August 27, 2009

The Ticket City Locker Room

Q: (SAMike74) - I have been waiting and hoping for Greg Davis and Mack Brown to add a two running back set from the shotgun for several years. I would think that, especially after Blaine Irby's injury, we would add this formation to help our running game. The options would be endless including: triple option, counters, Urban Meyer's version of the option with the forward pitch (Used quite effectively in the NC game against OU, albeit with their tight end) and many others. I know the coaches like to have three wides with a tight end but if you use the two-back set with no tights you could add more versatility to the running game and you could still have three wide receivers. I think this set has potential as long as one of the RBs can catch ie: Fozzy Whittaker, Tre Newton, John Chiles & D.J. Monroe where you could send them in motion into a pattern. Do you think we might ever see this and why or why not?

What is the latest on the status of the two players with possible grade issues?

A: First, I like your creative thinking and I agree that the running game could do a lot of things that would make it more versatile and difficult to defend. I do think it's important to remember that the Longhorns don't need to reinvent the wheel on the offensive side of the ball and with so many players returning from last season, the coaching staff feels like they were already very close in 2008 and that they'll get over the hump this year. That remains to be seen, but the point shouldn't be lost.

Therefore, I think it's very unrealistic to think that the Longhorns are going to implement a lot of new running formations into the offense. We're going to see the stretch play and the zone-read and all the normal stuff that a Greg Davis offense does. However, the next question is whether we'll see a few tweaks to involve a couple of specialty plays and sets that can be mixed into the normal rushing attack? The key to those types of plays could hinge on the developments of players like Desean Hales, Monroe and Marquise Goodwin. If one or more from that group comes on fast and the staff believes they can make difference-making plays on this year's team, then I think some of the exotics… as Mack and Greg like to call them… will come out.

Finally, I first hinted that two players (a skill player and a defensive lineman) were in a bit of academic limbo, but I received a call this morning that reported that both players should be in the clear (as of Thursday morning). According to a very good source, the players are enrolled and appear to have done everything that they needed to do to emain eligible. That being said, Chip Brown hinted on another thread about a separate situation than the one I wrote about. There is another upperclassman on campus that was sitting firmly on the fence academically and we're still trying to figure out which side he fell into.

Q: (ut_alh) - What thing do you expect to surprise most Longhorn fans this year that very, very few people are taking about on offense and defense?

A: I'm not expecting a ton of surprises on the offensive side of the ball, but when the season is over, I think people might be shocked by the productivity of junior wide receiver James Kirkendoll. I expect him to more than triple his numbers from 2008.

Over on the defensive side of the ball, I think a majority of people across the nation that follow college football are sleeping on the entire defensive unit, especially the secondary, which is fair when you consider the pass defense rankings from the last three seasons. Still, I think this group is going to be one of the best units in the nation and I'll be utterly shocked if the Texas defense isn't one of the fastest and aggressive playmaking units in the country. In the 15 years I've been covering the Longhorns, I've never felt like the Longhorns were on the cusp of a truly dominant defense… until now. I've thought that there were position units on the team in the past that ranked among the truly nationally elite, but never the entire defense. Until now.

Q: (Naches) - Greg Robinson did a "heck" of a job for Mack Brown here at UT as DC. I could be off, but maybe he and Gene Chizik designed and tweaked their own defensive game plans for Tech's CS offense.(without other major influences maybe).

I'm sure Will. M has a feel for Tech's CS offense, as well as others after his first year here at Texas.

2 questions:

1. Without "letting the cat out of the bag" so to speak, has WM mentioned or hinted that he would like to do some things(game planning) differently this year vs. tech, as well as ou.osu, in his second year as DC at Texas? Is WM ready to step up?

2. I hear Robinson is DC at Michigan. Do you think he can bring the same influence and success to the wolverines this year, as he did in his year here with the Longhorns and Mack Brown?

A: Muschamp isn't the type of guy that lets a lot of cats get out of bags, but there's no question that he's going to have a greater comfort level against the teams he faced on the schedule last year because he's truly familiar with them in a way that he couldn't have been last year. To answer your question - yes. Will Muschamp is ready to step it up a notch or seven.

