Week 1 Preview: Texas vs. New Mexico State
Coaches are back. Players are back. Bevo is back. But is Texas football back?
Saturday kicks off the 16th season of Longhorn football under head coach Mack Brown, and the question on most every fan’s mind is ‘are we back?’ For years under Brown a 10-win season was commonplace. It was a given. It was the expectation. However, expectations have changed somewhat over the past three years as Texas has had to … <gulp> … rebuild. A tough pill to swallow for most fans, but a necessity that every team, even the most storied programs, goes through (see USC, Michigan). With 19 starters returning and a third-year quarterback in David Ash at the helm, expectations are that the rebuilding process for the Longhorns is over.
When asked if he wants the Texas fans to set their expectations as high as they are right now Brown said, “Yes. Expectations are always here and I want them to yell, have fun, and be loud.
“We have a better chance than we have had the last two years to be really good, and everything is in place now and we have to do it but we need the fans help and they will do a great job with that.”
Fans will certainly have plenty of reasons to cheer as football is finally back. Plus, beating the Aggies (albeit the New Mexico State version) is always welcome.
Opponent: New Mexico State Aggies (0-0)
When: Saturday, Aug. 31 // 7 PM CT
Where: Austin, TX (Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium)
Series: Texas leads 4-0-0
Last Meeting: Texas 66, NMSU 7 (Aug. 31, 2003; Austin)
Player to watch (New Mexico State): Senior safety Davis Cazares (#31) led the Aggies and the WAC in tackles last year with 116. His 9.7 tackles per game were tops in the WAC and ranked him 27th nationally. New Mexico State may not always stop the Longhorns, but when they do it’ll probably be Cazares.
Reasons to cheer: Star defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and linebacker Jordan Hicks are both healthy after sustaining season-ending injuries last year. They return to a defense that lost only two starters to the draft and improved from the start of the year. Since halftime of the Kansas game (final 22 quarters of the season), the Longhorns allowed just 121 points. In the 22 previous quarters, opponents scored 242 points.
Reasons to panic: Texas is 10-9 in home games since 2010. Not an encouraging stat. Plus, Brown said on Wednesday that wide receivers Jaxon Shipley and Marcus Johnson were limited some in practice this week and are questionable for Saturday. And defensive tackle Ashton Dosey has decided to transfer. Depth at those two positions could be a concern.
Stat that will make you look like a genius at the tailgate: Last year, Texas State rushed for 446 yards on 40 carries blowing out New Mexico State 66-28 in the process. If Texas State can rush for that many yards on the Aggies, just imagine what the running back combo of Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron will do.