June 6, 2010

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (TYR0NEBIGGUMS) - With the emergence of cornerbacks like Charles Jackson, David Jenkins, and Howard Matthews (Texas was going to check on him before he committed to A&M), do you think Texas, if given the opportunity to do it over again, would not have given out so many early offers to DBs, and instead waited a little longer to evaluate all of them? It's almost impossible to argue against the coaches' DB recruiting under Mack Brown, but it appears there is going to be several DBs left on the table this year that could end up at Oklahoma due to the limited amount of scholarships that Texas has left to offer.

A: First, thanks for actually sending in a question that doesn't require a ton of editing. I love the fact that you used the full names of each prospect because it saves me time.

Second, great question. Before we get into the players that have committed, let's make sure that we get a clear understanding of the numbers game that the Longhorns have been forced to deal with after such a strong surge of commitments beginning with the first Junior Day. Not including Quandre Diggs, who the staff views as a true athlete at this point, the early plan seemed to have the Longhorns taking five defensive backs in the class. When the coaches picked up commitments from three defensive back prospects after the first junior day, I think the idea was that they would always take two more kids with corner abilities.

Those plans were possibly tweaked forever based on the numbers crunch at a few other positions, including the extra offensive lineman that the Longhorns ended up taking once Christian Westerman joined the fold.

Also, it's important to note that the Longhorns haven't offered an in-state defensive back since the first junior day because of the emergence of Josh Turner as a very serious commitment candidate. Those two unforeseen factors are the biggest reasons for Jackson or any other in-state corner from receiving an offer, not the early offers.

Ok, let's look at the three current defensive backs commitments.

Sheroid Evans has as much long-term upside as any prospect in the state of Texas. As far as I can tell, there's not another 6-1, 185-pound corner with legit 4.3 speed anywhere else in the nation. Although Rivals.com doesn't agree with my five-star grade for him, they currently have him rated as a national Top 10 prospect at his position.

Mykelle Thompson is another kid that brings an elite-level blend of size, speed and athleticism. He's currently a National 250 prospect and rated as the No.8 athlete in the nation. Although he's not a completed project, Akina flat out loves him and wouldn't throw him back for anyone else.

Leroy Scott is the only current defensive back that isn't ranked in the Rivals250 and he's probably not getting the buzz that some others are for two reasons - he hasn't participated in any national combines since his commitment and his junior film doesn't have the wow factor that a few of his peers inside the state possess. If you look at the players this spring that have really surged up the recruiting rankings lists, most of them sent their stock into the stratosphere after performing really well at various camps/combines. The fact that Scott was an early commitment that hasn't needed/wanted to attend the same types of talent showcases has probably hurt him garner attention in a crowded field of in-state defensive backs. Still, he's a four-star prospect and was one of the building blocks of this class - a Longhorn through and through, who the staff courted for more than two years before offering.

Overall, The Longhorns are putting together a defensive backs class that has a chance to rank among the best in the Mack Brown era, especially if we include Turner and/or Diggs and/or another top-flight prospect to the three that are definitely slotted to play defensive back. You can't get them all and that's the toughest pill of all for everyone to swallow.

Q: (Beagleme) - If Christian Scott makes 1st Team all Big 12 this fall are you surprised ? Will he see enough playing time for this to be a reality ?

Also, does freshman Will Russ really have a chance to contribute this fall ?

A: That's a little bit of a tricky question. No, I wouldn't be surprised if Scott had an impact season like that because there aren't a ton of great defensive backs in the conference and the kid has a ton of upside and natural playmaking talent. That being said, I'm not projecting that kind of season for him just yet because he needs to prove that he can be the kind of consistent player that the staff can leave out on the field for every snap. He's going to play a lot for this team, but there's one more step he needs to take before he truly emerges as a difference maker for this program.

As for Russ, there's a very good chance that the coaching staff will call on him to handle kickoffs in an effort to take some of the stress off of Justin Tucker. Obviously, he'll have to prove that he's ready for that kind of responsibility, but I'd guess the coaches are quite open to the prospect.

Q: (Buldg99nc1) - Recruiting: Assuming Texas takes 5 more commitments for the 2011 class, who do you feel are the 5 most likely commits and can you give a ballpark on when you expect them to pull the trigger?

