Stuff to look at this week from the Texas schools.
1. TCU C Jake Kirkpatrick vs. Oregon State NT Stephen Paea
This is the best individual matchup involving a Texas college game. Both players are All-American candidates and both should be high NFL draft picks.
“He’s really good. Top 10 pick,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said of Paea. “Nobody blocks him when he’s fresh. We have to get him tired. We have to get him to go sideways.”
How effective Paea is could be determined by how well his teammates play. If ends Gabe Miller and Taylor Henry are able to exploit one-on-one matchups, this will become a major issue for TCU.
2. Texas soph. QB Garrett Gilbert vs. Rice
There is no reason to watch the ‘Horns open at Rice this weekend other than to watch Gilbert. It’s impossible not to admire how well he played despite impossible circumstances in the BCS title game against Alabama.
The Horns are favored by 30.5 points, which … if I were a betting man I might really be a Texas fan on this one.
Gilbert may not be Colt McCoy, but if the game against Alabama is an indication he has the nervous system to be at least that.
3. Houston NT Matangi Tonga vs. Texas State
The Cougars hired former Cowboys defensive coordinator Brian Stewart to fix one of the worst defenses in the nation last season. B-Stew has switched to a 3-4, and Tonga should help immeasurably. A transfer from BYU and College of San Mateo (Calif.), Tonga was one of the top ranked JUCO players in the country.
Expect the Cougars to still be bad defensively, but Tonga should help some. If the Coogs' defense improves from horrific to bad that’s a major improvement.
4. Texas A&M LT Luke Joeckel vs. Stephen F. Austin
Aggies coach Mike Sherman has refused to go the JC route to help infuse some age and experience on this team, especially on the offensive or defensive lines. The Aggies are loaded at the skill position, but a bit raw on the offensive line. Their meal ticket is QB Jerrod Johnson, who can’t be running for his life if Joeckel struggles. Joeckel should be fine in this game against an inferior opponent, but his development is vital.
5. Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts vs. SMU
This is a gimme. Without Mike Leach’s pass first, pass second and pass third option offense, it will be odd to watch a Tech QB handoff more than five times in a game.
6. Baylor QB Robert Griffin vs. Sam Houston State
Coach Art Briles believes his team has Big 12-level talent now, but the Bears can’t go unless Griffin is healthy. If he has really recovered from the torn ACL he suffered last year, the Bears could go to a bowl for the first time since the Lincoln administration. If he’s healthy he’s the most exciting player in the Big 12.
7. Texas Tech DE Scott Smith vs. SMU
Smith was one of the highest rated players coming out of the JC ranks, and his addition was a big one for new coach Tommy Tuberville. It’s hard not to get excited at Smith’s talent and size (6-7, 275), and if he turns into a legit QB killer this signee is a coup. But you need to be calm about JC transfers. They don’t always work. As one college football coach told me, “There is a reason why these guys are in junior college.”
8. Texas WR Malcolm Williams
When thinking about this freakishly talented receiver I am reminded of this great scene:
9. The North Texas athletic department bank account after its football team losses at Clemson.
I can’t stand these guarantee games, unless the little team wins. But the North Texas football team routinely goes money hunting every fall to fund the athletic department coffers. Teams do this every Saturday in the fall, but it’s no less painful to watch kids get drilled for four hours so a tennis team can play a match in the spring.
10. Blinn Junior College QB Justin Tuggle vs. S.E. Prep
OK, so his first game is already over but keep an eye on this guy against a school I’ve never heard of. Blinn College has become a national power thanks largely to the quarterbacks coach Brad Franchione has lured in recent years.
A few years ago it was Terrance Cain, who is now at Utah. Last season it was former Florida QB Cameron Newton, who is now starting at Auburn. Now it’s Tuggle, who transferred to Blinn from Boston College.
Blinn is the top-ranked team in the JC world, and should stay there thanks to Tuggle. In the season opener last week, Tuggle was 8-for-12 passing for 221 yards with four touchdowns in a 55-42 win against No. 3 Fort Scott.
- Mac Engel