Texas started off their season on the right note, blowing out ULM 52-10. What was your biggest takeaway following the win?
Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) - For me, it was Quinn Ewers’ adjustment. After going 0-2 and tossing a pick on his first drive, he settled in, completing 16 of his next 22 attempts. More so, it was the kind of passes he was completing – third and fourth down conversions, and taking his check-downs when needed instead of forcing the issue. The raw arm talent is what can make Ewers great, but the willingness to quickly adjust and take what’s there is what will win games.
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - How good the defensive line looked. Yeah, I know it was against ULM and blah, blah, blah, but last year’s defensive line would’ve got worked by ULM somehow. We’ll learn a lot more against Alabama, but I feel a lot more confident in PK’s front line after Week 1.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - Seeing how active DeMarvion Overshown was on the defensive side of the ball, which seemingly improved the rest of the defense was one of my biggest takeaways. His ability to play in multiple positions allows guys like Barryn Sorrell and Byron Murphy to also flash along the defensive line. I know it was ULM and Alabama is essentially playing a different sport than ULM, but the defense has not looked that fast or physical in a very long time.
Daniel Seahorn (@) - Seeing the team coming out and playing with high energy from the opening kick was great to see. No sleepwalking or looking past an opponent with Alabama coming in the next week. They came out early and applied pressure to the neck of ULM and never let them get into the flow of the game. This allowed the coaches to empty the benches early and get young pups meaningful reps under the lights in front of a big crowd. Those snaps will pay dividends down the road.
On top of that, coming out of the game healthy and ready to go for week two was something noteworthy to me.
How concerned are you with the special teams unit?
Cody - I’m mostly not. Texas will probably lose a game this year because of a missed field goal or shanked punt, but it might also win one because of a blocked punt or return for a touchdown. Call it Texas’ law of averages this year.
Cameron - I don’t know what the hell was going on with Isaac Pearson but hopefully he settles down after botching the snap on a field goal and punt. I’m expecting Sark to be more aggressive on 4th downs but special teams will hurt Texas this Saturday against Alabama at least once.
Gerald - I honestly am pretty concerned, but I really put a high price on special teams personally. Obviously, the punt block was a big deal, but that return unit scares me a bit with Xavier Worthy back there. He is a supremely-talented athlete, but I don’t honestly love the way he approaches the position, at least based on what we saw against ULM. Granted, some of that may be because he knows that nobody on the ULM punt coverage team can hold a candle to his athleticism, but that’s going to change on Saturday. I also am very concerned about kickoffs and extra points. I may be wrong, but there wasn’t a single kickoff that made it to the end zone, which against Alabama is a recipe for one going the other way for six. Obviously seeing Pearson fumble both a punt snap and a hold is concerning, so hopefully, Jeff Banks remedied that this week.
Daniel - I’m concerned about the field-goal kicking operation for sure if they can’t get a guy who can consistently field a snap and get the ball down cleanly. On top of that, the same guy is dropping snaps on punts and you can take it to the bank Nick Saban is sending his hounds after him early and often to apply pressure.
I’m sure Jeff Banks was extremely busy starting on Sunday addressing these issues and if they don’t get sorted out in short order it will end up costing Texas a game at some point this year.
Sark said on Monday that this game won’t define the season and that he finished the gameplan for Alabama three months ago. Do you agree with how he and the Longhorns are approaching Saturday’s game?
Cody - In the sense of Texas’ big-picture goals, he’s right. Texas could miraculously upset Alabama, regress to the mean, and end up 5-4 in league play, and there will be a feeling of disappointment around the season. Texas could lose, and in an ideal world, win the Big 12 and end up in the CFP. Saturday won’t define the season, but it could have an impact on how the rest of it plays out.
Cameron - Yes. If Sark were to say this game is going to be the most important game of the season and the Longhorns lose by 50, then that will kill the players' confidence going forward. Sark is trying to build the narrative that all the pressure is on Alabama this week and it is. Alabama is competing for the CFB Playoff and a loss hurts their resume. Texas is trying to get back to the Big 12 Championship and a win or a loss doesn’t impact that.
Gerald - Coming off of a 5-7 season, that is definitely a fair expectation, especially given that this is an Alabama team that played for a national championship and decided that wasn’t good enough, so they went and added a bunch of guys from the portal. I want Texas to win this game with every fiber of my being, but this game is the definition of found money as far as I am concerned. I’m not a moral victory guy, but when everyone expects you to get boat raced, any other result is a win from a perception standpoint, which is big when you have that many high-priority recruits in-house on Saturday. Getting Texas to the Big 12 title game after whatever the heck we saw a year ago is a resounding success in my book.
Daniel - I like the approach. Them preparing that far off means they have logged some serious man hours into their opponent and they will have a firm grasp on what they do in all phases of the game. Shouldn’t be any surprises. I agree with Sark that this game shouldn’t define this season. I think any reasonable person who follows the sport knows that the two programs are in two very different places right now and one outcome is expected by just about everyone. Not saying that I expect Texas to go out and lay down for their opponent, but I’m being realistic based on how the teams match up on paper.
Whichever way things go on Saturday, I think if Texas competes hard from opening kick until triple zeroes are on the clock and come out of this game healthy it’s a win in my book.
Texas beats Alabama if…
Cody - The Tide forget to show up? I don’t see a scenario where Texas wins, but for that to happen, they’d need to win the turnover battle by at least two, Bijan would need to be vintage Bijan, and just as the line would need to protect Ewers near perfectly, the defensive line will need to create plenty of chaos and make Bryce Young’s life miserable. All of that and it would still be a toss up.
Cameron - The Alabama team bus gets towed by UT Parking and Transportation? In all seriousness, win the turnover battle and play aggressively from the kick-off.
Gerald - Texas shortens the game by feeding the running backs early and often and catches a special teams break or two.
Daniel - They play the perfect game and Quinn Ewers officially arrives on the college football national stage.
What is your prediction for Saturday’s game against Alabama?
Cody - I think we’ll see an enthusiastic Texas team compete early, and maybe even lead after a quarter, but I think Alabama takes control after the break. 44-20, Alabama.
Cameron - Alabama 48, Texas 24
Gerald - Fan Gerald: Texas by 100. Objective Gerald: I think it’s a crock pot game. Texas is within 10 points or so for a big chunk of the game, but Alabama has too many horses and pulls away late, 42-21
Daniel - Alabama has too many horses and possesses a lot of vets that have CFB playoff experience. I have the Tide taking the W 45-24.