Expansion: If the Big 16 or whatever they call it comes to fruition will there be a Conference Championship Game and where do you think it would be played annually? Also, how often do you think we would get to tangle with USC, Oregon and Oregon State?

A: If you're holding a gun to my head…Malcolm Brown by the end of the summer, Josh Turner possibly by the end of the month, Austin Seferian-Jenkins possibly this summer and Quincy Russell at a date/time that I wouldn't begin to try and guess. That's four. There's no way of projecting a fifth at the moment, but I think there's going to be a fifth at some point.

Moving over to the expansion side of things, my guess is that the might dollar would reign supreme, just like it does everywhere else, which means that Jerry World in Arlington would be a serious, serious yearly option. It's not an accident that the Big 12 is planning to set up shop there for the foreseeable future. The Rose Bowl in Los Angeles would also be an attractive option, as would the home site of the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale. I would nominate Reliant Stadium, but I'm not sure that they'll ever be able to outbid Jerry again.

Q: (johwa_77) - At the beginning of last season I recall hearing some announcers talking about the time Jimmy Clausen and some of his receivers spent together working out over the summer in California. I also remember announcers talking about time Jeff Fuller and Jerrod Johnson spent working together at Fuller's house over the summer.
I have always been under the impression that the UT players work very hard in summers. So my question is: are other teams working as hard in the summers? I guess you could also ask the question as, are the UT players really working as hard as I think they are? Are the two stories above just instances of me hearing about the few times those players stepped away from campus?

I am not sure there is a question in here, but hearing one of the spots on your radio show and listening to Tom Dienhart talk about the clout the Big 10 would have if Texas were to join. The interesting thing is that he never mentions Athletic clout. What sport does the Big 10 dominate? Baseball? No. Football? Not recently. Basketball? No. So I get that money can't be taken out of the equation, but I have to think that we'd be joining a slightly inferior athletic conference. In other words they would gain quite a bit from us, but we might not improve our product much from them (other than money, of course).

A: One of the reasons that the Longhorns have been top five constants since 2004 is the tradition of intense summer workouts that have been fostered and handed down by the original champions of the Mack Brown era in Austin to each of the following teams. A lot of credit actually should go to Chris Simms because he was really the first guy that I remember that made a point to own asset of keys to the field and get the guys together several times each week for unofficial seven-on-seven workouts several times each week. That tradition picked up even more steam when Vince Young became the
As for your second question about the conversation that we had with Dienhart on The Drive, I'm with you. I'm not nearly as sold on the Big 10 and its attractiveness to the people that truly matter to the Longhorns - Texans.

Q: (TexasPride1) - It looks like college football is moving towards 4, 16 team conferences(64 spots). There are 65 teams that make up the ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC, Big 10, and PAC 10. If you include Notre Dame that would give you 66 teams. Then you have teams like Utah, BYU, and TCU that could be part of the equation. Based on your information and Chip's "PAC 10 ready to offer" column, what is your best guess at what the 4 conferences would look like if this scenario plays out?

A: I think there are too many moving parts to truly know at this point. A lot depends on the Big 10 and if they can't pull Texas or Notre Dame, everything about their quest changes. I can't see the Longhorns making that move no matter the money and I'm starting to think there's nothing out there that could make Notre Dame blink at the moment.

However, if the NWO (New World Order is the preferred new conference that I prefer for a Big 12/Pac-10 merger) were to become a reality and Notre Dame stayed independent, you'd probably see the Big 10 reach out for Missouri, possibly Nebraska and possibly two or three of the Big East's top TV market draws. The next shoe to drop would probably include the SEC adding a pair of schools (possibly Florida State and Virginia Tech) to get to 16 teams. At that point you would probably see the Mountain West add Boise State and a few old Big 12 teams in an effort to get to 16 and you would probably see a reshuffle of the ACC/Big East.

Q: (dropshot_7) - In thinking about the "new" offense next season, how is it going to affect the receivers in regards to the routes? Are the route concepts going to be the same? I remember Jeremy Maclin talking about how it was a big transition from the spread to a west coast offense. I realize that Texas isn't enforcing a west coast offense, but will the route concepts change for the WRs?

A: I wouldn't expect a lot to change for the Texas wide receivers, especially in light of the fact that the Longhorns will still use a ton of three- and four-receiver sets on passing downs and when the offense wants to push the tempo a little. Some of the routes featured in a two-receiver set might differ from those used in a four-receiver spread, but at the end of the day the Longhorns are going to continue to use the routes that they feel like they feature the best.