As far as Robinson is concerned, I'm a big fan of his, especially as a defensive coordinator. He's as good of a teacher as any defensive coordinator that the Longhorns have had and his players play hard for him. The Syracuse job was a dead-end job that needs a perfect situation and he wasn't it. That being said, I think he'll do a terrific job at Michigan.

Q: (Golfpr3145) - The backup QB situation seems to favor Garrett Gilbert. My question is do you think that Mack Brown and Greg Davis have learned their lesson about not giving the backup enough playing time in these first several games? Every year it is the same thing with their excuse being that there just wasn't an opportunity. I mean really giving the back up a chance to run the offense and not just hand off to a running back in order to keep the score down.

A: Until we actually see something more than lip service, I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to discussing quality reps for the back-up quarterback. I'll believe it when we see it.

Q: (HuffTex) - There has been a great deal of discussion, some of it hand-wring, but most of it excitement, regarding Tray Allen's possible move to DT. Obviously Big Tray has some considerable physical gifts, since most of us remember the "donkey punch" in is high school film clips. So, tell me if I am wrong in making this assumption, but Tray, and the coaches must think he has some serious potential to make a big enough impact at DT that this could be his position at the next level. Now, I am not saying that Muschamp has come straight out and said this, but I have to believe that the way this move happened was Coach Muschamp said, simply, "Coach, we got this mauler that is the 6th-8th lineman off the bench on offense, and he will be top 4 if you give me a month and a half with him on my side." Muschamp is known for rotating his D-line to keep things fresh, and for also taking away a lot of multiple responsibilities from his tackles, so they don't have to think too much.....Match made in heaven? I think so!

A: Let's slow down a little and see what happens. Everyone in the program understands that Allen is a gifted athlete, but he just hasn't found his niche in the program. I think this is an attempt to see if they can find lightening in a bottle. It's still too early to make any projections, but I'm with you - if Muschamp thinks he can turn him into something, let him. With his redshirt wasted in 2007, I'm just hopeful that Allen eventually finds a niche. Although it's conceivable that he could emerge as a potential starter along the offensive line next year, his development lags behind every five-star prospect that Mack Brown has ever landed at this point. Outside of grade casualties like Edorian McCulloch and Marquis Johnson, I can't think of another five-star player that didn't have a major role in the program by year three.

Q: (mcalk2) - What are your thoughts on the running backs this year? Do you think that we are really going to be much improved? Also, do you think that Colt McCoy going under center more is really going to make the running game better?

A: I can't give you any of the answers that you want to hear. Yes, I think the running game has a chance to be better this year. I think, but I don't know. I think that Vondrell McGee can be a 1,200-yard back in the Big 12, but I don't know if he can do it for Texas. I think that the offensive line will be improved, but I've seen no visual evidence at this point, so I'm only willing to go so far on that limb. As far as the idea of McCoy going under center in an effort to improve the running game, I have no idea whether it will help or not.

We'll see. Ugh, that wasn't much of an answer, was it? Well, you asked for my thoughts and that's what I'm thinking.

Q: (unclejemimah) - Wanted to have fun with a few questions this time around, so here goes.

Give me your opinion on who are the...

1) Top 3 fastest players on the team
2) Top 3 strongest
3) Top 3 most athletic overall
4) Top 3 most important overall

I'd like a prediction on the number of shutouts you think this defense will pitch this season and against which teams.

What is your gut feeling, or actual informed feeling, that we will see either Monroe or Goodwin emerge as a wildcard homerun threat on offense this year? Or will either or both be relegated to special teams only?

A: 1. Top three fastest: D.J. Monroe, Marquise Goodwin and Malcolm Williams
2. Top three strongest: David Snow, Lamarr Houston and Ben Alexander
3. Top three most athletic: Goodwin, Sergio Kindle and Malcolm Williams
4. Top three most important: Colt McCoy, Adam Ulatoski and Lamarr Houston.

As for the shutouts, that's a pretty difficult question to guess correctly. The smart answer is none, but I'll go on a limb and say they get one or two this year - I just don't know when and where.

Finally, but gut feeling on those two young rockets is that they'll likely be limited to special teams for the majority of the season. Cross your fingers that I'm wrong.

Q: (Bill Boy Bryant) - With the news coming out of practices about the emergence of Tre Newton, my first thought was why was the decision made to play Jeremy Hills last year and redshirt Tre? You would think that the player who played last year would be the player that they thought was more ready to play and would be more of a factor in his 2nd year.

