Holy crap! Texas football countdown clock says Tamale Bowl is in exactly two days! Guess we should talk about it, huh? Let's start with some totally unsystematic notes/thoughts on the offense. We'll get to the defense tomorrow.
Let's start with Colt McCoy. Last time we saw Colt on the field, he was being brutalized by an Aggie thug. Has he recovered? That's the million dollar question, and though I've stated my preference that we not actually find out that answer until, say, the Spring game,
his Dad the doctors have cleared him to give things a go in the Alamo Bowl.
I don't see much point in continuing to argue about Colt's playing or not playing. He'll be playing, and that's that. There are, I'll note, too, some real benefits to him playing. For one, if he is healthy, it'll be a nice opportunity for him to get out there and start getting his confidence back. Quarterbacks rely on confidence as much, or more, than they rely on their physical tools. Knock a kid's confidence from him, and a golden arm is worthless. The 'Horns need Colt to be at full strength - physically and mentally - by next season. While we may be risking his physical well-being, there's no question that playing in the Alamo Bowl will - barring a terrible performance - help him from a mental standpoint.
The question, then, is what should are expectations be? Realistically? I'd look for the most run-heavy game plan we've seen from Greg Davis in 2006. Texas will, in all likelihood, "hide not highlight" Colt McCoy in this one. Crystal ball says no more than 20 pass plays called.
There's a corrollary here, obviously. Fewer passing plays equals more running plays. Of all the complaints we heard this season - and there were many - none were repeated as often as "The running game blows." I'd guess that Texas has spent the majority of its practice time working on running the football. Under center. From the shotgun. End-around. Between the tackles. Sweeps to the outside. Runs, runs, runs!
Will we see improvement? Maybe. Iowa's had some pretty good success this season when teams have tried to ram the ball down their throats. Iowa knew Michigan would try to Mike Hart them to death. The result was 39 Wolverine rushes for just 88 yards. They also knew Northern Illinois would try to run the hell out of the ball. NIU managed 26 rushes for just 73 yards.
Still, other teams have had plenty of success running the ball on Iowa. Ohio State, Purdue, Northwestern, and Minnesota all averaged over 4.5 yards per carry on the Hawkeyes; all but the Gophers, in fact, averaged over 5 yards per rush. So this team can be run on.
Now that I've told you that Iowa can stop the run and Iowa can be run on, you might be wondering what's in store for Texas. Good question. I have no idea. The 'Horns were held under 4 yards per carry in each of their last three games. Not coincidentally, I'll add, that's when Colt ceased being healthy/effective.
Put all the pieces together and the picture's pretty clear - Texas' offense is effective when it's balanced. Our success on offense is probably tied to Greg Davis' willingness to use Colt as a weapon. Will he do that, given the injury situation? I have my doubts, but if Texas falls behind, he'll have to. Ideally, Texas will come out rushing the ball like they did against Ohio State. When the 'Horns have been committed to rushing the football down a team's throat, they've done reasonable well. My guess is that's the plan for Saturday.