Photo via Tim Heitman – USA Today Sports
By: Kyle Spishock (@kyleelconqueror)
September 29th, 2016

 

UT defense needs maturing… fast

When does inexperience become experience?

We saw a baptism by fire for a young Tennessee team Saturday, rallying back from 18 points to victory against Florida – a gridiron vision quest in which the rite of passage is winning.

Will such an epiphany happen for the Longhorns defense? The Longhorn has a young unit in which seven of the 11 starters are sophomores, but defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has has three seasons to shape an oppressive and cohesive unit. He’s failed so far.

The recent firing of Notre Dame DC Brian VanGorder on Sunday could be telling of Bedford’s future with Texas. Both head coaches praised respective coordinators after each lackluster defensive effort; Kelly was all in on VanGorder all the way up until his firing.

Coach Strong announced last week that Bedford had his complete support, a risky move considering the amount of high-powered offenses Austin will be playing moving forward.

The Irish defense surrendered 149 points in four games; UT has sacrificed 97 points in three.

Trevor Knight’s stock continues to increase

A&M will likely start 5-0 for the third consecutive season. Not only is the defensive unit the best the Aggies have fielded in years, but quarterback Trevor Knight is developing as a matured leader and reliable offensive weapon. Knight had two touchdowns through the air and an additional double scores rushing last weekend.

The Reagan graduate has impressed with his dual-threat capabilities, and slaughtered a Razorbacks squad that brought the Aggies to overtimes in the past two season, despite Arkansas having a worse team.

Side note: Houston isn’t the only Texas team whose AP Top 25 standing will benefit from the clash of college football titans. Texas A&M is currently sitting pretty at no. 9, and will face a presumably easy foe in South Carolina this weekend.

The top-10 will have a seismic shift following battles between no. 3 Louisville and no. 5 Clemson; no. 4 Michigan faces no. 8 Wisconsin. As long as the Aggies keeps up their consistent style of play, they could see a top-five berth after Week Five.

TCU offense steadily improving

Over the last two weeks of victories, the Horned Frogs have proven that they have other offensive studs outside of KaVontae Turpin and Kenny Hill.

After a very questionable headline that made me do a double-take, TCU announced that Desmon White was the Big-12 Conference Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.

Filling in for Turpin (leads the nation at 28.8 returning yards), White totaled three returns for a career-best 74 yards, and added six receptions for 123 all-purpose yards on the night.

Additionally, receiver John Diarse boasts two straight career high weeks in yard receiving (139 yards on six catches against SMU, including a 75-yard grab for the first play after halftime) behind TCU quarterback Hill’s combined 671 passing yards in both outings. Running back Kyle Hicks has 206 rushing yards and 92 receiving yards, along with one running and catching touchdown respectively in the same span.

Mustangs can’t close big match-ups

SMU starts games strong, only to stumble like a downtrodden old horse, worn down from years of hauling around a street carriage come the second half.

Their recent loss against TCU marked the second consecutive time they restricted an high- octane offensive Big-12 team from scoring a touchdown before halftime. The Mustangs trailed 6-3 against TCU, and were tied 6-6 against Baylor two weeks ago.

Usually, their opponents have responded by putting up big numbers at the start of the third; the Mustangs defensive unit wilts in response, losing their cool and retaliating like safety Darrion Millines did against the Horned Frogs, brutally leveling TCU receiver John Diarse in the end-zone.

 

SMU has lost 23 games against the Big 12, a depressing streak that stretches back to the 2000 opener.

Fortunately, SMU will be more competitive in the AAC after last year’s 1-7 record in conference play. And their helmets honoring the Dallas First Responders are fire.