As we get further into the season (starting with TCU, in fact), we'll be getting into the nitty gritty details of our opponents. For Arkansas State? Probably Rice? Meh - I think this July preview covers everything we need to know.
I'll urge you to read the preview linked above to get a general feel for Arkansas State's strengths and weaknesses. The one thing they have going for them is a strong secondary, and even then, were Texas to be totally impotent through the air, the rushing attack would be more than enough to pound Arkansas State into submission.
With the chances of blowout (95%) in mind, let's talk about the keys to this week's game:
Stay healthy. This one really can't be emphasized enough. I was starting to write about how much this Texas team needs to establish a real identity this year, but I remembered last season's 56-7 destruction of North Texas and how little (read: none) bearing that had the following week when a real team came to Austin.
Well, a Real Team comes to Austin in week two again this year, and though TCU isn't exactly Ohio State 2006, they're a good opponent with a legitimate chance to win the game. Texas can and will dominate Arkansas State, but it's not going to mean too much the following week. What will matter is who plays against TCU. Stay healthy, Longhorns. Especially you, Limas.
Play the young dudes. Every year, there's talk about using the young players more. Every year, young players are under-utilized. For the most part, I think experience is more valuable than talent. I don't want Texas fielding a team of uber-talented, but not-yet-developed freshmen and sophomores. We'd lose too many games.
With that said, some are more ready than others. Moreover, there will come a time this year - as there is every year - when Texas is going to have to depend on some really young players to fulfill critical roles. They need as much experience as we can realistically give them. And realistically, we can give them lots against Arkansas State. I want to see the young linemen, receivers, and defensive backs taking meaningful snaps this Saturday. I want John Chiles on the field preparing to be a good backup option should disaster strike Colt McCoy.
To secure peace is to preapre for war, right? Prepare for the worst, Mack. Play the young ones while it's a luxury. At some point, it'll be a necessity.
Don't read too much into the game. This might be my biggest concern, to be honest. All the injuries Texas has suffered to receivers this summer and fall have led Texas to list a fullback as a starter. A fullback. As in, I-formation. As in, we're a running team first.
I'm not going to make the mistake that I'm highlighting here and read too much into it (this is Arkansas State), but I hope the opposite is true, too: When we run over, around, and through Arkansas State on Saturday, our coaches need to be careful not to interpret that as a sign that we're a RunFirst team. Rushing the football is important, and something we must improve from a year ago, but this is Colt's team and an offense which can be extraordinarily explosive if we play to our strengths.
Mack, if you're out there - I beg of you: spread it out this season, pass the ball, let teams try to figure out how to stop our running game when they're scared shitless of what Colt McCoy and his army of receivers might do to them.