One theory is Texas will have to rely on its running game and defense, but Longhorns coach Mack Brown said Monday on the Big 12 teleconference that the bottom line is scoring points.
“This is a point-driven league,” Brown said. “We averaged in the upper 20s last year (28.1 points). That's not enough. The year we won the national championship, we averaged 50 and averaged 40-plus a long time. We have to get back to those numbers.”
To get back to “those numbers,” starting quarterback David Ash and the passing game must contribute.
“You can't just run the ball for four yards a play and win games,” Brown said. “We want to be balanced. But we want more explosive plays in the running game, which usually happens because receivers are blocking downfield.
“But they have to have some help. Our receivers have to play better. Our running backs need to catch the ball better. Everybody on offense should be better than they were last year.”
Mountaineers counting on freshmen
West Virginia has more freshmen (18) on its two-deep chart than seniors (17). The Mountaineers will be counting on freshmen to contribute, especially on defense. Ten freshmen account for almost half the two-deep chart on defense.
“We have a strange combination of returning starters and guys that have never played,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We're going to play four or five freshmen D-line, linebacker-type guys.
“We knew we'd need a lot of depth on defense and purposely tried to recruit the best we possibly could. Hopefully, they can grow up pretty quick and adjust to the speed of the game.”
Can Texas D live up to hype?
Brown was asked if Texas' defense can be as dominant as some are predicting.
“I want our defense to live up to those expectations,” Brown said. “I said in 2010 it possibly could be the best defense we've had since I had been at Texas, and it didn't turn out that way.
“I have consistently talked about the four seniors we lost down the middle. We have new young guys in their places. Until they prove that they're ready to step up, we'll wait until they prove it to anoint them a great defense.”
TCU defense hopes to rebound
TCU, nationally, had the No. 1-ranked defense three consecutive seasons (2008-10) but slipped to 32nd last season. Now the Horned Frogs move to a conference where defenses are challenged by wide open offenses.
“Our biggest thing is to make people kick field goals,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “We'll be playing a lot of young players, guys in backup roles who have been walk-ons. But we've done that in the past.
“The way people can throw vertically in the Big 12, and the kind of skill people you play both running and passing, I don't know how to analyze it. I think we're going to be better. But on a week-to-week basis, the offenses are going to be better.”
Baylor's depth to be tested
Heisman winner Robert Griffin III isn't the only key offensive weapon Baylor must replace. The Bears also lost wide receiver Kendall Wright, a first-round draft pick, leading rusher Terrance Ganaway and two offensive linemen that were drafted.
“I don't know if you replace those people,” said Baylor coach Art Briles. “We had five offensive guys drafted, which is the most in the modern era. It hasn't happened anywhere else in the last 25 or 30 years from what I've been told.
“What we have to do is try to figure out a way to be as productive with new personnel. That's what we've been working on since January since Robert declared. We knew we'd have to figure out a different route to do things. (But) we feel good about the depth we've collected the past two or three years in recruiting.”
Cyclones underdog against Tulsa?
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said it's not difficult to sell his players on the challenge of playing Tulsa in a season opener. The Golden Hurricane is a slight favorite, according to Vegas oddsmakers.
“We're not the ones who were 7-0 late in the season in conference,” Rhoads said. “We have all kinds of respect for Tulsa and their football program. They know how to win.”