Star-Telegram writers Jimmy Burch and Carlos Mendez sound off on the issues of the day in college football in College Confidential at star-telegram.com:
The first week of the college football season is in the books. Other than Texas’ meltdown at Notre Dame (to be discussed later), which performance(s) by local teams made the biggest impression on you?
Jimmy: The near-seamless transition of the Texas A&M defense to the aggressive 4-3 scheme of first-year coordinator John Chavis stood out to me. The Aggies collected nine sacks, 14 TFLs and forced five fumbles in a 38-17 victory over then-No. 15 Arizona State. Achieving similar production during SEC play would make them a West Division title contender.
Carlos: The Aggies do look like they have their act together. Any team that’s got a pass rush (they do) and a good defensive coordinator (they do) is going to be fine. That’s a good formula in the SEC — or any league. If they get any kind of quarterback play, look out.
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The national polls still have No. 3 TCU (1-0) and No. 4 Baylor (1-0) within the projected window of teams likely to earn a playoff berth. Do you see them playing a winner-goes-to-the-playoffs game in Fort Worth on Nov. 27?
Jimmy: I do. But November is a long way off. To make it happen, TCU needs to get some injured defensive players back in the mix ASAP and develop some young linebackers. Baylor has to cut back on penalties and be more consistent on defense.
Carlos: I still do, because I believe they remain the best two teams in the conference. Right now. TCU’s got some issues to sort out on defense. That group can still be good, but the whole plan has to be reworked on the fly in-season. Baylor had issues on D, too, but those will be fixed with time, I’m betting.
Texas needed evidence from only one game, a 38-3 loss to Notre Dame, before changing its offensive play-caller and re-opening competition for the starting quarterback job. Can the Longhorns fix a stagnant offense that ranks last among FBS teams in yards and scoring heading into Saturday’s game against Rice?
Jimmy: The Longhorns will improve but a full-blown “fix” seems unlikely with existing coaches and personnel. Expect another season with limited offensive firepower and another season-long battle to become bowl eligible. Also, expect coach Charlie Strong to go “all in” on a high-profile offensive coordinator in the off-season, much like Oklahoma’s hire of Lincoln Riley for this season.
Carlos: There’s no fix, really. The Longhorns have what they have — inconsistent, inexperienced quarterbacking, a leaky offensive line, modest talent at the skill positions and an uncertain defense. There is time to get it together, and maybe the new coaching structure helps. But it’s still an undermanned team in this league.