Texas Football Game Week Notebook

After three weeks of hitting each other in plenty doses of ones versus ones, the Texas Longhorns can now turn their full focus on the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The team practiced at 5:45 on Monday morning and is now in full game week preparation mode. Burnt Orange Beat files this game week notebook.

The 2009 season kicks off on Saturday at 6 pm when the Longhorns play host to the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Warhawks are coming off a 4-8 season and have expectations of being bowl eligible this year.

First games scare you as a coach - Coaches get paid to worry about all sorts of issues and contingencies and first games create all sorts of unexpected occurrences. Texas coach Mack Brown worries most about the kicking game because the team doesn't work that at full speed during camp very much. He is also concerned about turnovers on offense as the quarterbacks haven't been taken to the ground and the ball carriers have not experienced as much continued harassment of the ball as they go to the ground. The coaches are also concerned about administrative penalties like delay of game and too many men on the field as it's everyone's first time under the lights. On the defensive side of the ball, Coach Muschamp is worried about sure tackling and busted assignments.

No one is redshirting at this point - The coaches have told all of the incoming freshmen that they should prepare to play this season just in case there are injury/depth issues that force a guy into action. The true freshmen players that are sure to get snaps are tight end Barrett Matthews, guard Mason Walters, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, buck end Alex Okafor, and defensive tackle Calvin Howell. Coach Muschamp indicated that freshman safety Kenny Vaccaro will also see action on special teams. Muschamp also noted that Tevin Mims has a good chance to play on Saturday. Coach Davis also noted that freshman wide out Marquise Goodwin might see action.

Camp Surprises on Offense - Dan Buckner, D.J. Monroe and John Chiles have all been pleasant surprises on offense during the August camp. Buckner was bogged down deep on the depth chart at wide receiver, but after multiple injuries at the tight end position seems to have found his role at the flex TE spot. Monroe was in a similar depth chart spot as Buckner at wide out, but has created a niche in the running back mix. OC Greg Davis has called him a "spark" that "brings speed to the table." They will not put the diminutive back (generously listed at 5-9, 170) in many pass protection situations but his versatility at RB and WR and speed does create mismatches for the defense. Chiles's progression as a wide receiver has forced him into the mix this season.

Running Back Separation? - Despite the fact that Vondrell Mcgee is listed as the lone starter at running back for the first game primarily due to Fozzy Whittaker being out with a slight injury late last week, offensive coordinator Greg Davis expects that Saturday's carries will likely be pretty evenly split among McGee, Whittaker, and Johnson. However Davis cautioned that the team also will stay with the hot hand if one of those three were to get the running game going in the right direction.

Texas and Mack Brown in Season Openers - Texas is 96-17-3 in season openers in its 116-year history. When opening the season at home, Texas is even better with a 75-7-2 mark. Head Coach Mack Brown is 10-1 in season openers at Texas. He was 8-2 in season openers at North Carolina. Brown has won his last nine openers and twelve of his last thirteen.

First Meeting between Texas and ULM - These two teams have never faced off in their history, but the Longhorns do have history with the Sun Belt Conference. Texas is 13-0 versus the conference, including nine defeats of North Texas, two of Louisiana-Lafayette, and one each over Arkansas State and Florida Atlantic.


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