October 30, 2008

The Locker Room Report

Q: (TYR0NEBIGGUMS) - Can we expect to see a Texas defense come out and dominate Texas Tech like it did Missouri in the first half? What do you expect to see Texas do on defense in the first half?

A: No, I don't think the Longhorns are going to dominate the Texas Tech offense like they did Missouri for most of an entire half a few weeks back. That being said, I do think the Longhorns have a very strong idea of what they believe will work on Saturday. Will Muschamp is familiar with Mike Leach's offensive philosophy because of their mutual ties to Valdosta State and he's overseeing a staff that has experience with success against this combination of Tech players.

I think the blueprint for the Longhorns is simple. They'll depend on their front four to get a pass rush and I wouldn't expect them to bring a lot of early blitzes from the back seven on first or second downs. This is probably the key element of this game for the defense. The Texas defensive line has been able to generate pressure to the quarterback in every game this season and when the defense has had success, it's occurred when this group is shaking things up. They got to Sam Bradford. They got to Chase Daniel. They got to Zac Robinson. Now they need to get to Graham Harrell.

If they can get a rush and help force Tech into off-schedule down and distances, they can come after the Tech offense with the exotics, but I would look for a lot of three- and four-man rushes on Saturday night.

Q: (bwub60) - If a kid tears his MCL and ACL during his junior year and he is a legit D1 recruit what kind of effects will that have on his recruitment

A: It really depends on the prospect. If a big-time prospect gets hit with an injury like that, he'll probably be ok if he's been able to put together enough tape to showcase his skill and promise as a player/prospect. More times than not that situation is going to create an uphill battle, depending on when exactly the injury takes place. College coaches are always going to be nervous about players with injury issues and if they can't make in-game evaluations or see them at full strength in the spring or summer, it makes it very tough to commit to that guy before his senior season begins and with early recruiting dominating the landscape of things these days, it really does create some under the radar guys.

Q: (ukrugby10) - Geoff, much has been made about the lack of explosiveness Quan Cosby brings to both the kickoff and punt return teams. Why do we not hear more about the fact that Texas is not really set up to have explosive punt returns based on our special teams scheme? Texas prides itself in blocking the punt, and often sends a heavy punt block rush at the punter, leaving us with one-on-one match-ups to block the opposing teams gunners instead of two-on-one.

Often there is no blocking for Quan and no matter whom it is back there, there isn't an opportunity for a good return. With this in mind, do you agree that Cosby is in fact the best person on the roster to have back there? The guy with the surest hands who won't drop the fair catch?

With that said, it's a different ball game on kickoff returns. Jordan Shipley obviously proved himself with the electric return against OU, but Cosby does not seem nearly as explosive. Is he the best guy to return kickoffs in your opinion because he has good hands and doesn't fumble? Or do you think we'd be better suited with someone else next to Shipley? If you were to select a guy on the roster (who isn't redshirting i.e. Desean Hales and D.J. Monroe) who would you pick as a guy who could be more explosive in the return game?

A: First, I think you probably don't hear a lot of discussion about these issues because the team is 8-0 and ranked No.1 in the nation. With so many story angles for the media to cover, this one is not going to get much attention.

far as punt returns go, I think the Longhorns have the right primary returner already on the field. There's no question that the Longhorns are more aggressive in going after the other team's punter than a lot of other schools, but that's one of their strengths on special teams. Because of the chaos that can take place around the ball on punt returns, I think Cosby is your guy, even if it means you lose a little bit of big-play pop.

On the other hand, I would replace Cosby on kickoff returns with someone that possesses a little more explosiveness. Two players that I would love to see get a chance in the return game are Curtis Brown and Malcolm Williams.

Q: (A-10HORN) - Why do 80% of the people on this board become complete (jerks) when getting into a discussion about Texas Football?

A: Here's how I would explain the dynamics of a college sports message board. As we approach 10,000 members on the site, we need to acknowledge that you guys do not represent the mainstream, at least not completely. If you polled 100 random Longhorns at DKR on any given Saturday, 90% of them are not going to know that Quentin Jammer has a relative who is a sophomore in high school and is attending games as a possible prospect. Most people don't know the information that you'll find in the War Room.

The people that are so passionate about the Longhorns that they gather at a central location online and join what can be at times a huge dysfunctional family, these are the true fanatics. When someone walks up to me on a Tuesday and asks what time I think the War Room will be posted two days later, I know that guy is an Orangeblood member.

