The Texas Longhorns return to Jones AT&T Stadium this weekend for the first time since Michael Crabtree ripped the hearts out of UT fans everywhere with his last second TD to beat Texas 39-33 on Nov. 1, 2008.
To Longhorn fans looking for revenge, don’t get ahead of yourselves. The team I saw live these last two weeks isn’t a top five team.
Yes, I hear you and I agree this isn’t the same young defense that went to Lubbock two years ago, but it’s not the defense that will lose the game. In order to win this game the UT offense has to shake things up in Lubbock.
The UT offense didn’t get going until the second quarter against Rice and Wyoming. First the Longhorns lack an offensive identity. We heard all summer how this team was going to run and take plays under center, but that dominant run game hasn’t been there against inferior competition and no UT back has rushed for more than 62 yards in a game this season. In order to win UT is going to have to put the ball in the hands of Garrett Gilbert and attack the Tech pass defense. I know it’s tempting to run the ball early because Gilbert is making his first start in a hostile environment, but if UT does this they are getting away from their strengths and Techs weakness. When the Longhorns opened up the playbook and allowed Gilbert to stand in the pocket and throw he looked more comfortable and completed 62 percent of his passes for 222 yards a score against Wyoming.
This year against SMU and New Mexico the Tech pass defense has allowed 554 passing yards and four touchdowns.
The Longhorns also must take advantage of aggressive Tech defense play calling. Tech defensive coordinator James Willis came to Lubbock after serving as a linebacker coach at Alabama last year. This season the Red Raiders blitzed a lot more than in years past and have gotten nine sacks through two games to show for it. The Texas offensive line must pick up these blitzes like they did Alabama’s in the second half of the BCS Championship Game. The Longhorns inability to keep the chains moving stuck in my mind also.
The UT offense has a 50 percent third down conversion percentage. In order to come away with a W in Lubbock they have to get this up to about 65-70 percent to help their defense out. If this game was played later in the year when Gilbert and the UT offense had a chance to develop a rhythm I would say the more talented team wins, but since this is an early season conference game on the road the UT offense must answer the still potent Tech offense point for point for 60 minutes in order to win this game and I don’t think they will.
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