I'm still not changing my stance. I don't think we will know where this Texas team is until we play Oklahoma. That is to say, we could have beaten Alabama by 20 or lost by 40 and still go 10-2 or 2-10. However, One of the things I did say in one of my past analyses, is that we wouldn't know much about Texas until OU. I do believe I'll have to reverse that one. All three of our games to date have actually shown us a lot more about this Texas team than I had originally imagined. After all, we beat 2 teams we should beat by covering the spread both times and secondly, by pushing the former number one team in the country to the brink.
What we've learned about this Texas team is that they are building a culture that is team oriented, tougher, faster and hungry. Sure, they're still young, will make mistakes and probably lose some games along the way this year. But I've already seen enough so far to believe the corner has been turned. Is Texas back? No! I've discussed too often what needs to happen before we're back happens for me. But I do think that first major corner is turned.
Take last Saturday for example. Believe it or not, UTSA is a scrappy team. They won 12 games and their conference last year, have a great coach in Jeff Traylor, and were returning all of their Jr and Sr starters. While Texas should be the more talented team, UTSA has the players and coaching to trap a team like Texas and they tried in the first half. But that's exactly what needed to happen.
Texas left EVERYTHING on the field after the Alabama game. Including their starting quarterback. Yet they didn't fold. Unlike Texas teams of the past, this year's team, has not only played up to their competition, which we hope to see, but they also haven't played down to their competition either. Something new and exciting. UTSA gave them everything they had. They punched Texas in the mouth during the first half and yet, there was a moment in the 3rd quarter where it was obvious Texas was going to win the game. The score didn't give that confidence. But you could just see UTSA run out of steam and Texas was slowly, methodically, gaining momentum.
Unlike Texas teams of the past, this Texas team found a way to not only fight back and win, but pull away and make the score look like it should when Texas plays a non power 5 opponent. Defenders were swarming the ball. Players were sprinting 30 yards downfield to block for their fellow teammates who scored. And yes, even in the Bama game, players started pushing and shoving, standing up for their quarterback when he was knocked around or fouled hard. Coach K has met his goal of holding ever team we've played to 20 points or less so far, and the offense has done it's job with a hobbled 2nd string quarterback. Give Card his props. He's earned them.
I'm not sure what it is, but our offensive linemen must be doing something right to draw all of those off sides penalties. Defenders must know they're not getting any push at all and are jumping to get an advantage. Even Bama's best D guy had, what 2 or 3 off sides penalties? Texas has minimized the penalties, started to address kicking issues and, above all, is finally making the kind of halftime adjustments that make sense and win games. On both sides of the ball!
You gotta love it!
Texas is growing with very young players right before our eyes. Is there still work to do? For sure. We've struggled to hit the deep ball with any consistency yet. the run game finally broke out in the 2nd half against UTSA but has been less than expected through 3 games and Xavior Worthy hasn't quite lived up to his potential this season. (Granted, I think it's a combination of double teams and Card's abilities). But so many things look like they are improved and continue so to do!
Texas Tech is a classic trap game for Texas for so many reasons. First, TTU is looking for one last win before Texas (likely) heads to the SEC and ends the "rivalry" once and for all. Second, Tech is difficult to play in Lubbock and last week, Tech almost beat a #15 (or so) team while throwing 4 interceptions, including a pick six or two. Texas is not yet a #15 team or so and should TTU clean up their mistakes, they have a high powered offense. Recruiting is up in Lubbock after the new coaching staff arrived and there are ample reasons for Tech fans to be excited for their future.
I am expecting Ewers to play on Saturday and believe that will be the difference in this game (one way or the other). If Texas is going to win, we'll need a heavy dose of the Texas run game to keep the TTU receivers out of the end-zone. Tech's defense is 28th over all and makes most of that up with a run defense that ranks 17th in the country. Tech has something cooking in Lubbock and they'll be on their home turf when the whistle blows on Saturday.
I still like Texas in this game. Nothing has shown me yet that we don't have what it takes mentally or physically. I like Texas 35-28 in this one. Hook 'Em!