High quality prognostication from the staff at Inside Texas.
1) Texas vs BYU predictions:
Eric Nahlin – BYU 20, Texas 17. Texas plays a solid team game but just doesn’t have enough fire power. Three and outs tilt field position in the Cougars’ favor and they do enough against a strong Texas defense to leave Austin with the win.
Justin Wells– BYU 23, Texas 10. It’s hard to ask an inexperienced QB to beat a good BYU squad in his first start. It’s even harder with a make-shift OL. Play-action will be the death of UT.
Jesus Shuttlesworth– BYU 17, Texas 14.
Ian Boyd– BYU 28, Texas 13. Inexperienced QB play gifts the Cougars easy opportunities on offense that allow them to put Texas away despite a great defensive performance from the Longhorns.
Mike Blackwell– BYU 21, Texas 14. I simply believe that losing your starting quarterback – and starting center – is too much of a burden to overcome against an accomplished football team. I think also that BYU will obviously provide MUCH more offense than North Texas.
Bill Frisbie – BYU 23, Texas 16. BYU returns four suspended starters from an impressive debut; Texas loses four starters from a pedestrian (albeit spirited) season-opener. I had this one in the ‘W’ column before Blue Monday, and hope that an markedly improved defense can carry the day. Charlie Strong’s latest purge may result in addition-by-subtraction, but the stunning attrition this week probably purged Texas of a win Saturday.
Michael Pearle– Texas 20, BYU 17. If the Horns fall to the Coogs for the second year running, I will not be surprised in the least. With a patchwork offensive line and a green quarterback, it is difficult to envision a scenario where the Texas offense racks up many points. BYU gets talented running back Jamaal Williams back, and we all know what QB Taysom Hill can do. But the Horn defense, playing with belief after last weeks stomping of UNT, and with a motivation only an embarrassment likes last year’s game can provide, should make yards extremely hard to come by for Hill & Co. Would it be too much to ask for DKR to get as loud and rowdy as the 1990 Houston game? Yeah, probably. But UT will need the fans’ help in this game, and I can’t imagine a much better scenario than this to get 100,000 people up screamin’ and stompin’ for 60 minutes. It needs to be loud and hostile Saturday. Make it happen Longhorn Nation.
Clendon Ross– Texas 23, BYU 21. Ok, so this may not be the most rational prediction given the events of the last few days, but I just have a feeling the Horns are going to figure out a way to pull this one out. I’m not exactly sure where the points are going to come from but, for this week at least, I’m putting some faith in Shawn Watson to put Tyrone Swoopes in position to succeed against a defense that won’t know what to expect. I suspect that’ll be getting the football out of Swoopes’ hands quickly or keeping the ball in his hands for designed runs. The defense will need to come up big, of course, but I’m cautiously optimistic that the performance we saw last week vs. North Texas is a sign of a D capable of successfully putting the fate of the team on its back.
2) Swoopes starts, does Heard play/how much?
Eric Nahlin– No. They’re going to attempt to build Swoopes’ confidence and bringing in Heard doesn’t help to that. They won’t burn Heard’s redshirt unless they’re convinced he provides Texas a better option than Tyrone, imo.
Justin Wells– Texas OC Shawn Watson says Heard won’t play. I find that hard to believe if Swoopes causes three turnovers in the 1st half.
Jesus Shuttlesworth– Yes, if Swoopes get hurts.
Ian Boyd– Heard gets some surprise action in a running package as the coaches work to get him integrated ala David Ash early in 2011.
Mike Blackwell– Swoopes starts, and plays the entire game.
Bill Frisbie– I am taking Shawn Watson at his word that Jerrod Heard will not play this week.
Michael Pearle– Heard does not play. My sense is they will play Jerrod only if they absolutely have to, which means that Swoopes takes a ding and has to come out. Tyrone will be allowed to make mistakes without the fear of being yanked. If his performance is becoming disastrous, which is unlikely, then maybe Heard gets in for a series or two to allow Swoopes to settle down.
Clendon Ross– Heard does not play unless Swoopes gets hurt. This is Swoopes’ team.
3) Does Texas hold BYU rushing under 250 yards?
Eric Nahlin– Easily. Texas holds them to half of that.
Justin Wells– I believe so. Just being aligned properly and maintaining gap control will help immensely.
Jesus Shuttlesworth– Yes.
Ian Boyd– Oh, yeah.
Mike Blackwell– Yes, but I think BYU will gain 150.
Bill Frisbie– Vance Bedford has lit a fuse in his defense and has them playing more fundamentally sound than we’ve seen in years. Texas holds BYU to less than 250 rushing yards.