Now I believe that Jeremy was a Spring enrollee and Tre' was not so that may need to be factored in. We have not heard much about Jeremy this August and you start asking the question about whether they wasted a year on him last year and do you consider redshirting him this year if he is not in your Top 5 at the RB position.

It also made me think about the fact that I believe they wasted a year with both Collins and Kirkendoll and even Greg Davis alluded to it the other day. One of the two for sure should have redshirted. So give me your Top 5 Wasted Redshirts of the Mack Brown era. Your new employee has got to be on that list as well.

A: I wouldn't over-think the decision to play Hills and not play Newton last year. I really think it came down to Hills wanting to play, no matter that he was a complete non-factor, while Newton didn't view the redshirt opportunity as a jail sentence. A lot of times that is what it comes down to.

As we look ahead to 2009, I don't foresee a redshirt season for Hills, despite the fact that he's probably not in the top four of the rotation (I'd list Hills ahead of Chris Whaley for sure). With none of the running backs on campus set to depart after this season, Hills might be a senior before a real path to playing time opens up, unless he starts kicking his level of play up a notch. Of course, it might be a smart move to redshirt him in 2009, but I think you'd only do that if you felt like Hills had a chance to be a starting caliber player, otherwise it's probably best to let the natural cycle run its course.

As far as a top five worst decisions on redshirts under Mack Brown, here's my five:

1. Sloan Thomas - WR - 2000
2. Tray Allen - OL - 2007
3. Drew Kelson - DB - 2003
4. James Kirkendoll/Brandon Collins - 2007
5. John Chiles - Ath - 2007

Q: (MCB0703) - 1. We know that Darius White, Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks are still on the board...therefore, taking those three out of the scenario, who are the next 3 recruits that Mack & Co should be recruiting now? I would think DeAndrew White would be in the group, but would like to know if there are others that you believe are "under the radar" recruits that Texas needs to look at much closer...for the 2010 class.

2. Due to injuries at tight end the coaching staff has made quite a few position changes in order to solidify one position. However, looking at this long-term, it looks as though this could be just a temporary change, IMHO. In your opinion, do Dan Buckner and D.J. Grant both stay at tight end? What if Blaine Irby comes back (I know it's a long shot, but he's still a TE if he does make it back)? Now you're looking at Buckner, Grant, Irby, Ian Harris, Barrett Matthews and Trey Graham. Do Grant or Buckner move back to wide receiver?

A: If we're talking about in-state kids, here are the five guys that I would take a very hard look at if I'm Mack:

1. Evan Washington (OL - DeSoto): I understand that the offensive line numbers are going to be out of whack in 2010 if they taker another lineman in this class, but I'm not as confident in the long-term depth at tackle as the staff is. Washington comes from a school that is suddenly very important to the Longhorns and he has nothing but upside and time on his side.

2. DeAndrew White (WR - North Shore) - This class needs another impact receiver. Period. I would not leave all my eggs in Darius White's basket.

3. Nehemiah Hicks (DE/TE - Hutto) - He's very raw, but his upside at both positions is very high IMO. You can never have too many pass rushers and guys that can play tight end. He can do both and his abilities at tight end might be the most underrated in the state.

4. Nate Askew (Ath- San Antonio Madison) - We're talking about a big, physical, and extremely fast athlete with big-time ball skills. When you're watching the tight end position at Texas this season, keep in mind that there are 6-4, 213-pound athletes that run sub 10.8's in the 100 meter outs there for the taking. In two years this kid could be 6-4, 250 pounds and a bad mamma jamma at H-back.

5. Holmes Onwukaife (DE/LB - Cedar Park) - This is my sleeper of the season. He's healthy, uber-athletic and he can rush the passer. When he went to the Florida State camp this summer, he earned a scholarship on the spot. With a big senior season, he might be a late-season gold mine for Will Muschamp.

As for your second question, I think Buckner is going to be a guy that eventually settles in as an H-back type of big receiver. I feel the same way about D.J. Grant and Darius Terrell for that matter. At this point I wouldn't count on getting Irby back (at least the Irby guy we all think of), but you're probably right in counting Matthews and Graham. That's five right there, which is a solid number to build on moving forward. Keep in mind that all five are versatile enough to lend helping hands at other spots, whether it be as a wide receiver, fullback or on special teams.