Ok, now let's take that 10% that makes up our crazy little family and cut it down some more because our data shows that 90% of our subscriber base does not post an a frequent basis and the majority do not post at all. That active 10% is often even more passionate, at least with their anonymous public persona, than the other 90%. That's not always the case, but it often is, and those are your OB posters. That doesn't have to be a bad thing because there are so many characters and attitudes that span the all demographics.

However, there are times when the specific 10% of the hard-core 10% can get a little over the top, especially on game days. I always think of some portions of the fan base as if they are a Magwai from the 1980's move Gremlins. Everything is all cool when they are the cute, cuddly little smiling fur-balls , but add one little drop of water and they transform into the nastiest little suckers that shoot each other and swing around the room on ceiling fans.

Q: (darinstollings) - In my line of work (sales), there are times when we will take a risky, or sub-par referral from a large referral source that we would definitely turn away if it was from anybody else, just to keep our referral source happy with us. With this line of thinking, do you think Mack and the staff ever offer a kid, who may not project as a sure fire difference maker, just to keep a pipeline open to a certain school?

A: I think there was a time early on in Mack Brown's tenure when I think he felt like it was important to get into certain pipelines, especially in Dallas, but I think the program is well past the point where they have to offer anyone for the sake of keeping peace at specifics high schools. The benefit of having 10 years worth of excellent relations with the Texas high school coaches gives Mack all the credibility he needs. I think he's done a great job of handling stuff like this over the years.

Q: (memhorn) - Every once in a while, Mack will cite how many plays each player has played in a past game. For example, I believe he said no defensive player had over 40 snaps against UTEP. Is there any place we can access this information? I checked Mack's site, but cannot find this level of detail. On a related question, how many snaps are the second team DT's, like Ben Alexander, getting? Other than Lamarr Houston, who might play a lot of snaps next year on the interior defensive line?

A: No, the information is not available on any site, although it's not top-secret info that anyone is fearful to let out. Basically, when the coaches go away from the cameras and meet with the print reporters, the questions become a lot more specific in nature and more-detail oriented. While the reporters might ask about the snaps about a few specific guys that played during the last game, the coaches don't go up and down the roster. Therefore, if you want someone reporting on snap counts at each position, you'd probably do well to email Chip and ask him to sneak that line of questioning in and then report on it in Chip's Corner.

As for your other question, the Longhorns are using a lot of three-man rotation at defensive tackle right now and Alexander isn't getting a lot of snaps. It's not that he's not a solid player, but the staff seems very comfortable with Houston, Roy Miller and Aaron Lewis and they want a combination of those three out there as long as they can. I would expect to see a lot of competition at tackle next year. Kheeston Randall would be my early projection as a starter based on the early buzz he's generated. Outside of Alexander, Randall and Houston, there's not anyone else that's created a ripple in the water as of yet. The open depth chart is likely a very attractive component for the Longhorns in their recruitment of Jamarkus McFarland. It seems very likely that they will need someone from the 2009 class to help with the depth.

Q: (Cali-Horn) - 1. Has Greg Davis' emergence as a play caller had more to do with Mack trusting Davis to run the offense without much interference, or more to do with Davis learning from his past mistakes and truly becoming a better coordinator? We've heard (I think directly from Mack) that Davis has not been able to do anything w/out Mack's express approval in the past, and the insinuation is that this may have hampered Davis.

2. Mack's recruiting strategy has come under fire over the course of the last few years, mainly b/c some feel he "left money on the table" after winning it all in '05. Mack has recently increased his rhetoric about wanting kids that want to come to Texas (see the Darrell Scott drama). All in all, he seems to have filled his roster and starting line up lately with team/character guys (Cosby, McCoy, Chris O), and not me guys, even if it comes at the expense of pure talent (i.e. Fred Rouse, Michael Goodson, etc). Does this year's success, with a bunch of team guys that are less talented than Roy, Ced, BJ, etc. provide a statement of affirmation for that strategy? Does this, at least in Mack's head, give him proof positive that scrappy and Texas tough, beat out the selfish, coddled super-star stat players?

A: I've always felt like when Davis moved to a spread-based scheme, he finally found his sweet-spot as a play-caller and overall coordinator. Davis has done a great job of creating explosive and productive offenses in the last 2004 and they've produced numbers against all levels of competition with an assortment of players. I think that success has probably helped him build even more trust with Mack Brown. As an old offensive guy, I'm sure Mack has had to fight the urge to micromanage the offense at times during his career because that's where his background is. He's got a lot of confidence about his abilities as an X's and O's guy and when things have gone bad, he believes he can help that side of the ball and he still does on a day-to-day basis. Still, I think Davis has reached a point after all these years that he's got some freedom to do what he wants to do in the way of game-plans, schemes and play-calling. That definitely does not come overnight.

