staff predictions: North Texas

The HornsDigest crew gives their predictions for Texas' season opener against North Texas.

Chip’s Pick

We know that Texas wants to run the ball and that a key to the entire season will be the Longhorns' ability to grind it out on the ground behind an offensive line that has been playing musical positions throughout camp.

Everything is a work in progress up front on the line without OT Des Harrison (suspended) for Saturday night's game against North Texas.

But no matter who takes the field on the O-line, Texas should be able to run the ball against a UNT defense with only one starter back from the front seven. If the Horns can't run the ball Saturday, it will be a sign that UT is much further behind schedule than it wants to be in establishing its ground and pound offense.

Defensively, this will be a good little test for Texas against a veteran UNT offensive line. I expect Texas to really get after JUCO transfer QB Josh Greer in his first major college start.

Most importantly, Charlie Strong has promised a team that plays with passion, excitement, fire and a toughness that will make fans proud. That above all else must be evident to everyone.

Texas 37, UNT 10

William’s Pick

Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray will both run for over 100 yards and each find the endzone.

David Ash will throw for over 200 yards and two scores. One of those will be to John Harris. The other… to Geoff Swaim.

It will take the offensive line a little while to get acclimated to not only the game environment but each other. Once it clicks early in the second quarter they will own a UNT defensive line that averages around 260 pounds.

Texas’ defensive front will find it harder than it thought to get into the backfield against a stout UNT offensive line. But Malcom Brown, Cedric Reed and Co. will chip away and eventually make the lasting impact on the game Vance Bedford is hoping for.

That will free up my defensive player of the game – Jordan Hicks – to make life miserable on UNT’s JUCO transfer QB Josh Greer. Hicks will have at least 1.5 sacks.

Jason Hall will do some things that make you see what all the hype is about, but also some things that remind you he’s still a freshman. He won’t have as big an impact in the game as A&M freshman safety Armanti Watts did against South Carolina, but close.

Nick Rose will be perfect on field goals. Will Russ will leave a lot to be desired in the punting game.

Texas 34, UNT 13

Jason’s Pick

Longhorn fans from across the country are eagerly anticipating the Saturday kick-off, as Texas will host North Texas. The Charlie Strong era is just about underway and there is excitement in the air. From fans, coaches, players, parents and family members across the state of Texas, this is the day.

This is the day they put the “T” back in Texas. The coaching staff has tested these players, beat them down mentally and physically to bring them back up to where they need to be. Are they there yet? No, they are not. Do they have some work to do? Yes, they do. Will they get there? Yes, they will. Football is just as much mental & preparation as it is how big, fast and strong you are. It’s about getting your mind right and understanding the job you must do, the task ahead of you on Saturday.

Strong and his staff do a tremendous job of understanding how to speak, teach and deal with each kid as individuals. Not just as football players but young men. The players have responded to this and they will be better for it in life and on the football field.

How will Saturday go for Strong and the Longhorns? Might we see Coach Watson & Wickline lean a bit on the ground game with those two standout backs? It would not surprise me to see Texas end up with 300 plus yards on the ground Saturday night with the reports coming out of camp. Maybe they can surpass the 359 they had last year in the opener vs. New Mexico State. Remember, Texas averaged 8.5 yards per carry in that game and the ground game will be heavily counted on this year. Will we see four TD passes on Saturday night? That might be a bit of a stretch but Ash is going to try and prove a point depending on how much he plays. Ash wants to prove to the fans and more importantly to his new coaching staff he can be “that guy,” for the Longhorn Nation.

I expect to see the backers rush the quarterback and apply lots of pressure in this game on Saturday. I think you will see everyone on that defense flying around to the ball like a bunch of hornets. That is what you will get with a Charlie Strong coached defense…. no one stops until the whistle blows. North Texas ended the season at 9-4 last year, a great year for those guys, 5-1 at home and 3-3 on the road. They lost to Georgia 45-21 and then Tulane on the road 24-21. After those back-to-back losses they rolled off seven wins in their last eight games. At the end of the day I am going with 41-10 Longhorns.

Texas 41, UNT 10

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