August 10, 2008

Ketch's Inside the Locker Room

Q: (mccurrie) - Which five players are you most excited about going into the season?

A: That's a tough question to answer without narrowing down the focus of the excitement. If we're talking about which players I believe have a chance to have tremendous seasons, I'm picking Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle, Deon Beasley, Lamarr Houston and Jordan Shipley. If you're talking about breakout players, there are a lot of guys to choose from on both sides of the ball. If you're asking me to pick five, I'd go with Malcolm Williams, Michael Huey, Earl Thomas, Vondrell McGee and Fozzy Whittaker.

Q: (etexfootball) - What has Devon Kennard been up to? Does he have his official visits planned and lined up?

A: There's not much going on at the moment, but that's really the case with just about every recruit in the country. Look for things to pick up with Kennard around Labor Day because college coaches will be able to begin the next round of contact and that's usually the time when players like Kennard start putting together their visit lists. At this point it seems like a very solid bet that Kennard will be on the 40 Acres at some point during the season and don't be shocked if the staff pushes for him to visit against Missouri in October. That game will be huge for recruiting purposes because it's the biggest game on the home schedule.

Q: (TexasPride0929) -Mack Brown has expressed his idea of the two quarterback system with Colt McCoy and John Chiles. I was wondering if this can easily throw off the defenses we play and might lead us to a national title. Or could it bite us in the butt? The Arizona St. game was a good showing of it but you never know.

A: Well, those are two pretty large extremes and the truth of the matter is that it simply depends on the team and the situation. No matter what the Longhorns look like on offense, it helps that Texas has a selfless guy like McCoy is behind center because he's not going to be someone that makes this difficult in front of the public. Chiles has also given signs that he's going to handle whatever comes his way with poise and if both of those players remain focused on the team first and foremost, the two-quarterback approach has a chance to open up the offense in ways that it probably couldn't otherwise.

Q: (dallashorn02) - 1) How do you see the glut at receiver shaking out this year? Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby, Malcolm .Williams, James Kirkendoll, Brandon Collins are the top five guys on the board. Do you feel any freshman who can't crack the top 6 should redshirt? Is it possible that Dan Buckner, D.J. Grant, Desean Hales, and D.J. Monroe all redshirt, or would Hales/Monroe at the very least get time on the return teams?

2) Which assistant coach will be more under the microscope regarding the development of the younger players this year - Mac McWhorter or Bobby Kennedy?

A: Well, I think the top five guys that you mentioned right at the top are going to be the guys playing the majority of the snaps in the first game. In a week from now we might have a better idea if any of these true freshmen are going to play, but it's still too early to know for sure. It's a safe bet that Buckner is going to play this year and the others all have opportunities to create niches for themselves. Stay tuned.

Finally, I think most people expect the offensive line to be very good this year and if it's not, there will be a lot of people looking at McWhorter with a puzzled look. On the other hand, the Texas receivers are a known question mark and with so many young players, there's no question that there's pressure on Kennedy to get these guys ready to play. If Kennedy can turn the receiving unit into a team strength, this season will provide him some skins to put on the wall.

Q: (Golfpr3145) -How much influence do you think that Major Applewhite will have on the offensive scheme this year? Do you think that they will let him call some of the early games as an experiment just for the sake of a changing look in the offense? Seems that we need a breath of fresh air on that side of the ball.

A: There's no question that Applewhite will have some influence on the offense this year, but I think anyone that has any hopes of him calling plays during games or being the wizard behind the curtain, well.. that's just not going to happen and it's not what anyone is trying to achieve. I think where you'll see some of his influence is with some of the special new twists that appear to have been added in regards to personnel groups and "trick plays". However, the overall offensive philosophy hasn't changed a lick and you better believe that Davis is in charge.

Q: (jspirohorn) - Is the team ahead of or where you expected them to be at this point? Is anyone stepping up or slipping back into or out of the 2-deep? How many snaps per game at QB and at other positions do you expect John Chiles to get in the early games?

A: I think the team looked faster and more athletic than I expected from the two open workouts that I was able to watch this week. I'm not sure that I've seen enough of the offense to know where exactly they are at, but the defense looked like controlled chaos and there seemed to be a lot of potential playmakers out on the field at the same time. I'm starting to think the Longhorn personnel on defense is greatly underrated.

As far as players that are stepping up or stepping back, I'll start with Michael Huey and Malcolm Williams on offense. Although Huey isn't yet a starter, he's pushing for a first-team spot. Meanwhile, the staff is talking about the battle between Williams and Buckner as if there's really an open debate, but the truth of the matter is that Williams appears to have created some real separation and I think the coaches are ready to see what their new toy can do in the games. Also, I don't know that Tray Allen is slipping back, but he's not where I thought he would be right now and I'm not so sure that Adam Ulatoski and Kyle Hix aren't the two most indispensable players on the two-deep right now.

