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Friday, October 22, 2004

Longhorns: Back to Football 

With no more baseball, I can finally turn my full attention to the Horns. Last week's win over Missouri was the strangest game I think I've ever attended. Texas jumped on top early, held on to win late, and produced not only a win, but the strangest stat line I've seen in all my years of watching the Horns.

PASSING: Texas-Mock, Chance 4-10-0-39; Young, Vince
3-9-2-19; Taylor, Ramonce 1-1-0-48.

RECEIVING: Texas-Sweed, Limas 3-27; Young,
Vince 1-48
; Benson, Cedric 1-20; Thomas, David 1-5; Jeffery, Tony 1-4; Matthews, Will 1-2.
Not weird enough for you? Remember that Young is the starting QB and Taylor is the backup RB, and a true freshman at that. I saw Taylor run, catch, throw and kick as a senior at Belton high school last year, but I never imagined that he'd get his name in a boxscore as the game's leading passer for the University of Texas.

Anyway, the win against Mizzou was as boring a close finish as I have seen. I had no doubt the Horns would hold on for the victory, even when the Tigers seems to grab the momentum on their final drive. Losing just never entered my mind.

That was last week. Tomorrow the Horns visit the plains of West Texas, and any orangeblood that tells you he or she isn't worried about losing this weekend is either stupid or lying to your face. Throw the records out the window when Texas travels to Lubbock; you can guarantee that the Red Raiders will put up a fight. Since 1992, the "we're not rivals" rivalry has flip-flopped more than John Kerry when the Horns and Raiders meet in Lubbock.

2002- Tech 42, Texas 38
2000- Texas 29, Tech 17
1998- Tech 42, Texas 35
1996- Texas 38, Tech 32
1994- Tech 33, Texas 9
1992- Texas 44, Tech 33

That means we're due for a win, right? If only it were that easy. The texas defense will have to improve on their ability to stop Tech's zig-zag, chuck-and-duck, organized sandlot ball attack, if they want to stay in pursuit of a BCS bowl bid. Mike Leach's system piled up 365 yards through the air in Austin last season, and an amazing 508 the previous year in Lubbock.

In short, Texas' effort against Tech will need to be similar to what they showed two weeks ago, when the Horns' secondary limited Heisman winner Jason White to 113 yards. That was a 250-yard improvement from the 363 he piled up the season before. Turnovers would be nice as well. Texas hasn't intercepted a Tech QB in either of the past two games, a span that covers 120 pass attempts.

That ends this week. Greg Robinson's new defensive scheme won't mug the linebackers and leave the middle of the field open to a myriad of crossing routes and dump passes. Sonny Cumbie will get his yards, but the Red Raider WRs won't waltz through the secondary unmolested. I expect a few guys in particular to have big games: safeties Michael Huff and Phillip Geiggar, and LBs Derrick Johnson and Aaron Harris. Someone is getting as pick this weekend, and I believe at least one of these four guys will absolutely level some poor Techie that tries to get cute over the middle.

So the Texas defense shows up? Tech still scores 30 points. You don't stop them in Lubbock; You hold them just enough to outscore them. Can the Texas offense do that? That's the question I struggle with. If Ramonce Taylor is the leading passer come tomorrow evening, then my friends, the Horns are looking at the wrong end of a blowout.

Run the ball. That's what we do. Run the ball until Ced Benson's "32" is tatooed on the jerseys of every Tech defender. But mix in a few passes, too. There's a guy named David Thomas that plays TE. He's pretty good. Run Cedric and run him hard. And just when they think he's about to barrell through them again, fake it to him and throw to Thomas over the middle. The play's worked against A&M and Arkansas. Where has it been lately? Only in Greg Davis' offense do successful plays find the wastebasket. Well find it, Greg, and put it back in the playbook -- on the third row of page one, where you might eventually see it.

I'd like to see us take a few shots down the field. I don't think we have to hit any deep balls to win, but it doesn't take a clairvoyant to sense the growing frustration from our younr recieving corps. Throw'em a bomb, if not a bone... or somesuch. But run Cedric until his cleats wear away. If he doesn't have more than 200 yards tomorrow, then someone's ass needs to be fired.

I think we get it done. It'll be tough. Texas Tech high school will be rocking with 40,000 strong, including 10,000 drunk fratboys. They love to beat Texas out there. It's like Christmas for them. Well I just checked the calendar. Christmas is still two months away. Tech fans will just have to wait and live with the disappointment.

Texas 38, Texas Tech 34


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