The injuries are mounting for the 2007 Longhorns heading into the final two games of the season. Center Dallas Griffin is out for the year, nickelback Drew Kelson will not be available for Texas Tech, and Eddie Jones' shoulder continues to give him problems. Mum's the word on Sergio Kindle, but Texas fans probably shouldn't count on him playing Saturday. If he does, it'd be a huge, huge bonus for a team which could desperately use his playmaking abilities.
After a statistically strong start to the season for the Texas pass defense, the wheels are beginning to loosen. If the 'Horns don't get pressure on Graham Harrell on Saturday, they might fly right off. After Nebraska managed 8.3 yards per pass against the Longhorns, Zac Robinson and Oklahoma State torched the Texas defense for a whopping 10.2 yards per pass attempt. That's wretched against any team; if matched Saturday against Tech, it will be fatal.
Who's to blame? No one's without fault here. Texas' defensive ends haven't done a great job getting pressure on the quarterback, the well-document linebacker problems allow opponents to double team our DTs with impunity, Palmer and Foster have performed less solidly as the quality of opponents has increased, and the safeties are struggling mightily. And then there is Duane Akina, who is doing his best Carl Reese impression these days - blindly slinging bodies into heaps of blockers on kamikaze blitzes, leaving Texas vulnerable to screens and passes like the throwback to the tight end which the Cowboys used to scorch the 'Horns.
Is there any good news? There's at least one bright spot: Deon Beasley is emerging as a superstar cornerback. He'll need lots of help on Saturday, though, as Mike Leach is surely licking his chops looking at the Texas pass defense right now. Odds of a shootout in Austin? 99%.
Texas Tech is not without problems of its own, of course. The bizarre feud between Mike Leach and Shannon Woods took another interesting twist this week as Leach announced that last year's all-purpose yards leader in the Big 12 would remain on the scout team for the remainder of the season. Woods did not travel with the team to Waco this past Saturday. I thought Woods was a player Leach used far too infrequently this season - it wouldn't surprise me if Woods had similar feelings and let them be known. Whatever the case, he's done for this year; a transfer wouldn't surprise me in the least.
After a painful two game stretch against the Big 12 North in which Graham Harrel threw just 4 touchdowns against 8 interceptions, the nation's touchdown leader returned to form last week against Baylor with 3 TDs and no turnovers. For the season, Harrell has 11 TDs and 0 INTs against Big 12 squads (Oklahoma State, A&M, Baylor). Here's to hoping Texas performs more like Missouri and Colorado than their counterparts in the South.
Last, but not least, the Longhorns are primed to catch and surpass Notre Dame on the all-time wins list this season.