Tuesday, September 25, 2007

View From The Cheap Seats: Rice

Well, this is the game that everyone was waiting to see out of Texas. Granted, it came against maybe one of the 5 worst teams in college football, but a blowout is still nice to see. Not much on the negative side from this one, but I will take a look at the positives from the offense and defense.

The Offense-

What a huge difference throwing the ball down field makes for the Texas offense. The whole offense just seemed to have a different attitude. They were going for the jugular on every play. Rice would turn it over, and the first play of the series Texas would go deep to Sweed for a big play. The deep ball to Sweed is something Horn fans have been waiting for all year. The Texas receivers are their biggest asset and you finally got to see why on Saturday.

Not only does going deep open up the passing game, but the running game also seemed to benefit from the open offense. Charles averaged 5 yards a carry, had larger holes and didn't seem to be meeting a bevy of tacklers in the backfield and on the line of scrimmage.

But the biggest news on the offensive side was the debut of John Chiles as the back up QB. Mack had not had a chance to get him in this season, since Texas has played three close games. The energy from the crowd was great as Chiles came in for his first series. Of course it may have been the fact that something interesting was finally happening in the blowout, but people seemed generally excited to see Chiles. I think Texas fans just miss quarterback controversies.

But Chiles, along with Vondrell McGee did not disappoint. Even though Chiles only threw one pass (that was dropped) he and McGee ripped up the tired Rice defense on the ground. The tandem seemed unstoppable. In a quarter and a half they racked up a combined 150 yards rushing and a TD from McGee. The last few possessions were runs up the middle and Sherrod Harris actually took a few snaps in the last series.

Lets just hope that Chiles and McGee will see some quality time against K State, as their services may be needed against OU and their powerful defense.

The Defense-

The one thing that was painfully obvious in this game was the superior play of the back-up linebacking corp to the three starters. When Jared Norton, Roderick Muckleroy and Sergio Kindle are in the game, the play is faster and more aggressive. They just seem to make plays and are in the right spot, making tackles and pressuring the QB. The play looks slower and less enthusiastic when Derry, Killebrew and Bobino are manning the middle of the field.

The difference in productivity was reflected in the playing time. The younger unit saw much of the game time (even before the blowout) while the more experienced backers were left watching and seeing less time. While I appreciate all that Bobino an crew have done for the Texas defense, it is really time to see the better of the linebackers step forward as the key players on this defense. The linebacking play has the been the weakest part of the defense for better than a season now. Akina and MacDuff can fix a lot of their defensive struggles by getting the young players in early and often for the rest of the year.

Youth was the name of the game on defense in general. At one point in the 4th quarter there were 11 freshman and redshirt freshman on defense for Texas.

The secondary had a strong game as well. Its not like Rice has every thrown the ball well, but the Horns contained Jarred Dillard and Rice all evening (they gave up a few yards in mop up time). While the secondary has struggled, they have not been the total liability some were predicting this year. They came away with 2 more interceptions and did a good job for most of the night.

Up Next: Kansas State Wildcats

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