CRFF: It's Charlie Strongs second year and plenty of people are wondering what's going on. Texas hasn't been extremely relevant in a while and in seven of the games since Strong took over the Longhorns have failed to put up 20 points. What's the feeling on Strong in Austin?
BON: If the honeymoon period didn't end with the blowout losses to TCU and Arkansas that closed out the 2014 season, I think it truly ended in South Bend when the Longhorns got pasted by the Fighting Irish. After a third straight abysmal offensive performance forced Strong to remove play caller Shawn Watson in favor of Jay Norvell, a lot of people really lost faith in what he was doing. However, the more rational segment of the fanbase understands that rebuilding the Texas program is a process and believes that Strong has a lot of the attributes necessary to do so.
To sum it up, Longhorns fans like and respect Strong as a person and believe in what he stands for, but there are starting to be some rumblings that he's not the right guy for the job. How things go in the next month or so will determine whether that fringe narrative begins to coalesce into a more prevalent line of belief.
CRFF OK, let's get this one out of the way. This whole Wickline situation might be one of the more annoying lawsuits ever that just doesn't want to die. What's y'alls view on it?
BON: Longhorns fans want it to go away. For an athletic department with the incredible revenue of Texas, it doesn't make sense that the university would leave Wickline to deal with the buyout on his own. There's also a major amount of frustration with it because the depositions didn't exactly cost the offensive brain trust or Strong in the most flattering of lights -- there was confusion on specific points of the play-calling process and Strong couldn't remember his zip code or his starting quarterback's first name.
CRFF: Can you tell us a little about this new quarterback Heard and what makes him so much better than Swoopes? Was last weeks game Heard showing his ability or Cal showing their defensive weakness?
BON: The running ability of Heard is truly what sets him apart from Swoopes -- where the former starter tended to lumber at times and struggled to beat opponents out of the pocket or create big plays in a straight line, Heard often looks like the fastest and most dynamic player on the field. Given any opportunity to escape into the open field, he can and will make opponents pay for losing their rushing lanes. Heard proved that his athleticism translates against Power 5 defenses and showed that he can stand in the pocket and deliver throws to almost every portion of the field, a major question mark for him entering this season.
CRFF: Heard isn't the only young guy playing as you've got a few freshman starting for Texas. Are any of the others a threat to score on the Cowboys? Also, your left tackle is a freshman, how nervous are you for him to face Ogbah all game?
BON: Watch out for freshman wide receiver John Burt. The Florida product only has six catches this year, but he's totaled 183 receiving yards already, an average of more than 30 yards per catch. So he's a big-play threat as a former high school track star -- that speed can help him get open deep, so Oklahoma State will have to be careful about leaving him in one-on-one match ups on the outside with no safety help.
As for Williams, he's the best offensive linemen for Texas right now and has played remarkably consistently so far, so it would be a bigger concern if Ogbah was going against anyone else. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see Oklahoma State try to match him up on junior right tackle Kent Perkins, who doesn't have nearly as much ability in pass protection as the more agile Williams.
CRFF: After the embarrassment that was Notre Dame, Texas has played a lot better. Although they are 1-1 (could easily be 2-0) since that game, what have you learned about this team? What will its identity be this year?
BON: The big takeaway is that Heard is the starting quarterback moving forward. Everything else really flows from that -- the offense is capable of producing big plays despite narrowing the playbook and the entire team now has more belief because the defense knows that if it can get Heard the ball, he's capable of incredible things once he gets it. For the first time in a long time, there's really some hope for the future.
I think the identity right now is of an explosive offensive team that can pick up yards in chunks, but also has a defense that gives up yards in chunks. Texas looks likely to play some shootouts in Big 12 play this year.
CRFF: You asked about Gundy taking to long to abandon Daxx and start Mason Rudolph last year. I want to know the same about Swoopes. Did Strong wait too long? Or is Hs series (25-4) but the last few years have been much better (we'll ignore last year). Is this year another installment in what's been a pretty good series the last stretch of years? What kind of game are you expecting and what's the score?
BON: Texas has certainly shown a propensity to get blown out at unexpected times during Strong's tenure, but I think this plays out as a close, hard-fought game that features some big plays from both teams. I'll go with 35-31 Texas, as I think the momentum generated by last week's near comeback helps the Horns turn the corner and come together as a team.