Texas Football; Anticipation!

It’s time! It’s time! Well, it’s almost time. Kickoff is getting closer every day. I’m making the necessary preparations. My fainting couch is almost ready at the upholsterer. What? It was covered with flop sweat and tears from last season. Sometimes the only answer is some new Naugahyde, the kind that resists wine spills. It’s for a friend. Yeah, that’s it. The pets are all rested up and tranquilized. Now all I need is game time!

So what’s in store? It’s no secret that the ‘Horns had a less-than-satisfying last season. They ended with a winning record, and won their bowl game. Still, there was that general lack of satisfaction you feel when the team does its best but is still not victorious. Missed opportunities on offense. A defense that struggled mightily throughout the season, suffering with injuries and inexperience.

Well, you’re asking, why bother watching at all? Thanks for being such a Debbie Downer! I promise not to devolve into a discussion of feline AIDS being the number one killer of cats. Don’t despair, Gentle Readers! There is much talk about our beloved Texas Longhorns for this upcoming season. Hopes are pretty high, with some sports writers predicting a Big 12 championship for the ‘Horns. But! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Let’s talk offense. Texas is returning 19 starters, including the entire offensive line. That means many of the issues attributed to inexperience, on both offense and defense, should show improvement. Running back, Joe Bergeron, is lighter and stronger coming into this season. The ‘Horns have several senior leaders returning to the offense: David Ash, Jaxon Shipley, and Malcolm Brown. Well-known spirit animal, Johnathan Gray, is poised to have an incredible year. There is already Heisman talk around him, which is how it should be! My eyeballs are jangling with excitement at the idea of seeing Gray explode down the field.

Even more offensive changes are afoot. Texas will employ the “hurry-up” offense this year. What the heck is that? Glad you asked. This offensive scheme isn’t new, but is increasing in popularity each year. The best example I can think of—keep in mind this is just my opinion—is the Oregon Ducks. In the hurry-up offense, there is no huddle after a play ends. Offensive players simply get back into position again and quickly snap the ball. More traditional offenses involve a huddle between each play, then the teams saunter to the line and get set before the ball snaps. It also gives teams the opportunity to substitute players. The rules dictate that if the offense doesn’t substitute players, neither can the defense. I think you’re getting the picture here. A healthy, well-conditioned offense can cram another 20 plays into four quarters using hurry-up. And you can imagine what this does to the defense—an entire series of plays without a break, marching down the field. It’s very effective when done well, and the ‘Horns are going to give it a try. They have the talent to make it work to their advantage.

Know who lost to a hurry-up offense last year? Alabama. When the defense can’t control the game, things get interesting.

Speaking of defense, we should expect improvements in that arena as well. Last year’s squad was plagued by injuries and inexperience. Notice I didn’t say coaching! I’ll save that for later, in an effort to keep these rose-colored glasses firmly planted on my face. Every linebacker is returning this year. Jordan Hicks is finally healthy and returning to play! See, I needed the fainting couch for that bit of news alone. Jackson Jeffcoat is back in fighting form as well, recovering nicely from his torn pectoral. Yes, it makes me hurt just to type that. Last year, the defense ended ranked 67th in the country. They also gave up more yards than any unit in program history. For a team with a long history of defensive domination, this is hard to swallow. To prepare to not suck this year, the players have engaged in lots of strength training. This year’s unit will be one of the most experienced in college football, full of juniors and seniors. We can hope that the miscues and disappointments from last season translated into learning opportunities and incentives to improve fundamentals of the game.

Preseason rankings are out, and Texas comes in at a not-embarrassing number 15. Look, rankings at this point are about as accurate as my Magic 8 Ball. There are too many unknowns that will get worked out over the first few non-conference games. There were some prognosticators who put Texas as high as number 4 at the beginning of the summer. Come on, fellas! Let’s keep this real, shall we? Before we go talking about breaking into the top 5, let’s make sure we can beat Oklahoma. Who, incidentally, has won the Red River Shootout every year since 2009. That’s a trend that simply can’t continue.

Like all devoted fans, I want to see Texas return to its former glorious state of a real football powerhouse. The coaches and other sports writers out there all have big question marks penciled over Coach Brown’s face. Has he lost his mojo? Did he need an “off” season to get his groove back? I’m hoping he’s fired up and ready to go, chomping at the bit to show that the ‘Horns are back. And I’ll tell him that next time he calls me.

Stay tuned, as we head into the hysterical weeks leading up to the first game. I’ll be previewing the New Mexico State Aggies! Even though I can’t watch the game and that makes me feel all the feelings right now.

Until next time, remember our logo was voted best in the country! Hook ‘em Horns!

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