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Panic Time

Burnt Orange Nation has (appropriately, we think) been bursting with optimistic energy about the 2006 season. From our uber-crushes on Jamaal Charles and Frank Okam, to our belief that, all things considered, this is the best coaching staff in the Big 12, and the confidence that comes with winning the national title against the most obnoxious professional football team this side of the Dallas Cowboys... there's a lot to be excited about, and proud of.

But we shouldn't be all peaches and cream, right? Anyone who knows AW and PB, after all, knows that we're always one misfortune away from Hume-sized skepticism. So as we gear up for what could be another magical run, let's grit our teeth and talk about a few things that could derail the train.

Four Things You Should Panic About, Should They Occur

1. Jamaal Charles gets hurt. I know, I know. Selvin's back, and we're deep at the position. Doesn't matter. Charles is the most dangerous runner still in college. He doesn't -quite- have the burst Reggie Bush had, but he's close, just as fast, incredibly shifty, and a terrific receiver. He's an X Factor that single-handedly makes Texas a defensive coordinator's nightmare. His presence makes everyone around him better, much like Reggie Bush. Don't forget this number, Texas skeptics: 7.4. That's Jamaal Charles' freshman yards per carry.

2. Frank Okam gets hurt. As with Charles, he's just one guy that changes the game when he's on the field. This is, hands down, the best D-Line in the country. With Robison and Crowder on the ends, and the emergence of Roy Miller at nose tackle (as well as Lokey), Frank Okam is poised to wreak absolute havoc on opposing backfields. Watching the Rose Bowl on Sunday morning, I was reminded what a force he'd become by the end of last year. He'll only be better this year, and as he shifts over to a three technique (over the guard's outside shoulder), blocking him is going to be near impossible. Texas fans: remember when Tommy Harris ruined everything we ever tried to do? Okam's about to go on a tear like that. He can't get hurt.

3. The Texas fans create a controversy. I'm scared to death that if McCoy plays B-minus and Snead mops up in A+ fashion, fans are going to start making a mess. For my part, I'm gonna get behind McCoy all the way until we're out of the BCS title game hunt. If that's out of the question, then tinkering isn't a horrible thing, and we'd might as well let both guys get in there and battle it out. Until then, cheer, cheer, cheer for McCoy. He has a chance to be exactly what we need this year - steady and relatively mistake-free. Support him without exception. Please?

4. Hunter Lawrence never develops. This isn't a "panic" development, but it could be very problematic if Greg Johnson is asked to do everything. Can he punt, kickoff, and kick field goals? Can anyone? I'd -really- like Lawrence to win this job. We won't blow out everyone we play this year; kicks will matter.

There's a lot to be excited about this year, but if any of the above four come to pass, a BCS repeat title is a longshot. The latter is the most manageable problem, of course, but it's hard to overcome having a shoddy kicking situation. Here's to hoping that Lawrence is ready, or Johnson's a superhero.

Up next: four things you should not panic about, but may want to, should they occur.