It's that time of year again. How is everyone doing? The SMO is here with a preseason edition to get you excited about everything burnt orange. Get pumped, because you might not see the SMO in these high of spirits again until basketball season tips off.
Quick reminder: The SMO does not deal in logic or reason. It is a knee-jerk reaction to Texas football filled with emotional breakdowns that would make the producers of E! reality television programs blush. I'm not here to talk Xs and Os with you, I'm here to celebrate/sulk.
Let's get started.
Very Optimistic - We don't play BYU this year
This is one of the toughest Texas schedules I've seen in a long time. It is so front-heavy that it wouldn't be that big of a surprise if the Longhorns strolled into the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 10 with a losing record. Look at these first five games leading into the Red River Rivalry/Showdown/Shootout:
Sep. 5 - at Notre Dame
Sep. 12 - Rice
Sep. 19 - California
Sep. 26 - Oklahoma State
Oct. 3 - TCU
Oct. 10 - OU
I mean, holy hell. Realistically, Texas, at best, finishes that stretch 3 - 3. It's the kind of schedule that gives Baylor coach Art Briles nightmares while he begs his AD to get a home-and-home with Wofford on the docket. It's one of the toughest opening schedules in college football this season.
But you know who I don't see on there? BYU.
I still routinely talk about BYU and quarterback Taysom Hill with my therapist. I have never seen a team so routinely curbstomp another team like I have with BYU and Texas. The Longhorns, in back-to-back years, made Hill look like a Heisman contender. BYU has the Longhorns' number, and I for one am so ecstatic to see them off the schedule that I don't even care if Notre Dame wipes the floor with us in the Cougars' place. At least I never have to see Taysom Hill again.
Somewhat Optimistic - Johnathan Gray
Gray seems poised for a breakout season. Texas hasn't had a running back rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since Jamaal Charles went for 1,619 yards in 2007. Malcolm Brown came the closest with 904 yards in 2013. Now that Brown is graduated and gone, it's Gray's turn to step up and take charge of an offense that is riddled with question marks.
Gray, who had one of the greatest careers in Texas high school football history at Aledo High, has had a good run at UT. He is no. 15 on the Longhorns' all-time rushing list. He has shown flashes of brilliance in his three years on campus, and has proven he can be the lead running back in UT's offense. Gray has had problems with his Achilles that stem back from the West Virginia game two years ago. He rushed for 780 yards in 2013, but that number dropped to 637 yards in 2014 -- due to an offensive line that was clearly unable to produce much at all. That OL should be improved this year, and if Gray takes advantage of this season, he could be a hot commodity come April.
Optimistic - The new game day atmosphere
As a recent UT grad (August 2015), I'm excited to capitalize on the Texas Exes Center before kickoff. DKR is a tough place to tailgate, and having a spot right next to the stadium will be highly utilized by this former student. Though UT will not allow fans to re-enter the stadium, they will set up a tunnel where fans can go to and from the Exes Center without penalty.
I'm a fan of alcohol at DKR, but I see legitimate reasons why people are concerned. Two years ago, I saw the benefits of having alcohol in a stadium when Texas played at West Virginia. Outside of the die-hard Mountaineers who were taking swigs of Moonshine during every break in the action, it didn't seem like alcohol was causing much of problem in Morgantown. It wasn't much different from buying beer at an NFL game. If you think being around alcohol will have a negative effect on the students, then you probably should take issue with college in general. My biggest concern with buying alcohol in DKR is the exorbitant price Texas AD Steve Patterson is going to force on me.
I've also been assured by a source inside the athletic department that we will not be dealing with JetPack guy again in 2015. This is, by far, the best news I have for Texas football fans at this stage of the season.
Optimistic - The new guys
Charlie Strong will have his first season with a batch of "his guys" in 2015, and I'm excited to see what they bring to the table. The highlight newbie is obviously linebacker Malik Jefferson -- the gem of the 2015 recruiting class. Jefferson has been on campus since January and bumped his weight up from 210 to 240. The five-star outside LB should fit nicely into defensive coordinator Vance Bedford's system.
The other guys I'm excited to watch? Ryan Newsome, the freshman WR speedster from Aledo, should have some opportunities early this season in the return game. Anthony Wheeler, another linebacker from Dallas, will be fun to watch as well. Big time DBs Holton Hill and Kris Boyd are new to town, but will hopefully usher in a new era of DBU -- alongside talented redshirt freshman corner John Bonney. Poona Ford, a Carolina guy, will be getting more reps at the DT spot. I'm pulling hard for Ford because I'm a homer for N.C. and S.C. Longhorns and I love the name 'Poona.'
Very Pessimistic - The two-QB system
Unless you attach Jerrod Heard to a specific offensive package, a two-quarterback system will surely be a massive disaster. Having the pressure of being the Texas quarterback is already tough enough, and the added stress of getting plucked for the other QB at any moment is absolutely going to lead to poor play from the QB position. Find me a team that has had a successful two-QB system and I will show you five teams that haven't.
If Heard hasn't captured the starting position yet, it would be ill-advised to throw him to the wolves week one at Notre Dame. It's time for Swoopes to step up -- and he has a big stage in South Bend to make something happen.
Here is to another season of Texas football. I will be trekking up to Notre Dame next week, so the SMO might be delayed a day.
I have a few friends at South Carolina who said they haven't felt more demoralized as college football fans than when A&M demolished the Gamecocks in last year's Thursday night season opener. They said there is no worse feeling than losing in Week One because it makes you feel like the season is already over. That's why, as the resident Texas optimist (except when I'm not), I am predicting a 31 - 27 Longhorns victory in Indiana next week.
I bet Touchdown Jesus will even flash a smile.