Scouting The Opponent: Texas Longhorns

WarhawkNation.com recently interviewed BurntOrangeBeat Publisher Bobby Bragg to pick his brain about the Texas Longhorns and give us insight on the team he covers on a daily basis. The two teams will kick off the season Saturday night at 6:10PM in Austin, Tx.

Q:Everyone knows Colt McCoy but who else on offense should ULM fans keep their eye on?

All-American wide receiver candidate Jordan Shipley is McCoy's #1 returning target. Shipley caught 89 balls for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2008 and has a chance to end up #2 on most of the Longhorn receiving records (behind current Dallas Cowboy Roy Williams). He already holds the single game record for receptions at Texas of 15 versus Oklahoma State in 2008 and also has the 5th and 9th best reception games with 11 (versus Oklahoma, 2008) and 10 (versus Ohio State, 2008 Fiesta Bowl). Clearly, he plays best on the biggest stages.

Shipley also will return punts and sometimes kickoffs this year and is a threat in both areas. Shipley is the first player in Texas history to score a receiving touchdown, a punt return touchdown, and a kickoff return touchdown in the same season (2008).

Q:What are the strengths of the Texas offense? Weaknesses?

The strength of the offense is clearly triggerman Colt McCoy. In his three seasons, the Heisman candidate already holds 42 school records and boasts a 32-7 record as a starter. McCoy has completed 825 of 1,175 passes (70.2%) for 9,732 yards and 85 touchdowns against just 33 interceptions in his career.

There are not many quarterback records at Texas that McCoy does not already own including single-season and career passing yards, single-season and career passing touchdowns, and single-season and career total offense. The 2009 season will just pad his records.

The Heisman runner-up returns and looks to top 4,000 passing yards as a senior. McCoy who was the team's leading rusher last year with 561 yards will likely see his rushing numbers decrease.

The biggest weakness is the tight end position. Last year's starter for the first three games of the year, Blaine Irby, had a devastating knee injury against Rice last season (missed 10 games) and is out for this year as well. Promising tight end D.J. Grant was lost in the first week of fall camp with a knee injury. In addition to Irby and Grant, the team lost two other tight ends to injuries so the position is depleted. However, look for the Longhorns to go to more four receiver packages or a flex tight end more regularly.

Q:Tell us about the Texas defense. What style defense do the Longhorns run?

The term used around the football offices is "multiple" when describing the defense. The front seven will use a combination of 4-3 and 3-4 looks with many edge linebackers and defensive ends capable of rush standing up or with their hand on the ground.

In the pass and spread-happy Big 12, the team really runs out of a nickel package as its primary base defense. The middle linebacker, Jared Norton, is typically removed for the fifth defensive back.

Q:What is the strength of the defense and who should we keep an eye out for?

The strength of this year's defense was actually last year's weakness heading into the season: the secondary. The secondary runs eight deep with six of those players having already started a game for the Longhorns.

The secondary is led by redshirt sophomore Earl Thomas of West Orange Stark. Thomas was a freshman All-American last season and has stepped his game up considerably over the offseason. He is also the vocal leader of the defense with senior defensive tackle Lamarr Houston.

Outside of the secondary, definitely keep an eye on buck end Sergio Kindle – I know the pre-snap read will be to find #2. Kindle will play with his hand on the ground or standing at the end of the line and must be accounted for on every play. He is a Preseason Playboy All-American and is looking to top his ten sacks of 2008.

Q:After getting snubbed in 2008 by the BCS is Texas still fuming over that? Does ULM have a huge target on its back?

The Texas coaching staff and players seem to have put the 2008 BCS mess behind them. The fans are another story all together.

ULM only has a target on its back in so much as it is the first game of the season and the team is looking to hit someone with another color jersey.

Q:What are some concerns if any that Texas might have about playing ULM?

Texas is just anxious to play an opponent wearing a jersey that is not burnt orange and white. The concerns for the Longhorns are to establish a running game, find out what they have at tight end, and test the interior line of the defense.

Q:Give us your prediction on the score and why.

52-7…The Longhorns have won nine straight season openers by an average of 49-6. Texas is also 13-0 versus current Sun Belt conference opponents. ULM is 0-15 in road openers and was shutout in five of those games.

Q:For ULM fans traveling to Austin, what are some game day sites that we need to check out?

With a 6 pm kickoff, ULM fans will have plenty of time for food and fun around Austin. On Friday night, I suggest 6th Street which is the local bar scene that most college students and used to be college students will enjoy. If you are into live music, I'd highly recommend doing some googling for popular live shows as Austin is renowned for its live music (http://www.unlockaustin.com/unveiled/Calendar.faces?month=9&day=4&year=2009).

I'd also suggest Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, Zilker Park, Barton Springs, and the bats at Congress Avenue Bridge.

For the day of the game, the tailgating around the stadium will start when the sun comes out. I'd also suggest Sholtz Garten (http://www.scholzgarten.net/), which is just three blocks south of the stadium on San Jacinto.

Q:What are some can't miss places for ULM fans to eat at while visiting Austin?

Burgers:

Casino el Camino

Counter Café

Hat Creek

Mighty Fine

Burger Tex

Hut's

Tex-Mex:

Chuy's

Trudy's

Baby Acapulco

Maudie's

Barbeque:

Iron Works

County Line

Salt Lick

Stubb's

Rudy's

Best breakfast:

Magnolia Café

Kerbey Lane

Sports bar:

Cover 3


Warhawk Nation Top Stories