Q: (Cali-Horn) - Ketch - Let's play a little college football Buy or Sell Hot 11. Looking forward to your insights.

1. Buy or Sell: The Texas defense is an unstoppable force and leads the conference in scoring defense, turnovers and yards allowed. The defense forces OU's Sam Bradford into a multiple turnover day and limits OU to 17 pts.

2. Buy or Sell: The OU offensive line is much better than advertised and OU doesn't miss a beat.

3. Buy or Sell: Texas has a bigger chip on their shoulder going into the RRS and plays with more hunger and intensity.

4. Buy or Sell: Greg Davis has a few tricks up his sleeve for the grudge match.

5. Buy or Sell: USC is vastly over-rated and will cave in front of 105k at the shoe in Columbus. This is Cal's year and they win the Pac-10.

6. Buy or Sell: Notre Dame is a BCS team.

7. Buy or Sell: Florida has been reading their own press clippings and will stumble along the way due to over-confidence.

8. Buy or Sell: Texas Tech struggles this year, losing 4 games - including a pounding at the hands of the Horns.

9. Buy or Sell: OSU's offensive balance, coupled with a whacky Halloween game night atmosphere in Stillwater, is enough for Gundy to finally pull one out over Mack.

10. Buy or Sell: Ole Miss wins the SEC.

11. Buy or Sell: Texas hoists crystal this January in Pasadena.

A: 1. Sell - The Texas defense is going to be a dominating group for much of the season, but I'm not going to predict a sub-20 point game for Oklahoma just yet. I do think the Longhorns will have the best defense in the Big 12.

2. Sale - I can't buy a unit that hasn't had its most important player (Ben Habern) available for most of pre-season.

3. Buy - Hard to buy OU as the team coming into that game feeling like they are the ones that have been disrespected over the course of the last 365 days.

4. Sale - The offense will do what it does and they'll do it very well.

5. Sale - I'm not ready to buy Ohio State or anyone in the Pac-10 at this point.

6. Buy - The schedule is very soft and I think this is the year Jimmy Clausen takes off a little.

7. Sale - Florida runs the table in the regular season. All bets are off in the SEC Championship game.

8. Buy - An 8-4 season sounds about right.

9. Sale - I expect the Cowboys to have a couple of losses by that point. The expectations will be too much for them.

10. Sale - The Rebels will not beat Florida in a re-match from last season.

11. Buy - That's a limb I'm comfortable with.

Q: (DimiHorn) - Ketch: Can you list for us your top 20 in order regardless of position.

1. For The Horns
2. For The Big XII
3. Entire Nation

Question #2.

Bans or no beans in your chili? I bought the wrong can for chili dogs the other night and chili with beans on a chili dog really adds an interesting twist!!!! This wife did suffer for a couple of days though.

A: Ok, this is no small task, but here goes:

Texas Longhorns Top 20

1. Colt McCoy
2. Sergio Kindle
3. Jordan Shipley
4. Earl Thomas
5. Aaron Williams
6. Lamarr Houston
7. Chykie Brown
8. Roddrick Muckelroy
9. James Kirkendoll
10. Kyle Hix
11. David Snow
12. Brandon Collins
13. Malcolm Williams
14. John Chiles
15. Adam Ulatoski
16. Keenan Robinson
17. Sam Acho
18. Emmanuel Acho
19. Vondrell McGee
20. Eddie Jones

Big 12 Top 20

1. Colt McCoy
2. Sam Bradford - QB - Oklahoma
3. Gerald McCoy - DT - Oklahoma
4. Dez Bryant - WR - Oklahoma State
5. Russell Okung - OT - Oklahoma State
6. Jermaine Gresham - TE - Oklahoma
7. Sergio Kindle
8. Ndamukong Suh - DT - Nebraska
9. Jordan Shipley - WR - Texas
10. Sean Weatherspoon - LB - Missouri
11. Earl Thomas - DB - Texas
12. Kendall Hunter - RB - Oklahoma State
13. Trent Williams - OT - Oklahoma
14. Robert Griffin - QB - Baylor
15. Aaron Williams - CB - Texas
16. Jeff Fuller - WR - Texas A&M
17. Todd Reesing - QB - Kansas
18. Dezmon Briscoe - WR - Kansas
19. Lamarr Houston - DT - Texas
20. Phil Taylor - DT - Baylor

