The incomparable Barking Carnival has agreed to share a Q and A with us leading up to this weekend's festivities. Hey, did you know that Ole Miss plays Texas this weekend? Apparently it's a big deal or something. Our answers to their questions are over there; there answers to our questions are below.
To begin, compare your quarterback play from last season to this year. It seems that Ash has really come into his own. Is he doing something differently, or is it more of a product of the defenses he's facing so far?
Although the defenses he has faced have been weak, he has shown some attributes that are projectable to better competition. I credit his improvement to the natural growth you'd expect from a true freshman QB who was thrown into the fire last year with no supporting cast (all of our best skill players were injured and our OL play was spotty) to a sophomore who is now actually privy to an audible package. We know his floor is higher, now we're trying to figure out his ceiling. That's where Ole Miss comes in.
Do you think the ranking is deserved? I know that the Longhorns faltered last season, but I have to confess that I only watched one Texas game last year so I don't really know why that is. Is your passing offense really the only thing you needed to improve from last season to this one?
Rankings at this stage of the season are a Rorschach test. But everything had to improve. The 2011 team started true freshmen at QB, LT, RB, WR, and CB and we were breaking in a new offense, defense, and S&C coach. People nationally don't understand how bad it had gotten. Although we had talent on defense, our offensive recruiting and development program under the previous staff was a joke. Witness zero offensive draftees for Texas over the last two seasons. And we'll have none this year. Mind boggling, right? Given our injuries, 8-5 was a pretty solid coaching job after 2010's disgrace.
The most "consistent" aspect of our offense so far has been our ability to move the ball around in vastly different ways. It caught UTEP and Central Arkansas off guard. I do know that many other Big XII offenses use a similar style. How does Texas do at stopping misdirection plays and screens? Hopefully not well...
Misdirection, assignment confusion, and deception is the best way to attack our defense. Our LBs are young and Diaz's schemes have a potential for complexity that can lead to over-thinking that inhibits our ability to play fast. Freeze will see it on tape and know where to probe. However, if we can get Ole Miss into predictable down and distance situations, you're in a lot of trouble.
Give us an idea of the way Texas' program is built schematically on offense. What makes the ball move? I'm not really asking for a "[PLAYER 1] is good" type of answer here. What types of plays does the offense rely on to move the ball in crunch time?
Our base is a power rushing/play action attack out of multiple formations off of which we build misdirection, jet sweeps, and various constraint plays. Unbalanced lines, pre-snap motion - we're trying to create leverage at the point of the attack. All of our core concepts have constraint plays built into them to punish a defense for overplay, but execution is the rub. If you've ever watched Boise State, you've seen 97% of what we like to do. Amusingly, our OC Bryan Harsin actually had more talent at Boise State than he did at Texas last year. Wait, that's not amusing. I feel nauseous...
What's your prediction on the game? Give me a final score and how you think it gets that way.
Who knows? - but I'll go 27-17, Longhorns. We're young, but talented. I expect a lot of nerves, mistakes, and then a gradual assertion of what we do over time. We also tend to start slowly. I think Ole Miss can move the ball on us, but it's not clear to me how you make points out of it absent some inspired play calls. Thanks and good luck on Saturday! Hook 'em and Hoddy Toddy.