Thursday, July 18, 2013
Nonconference preview: Texas
By David Ubben
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.
Next up: Texas.
vs. New Mexico State, Aug. 31
Coach: Doug Martin, first year (0-0)
2012 record: 1-11 (0-6, WAC)
Returning starters: eight offensive, six defensive
Offensive headliner: Receiver Austin Franklin caught 74 passes for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He missed time this spring to get his academic standing in order.
Defensive headliner: Safety Davis Cazares made 116 tackles last season with three tackles for loss and a blocked kick.
The skinny: Texas doesn't play the Texas A&M Aggies anymore, but start their season with a different brand of Aggie in 2013. New Mexico State's lone win last season came against FCS Sacramento State in the opener. The 11-game losing streak that followed cost fourth-year coach DeWayne Walker his job. The defense gave up at least 42 points in each of the last four games last season. This game shouldn't be a problem for the Longhorns.
at BYU, Sept. 7
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall, ninth year (74-29)
2012 record: 8-5
Returning starters: nine offense, five defense
Offensive headliner: Receiver Cody Hoffman caught 100 passes last season for 1,248 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns. He'll be a senior this season.
Defensive headliner: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is one of the nation's top defenders. He made 22 tackles for loss a year ago, including 13 sacks. He had 52 total tackles, forced six fumbles and blocked two kicks.
The skinny: BYU is a solid team that forced Texas to rally in the second half for a 17-16 win in 2011. Texas is the better team here, but the Cougars are a conference-play quality team and the Provo crowd will be ready in a big-time atmosphere. Texas will have to play well to win this game. Defending quarterback Taysom Hill isn't easy.
Ole Miss, Sept. 14
Coach: Hugh Freeze, second year (7-6)
2012 record: 7-6, 3-5 SEC
Offensive headliner: Receiver Donte Moncrief hauled in 66 passes for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns last season from first-year juco quarterback Bo Wallace, who's another headliner for the Rebels.
Defensive headliner: Sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche has earned some preseason All-America buzz after making 82 tackles and 13 tackles for loss last season, both team-highs. Still, he might be overshadowed by his younger brother, the nation's No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
The skinny: Texas' breakout game last season was its blowout win in Oxford, which was one of David Ash's best games ever. The Longhorns hung 66 points on the board and established some momentum heading into conference play. The Rebels' hyped recruiting class will receive a lot of attention, but Texas has had plenty of those and will have the edge in experience. It won't be an easy game, but one Texas should win.
Chances of going 3-0:43 percent
Wrapping up: Texas gets the distinction of being one of just two Big 12 teams (Oklahoma) that won't face an FCS team this season. There's not a game on this schedule that Texas will enter as an underdog, but Ole Miss and BYU are absolutely capable of beating Texas. The Longhorns haven't been a great team in Austin recently, but going on the road to Provo should be the toughest test. A subpar performance in either of those games could mean a loss. Texas is also capable of blowing out both teams with strong nights. Either way, it should be a fun slate once the Longhorns get past a weak New Mexico State team.