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Monday, October 16, 2006

Texas Preview

Enrollment: 50,000
Conference: Big 12
Stadium: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 85,123)
First Year of Football: 1893
All Time Record: 786-312-35 (.709)

Head Coach: Mack Brown
9th year as head coach at Texas: Career record at Texas 89-20

Team Overview

Last Season: The Longhorns rode the magic that was Vince Young to its first National Championship in 35 years.

This Season: Texas has a ton of talent surrounding an inexperienced quarterback. The defense is loaded with playmakers, but has also looked vulnerable at times. Currently, the Longhorns are 6-1 on the year and are ranked 9th in the first BCS poll.

On Offense: The Longhorns are currently 27th nationally in total offense and average 393.7 yards/game. Despite its success, the Texas offense still seems to be searching for its identity. I never would have guessed UT would throw for six TDs against Baylor, or that their RBs would barely combine for 100 yards rushing against the Bears. Obviously the biggest task facing UT has been replacing Vince Young. The job of filling Young’s shoes has fallen to Ryan Perrilloux, wait, I mean, Johnny Moxon, check that, Colt McCoy. Thus far, McCoy is putting up some pretty amazing numbers. On the year he has completed 68% of his passes for 1,229 yards, with 18 TDs and 3 INTs. Those numbers place him 5th nationally in QB rating, ahead of both Troy Smith and Zac Taylor.

At running back Texas relies on the talented duo of Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles. Young has pretty good size and seems to be the Horns’ all-purpose back this year. He currently averages just over 58 yards/game. Charles is a burner, and had an amazing freshman campaign a year ago. He has the potential to go the distance every time he touches the ball and has rushed for 463 yards and 3 TDs in 2006.

The Longhorns top target at WR is junior Limas Sweed. At 6-5, 220, Sweed has the size and speed to create match up problems and is more than capable of giving the Nebraska secondary fits. He has 27 receptions for 476 yards and 8 TDs this season. Joining Sweed at wideout are Billy Pittman, Quan Crosby and Jordan Shipley. Pittman was a big play threat a year ago, but his numbers are way down in 2006. Shipley is finally healthy and currently has 3 TDs on just 6 receptions. If the receivers don’t worry coach Cosgrove enough, the Blackshirts will also have to account for soft-handed TE Jermichael Finley.

Texas’ offensive line lost two All-Americans, but always seems to have the talent to reload. The UT line is anchored by Justin Blalock, who is arguably the nation’s best lineman. Blalock is joined up front by All-Big 12 performers Lyle Sendelin (C), and Kasey Stoddard (G), as well as former TE Tony Hollis (RT). The Longhorns recently lost OG Cedric Dockery for the season to an ACL injury. Dockery’s injury has sent Blalock from Tackle to Guard and moved Adam Ulatoski into the RT spot.

On Defense: After an amazing 2005 season, Texas currently ranks 25th nationally in total defense (258 yards/game) and 30th in scoring defense (13.7 points/game). The Texas defensive front will be a tremendous challenge for Nebraska’s OL. UT has two extremely talented DEs in Brian Robison and Tim Crowder. Robison is very athletic for his size and has 5.5 TFL and 3 sacks this year. Crowder is reminiscent of Adam Carriker in that he has the size of a DT, combined with a knack for getting around the corner and pressuring the QB. He currently leads the team with 7.5 sacks. Texas is just as tough on the inside with Frank Okam and Derek Lokey. Lokey is little undersized at 275 pounds, but his strength and speed more than make up for it. Okam was an all-conference performer in 2005 and stuffs the run as well as anyone in the country. Okam missed the Baylor game with a knee injury. If he is again unable to go this week, look for Roy Miller in his place.

The Longhorns once again have a more than capable group of linebackers. Rashad Bobino replaces Aaron Harris in the middle and is third on the team in tackles with 37. Robert Killebrew and Scott Derry flank Bobino at the OLB spots. Killebrew has good size and is known as a big hitter. Another name to look for on Saturday is Sergio Kindle. A freakish freshman, Kindle is 6-4 and 225 pounds with sprinter speed.

The leader of the Texas secondary is CB Aaron Ross. Ross is putting up some ridiculous numbers in 2006. He has 46 tackles, 2.5 TFL, a sack, 4 INTs, 10 PBU, 2 forced fumbles and one recovery (for a TD no less). The other corner spot is manned by Tarrell "Sleepy" Brown. Brown is a solid cover corner whose talent was missed in the Ohio State game. The safety spots are filled by twins Michael (FS) and Marcus Griffin (SS). Michael leads the team in tackles and has also forced two fumbles. Marcus is fourth on the team in tackles and has forced a fumble and picked off one pass in 2006.

Special Teams: As you might suspect given their talent level, the UT special teams are dangerous. Both Aaron Ross and Quan Crosby have punt returns for TDs. Selvin Young has also proven to be a dangerous kickoff return man and averages 26.3 yards/return. Greg Johnson pulls double duty as both punter and place kicker. He averages 41 yards/punt and has placed 13 of his efforts inside the 20. He is just 1/2 on field goal attempts.

Random Notes

Series History: This marks the 11th meeting between the two schools. Texas leads the series 6-4. Nebraska is 1-3 versus Texas in games played in Lincoln.

I Can’t Believe I Looked It Up Either: In its last six meetings with Texas, Nebraska has averaged 195 rushing yards/game. The Huskers are 1-5 in those games.

I Bet They All Live In Texas: “Colt” was the 949th most popular name for boys in 2005. Colt is pronounced “kolt”. It is of Old English origin, and its meaning is "young horse or frisky."

Six Degrees of Beano Cook: With Texas going undefeated in 2005, Beano takes the week off.

Gone, But Not Forgotten: Bevo XIII, the Texas Longhorns' mascot for sixteen years, died last Monday. He is probably most remembered for his efforts in the Nebraska endzone during the 1999 Big 12 Championship Game (Hat Tip to Bevo Sports). It was the only UT highlight that day.