Michael Pearle– Yes.
Clendon Ross– Yes, BYU doesn’t crack 250 (the Cougars had 205 vs. UConn last week). I’m more concerned that BYU will have success through the air against a Texas D geared to stop the run.
4) Which defensive player is the most important for Texas?
Eric Nahlin– Steve Edmond will need to have a career game vs. the run and pass. I fear BYU having success with the QB draw and after Hill gets past the interior d-line, he’s all Edmond’s.
Justin Wells- Mykkele Thompson is once again the most important guy. He’ll have to be ready for play-action, and he’s the last line of defense on big plays. Mikey was great versus UNT. He’ll have to duplicate that effort.
Jesus Shuttlesworth– Malcom Brown.
Ian Boyd– Texas needs a big game from Mykkele Thompson making tackles in the open field and providing the run support Texas was missing from the DBs in 2013.
Mike Blackwell– Cedric Reed must contain from his defensive end position to avoid the disaster that happened last season in Provo.
Bill Frisbie– It starts with containing/disrupting QB Taysom Hill, and that starts with DE Cedric Reed.
Michael Pearle– Jordan Hicks. The senior LB was a heat-seeking missile last week. He will need to have another great game to keep Hill and Williams from running wild again.
Clendon Ross– Jordan Hicks, although that was tough pick. The DEs, the safeties, heck, the whole defense needs to play great fundamental, assignment football for Texas to slow Taysom Hill and Co.
5) Best/worst case scenario for Texas on Saturday?
Eric Nahlin- Best Case: Filthy, shutdown defense will need to be on display to even have a chance. UT will also likely need to house a kick. There are clear speed advantages for Texas so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Swoopes shows surprising command of the offense and takes advantage of Watson’s perfectly suited game plan. Worst Case: Texas defense gives up some early points putting the offense already starting behind the 8-ball in more dire straights. The offense struggles to get anything going. In this scenario this game would be easily winnable from the visiting Cougars.
Justin Wells– Best case; Texas runs the ball effectively and the defense scores points. Worst case; Swoopes is overwhelmed, turns the ball over, BYU uses play-action to kill the inexperienced Texas safeties, Hall and Haines.
Jesus Shuttlesworth– Best case; Texas gets points off turnovers and special teams, Swoopes plays within himself. Worst case; Swoopes craps the bed and the boo-birds come out in full force.
Ian Boyd– Best case: Defense dominates and creates opportunities for the offense, Swoopes takes care of the ball and flashes on the ground and in the air, Texas controls the game from start to finish. Worst case: Texas is over eager on defense and victimized by BYU’s option game, Swoopes panics and Watson calls too many passing plays, the Texas offense turns the ball over repeatedly, Swoopes’ confidence nose dives and Texas is blown out in front of a horrified fan base.
Mike Blackwell– Best case scenario: Tyrone Swoopes proves to be a capable passer while the Texas running game produces 200 yards on the ground. Worst case scenario: UT discovers that its defense is not nearly as good as previously thought in a two-touchdown loss. Few expect the UT offense to be lights-out, but if the North Texas game was an aberration in terms of how the UT defense played, then the Longhorns are certainly in for a very long, long season.
Bill Frisbie– Best case scenario is that Tyrone Swoopes channels his inner James Brown on the 20th anniversary season of the former QB’s smashing debut against Oklahoma. Worst case scenario is Strong suspends the entire offensive line just before kickoff and the team loses faith in his tough-love approach. Otherwise, worst case would be another injury at QB that would leave walk-on Skip Holtz one heartbeat away from the starting lineup.
Michael Pearle– Best case: Tyrone Swoopes gets in a groove and consistently hits both short passes and a couple of long, defense-stretching bombs, and adds a dimension to the Brown/Gray ground attack, while the defense avenges last year’s game by playing tough and disciplined. Worst case: The OL leaves Swoopes under constant pressure, making him a turnover machine and giving the Cougars some easy scores or short fields, turning the game into a rout. If the Horns manage to pull this game out under the circumstances, we will know we have a coaching staff in Austin.
Clendon Ross– Best case is Swoopes keeps the BYU defense off balance with his running and occasional deep passing and the Texas D, like last week, keeps everything in front of them and stiffens the closer the Cougars get to the goal line, leading to a three TD Longhorn win. Worst case is Swoopes and the Texas offense is incapable of moving the ball and Hill’s dual threat ability allows for big runs and big passes against the Texas D, leading to a three-plus TD win for BYU.