Disclaimer : I am sure that I have something wrong with this preview. If something is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email (doubletnation AT gmail DOT com) and I'll get things corrected either in the story or in the comments. The purpose of this preview is to help educate myself and Texas Tech fans about your team.
I suppose it is only fitting that we end with the Longhorns. I might be in the minority here, but I think this is going to be fun no matter the outcome. I don't know about Texas, but for me as a Texas Tech fan, I really like this set-up. A lot could be riding on this game, from both teams' perspective.
For UT head coach Mack Brown, this feels like re-vamp part II. The first try was Bryan Harsin and now Major Applewhite gets a shot. It will be interesting to watch as the Longhorns very much have chatted up pace and speed and now they are recruiting more mobile quarterbacks after recruiting pro-style quarterbacks with Harsin.
Then add a lackluster defensive performance. Or maybe it is better to say that it was to the standard of the Big 12 and it's not as easy as it used to be. Still, UT was and has been always really good up the gut because they've been able to recruit and bring in the best defensive tackles in the state. I'm sure that Manny Diaz will turn things around some, but being a defensive coordinator in the Big 12 is tough.
Of all of the times to find things, I haven't found a Alamo Bowl depth chart. If it takes more than five minutes, then I tend to give up. It shouldn't take that long, especially for the Longhorns. It shouldn't be that hard to find.
Offense | Run
I love Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. They are all really good running backs and as a true freshman, Gray ran for 700 yards. I never would have guessed this, but it was Bergeron that had 16 touchdowns, while Brown and Gray only had 7 combined. I never would have guessed that, but I'm guessing that this is the one area that the Longhorns probably want more or better production from Gray and Brown. Last year was supposed to be the year of the running attack from Texas, but that never really materialized, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention.
I thought that Harsin was going to implement a strong running game and they had two of the best runners in the country, but only managed the 53rd best offense in the nation and only the 6th best in the Big 12. Top third in the country, but only the top half in the Big 12. Maybe that's why Harsin isn't in Austin any more. That has to be problematic.
Again, because I can't find an old depth chart, I'm thinking that the offensive line pretty much returns as it was last year. I don't think there are any significant losses there. So whatever improvement that is going to take place is going to be from the players improving or better coaching. Josh Cochran, Mason Walters, Dominic Esinosa, Trey Hopkins and Donald Hawkins made up your line. I don't know what to expect from Applewhite as an offensive coordinator other than the increased pace. I suppose by the time this game is played, a whole season will have been played. Texas should be just fine here.
Offense | Pass
Ehh. David Ash looks to be the guy here. Ash was just a sophomore, a true sophomore, but he was inconsistent. When he was good, he was really good. When he was bad, he was incredibly unproductive. Games against Oklahoma, TCU and Kansas (two losses and a near loss) that were just awful probably directly related to why UT lost those games or why the Kansas game was close. There were other times where Ash was fantastic. Mississippi, Texas Tech and Iowa St. show how good he can be, but it's those games against your Rivals that count the most and going 13 for 29 for 113 yards against OU is not acceptable. And it's pretty much going to be Ash or Case McCoy and I don't think that McCoy has instilled any real confidence that he can be the guy.
Connor Brewer left this spring/summer because he saw the writing on the wall with more athletic quarterbacks in Overstreet and Tyrone Swoopes. Ash and McCoy may just be mediocre and UT fans just have to bide their time until Swoopes is ready. I'm not sure.
I don't have a clue about tight end and if it will really be a position utilized by Applewhite, so I won't even try to comment. The offensive line did do a very good job of protecting Ash and was 22nd in the nation in sacks allowed. Ash is a good athlete, so that helps and he's a decent enough scrambler.
Defense | Run
The majority of the defensive line returns, led by Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed at the defensive ends and Malcolm Brown at nose guard. I'm not sure about Ashton Dorsey. What I do know is something that I mentioned above, which is that this rush defense probably wasn't up to the standards that UT fans expect. UT finished 8th in the Big 12 in rushing defense and there were some okay games, but then there was 343 yards given up to OU, 255 to Baylor, 234 to Kansas, 275 to Oklahoma St. and 192 to West Virginia. You can see where this is going. I think it's certainly going to help to have most, if not everyone, back from the front four, but you wonder just how much the defense will be.
I do know that UT lost a very good play-maker in Alex Okafor, 16.5 TfL, which included 12.5 sacks. And UT was terrific at generating sacks, and maybe that's part of the problem, which is they have gone all out to disrupt offenses that way that they had to give up on something else.
At the linebacker spot, Steve Edmond, Kendall Thompson and Tevin Jackson all return and they were all sophomores last year. I'm sure that Jordan Hicks and Dalton Santos will also try to work their way in the rotation.
Defense | Pass
The big loss is Sonny Vacarro and he really was quite good. He led the team in tackles and had two picks. Other than that, you've got three-fourths of the returning players to the 36th ranked pass defense from last year. A lot like Texas Tech last year, there may be some deception in that 36th best pass defense in that they did only allow 35 yards to New Mexico, 39 to Kansas and 82 to TCU. That's going to help an average. I write that this is a bit similar to Texas Tech because Texas Tech has similar results with 71 yards from Northwestern St., 43 to New Mexico, 73 to Iowa St. and 29 to Kansas. That's abnormally low for both teams on some of those and teams that couldn't even muster much of a forward pass at all.
Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips are your starters at cornerback while Adrian Phillips returns at strong safety while Mykkele Thompson is the new starter at free Safety. I think I've got this right. Only 11 interceptions from the Longhorn defense last year, which is about where they've been last year too. You'd think that there might be a bit more turnovers, but maybe the thought has been to generate a big pass rush and hope the quarterback makes a bad decision. As mentioned above, that really doesn't translate statistically.
Rating the Longhorns
|Offense | Run
|Offense | Pass
|Defense - Rush
|Defense | Pass