Almost Heaven… Nope! A Texas vs. WVU Preview

Greetings, ‘Horns faithful! Did you miss me? I will pretend you did, and perhaps shed a tear when you saw a new post from me. A girl can dream; work with me here.

My office moved, so there were a couple of weeks of chaos, taking up all my time and attention. I apologize for my absence, to the four or so people who read me regularly. I’m back!

First, let’s catch up. I haven’t yet commented on post-game TCU, or the Kansas game at all. So this post will be a combination of pre- and post-game musings with other comments thrown in, all mushed together. Sorta like a turducken. You know, that Thanksgiving meat bonanza monstrosity consisting of a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. Or some combination thereof. As a vegetarian, it super grosses me out. However, you may love them and want to marry one, so to each her own. In case you’ve never seen one, feast your eyes:

turducken-on-Amazon

How about that TCU game? It was great, while it lasted on my teevee machine. Then the rains came, and Noah brought out the ark and took the players, two by two, back into the locker rooms. For over three hours. Now, we’ve discussed before the dearth of Texas broadcasting here in the lovely, gorgeous, wondrous Pacific Northwest. The TCU game was no exception. Once play resumed, it was piped through regional Fox affiliates. Out here, that meant no Texas game. Instead I was treated to a discussion by two square-shaped fellows pondering the Arizona State soccer program.

how about no bear

I ended up listening to the rest of the game online, courtesy of TexasSports.com, a service I was very happy to spend my American dollars on. How about that surprise appearance by Tyrone Swoopes? Way to burn that redshirt in an astonishing fashion. Well played, Coach Brown. Texas went on to steamroll TCU and apply a convincing beatdown. Final score, 30-7.

What does this mean, having Swoopes come in to the game at this point in the season? This is all supposition, but when I posed my theory to my Magic 8 Ball it said, “Without a doubt,” so it must be true. So, it’s my position that David Ash is probably done for the year. There are concerning reports about the lingering effects of the head injury. He’s still experiencing symptoms, not practicing, and losing weight. Again, Ash gets to keep his brain, and I hope for his speedy recovery to full health. So I assume Swoopes is needed to fill the backup role, until he gets his sea legs, and also the starting nod. Case McCoy has truly stepped up to lead the team, and I don’t want to detract from that. The kid is all heart, and a true team player. His athleticism is not as great as Swoopes’, but McCoy has a better command of the offensive schemes at this point. It will be great to watch Swoopes develop and mature as a player, and then start devastating opponents’ defenses with his centaur-like abilities. Bring it!

Let’s spend a moment on last week’s game, vs. Kansas. The Jayhawks are at the rock-toilet-bottom of the Big 12. This is a team that Baylor hung 59 points on in the prior week. Keep in mind the Bears allowed Kansas to score 14 points. That should put Texas’ 35-13 win in a little perspective. Kansas is winless in conference, but they’ve put up a fight each time.

The game was on the dreaded Longhorn Network, meaning I would again not be seeing the ‘Horns with mis propios ojos. Curses! Thank goodness for TexasSports.com. They saved the day, and I was able to listen to the play-by-play. Let’s be honest here. The Texas offense came out flat. They did not play in the same inspired fashion as the weeks prior. I’m OK with that. If they had to have an “off” game, let it be against Kansas. There were interceptions. Well-known spirit animal, Johnathan Gray, could not get into a rhythm. But Malcolm Brown, holy moly! What a game! I was tweeting during the game, trying to come up with a nickname for Brown. Browndozer? No, sounds gross. Drawing a blank. Bleacher Report to the rescue—they referred to him as “Touchdown Brown,” and that’s a moniker that should stick. He had an astounding four rushing TDs. In fact, the ground game with Brown ended up making all the difference in the game. Shipley continues to be a reliable workhorse, who should get far more playing time. He’s like clockwork. Kendall Jackson is absolutely a rising star in the offensive receiving corps. And don’t forget to look for more of #4 in games to come. Daje Johnson puts fear in the hearts of opposing defenses. Which is how things should be.

The Texas D is the real story here. They continue to improve every week under the wise tutelage of Gandalf the White Greg Robinson. He’s gotta be weaving some great magic there. The defense looks like the squads of yore—ready to crush you and never look back. Solid in just about every position. And how about Chris Whaley? He’s a delight on the field, busting plays and scooping up fumbles for TDs. He’s fun to watch. It’s not all spun sugar and rainbows, though—Texas is still getting burned by the occasional deep ball. Coach Robinson will doubtless keep working with the secondary and get that under control as well.

Deep breath! Let’s talk about the upcoming contest with the West Virginia Mountaineers. There was some heavy-duty trash talk on Twitter over the weekend by some WVU fans. They’re convinced that WVU will have such a home field advantage that they will steamroll Texas on Saturday.

computer-says-no

Texas comes into this contest a 6.5 point favorite, and sitting atop the Big 12 standings. Last year, the Mountaineers brought their coonskin caps to Austin and beat Texas, barely, 48-45. That was a hard one, folks! The ‘Horns put up quite a fight against Geno Smith and company. That was last year. This year is different.

The WVU defense ranks 111th against the pass. Sounds good, but Texas has had some miscues through the air, primarily with the long ball. Sometimes they’re beautifully on target, but McCoy has five interceptions of late. The short passing plays, over the middle, could be used effectively. Calling Jaxon Shipley! WVU is much stronger defending against the run. Regardless, Texas has to stay true to its ground game and run it right down their throats until something gives. And it will. Texas has too many potent offensive weapons.

WVU has its own potent offensive weapon in senior running back Charles Sims. He’s racked up 1,054 yards and seven TDs so far this season. That’s impressive, and should have Coach Robinson’s attention. The defense will need to bring its “A” game, as this rushing offense is likely better than what the ‘Horns have faced recently. Tackling, staying on assignment, no yards after contact. Fundamentals need to be there for a Longhorn victory.

And, it’s not like Texas hasn’t faced a tough opponent. *cough* Oklahoma *cough*

Two big intangibles for me in this game: home field advantage, and the weather. This is a big game for the 4-5 Mountaineers, coming in with a 2-4 conference record (ouch). The crowd could be a huge factor for Texas. They’ll be loud, motivated, and wearing team colors. Fans are admonished to “stripe the stadium,” so we’ll get the visual treat of seeing bands of blue and gold in the stands. Solution: play so well you take the fans out of the equation. Disappointed fans are quiet fans. As for the weather, the predicted temperature around game time is 42 degrees. Will Texas be able to play in the (relatively) cold weather? I assume it’s more difficult to play on a field where the temps are 100+ and the sun is baking your brain. Once the players get warmed up, I don’t think the weather will be a factor. And all those coonskin caps? You never know, they could be a game-changer.

Ultimately, Texas’ talent will outlast the Mountaineers. I predict Texas by at least two touchdowns, and we’ll see more action from Swoopes. Kickoff is 7:00 p.m., EST, on Fox. Watch to see how many mistakes the announcers make! Create a drinking game. Not that I would know anything about that.

Until we meet again, Gentle Readers, keep your horns up! Hook ’em!

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