The Wyoming Cowboys travel on the road to take on the Texas Longhorns, and to get well versed in Texas I asked Wescott Eberts of Burnt Orange Nation some questions about this weeks game. I asked him seven questions and here are his answers.
1. Have to start with the quarterback position, we know David Ash has been announced as the starter over Case McCoy, but it seemed that Mack Brown was reluctant to make that decision so quickly based on comments later. Who would you prefer at quarterback?
People who follow me on Twitter and read my stuff at BON know that I'm a big David Ash guy. Have been since early last season and based on what I saw from him in the spring, I've had no reason to change my mind. Ash has greater physical upside with better size, strength, speed, and arm talent, and has closed the gap, if not surpassed Case McCoy in areas such as accuracy and understanding of the offense.
McCoy struggles to to the outside in the intermediate passing game because of his lack of arm strength and is hurt as well by poor footwork. The upside just isn't there for McCoy, but he should be a more than serviceable back up this year.
2. What are the main differences between David Ash and Case McCoy, or better yet what strengths and weaknesses do each have.
Oops, well it seems that I kind of answered that question already. I would say that the separation has come as a result of better accuracy from Ash, which was a major issue for him last season, especially when Texas struggles and Ash needed to bring them back in the game. The other area is reducing turnovers. McCoy threw over 120 passes at Texas before his first interception, while Ash was prone to doing so as a true freshman, but it was Ash in the spring and into the fall who limited those bad decisions, while McCoy struggled in the spring, throwing two interceptions in the spring game. This fall, both have avoided those poor choices for the most part, but McCoy wasn't able to hang with Ash in all those areas already mentioned.
3. Do you think if either quarterback struggles, will Mack Brown or Bryan Harsin make a quick switch similar to what they did last year, and if a rotation is done occur how worried are you that Wyoming could keep competitive with Texas.
3. Both Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin indicated that there would not be a quick hook for Ash against Wyoming if he struggles early. It doesn't do the team any service to be rotating quarterbacks like Steve Spurrier is inclined to do at times, though rest assured that a segment of the Texas fanbase will begin calling for McCoy at the first sign of Ash having issues. The guess here is that Ash has a reasonably long leash unless he comes out and starts making terrible decisions that result in interceptions or otherwise generally doesn't look like he knows what's going on out there.
In terms of Wyoming being competitive, the offense may be able to have some success early, but it's hard to see the Cowboy run defense stopping the Texas running game -- Wyoming was terrible last year in that regard, while Texas was starting to surge there until injuries derailed things late in the season.
4. The running back stable is deep with highly touted freshman Jonathan Gray and then the depth chart lists Joe Bergeron or Malcolm Brown as the starters. How will the carries be split up, and wich back should Wyoming be most worried about.
Bergeron is listed as the co-starter with Brown, but he's listed first currently, so he may get the first shot. It's basically a deal where the coaches will ride the hot hand until that player gets tired, then go to the next, with Bergeron and Brown alternating and Gray providing the change of pace as the speed back and zone-game threat.
The likely carry distribution will probably look something like 15-15-10, with Gray falling in behind the other two. And honestly, it's not one back that Wyoming needs to worry about, it's the fact that Texas can throw all three at them and wear down the defense while keeping each of them fresh.
5. Wyoming's offense is going to be pretty good this year with quarterback Brett Smith at the helm for a second year under Dave Christensen's spread attack, which Texas should be familiar with since Christensen was at Missouri, so with Texas' defense expected to be really good is there any weak spot that Wyoming could expose.
The front four and the secondary are proven for Texas, which leaves the linebackers as the only question mark. There will be three new starters there, with junior Jordan Hicks the only player there with significant experience. If Wyoming is going to have some success, it will be on misdirection plays that will try to use the aggressiveness of those guys against Texas, especially in the quarterback run game of Brett Smith on counters and draws.
6. In my opinion, I think Wyoming can hang for Texas for part of this game, but what scenario(s) do you see to how Texas could allow Wyoming to pull of the upset.
It would take a complete meltdown from David Ash and abominable play from the defense for Wyoming to have a chance in this game, and that isn't really meant as a slight to what should be a good Wyoming offense. The Cowboy run defense is that just terrible, and it's hard to see new coordinator Chris Tormey fixing the type of tackling and block-defeating issues that plagued the team last season so early in his tenure.
7. Who wins and what is the key reason?
Regardless of anything else, it always comes back to that run defense, because Texas is going to build everything from the running game. Wyoming knew Temple was going to run the ball in the New Mexico Bowl and were powerless to stop it when the Owls did run it. More than anything else, that's the key to this game. Add in the fact that Wyoming lost their best defenders from each level of the defense and it's hard to see immediate improvement in that area simply because of a new scheme.
Texas comes out aggressively, punches Wyoming in the face in the running game, then hits some big play-action passes to cripple the Cowboys. The defense gives up a couple moderate gains early before adjusting and taking away Smith in the run game and the short passing game with the secondary blowing up blockers on the edge. Then the defensive ends start teeing off against Smith when Wyoming has to start throwing the ball and this one gets a little bit ugly before Christensen goes into a shell and tries to keep the score from getting out of hand.
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