place. Autzen stadium is nice, but hey, it’s not Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Not by a long shot! Being surrounded by Duck fans will turn you into one by the scientific principle of osmosis. Plus they look at you funny if you wear anything but green on game days. But do not be fooled! My first allegiance is to the University of Texas. My hair and my blood are both burnt orange! And I still say “y’all” and “fixin’.” You can take the girl out of Texas…

Now to the important stuff: football. The folks here think they know what it means to LOVE football. To that I say “ha!” They are certainly fond of their Ducks (what’s not to like?) but their affection is more like how you felt about that boy in fifth grade, the cute one with the freckles and the green eyes, and you passed him a note after lunch that said, “I like you, do you like me? Check yes or no.” Our love for football is like flying directly into the sun while doused in gasoline, singing “Texas Fight.” You get the idea.

This marks Mack Brown’s 15th season as head coach. We expect big things from our Texas teams, so last year was a bit of a disappointment. The ‘Horns were 8-5 overall, and 4-5 in the Big 12. That’s just unsatisfying. It left us without the ability to taunt our relatives from Arkansas over the holidays. Expectations are high, as always. This year’s squad has only 10 seniors, so it will be up to the younger players to bring it week after week. Probably the most talked-about true freshman is Johnathan Gray. You might have heard a little something about him!

Gray was ranked as ESPN’s second overall recruit, and his signing was a major coup for Texas. “Major.” Get it? (Because Major Applewhite signed him.) Funny Major Applewhite story for you. Once upon a time, in the days before iPhones and social media, I traveled by hot air balloon to see a family member in Denver. We went to a brew pub downtown to watch the Texas game with the Rocky Mountain Texas Exes. This was in the days when Major was QB. At the entrance there were stick-on name tags so people wouldn’t have to call you “hey, you,” as in, “hey you! Down in front!” One dude circulating through the party caught my eye. I don’t remember his first name, so I’ll call him Xavier. His name tag said “Xavier Applewhite.” Very loudly, in an uncouth manner, I said, “Well! I’ll just add ‘Applewhite’ to my name tag! We can ALL be Applewhites!” Turns out Xavier was, in fact, Major’s brother. I spent the rest of the game in a corner drinking beer and trying to wash this memory away. As you can see, I was largely unsuccessful.

Back to Gray! This highly-recruited freshman is one to watch this season. He’s not the starting running back (abbreviated as RB), but he will see some action in the season opener against Wyoming. His debut on the field will be a fantastical, whimsical moment witnessed by thousands of people in the stands, and literally dozens on TV, since almost no one carries the Longhorn Network. Gray comes to Texas as the high school all-time touchdown leader. At 5’10” and 205 pounds, he’s ideally built for the RB position–low center of gravity, and powerful enough to run over and through defenders and get downfield.

In his senior year of high school, Gray ran for 3891 yards and made 65 touchdowns. See why we’re all so excited? He’s a play-maker. His team won three straight state championships. In those championship games, playing against the best in the state, he racked up 818 yards and 13 touchdowns. Impressive stuff here! I can’t wait to see him take the ball and work his magic. It would only be better if a glittery unicorn carried him into the stadium. Listen, a girl can have dreams.

On Saturday, we’ll get this party started when Wyoming comes to our house. Texas won all four previous games; the last time the two met was in 2010 and Texas won, 34-7. The ‘Horns are a 31-point favorite over the underdog Cowboys, but don’t start counting those field goals just yet. The beginning of the season is traditionally messy and a little rough. Expect to see players rotating in and out of the game, allowing the coaches to see just what stuff a player is made of under gameday conditions. Sophomore David Ash was tapped to be the starting QB, but don’t be surprised if Longhorn darling and human cloning experiment Chase McCoy comes in for a few snaps. These two young men share the position very nicely, but Coach Brown is clear that Ash has come out on top, and will take the opening snaps on Saturday.

The Cowboys have a good Sophomore QB themselves in Brett Smith. He was Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2011. He passed for 2622 yards and 20 touchdowns. Both Texas and Wyoming were plagued by interceptions last year. And now, both starting QBs have a season under their belts. We’ll see shortly what they’re made of.

Those of you with tickets, I hate you. Those of you with the Longhorn Network, I hate you slightly less. I’ll be crouched by my computer hitting “refresh” a lot, looking for updates, enjoying 70-degree weather, and giving a proud “Hook ‘Em!”

Go ‘Horns! Beat the Cowboys!

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