'Horns to show more against Pokes. Even though the Texas defense gave up 20 points to ULM -- far too many in the eyes of many, including yours truly -- a large part of the reason was that second and third-team players played early and often. Another major aspect was the fact that the Longhorns didn't show much offensively or defensively, including not calling a single running play for Colt McCoy, who rushed for over 100 yards in the opener against Florida Atlantic last season. I can almost guarantee that Texas did not run a single play on offense or show a single look on defense that they didn't use extensively last season:
Last week we were pretty vanilla throughout the game on both sides of the ball, so you start adding a few more wrinkles in your second week. We handled the game well enough last week that we didn't need to do a lot of things, because the score was never really in question, we could really look at a lot of personnel issues that we were trying to determine. But we felt like, by in large, that we didn't have to use some things that we took into the game, that we might have needed if the game had been closer.
Despite some of the slightly less than ideal aspects of the game, including McCoy's interception, McGee's fumbles and several long plays broken off by the WarHawks, the fact that the Longhorns didn't have to use the more elaborate or new wrinkles in the offensive or defensive game plans is heartening. It's also exciting to know that the game in Laramie this weekend might reveal some new looks for the offense and defense. Of greatest interest might be any new wrinkles put in this week for D.J. Monroe or even anything the Texas coaches didn't show last weekend. Keep your eyes peeled.
Newton may see more action. One of the bright spots in the running game last Saturday was the play of redshirt freshman running back Tre' Newton, who picked up 28 yards on four carries. As Mack Brown mentioned on Monday, the yardage came when the game was well out of reach, but "cuts are cuts." This week, Brown says that Newton may get more carries:
We're working Tre Newton a lot this week to see how he can do because we feel like he's earned the right. He didn't get chances when the game was on the line the other night, so we'll continue to look at him.
Any early carries for Newton could come at the expense of Cody Johnson, who looked extremely ordinary last week away from the goalline. Until he gets himself into top physical condition, that may continue to be the case and Newton may be the beneficiary. Since Fragile Fozzy apparently can't be counted on to stay healthy, Newton has the best chance of taking over the role of third-down back extraordinaire made famous last season by the departed OG. Determining that Newton can fill that role could be the biggest boon to the Texas offense this season short of going back in a time machine and keeping Blaine Irby from being injured against Rice or D.J. Grant during fall practice.
Hands man. Dan Buckner didn't make it onto the field before Malcolm Wiliams against Lousiana-Monroe just by default. Some of the catches that he made in fall practice are achieving almost legendary status now among the Texas coaching staff. Mack Brown detailed one such instance this week:
Dan's hands are about as good as anybody's we've had at that position. He made two circus catches yesterday that we were talking about at video last night that just amazed us. In fact, I saw him standing in practice yesterday and someone threw him a ball and he reached up with his left hand and caught it one handed. So he's a guy that can really catch, and we're just so excited about his mismatches inside with linebackers and safeties with his height.
If Buckner can transfer those skills into the game and continue to build trust with Colt McCoy, he could be key against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl because the Sooners looked extremely vulnerable again down the seam against BYU. Given Brent Venables' inability to adjust and Ryan Reynold's surgically repaired knees, Buckner's receiving numbers in Dallas could far exceed the five catches for 62 yards he put up in his first game at the flext tight end position.
This discussion could create nausea. Texas coaches love talking about how much running backs need to pick up the blitz. In fact, it's almost becoming nauseating at this point to mention it. Truthfully, though, there is a real reason for it other than gratuitous nitpicking by the coaches -- Colt McCoy is by far the most valuable member of this football team and opponents last season loved to blitz him. Mack Brown explains why:
Last year was amazing that we kept thinking people would play us in zone and we got blitzed more than we've ever been blitzed and Colt just ripped it every week and we kept wondering why people kept blitzing, but it was really helpful for us because as the year progressed, we kept getting blitzed from our own conference and he handled it so well. Some of the teams that we've played that we won't play anymore, we asked them and they said that he's so accurate that they do not think that you can stand up with zone against him so they have to pressure him, they have to get him to move and even though there's a danger of him beating man coverage like he does and his ability to run, they didn't feel like they could blitz Vince [Young] because he could run and beat them, they think Colt will do the same thing with his accuracy against the zone, so that's why people have told us they blitz more.
Though the WarHawks blitzed much less than expected given Rocky Long's predilections at his previous job, there's little doubt that teams will continue to bring the blitz throughout much of the season against Texas. Therefore, picking up the blitz becomes imperative both along the offensive line, but also in the offensive backfield. It's why D.J. Monroe will always be limited as a running back. It's why Vondrell McGee sat against Ohio State. And it's why Tre' Newton has a great chance to break into the rotation at running back. Keeping McCoy's jersey clean is important business.
Lack of sacks explanation, redux. As mentioned yesterday, the lack of sacks against ULM came as no real surprise to the coaching staff after breaking down the strategies the WarHawks used to avoid those costly sacks. On Wednesday, Mack Brown expounded further about the lack of sacks:
They ran option, which we didn't think they would do with a 6-5 quarterback, so they pulled that on us. They ran their wildcat formation where they put their receiver in, we thought they would do that, but that option makes it tougher for you too, and then they had a lot of movement. They weren't going to let us get sacks. We had two sacks we missed that we should have gotten that we lost contain, but it was not a night where you're going to get a bunch of sacks, and at the end of the game, they were far enough out of the game that they weren't going to think they could win the game and try to throw it every time, so they were trying to move the ball and run it a little bit here and do quick passes, so we weren't concerned that we didn't get sacks. It's not a game where they were going to let you get any.
Brown also mentioned that Sergio Kindle didn't play a lot on Saturday, while Sam Acho noted that ULM slid their protection in Kindle's direction to slow him down, which allowed Acho some opportunities upon which he wasn't always able to capitalize. As the season goes on and teams expend their offensive resources to deal with Kindle, expect Sam Acho, Emmanuel Acho, and Alex Okafor to have plenty of opportunities to get to the quarterback, starting with Wyoming this weekend.