Many Texas Longhorn fans still see the play in their nightmares. Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell throws the ball to Michael Crabtree, who tosses off a tackle from Earl Thomas and outruns Curtis Brown to the endzone to put the Red Raiders ahead with only a second remaining in the game.
It doesn’t help that one can’t watch anything involving college football without seeing the play every two or three minutes.
Tonight, after ten long months of waiting, Texas and Texas Tech finally meet again on the football field. Only this time, it’s Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, in front of a record Texas crown that should approach 102,000.
By the numbers, it should be all Texas. Texas Tech has not beaten Texas in Austin in either Mack Brown or Mike Leech’s tenures at their current schools. In fact, Tech has rarely even kept it respectable in Austin.
Neither of the Tech players from that game winning catch will be in the game this year. Graham Harrell is in Canada trying to learn how the game works with an extra player and a wider field. And Michael Crabtree is still deciding whether he’d rather play in the NFL or flip burgers at McDonalds.
Tech’s circus act of an offense usually takes a few weeks to get rolling. Many of their early-season games against patsies have been much lower scoring than expected, as it takes a number of game speed snaps to get the timing down.
This is only the third game of the season. And Texas is no patsy.
Texas should be pissed about last year, and they should roll Tech easily. But things don’t always work out the way they should.
The key to stopping Tech’s offense is clean execution and solid tackling, two things at which Will Muschamp’s defenses have tended to excel. If the defense performs like it can, it will hold Tech to three or four touchdowns, which should be more than enough for the victory.
If the Texas offense performs, that is.
Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill is probably the finest defensive mind in Lubbock in two decades. If the Texas offense comes out the same way they did last year in Lubbock (or last week in Laramie, Wyoming), we could be in for a long night.
I expect Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis to start the game in full pucker mode. We’ll come out very conservative on offense. The first play will probably be a bubble screen to Jordan Shipley that will either gain two yards or lose two yards.
The next play will be a slow developing run by Vondrell McGee. He’ll be tacked for a loss.
Then, with third and long, Colt McCoy will be forced to air it out. Whether Tech can stop us or not remains to be seen.
After a series or two, Greg Davis will relax, and the offense will begin to hum. Look for a big night from Colt McCoy. Hopefully, we’ll see him begin to gel with his receivers tonight and return to last season’s form.
Expect a big night from tailback Tre’ Newton. The son of former Dallas Cowboy Nate Newton has been slowly separating himself from Texas’ committee of running backs. While he won’t get the start tonight, he will get a lot of snaps early, and will likely grab the starting job before the end of the evening.
Everyone expects tonight’s game to be an offensive showcase, as evidenced by the over/under of sixty-six to sixty-seven points. If the Texas defense can make its tackles, and the Texas offense can assert a running game, we should end up on the correct side of that showcase.