National Top 20

1. Colt McCoy - QB - Texas
2. Sam Bradford - QB - Oklahoma
3. Eric Berry - CB - Tennessee
4. Taylor Mays - S - USC
5. Brandon Spikes - LB - Florida
6. Tim Tebow - QB - Florida
7. Gerald McCoy - DT - Oklahoma
8. Jahvid Best - RB - California
9. Dez Bryant - WR - Oklahoma State
10. George Selvie - DE - South Florida
11. Ciron Black - OL - LSU
12. Russell Okung - OL - Oklahoma State
13. Jermaine Gresham - TE - Oklahoma
14. Sergio Kindle - DE - Texas
15. Terrence Cody - DT - Alabama
16. Ndamukong Suh - DT - Nebraska
17. Jaquizz Rodgers - RB - Oregon State
18. Jevan Snead - OB - Ole Miss
19. Julio Jones - WR - Alabama
20. Jonathan Dwyer - RB - Georgia Tech

Finally, I firmly believe that having beans inside of your chili compromises the integrity of the entire chili.

Q: (colliedp) - Every year, I pull together as much information as I possibly can and form a complete ranking of all NCAA Div 1 teams. My friends/colleagues are my toughest critics and they absolutely mock the fact that I do this, but cannot deny my more recent (2004 on) success/accuracy. I will not give away my strategy, but lets say I use a tactic implemented by our very own U.S. government(this is where I always get laughs), on a much smaller scale obviously since I do not own a super computer. I would like your thoughts on my Big 12 results. Please note I do not call them predictions because my model does not take into account home and away, turnovers, or injuries and I never said anything about it being Earth shattering. It's strictly based on talent and where you have it. Here they are...

North Division
Nebraska: 2,116.2 pts
Kansas: 1,975 pts
Colorado: 1,478 pts
Missouri: 1,354.4 pts
Kansas State: 1,288.4 pts
Iowa State: 947.2 pts

South Division
Oklahoma: 5,116.6 pts
Texas: 4,615.6 pts
Oklahoma State: 3,521 pts
Texas Tech: 1,776.2 pts
Baylor: 1,754 pts
Texas A&M: 1,135.8 pts

Let me first address the giant elephant in the room. Trust me when I say, that I hate the fact as much as any Longhorn that OU is ranked higher and I've done a thorough review and my only reasoning is they had 3 potential NFL 1st round draft picks come back. I will still be putting my money on Texas come Oct 17.

What about Texas Tech going (6-6) with losses to Houston (2,084 pts), Texas, OU, Okie Light, Nebula, and Kansas? Trust me - Tech nation goes absolutely berserk when I mention 6-6, makes my day every time. Or how about Texas A&M going (2-10) with out of conference losses to UAB (1,278.2 pts) and New Mexico (1,273 pts)? Granted both games are at home, so my common sense says pick A&M, but the numbers are pretty darn accurate. My spread stats are even more impressive, roughly 68% accuracy (roughly every 100 pts = 1 actual pt.)

Bonus Round: My Tech'ster friends wanted me to ask. Do you pronounce your name, Geoff, as (Jeff) or (Joff)? They believe you are English, any comments?

A: First, you're a geek, but that's ok. I have a list of the top 125 Philadelphia Phillies prospects in the minor leagues on my computer and I update the stats of each player every week. You're a sick puppy, but aren't we all?

I think your formula can't grasp with a million more numbers the changes I expect to see across the board with the Texas defense. You can't see it in the stats from last season.

As far as your system's prediction for Tech, I would be surprised if they went 6-6, but not shocked (I have them pegged for 8-4, but there's no question that the six games you listed are losable. I think the Baylor game on the road is more dangerous for Tech than the home game against Kansas.

Nothing that happens to A&M this season will surprise me, unless they find a way to win seven games.

Bonus round: It's pronounced like "Jeff". I believe it's the English version of the name, but I'm a complete mutt and claim no real nationality in my heritage. I'm like the dog in Disney's Lady and the Tramp.

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