Go West, Young 'Horns!

Greetings, faithful fans! Texas takes the show on the road this week for game 2 of the season. Another out-of-conference challenge looms in Provo, Utah. I’ve been through there before, on the way to Moab (which is amazing and definitely worth seeing). We stopped at a Costco, and it was a surreal experience. More surreal than the usual Costco experience. Honestly, how can you not be sort of gobsmacked by a place where you can buy both a 10-carat diamond AND a casket, then grab a slice of really good pizza? Everyone in the Provo Costco was really, really blonde. Most of the families had two baskets—one for the kids and one for the groceries. The families were also buying apocalypse-level amounts of dry goods and other non-perishables. Maybe they know something we don’t? So that’s where our ‘Horns are heading this weekend.

Before I digress too far, I want to give a shout-out to my new Twitter follower Montrel Meander, lately of the University of Texas football team. Welcome! Montrel, aside from having great taste in Twitter, is part of the incoming freshman recruiting class. He sports #88 and plays wide receiver. He comes to us from Palo Duro High School in Amarillo. Looks like he got some playing time against New Mexico State! Glad to have you along for the ride, Mac!

Let’s talk about the Brigham Young Cougars.

For much of my intel on other teams, I like to use www.sports-ratings.com. They released a preseason analysis of their top 125 teams. Texas came in at number 5! BYU comes in at number 31. Looking at the AP, USA Today, and Coaches polls, BYU is unrated. But don’t let that fool you. Also don’t be fooled by the less-than-stellar performance last Saturday against the Virginia Cavaliers. That game had a delay over two hours, and the second half was played during monsoon conditions. Noah was loading the ark in the parking lot, it was so bad. Point being, the Coogs played a pretty lousy game in awful conditions last weekend, and lost in the last minutes. Don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency. BYU plays in their own house this weekend, with a hometown crowd that will be looking for the first win of the season. This is seriously hostile territory.

BYU employs the up-tempo offense, just like Texas and so many other teams. By the way, all the cool kids are calling it the “tempo” offense so I’ll do the same, because I really want to sit with them at lunch. Quarterback Taysom Hill had a pretty dismal showing last week, completing only 13 of 40 pass attempts, with one touchdown and one fateful interception—the one that sealed their fate. Their entire receiving corps is back. The defense is more of a question mark. Last year, BYU’s rush defense was solid, but only a handful of starters return. Only one starter in the secondary is back, which could spell some vulnerability for BYU. There is depth for them on the defense, and they are used to practicing against their tempo offense. How will they hold up against the ‘Horns? Look for Kyle Van Noy to make a big statement—he was the leading defensive player in 2012, with 53 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, two interceptions, and six forced fumbles. Ouch.

Look, that New Mexico State game last week was like two different Texas teams showed up. There was a crap half, then an inspiring half. Which offense will show up? Ash racked up historic numbers, but that slow start out of the gate will not fly in Provo against an amped-up BYU team with something to prove. Sometimes playing on the road can help focus a team on the task at hand instead of succumbing to the distractions of playing at home where they’re comfortable, surrounded by supportive fans. This road game could work in Texas’s favor—the team has to keep its collective head in the game, or else.

The Texas depth chart is posted here: http://texassports.com/sports/2013/7/27/FB_0727133029.aspx?path=football

Daje Johnson, Mike Davis, and Jaxon Shipley get the nod as starting receivers. Mama likes! Ash is in at QB. Well-known spirit animal, Johnathan Gray, starts at tailback, and Alex De La Torre continues tearing it up at the starting fullback position. Defensive starters should ring familiar as well: Jeffcoat and Hicks, Steve Edmond, Malcom Brown, Cedric Reed, Byndom, Diggs…the list goes on and is impressive.

Here’s my prediction, Gentle Readers. I think Texas offense gets focused, because they have to, playing in a hostile environment. Ash showed his leadership abilities last season, and will be called on again. The offense may stumble out of the gate but I predict the powerful weapons Texas has on deck will come through and put plenty of points on the board.

More problematic, still, is the defense. As you’re aware, there is a conspiracy to keep me from seeing games on my television viewing device. So, without watching con mis propios ojos, it’s hard to know whether fundamental improvements were made. I can sort of read, so I did learn that there were some blown tackles, missed assignments, and some pass protection failures. That just can’t continue. It looks very much like Texas will field a top-shelf offense every game, and the defense just has to step up.

It will be a nail-biter, but I think Texas pulls it out. ESPN.com has the over/under at 55.5. Bet wisely, children.

I’ll be waiting for you on Saturday with some tranquilized pets and a glass of wine. Until then, Hook ‘em!

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