Six questions and keys for Texas before Rice with score prediction

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photo Don Bender / Horns Illustrated

That didn’t go well.

After everything went right for Texas in Week 1, nearly everything went wrong in Week 2 during a 40-21 drubbing at Arkansas. The coaching staff didn’t look on the same page, quarterback play wasn’t there, the defense was gashed for more than 300 yards rushing and the players, in general, seemed somewhat surprised at the wild atmosphere that everyone expected.

Now, Texas returns to the Forty Acres to play Rice in a Saturday night game that it will hopefully use to get better prior to the start of Big 12 play. There are questions and keys for the Longhorns as they host a fellow former Southwest Conference member and here at Horns Illustrated we’ll take a look at them.

1. What type of energy level will Texas have?  

Coming off a loss, you’d expect the Longhorns to be wanting to get back on the field as soon as possible, but the Owls don’t move the needle a whole lot. Rice is a Group of Five team, and not a very good one at that. Still, these are still Division I athletes on the other sideline and Texas needs to come out showing it’s more the team we saw Week 1 than Week 2 and jump on the Owls early.

2. How will the offensive line bounce back?

There’s no controversy in saying the offensive line wasn’t very good against Arkansas. There weren’t many bright spots for Texas across the board in that game, but the Hogs used a three-man front a lot and still put consistent pressure on Hudson Card and Casey Thompson. The offensive line needs to gel more, put in a dominating performance and show that it will be ready for Texas Tech when the Red Raiders come to Austin next week.

3. Will Casey Thompson make the coaches keep playing him?

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said both Thompson and Card will get playing time, but Thompson will get the start, and that isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who watched the first half of the Arkansas game. Thompson has a powerful arm and is athletic and fans still remember him torching Colorado in last year’s Alamo Bowl. He’ll need to provide a good performance to force the coaching staff to keep him getting the majority of the snaps. He doesn’t have to throw for 400 yards, but an efficient 200 yards is something to attain.

4. Does the Texas defense return to its Week 1 form?

We hope so. Rice isn’t good. The Owls are coming off a blowout loss to city rival Houston and if they have any success moving the ball and scoring points, that’s a bad sign for Texas. The Longhorns need to redeem themselves from allowing more than 330 yards rushing and 7 yards per carry last week, and it starts on Rice’s first possession.

5. What’s the crowd going to be like at DKR?  

It’s a night contest in the third game of a new coaching staff, so there will still be a lot of fans there. Some fans may skip this game with the Texas Tech game a week away, but it should still be a rowdy atmosphere with more than 90,000 people.

 6. What’s the bottom line on this game?

Texas needs to respond after last week’s showing and Rice isn’t very good, so the Longhorns should win — and win decisively. Momentum is a big key going into conference play and the only way Texas can get that is with a dominating performance. We think that will happen.

Horns Illustrated prediction: Texas 38, Rice 10.

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