As a reminder, I’m posting one thought per day in a series of 15 posts over the course of 15 days until we get to game day.
With six days left until kickoff, this is the tenth post of the series.
If you missed the other posts, the links are below
- The quarterbacks will pass for just over 2,800 yards, at least 25 touchdowns, and throw fewer than 15 interceptions.
Last season, the combination of Swoopes and Heard passed for a total of 1,751 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Given the nature of this new scheme, all of those totals will probably increase to some degree.
If Texas passes for more than 3,000 yards, things will have panned out pretty well on offense. I’m sticking with 2,800 for now. Adding just over an additional 1,000 yards is still big improvement.
Eclipsing 25 passing touchdowns will mean Texas averages just over two touchdowns per game over the course of 12 regular season games. To get a scoring average of over 30 points per game (an average I feel Texas needs to surpass, even if it’s just by a few points), the offense will need more touchdowns through the air this season. In Sterlin Gilbert (and the group of electric wide receivers) I trust.
2. Tyrone Swoopes will take the first snap against Notre Dame.
We don’t know who will start at quarterback. And at today’s press conference, Strong said the fans and media won’t know until the starter actually runs out on the field against Notre Dame.
What we do know is this... Both quarterbacks have reportedly had their ups and downs this offseason. And as recent as a week or so ago, rumblings that there was a serious chance Swoopes would start began to get traction.
Strong is also a conservative guy. And yes, Sterlin Gilbert will absolutely have a say in this decision. But for this game, against this opponent, I’m leaning to Swoopes taking the first snap.
Strong is also all about giving guys redemption and a chance to better themselves. After the poor performance against Notre Dame last season, combined with Swoopes reportedly holding his own in practice, my gut is telling me Swoopes will be the guy.
We’ll know if I’m right or wrong next Sunday.
3. No Texas running back will rush for over 1,000 yards this season (and that’s OK).
Don’t get me wrong, the running backs will be dominant. And Texas will lean on these guys at times to win games when the match-up call for it. But given that Texas has four guys that could all see a fair share of carries (D’Onta Foreman, Chris Warren, Kirk Johnson, and Kyle Porter) it will be tough for Texas to feature one guy enough unless injuries play a factor.
At the end of the day, as long as the group gets the job done as a unit, it really doesn’t matter whether or not Texas has a 1,000 yard rusher. If it happens, it probably either means the run game couldn’t be stopped or there was a serious injury to either Foreman or Warren.
4. Texas will enter conference play with a winning record.
Between Notre Dame, UTEP and California, I’m picking Texas to go 2-1 in September during it’s non-conference schedule.
Notre Dame will be the toughest game. Texas should almost certainly beat UTEP. And Cal is a winnable game I predicted Texas taking on the road when I predicted an 8-4 season.
3-0 is the goal, but 2-1 is doable. And going into conference play with a winning reecord looks much different than 1-2.
5. Texas will beat one of the two teams from Oklahoma.
My preseason upset call is Oklahoma State. It won’t be easy, especially considering Texas will travel to Stillwater. But fortunately, the ‘Horns have a bye week before that game. And Oklahoma State will be traveling back from a game in Waco against Baylor the week before.
I’m also not sold this Oklahoma State team will have as good of a record as it did last season. Maybe they’ll put up a similar fight to what Texas experienced in this game in Austin last year. Even if that’s the case, though, I’ll bank that Texas’ own improvements are enough to steal this one.
If I’m wrong, I still like the ‘Horns chances at another upset against Oklahoma. Strong has had this team ready for the Sooners each season, losing a close one his first year at Texas followed by upending Oklahoma last season.
6. The defense will rank no lower than 4th against the pass among Big 12 teams in 2016.
Only Oklahoma and TCU ranked better than Texas did last season when it came to defending the pass from a yardage stand point. Considering the ‘Horns saw the fewest passes attempted against them (382 to 437 for Oklahoma and 442 for TCU), the sample size will likely increase this season.
Even with an increase, though, I’ll take Texas to still be one of the better units defending against the pass in 2016.
When you look at who Texas has in its secondary and combine that with the pressure the defense could bring up front to opposing quarterbacks, this group really has a chance to be a frustrating unit for any many teams around the conference.
7. Texas will win at least two games thanks to a big special teams play in the fourth quarter.
One of the Achilles heels early on last season will instead help Texas win games this season.
The addition of kicker Trent Domingue from LSU gives Texas stability when field goals are needed. And whether it’s a big time return or a blocked kick/punt, the special teams unit should make more plays this season than it did last year.
8. Texas will win whatever bowl game it makes it to.
I’m not sure exactly how many wins Texas will notch this season and I obviously have no clue what bowl game Texas will get to or who the opponent will be. But if I’m predicting eight wins, that of course means Texas becomes bowl eligble. Even if I’m wrong about the wins total, six wins is all that’s needed to get into a bowl game.
And considering that this team didn’t play in a bowl last season and was embarrassed in a bowl game the season before, it will be hungry for a bowl game win when given the opportunity.
9. Texas will end the season with at least six players on the All-Big 12 team.
The preseason All-Big 12 team listed four Longhorns. On defense, Malik Jefferson and Davante Davis. On offense, Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe.
Whether both are on defense, both are on offense, or each is from a different side of the ball, two more players will make the list.
10. Before the 2017 season begins, Texas will be ranked in the top-25 in the preseason polls.
Texas will play well enough this season to get the votes needed to start somewhere in the 20-25 range in the preseason polls before the 2017 season kicks off.
I may be feeling a little too optimistic today. I think I’m just excited for football.