The last time the Longhorns played an SEC team in the regular season was 5 years ago in 2008 against Arkansas when Colt McCoy was nearly perfect in passing as he completed 17 of 19 attempts for 185 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. McCoy also led the team in rushing that day as he ran for 84 yards on 9 attempts and scored 2 additional touchdowns on the ground. After that day Mack signed Colt to a 10 year contract and locked up his QB position for the next decadeâ€¦ Well ok so that last sentence didnâ€™t happenâ€¦ But the Texas team that hit the field that afternoon in 2008 was built for and around itâ€™s QB. He was the focal point of the offense and with out him the team would crumble. This season the Longhornsâ€™ team is built much more like many teams in Ole Missâ€™s SEC conference. The focus of the offense is on the running game that Mack Brown has decided to shift to.
Once again here are some things Iâ€™ll be looking for during the game on Saturday night.
1) The battle of the quarterbacks: Bo Wallace was once thought to be headed to the Forty Acres to suit up in burnt orange rather than being the Longhorns opponent. Now the entire Longhorn Nation can see how Bo Wallace will stack up against Texasâ€™ own defense and how he looks compared to UTâ€™s starter David Ash. So far Wallace has passed for 438 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 1 interception in his first two games. Comparatively David Ash has thrown for 377 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. I personally think Wallace will struggle against the Longhornâ€™s defense. I know the defense has been shaky at times these first two weeks but I think they bring it on Saturday.
2) The Running Game: Last week the running backs for UT had a drop off in production after monster games the first week. If the Longhorns want to win this game against Ole Miss then the running game will need to be strong all night. On the other side of the ball Ole Miss deploys a committee style attack, much like the Horns. I liked the way the defensive tackles and linebackers have played so far but they will need to step up their game because there will be fresh legs coming into the game all night. Also Bo Wallace has shown he is a threat to run out of the pocket too, as he has 135 yards and 2 scores on the ground this season as well.
3) Anthony Fera is currently listed as â€œoutâ€ for the game Saturday. Ole Miss may be one of the weaker SEC teams but in an away game like this scoring points on every drive is very important so the special teams, specifically the kickers, will be something to monitor. So far both Nick Jordan and Nick Rose havenâ€™t done anything to show they are capable of hitting long, important field goals. Iâ€™m not saying they donâ€™t have the potentialâ€¦ But when on earth will Fera get healthy?
4) Defensive Ends: Stopping Bo Wallace will be one of the main focuses for the defense this week. The defensive ends need to show up and get him on the ground at least a few times on Saturday. Even if they canâ€™t get to him on many plays they should at least provide pressure to make him move around and feel uncomfortable in the pocket. I personally want to see more from Alex Okafor.
5) Get the ball to playmakers: After being big parts of the offense in the season opener last week Jaxon Shipley, Marquis Goodwin, and D.J. Monroe combined for 6 touchesâ€¦ Are you kidding me? Come on Harsin. I know you are more creative than that. Thereâ€™s no reason why any of those players should have less than 5 touches a game. Heck, Jaxon shouldnâ€™t have less than 10!
Itâ€™s going to be a fun game Saturday night for everyone. Ole Miss may not be the best team in the SEC but they are still an SEC team and will be fired up to have the Longhorns in town. And you know that excitement will be there on the field for Ole Miss and in the stands throughout the crowdâ€¦ And outside the stadium at the Grove. I think Iâ€™ve heard more talk about how crazy and fun the Grove will be than about the game on Saturday.
Prediction: Honestly itâ€™s a bit hard to project how exactly the game will go because of the limited action that Bo Wallace has had and the fact that the Rebels are playing under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. But I think the game will remain relatively close in the first half, and then I see the Longhorns taking control of the game in the second half. Ole Miss does have talent on both sides of the ball but the Longhorns team will still be too much to handle in the end.
Score: Texas 27, Ole Miss 13
What will you be watching for?