The Texas Longhorns kick off the 2012 college football season with a game this Saturday evening at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium against the Wyoming Cowboys. Texas most recently squared off against the Cowboys in a home-and-home series in 2009 and 2010, with the Longhorns winning by a combined score of 75-17 in the two contests.
Let’s take a look at how the two teams stack up in each position on the offensive side of the ball, defensively and on special teams:
Quarterbacks- Advantage: TEXAS
While Texas has struggled for what seems like the last 18 months to find a starting quarterback that can stand the test of time, that guy appears for now at least, to be David Ash. Ash shouldn’t have to worry about throwing too much against Wyoming as the run game should do plenty of damage, but when he does the wideouts will make plays with consistency.
Wyoming goes with sophomore signal-caller Brett Smith, who threw for over 2,600 yards last season and had a 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio, but also hasn’t faced a defense of Texas’ caliber during his time in Laramie. Smith will need to have a perfect day to give the Cowboys a chance to win and I just don’t see it.
Running Backs- Advantage: TEXAS
The Texas Longhorns three-headed running back of sophomores Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, and true freshman Johnathan Gray will be too much for Wyoming to handle this Saturday. While Gray may not see too many carries, Brown and Bergeron will carry the load and should do so with an efficiency that will have the Longhorns in scoring position all evening.
Brett Smith also happens to be the best returning rusher for Wyoming– which in an of itself typically is not a good sign. The Cowboys will depend on a big night from Alvester Alexander who should see a lion share of the carries when the ball isn’t in Smith’s hands. Without a career night from the Wyoming offensive line, Texas has the clear advantage in the running game.
Wide Receivers- Advantage: TEXAS
While the Texas wide receivers have plenty to prove this season, and this starts on Saturday night, there is a clear talent gap between their unit and Wyoming’s. Four Wyoming receivers tallied 40 or more catches in 2011, but there isn’t one big play guy that can take over against a defense with Texas’ talent level.
Texas’ receivers, on the flipside, will be looking to make a statement on Saturday– Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis in particular– that the 2012 version of the offense will not only be run-centric and will also be able to move the ball through the air.
Again, a clear advantage lies here with Texas.
With all three offensive skill positions in Texas’ favor, the offensive advantage clearly lies with the Longhorns.
Defense- Advantage: TEXAS
The 2011 Wyoming defense gave up an average of 390 yards of total offense per game and an average of 27.8 points per game. Needless to say, Wyoming will not be able to allow the Longhorns to put 28 points on the board on Saturday, or it’s game over. Texas’ defense will often allow them to be a low-scoring team and plenty of games will still be won given that the unit is projected to be one of the top in the country.
Unless Wyoming can find a way to exploit Texas’ shallow defensive line depth by pushing the line off the ball with consistency, it’ll be a long night in DKR– and that’s something that seems almost inevitable.
Special Teams- PUSH
While Texas has some serious firepower in the kick return game between Shipley, Quandre Diggs, Mykelle Thompson and D.J. Monroe, the kicking game will be suspect to put it lightly. With the departure of last year’s kicker/punter/game-winner Justin Tucker to the NFL‘s Baltimore Ravens, a true freshman will be the kicker for Texas at least in the early going.
This lack of experience is sure to lead to some missed kicks, shanked punts, and other mishaps you would expect when the lights are brightest.
Wyoming is much more experienced in the kicking game with sophomore Stuart Williams entering his second season with the team. If Wyoming has an advantage it’s here, but unfortunately for them, it won’t matter.
This should be an easy season-opening win for the Longhorns as they move toward an improved record in 2012.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.