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Texas vs. Rice Roundtable: One thing we’re watching and score predictions

It’s almost game time, baby...

TCU v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Week 1 has arrived and we finally get to watch the Texas Longhorns play actual football instead of just talking about it. But before we get to see action on the gridiron, we’re going to talk some more. What is one thing you are going to be watching closely in tomorrow’s game against the Rice Owls?

Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - Overall execution on both sides of the ball. I want to see how sharp and crisp this team looks coming out of the gate with the Alabama game firmly on the horizon. I want to see how focused and hungry they look knowing that they will have a giant target on their backs this year. This is a game where we should the an evident talent difference between the two sides and get a chance to see plenty of young faces log snaps.

Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - If you’ve read one of these from me before, you won’t be surprised that I am going to be watching the interior of the offensive line. Looking at the advanced stats from last year, Texas was one of the best teams in the country as far as hitting their blocking assignments, but it was hard to tell sometimes with the amount of traffic the RBs had to deal with behind the line of scrimmage a year ago. With the importance of the inside zone to Sark’s offensive scheme and philosophy, Texas needs to improve that sooner rather than later because Bijan and Roschon aren’t there to wallpaper over that issue.

Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - Sark. It felt like last season Sark would have a great half or three quarters but rarely a complete game. And by that I mean playcalling and offensive execution. We probably won’t learn a lot in week one, especially against Rice, but I’m curious to see how the offense looks without Bijan and Roschon.

Quinn Ewers will have one of the best receiving corps in recent memory around him this year but which one do you think will have a strong performance on Saturday?

Daniel - Part of me wants to say Worthy because I think he will cook some poor corner for a big play, but I’m going to say AD Mitchell. If he’s healthy, I think he’s going to absolutely feast with how this receiver rotation sets up.

Gerald - I think AD Mitchell is going to be your leader on Saturday because I wouldn’t be surprised if QE (and Sark) want to silence some of the criticism about deep balls from a year ago. Frankly, it’s a big reason why the marriage between Mitchell and Texas makes sense, he gets closer to his daughter and Texas adds a top-end guy to take the top off the defense.

Cameron - Worthy and JT will have the numbers but I think Adonai Mitchell is going to have a few “oh my god” moments. The Longhorns haven’t had someone like Mitchell since Collin Johnson/Lil’ Jordan Humphrey.

What is your biggest area of concern surrounding the Horns this year?

Daniel - Ability to get a pass rush from guys on the edge. Texas still lacks a true war daddy on the edge which can be a problem in passing situations. With that said I’m anticipating them getting very creative this year with their pressure packages, and my eyes will be locked in on guys like Anthony Hill early and often because the expectation is that he’s going to be out there a lot.

Gerald - I mentioned it before, but the interior of the OL is going to be the thing that always gives me heartburn. Texas has an awesome set of bookends in Christian Jones and Kelvin Banks, but I think the guards and center are going to be something to watch as Texas faces stiffer competition. DJ Campbell started to come on late last year and was already a plus run blocker, but seemed to get lost at times in pass pro. If he’s been able to shore that up and become a consistent presence then some of my worries may be soothed.

Cameron - Being able to close out games. We know the talent is there but can they be consistent for four quarters week in and week out? Texas dominated in most games from the jump but struggled in the 2nd half, finishing 2-5 in one score games. That record needs to be flipped if they want to win the Big 12 and contend on a national level. With a more experienced squad, you think they will but I’m curious to see how they play in tight games. In all likelihood, we won’t find out until Week 2 in Tuscaloosa.

Will Texas win their 16th straight game against the Rice Owls?

Daniel - This will be one where Sark is able to get plenty of youngsters some action prior to heading to Tuscaloosa. Texas 48 Rice 14

Gerald - If they don’t, then there are way bigger problems down in Austin. Vegas has Texas as a 35-point favorite, which seems like a ton regardless of the opponent, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 35-10 situation with most of that 10 coming during garbage time.

Cameron - Texas 52, Rice 10