2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - BYU at Texas
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BYU (1-0) at Texas (1-0) Sept.
10, 7:00, ESPN2/ESPN3
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Here’s The Deal … Normally Week One shows a little of what a team is all about and shows just how sharp it is. Sometimes the opening game proves that more tweaking needs to be done, and sometimes everything hums on all cylinders and everything is in the right place. And then there’s BYU’s Opening Day win over Ole Miss, which didn’t show much from an offense that’s supposed to be vastly improved from last year.
Texas didn’t exactly come out of the gate roaring, either, and it’s still a mystery going into Week Two.
Considering all the offseason turmoil following an epic disaster of a 2010 season the Longhorns were supposed to make a big statement and obliterate Rice. Instead, the offense sputtered and coughed like it did throughout last year, and while it was an easy 34-9 win, this hardly looked like the Texas team that’s supposed to be a fixture in the national championship chase.
Could the Longhorns just need a little more time and some seasoning, or was the weak win over the overmatched Owls an indicator that 2010 wasn’t just an aberration? Was BYU’s offense really that mediocre, and was the only reason for all the excitement as the end of last year a weak schedule?
No matter who wins and how it’s done, this will be a very, very big moment for the victor with Texas going away from home for three weeks in a row to face UCLA, Iowa State, and Oklahoma, before dealing with the Oklahoma State offensive show. BYU, who might be showing Texas what life is like as an independent, doesn’t get much of a breather with a rivalry date against Utah followed up by a sneaky-tough game against defending Conference USA champion UCF.
This is a signature moment for BYU’s season. There’s a date against TCU in late October, but a win in Austin could set the wheels in motion to start talking about a BCS spot. On the flip side, if the Longhorns lose this at home, it’ll crank up the pressure on head coach Mack Brown and will get the fan base screaming. No, Brown won’t be on any sort of a hot seat, but again, after what happened last year, it’ll be impossible to explain that the Cougars really are that good.
Why BYU Might Win: The defensive front could dominate the Texas offensive front.
The Ole Miss offensive line has tremendous tackles and enough talent to be among the best in the SEC, but that didn’t matter much to a swarming Cougar defensive line that stuffed Ole Miss for 64 rushing yards. While the pass rush wasn’t dominant, it came up with the stunning play late to force the fumble for a three-yard game winning touchdown, and it did a good job of pressuring the Rebel quarterbacks and forcing them to complete just 15-of-28 passes for 144 yards.
The Longhorn offensive line was okay against Rice, but it didn’t get too much of a push for the running game and was mediocre in pass protection. On the other side of the ball, Texas struggled way too much to get into the backfield, and considering this was the first game after Will Muschamp left for Florida, coming up with no sacks and just three tackles for loss wasn’t pretty. If BYU could neutralize the Ole Miss pass rush, it should be able to handle the Texas defensive front if it plays like it did last week.
Why Texas Might Win: Oh yeah, the BYU offense.
While the defense held the Ole Miss offense to two field goals, the offense gave up a pick six and struggled way too much to move the ball. For all the excitement and all the talk about things being different and more explosive this year, it didn’t happen against the Rebels. Yes, the attack exploded over the second half of last year, and yes, most of the key parts are back, but those wins and the big numbers came against Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico, and UTEP, without a whiff of a defense among them. It’s possible that BYU’s offense really isn’t very good, and Texas, even after last week’s mediocre performance, isn’t the type of team to test things out on.
BYU isn’t going to generate much of a running game, with the UT linebackers way too fast and way too active to allow much in the second level, which puts all the pressure on former super-recruit Jake Heaps to carry the attack. He was fine against Ole Miss, completing 24-of-38 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown with a pick six, but he’s not going to have the short-to-midrange passes against Texas to rely on.
Speaking of former super-recruits …
What To Watch Out For: And the early returns on Garrett Gilbert 2.0?
Fine. Not special.
The face of all that went wrong with Texas last year, although it was hardly all his fault, Gilbert held off a major challenge for the starting quarterback job and was just good enough against Rice to quiet down the debate for a while. He completed 13-of-23 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown, and while he wasn’t razor sharp and there were a few misfires, he wasn’t bad and even showed off a little of the tremendous skill that made him a national high school player of the year. His job will be much, much easier going forward if he gets a little help from the ground game, and top recruit Malcolm Brown showed off his stiff running for 86 yards and averaging 5.4 yards per carry in his debut.
The Cougars need a little help for the linebacking corps with one of its key players questionable. Brandon Ogletree made six tackles and came up with a nice game against the Rebels, but he suffered a concussion and might not be back, leaving a gaping hole in the defensive front. That means the line will have to do even more, while it’ll take a steady rotation of linebackers to hold up against a Texas ground game that’ll try to establish itself early.
What Will Happen: It’ll all come down to UT’s ability to hang on to the ball. Even though this might not be the Longhorn offensive attack of old, it’s still far, far more talented than BYU with far more firepower. Turnovers were a Longhorn killer against inferior teams last year, and BYU was able to get out of Oxford last week because of takeaways. Gilbert has to be ultra-careful with the ball, and even though the fans won’t like it, putting a few passes in the third row will be far better than taking any chances. The Texas defense, after a mediocre week, will look like the Texas defense again.
CFN Prediction: Texas 24 … BYU 13
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Texas -7 O/U: 48.5
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