Thoughts on Texas-Rice

Texas beat Rice 34-17 in a game that was both not as close and closer than it seemed. The Owls slugged it out with the Longhorns, making a respectable appearance and never quite being put away completely. On the other hand, the Longhorns dropped two Pick-Six interceptions and fumbled a punt reception. Two of these directly translated into touchdowns for Rice, leading to a swing of 28 points.

The offense is a work in progress. Gilbert seems to understand his role as a caretaker quarterback this season, and generally did a good job with is check downs. One expects an inexperienced QB with a big arm to try and push it downfield, but there wasn’t a lot of that.

His timing with the receivers was fair, but certainly needs to improve. Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin had decent games, and John Chiles has one fantastic catch. Not much from anyone else.

The commitment to the run was evident, but the implementation of a real run game has a ways to go. Run blocking was still tentative, with a few exceptions.

And, unfortunately, our supposed number one running back, Cody Johnson, didn’t look like that. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, but didn’t get any when it mattered. Tre’ Newton only gained 3.4 yards per carry, but he also picked up three touchdowns. Fozzy Whittaker showed moments of brilliance, gaining 51 yards on only nine carries.

This all brought on flash-backs of last year’s different starting running back at every game. We desperately need someone to step up as the number on back.

Will Muschamp also has some work to do on defense. At times they played very well, but there were enough breakdowns that a real offense, with a real quarterback, could really hurt us. I have no doubt that we were very vanilla, but it still has me concerned.

Kenny Vaccaro recorded eight tackles; seven of them were solo. He also made some hits that were loud enough to hear all the way in Cedar Park. He’s going to kill someone this year.

Landry Jones, the bell tolls for thee.

Kheeston Randall is a beast at the nose, but if he gets hurt, it’s going to be a long year. We got a taste of that in the first quarter, but it looked like he just got the wind knocked out of him. Still, it was a scary moment.

We will see lots of Jackson Jeffcoat and Reggie Wilson this year. They’re both going to be superstars.

Chykie Brown is a liability out there. At some point, Muschamp has to decide he’s been given enough chances.

As expected when a team has lost as much as the Horns did last year, it’s going to take a bit of work to reload. The defense needs to gel and work out some inconsistencies, but I saw nothing on Saturday to change my opinion that they’re going to be outstanding.

The offense is shakier, but Gilbert can succeed as a caretaker if we can develop a true identity in the run game.

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