On the defensive side of the ball, I'll go with Sam Acho, Sergio Kindle and Earl Thomas as the surge guys through the first week. All three guys have really shown playmaking skills early in camp and that's got the staff trying to create definite rolls for all three. I think Henry Melton has his hands full with Eddie Jones and Acho. If you took the (Sr.) away from his name, I'm not sure where he has an advantage in talent over these two up-and-comers. It's not that Melton hasn't shown some nice things because he certainly has, but he doesn't seem to have the skill level off the edge that Acho and Jones possess.

As for Chiles, I think he'll play quite a bit in the very first game and that includes getting in on the very first drive or two of the game in some shape or fashion.

Q: ([email protected]) - Practice reports are usually prone to increasing expectations because certain players look really good compared to their defenders (or vice-versa). This really is a zero-sum trap to fall into. That said, we seem to be having younger players stepping up compared to upper-classmen in some areas. This has me more optimistic than I thought I'd be heading into this season. Is the same true for you? If so, can you give me a revised season-record prediction & who the players are that are making you feel this way?

A: There's no question that the strength of the program is with the under-classmen and those guys from the 2006-08 recruiting classes are starting to really emerge in some key spots. It is way too early to project whether the expectations should be raised, but I can say that this year's team might be the fastest/quickest that Mack Brown has ever had and that includes the 2005 national championship team. Jeff Madden takes a lot of grief at times, but he should be commended for having this team is fantastic physical condition. If you're looking for a reason for optimism, I think it's there. It really is going to come down the how quickly some of these young players in the line-up emerge. If I'm a Texas fan right now, I would be walking around with a quiet confidence about this team.

Q: (Texas Diesel) - How much of a player are we with Jarvis Jones and what impact do you think Will Muschamp will have nationally if he showcases the massive upside of Sergio Kindle like he seemed to do with the first open practice? What type of impact do you think it will have on recruits like Devon Kennard to actually witness Muschamp's intensity in person as well as see their potential maximized with him being so multiple?

A: I think the Longhorns are a long-shot for any recruit that calls home somewhere in SEC territory. The staff just has to hope that they strike gold on one of these occasions and there's little question that that sis more likely to happen under Muschamp than anyone else they could possibly have in the role of defensive coordinator. That being said, nobody knows how long Muschamp plans to stay in Austin and if it's a short-term stay, his impact on recruiting will probably be very minimal in the grand scheme of things. If he sticks around for a while, it'll be the exact opposite.

Q: (MCB0703) - When it comes to recruiting quarterbacks, does it help that a player of Garret Gilbert's ability has already committed (using Gilbert just as an example; trying to understand the recruiting philosophy)? I guess what's confusing is do more future high profile quarterbacks look @ Gilbert as the future starter for several years & look at other schools due to lack of playing time? Or would these recruits look at Gilbert, the type of QB he is (and will become) and take a closer look at UT for their choice? Conversely, do the coaches now look at the QB position as being locked up for at least a couple of years & use scholarships at other need positions & not focus on quarterbacks?

I know each school or coach will have their own philosophy & this probably changes w/ each recruiting class…but I see schools like Florida w/ Tebow, Brantley, & Newton on scholarship & wonder if this is nothing more than a waste of at least 1 scholarship with these talented quarterbacks sitting on the sideline for a few years.

A: Time and circumstances. That's really what it comes down to when you're talking about stockpiling recruits at any position. Look at what the Longhorns were able to do at the position from 1999-2002. During that time they signed Chris Simms, Chance Mock, Matt Nordgren and Vince Young - that's two national Nol.1 overall prospects and three national top five prospects in four consecutive classes. For whatever reason, the Longhorns succeeded in a way during that time that they haven't been able to master since, although they have certainly tried. Still, things look good for the Longhorns moving forward because they do have a commitment from one five-star from the Class of 2009 and a number of potential highly ranked in-state players from the 2010 class are favoring them right now. It's going to come down to how aggressive the staff wants to become, but look for them to take a quarterback just about every year.

Q: (MortgageHorn) - Ok we haven't played a down yet so let's fantasize for a moment. Will Muschamp's coaching gives us the following: a legit pass-rush from the front-four, Sergio Kindle realizes his potential, and with Duane Akina the young DB's come of age and play like veterans early on in the season. Colt McCoy plays like he did his freshman year and goes injury free the whole season. Malcolm Williams matures rapidly and plays way above expectations for a freshman. The O-line gels and dominates like they in 2005. Vondrell McGee and Fozzy Whittaker rush for 1800+ yards between them. Our walk-on punter averages a 4.2 second hang-time and 43.7 yards a kick. Ryan Bailey kicks like last year. John Chiles gets 10 touches a game for a 5.0+ YPC. We play with fire and intensity all season/every game. Mack learns this year's feature rapper (Little Wayne?) ala "fitty-cent", relaxes and let's Boom and Greg Davis do their thing and the best players play.

Now should all that happen, to what do the odds drop to from our current 20-1 to win it all? Basically would the above give us enough to win it all as compared to what the top-rated teams have?

Ok I'll take off the Orange-Colored Glasses and put down the Kool-Aid, but thanks for letting me fantasize about how good I felt in 2005.

A: If all of those things happen, the Longhorns will run through the Big 12 and will be playing for a national championship.

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