New Mexico knows that Texas wants to run the ball. It isn't any secret. So expect the Lobos to put an extra guy or two in the box, which could lead to a number of one-on-one matchups in the passing game. Five of the top six Lobo corners are 5-foot-9 or shorter, and Texas is going to try to get David Ash a couple of deep balls to improve his confidence in that area. This one won't decide the game, but it may decide whether it gets out of hand early. With all those players in the box, too, expect Texas to throw a number of flare outs and bubble screens, with wide receiver blocking potentially helping to spring for big plays.
The No. 1 goal against the triple option is to stop the dive, and if you can do that with your defensive tackles, the battle is much more easily won. Other than Farrell, the Lobo interior line is undersized, but all three players excelled in the opener. Can Tank Jackson, in his first start, and Whaley, in his second, provide the needed boost? This is a game you'd like to see both players show glimpses of their massive potential.
Texas offensive line versus the Lobo defensive line
If the Lobos have a strength defensively, it's that they essentially have a BCS-caliber defensive line in its starting group, and they have some solid depth behind those guys. Nose tackle Reggie Ellis and defensive tackle Ugo Uzodinma are Illinois transfers and have plenty of talent. End Jacori Greer is another talented guy. And if you count rush end/linebacker Joseph Harris, it's a pretty salty group, and an underrated one that could cause havoc in the Mountain West. It's a good test a week after the Longhorn offensive line was dominant against Wyoming.
Texas linebackers versus the New Mexico option
The toughest position to play against the option is at linebacker, where you have to quickly make your reads and flow, without overflowing. You would expect a veteran like Jordan Hicks to be OK, but newcomers Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs are high on talent and low on experience. How will they respond to seeing a different kind of defense than they're used to? You can have all the talent in the world, but if you're out of place, it doesn't matter.
Monroe and Johnson present a different kind of challenge than that of the Longhorns' regular receivers. Both are outstanding space players who will see the ball on jet sweeps and the kind of plays designed to get their elite speed into big-play situations. If the Lobos are going to pack the box, look for Monroe and Johnson to make them play by getting to the outside. It will be interesting to see how Johnson is used … Texas has always been leery of overusing Monroe because of his size, but in Johnson, Texas essentially has another, more skilled, version of Monroe to trot out there. Does that mean the position will see more touches this week?
New Mexico still isn't up to a full roster after NCAA sanctions, and it will take the Lobos a couple of seasons to get there. Texas, meanwhile, appears to have its deepest team in quite awhile. That could lead to the Longhorns running away with the game as it wears on and Texas continues to rotate through fresh bodies, especially on defense, and in the running game. The Longhorns are more talented, sure, but their depth could be what makes this one get out of hand.
New Mexico is on a 22-game road losing streak, and the Lobos haven't won on the road since October 2007. It's hard to envision a scenario where they pull one out in Austin. The Lobos have an intriguing offense, and enough pieces on defense that they could hang around for a quarter or two, but after that, the Longhorns will start to roll.
TEXAS — 41
New Mexico — 13