As for your second set of questions, I do believe it has proven Mack's vision for this program is one that can win and I have to give him a lot of credit because I'll admit that I've had some reservations. It's a credit to his staff that they are able to build a No.1-ranked team while recruiting with one hand tied behind their back and making character as important as skill.

Q: (PutYourHornsUp) - With all this talk about Muschamp leaving for a head coaching position it got me thinking about Gene Chizik. Did something happen behind the scenes for him to depart Texas? It seemed rushed a little bit when it was announced. The reason I ask is because as highly as he was thought of you would think he could have got a better job than Iowa State. Is WM just that much better to be considered for Clemson, Tennessee, etc.? Or did some conflict and friction push (force) Gene to move on? I don't see how he turns the Cyclones into a contender, which would seem necessary to get a better HC position. Thanks.

A: College coaches are like the stock market. One day everyone is trying to buy and the next day they can't find a buyer. I think there was a feeling that Chizik's defenses took some steps back during his two years in Austin and I don't think Mack Brown's confidence in Chizik was as high as it was with Greg Robinson or Muschamp. There weren't a lot of schools rushing to interview Chizik after the 2006 season and it didn't look like a rise in profile was going to come his way in Austin. At this point the dynamics of the situation with Chizik and Muschamp couldn't be more different and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Muschamp's resume includes success at so many high profile locales.

Q: (Mighty Texas) - Ok, so you have the starters, their replacements and their replacements. Do the players on the scout team fall in line after the third string, etc? How does one get a chance to move up? Through season long auditions or is it pretty much over once the fall camp in finished?

A: The first- and second-team players get the overwhelming majority of the reps in practice (and in some cases all of the reps) once the team starts getting into game weeks. The players that are not on the two-deep depth chart do most of their work with the scout teams, which is why the bowl workouts are so important. It's during those workouts when the players that haven't been getting a lot of work for most of the season usually get an hour each day to scrimmage against each other with their own schemes.

Q: (Sundance01) - I understand you'll have to make some serious assumptions, but based on what you've seen this year and what you expect during the off-season, predict next seasons starting two-deep. Are there any 2009 recruits that have the potential to be impact freshmen?

A: I'll give it a go.

Quarterback - Colt McCoy (Sr.)/John Chiles (Jr.)
Running back - (co-) Vondrell McGee (Jr.)/Fozzy Whittaker (So.)/Cody Johnson (So.)
Flanker - Jordan Shipley (Sr.)/Brandon Collins (Jr.)
Split end - Malcolm Williams (So.)/Dan Buckner (So.)
Sub B - James Kirkendoll (Jr.)/DeSean Hales (Fr.)
Tight end - Ian Harris (So.)/Greg Smith (Jr.)
Center - Chris Hall (Sr.)/Buck Burnette (Jr.)
Guard - Charlie Tanner (Sr.)/David Snow (So.)
Guard - Michael Huey (Jr.)/Garrett Porter (Fr.)
Tackle - Adam Ulatoski (Sr.)/Tray Allen (Jr.)
Tackle - Kyle Hix (Jr.)/Aundre McGaskey (So.)

Defensive tackle - Lamarr Houston (Sr.)/Michael Wilcoxon (So.)
Defensive tackle - Kheeston Randall (So.)/Ben Alexander (Sr.)
Defensive end - Sam Acho (Jr.)/Alex Okafor (Fr.)
Defensive end - Eddie Jones (Jr.)/Russell Carter (So.)
Strongside linebacker -Sergio Kindle (Sr.) Keenan Robinson (So.)
Weakside linebacker - Roddrick Muckelroy (Sr.)/Emmanuel Acho (So.)
Middle linebacker - Jared Norton (Sr.)/Dustin Earnest (Jr.)
Right Cornerback - Curtis Brown (Jr.)/Aaron Williams (So.)
Left Cornerback - Chykie Brown (Jr.)/Deon Beasley (Sr.)/

Q: (MCB0703) - Now that the Phillies have won the world series, I have to ask a hypothetical question…WHAT IF Texas finishes this season undefeated & wins the national championship, then Dallas gets things turned around and makes a run in the playoffs & wins the Super Bowl? Are you prepared to handle that type of success? Do you have a will prepared in case it's too much for you?

BTW…I did think about putting the 76ers in this hypothetical, but let's not get carried away.

A: I will be stocking up on food and water because I will know that this is a sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us.

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