Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Holiday Bowl: Three keys for Texas
By David Ubben
Texas takes on Cal on Wednesday night in the Holiday Bowl. We previewed the game earlier, now it's time for a look at three keys for Texas to get the win.
1. Work hard in bowl practices. So yeah, this one's technically already happened, but we won't see the results until tonight. Texas' offense was young and banged up, but had a ton of room for improvement, mostly with the offensive line, receivers and running backs. The Longhorns didn't get to participate in the valuable workouts after last year's 5-7 season, so here's guessing they took those pretty seriously. Young offensive talent like Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are loaded with potential, and the late-season minicamp can be a showcase for it to shift to production.
2. Shut down Keenan Allen. Texas is missing safety Christian Scott, but the Longhorns' corners are two of the best in the league. Carrington Byndom and true freshman Quandre Diggs are capable of shutting down Allen and letting the front seven go to work on rushing Zach Maynard and stuffing Isi Sofele, a 1,200-yard rusher. Texas' defense was the Big 12's best this season, and was by far the league's best at preventing big plays, despite facing high-powered offenses every week. Texas isn't going to let Cal run all over it, and if it quiets Allen, it wins.
3. Win the game by not losing it. Counterintuitive perhaps, but Texas did exactly this against Texas A&M and needs to do it again. Think Nebraska in 2009, to a lesser degree on both sides of the ball. It doesn't have an offense that can run with a lot of teams such as Cal and others across the Big 12. Texas' worst losses this year came to the Big 12's best offenses: Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma. Cal's not on that level, but Texas can't make mistakes like it made in those games to help Cal's offense. Texas' offense needs to stay conservative, take what the defense gives it and punt it as many times as necessary. Don't turn the ball over and don't allow big plays. Texas will get blown out if it does that.