Q: (choice cuts) - You have mentioned in the past that the 2007 team was Mack's least favorite. I know you may not be able to mention specific names but could you discuss some of the problems with that team and how dealing with that team changed Mack's approach.

A: I'm not sure where you'd even begin, but the void in leadership displayed on that team was more than obvious, as numerous players were involved with off-field troubles with the law and there was a true sense of entitlement within program that probably begin with the decision to replace Gene Chizik with Larry Mac Duff - probably the worst staff hire of Mack's tenure in Austin.

When you look at the team itself, Colt McCoy was a turnover machine, Jamaal Charles was up-and-down the first half of the season, Jermichael Finley's effort and focus was often questioned, and the offensive line was full of kids.

That's just the offense.

Over on the defensive side of the ball, the secondary ranked among the worst in the nation and the play from the linebackers was only slightly better.

They lost to Oklahoma. They lost to Texas A&M in a revenge game and a BCS game on the line.

It was a miserable season that provided the lessons that Mack needed to learn from in order to build the 2008-09 run. In the long run the program is better off for having gone through that bump in the road, but there's little outside of that lesson that should be remembered very fondly.

Q: (mbecker327) -Recently I tried explaining the "Flex TE" position to a friend and I failed miserably. He responded, "So it's a player who isn't big enough to line up as a traditional TE, he's more mobile and catches better than a traditional TE, he's bigger than most WR's but lacks the speed to play flanker...sounds like he's just a big slot receiver." Can you explain it? Greg Davis was forced to use a Flex TE in 2008 due to injuries, but would any coach ever choose to use a Flex TE if he had a high quality traditional TE available? Does it create an advantage? Does the coaching staff specifically recruit for the Flex TE position?

A: It's not rocket science and for the most part you've already defined the position and a lot of the time you need to remember that a lot of teams are splitting hairs in the labels of both because they are essentially the same thing in a lot of instances. A tight end becomes an H-back in most schemes when he's not lined up at the end of the line, but is split out as a receiver.

The reason why you'd like your H-back/tight end to be comfortable with both roles (receiver/blocker) is that it makes your personnel groupings much more potent if you can line up on the field without specialists that tip the direction of the play (either run or pass) to opposing defenses. Finding players that can handle both can be a tough and long search at the major college level.

Q: (UTDrew6) -1. I'm curious to see how effective our new look offense will match up against OU this year. It seems to me the teams who have the most success offensively against OU are teams who have a sophisticated passing attacks (tech in 07,09, Texas 2k7/2k8, and maybe Boise) and/or mobile quarterbacks. (Texas 05, 07, 08, west Virginia, etc). It appears we are going to be a lot more focused on running the ball and playing under center. One could argue this approach (against OU at least) hasn't really been the most effective way to move the football for Texas if history is any indicator. However, this year with this personnel, things could be different. I know I am asking you to look into your crystal ball and I know things could change dramatically regarding our offense in the next 4 months, but what kind of success do you think our "new look" offense will have against OU in 2010 here in June?

2. What are you top 3 flavors of wings at Pluckers?

A: I think you ask a fair question because there's no question that the Longhorns have had far more offensive success in the rebuilt spread offense that Texas has featured since 2005 than they did previous to those switches. Also, Oklahoma has not had a nationally elite pass defense since the 2004 season and it's one of the reasons why teams that can spread the field and sling the ball well have had some success.

Even with the Longhorns looking to play under center more in 2010, this is still going to be a team that plays quite a bit in their spread game personnel because they are going to attempt to be versatile enough that they can change tempos and playing styles when match-ups dictate that they can/should. With Garrett Gilbert under center, the Longhorns have a lot of options.

Still, OU's biggest problem since 2005-06 is that they just aren't a very tough football team. Their record in games away from the state of Oklahoma and in games decided by 10 points or less (8-10 record in their last 18 games) reflects a mediocre program and not one of the nation's elite. It would be quick and simple to look at the fortunes of both programs in the last half-decade or so, especially when matched up against each other, and pick a single reason for the results. The truth is that the recent success on the field for the Longhorns over Oklahoma is multi-layered.

Finally, my three favorite wing sauces at Pluckers are Hot, Bakers Gold and honey BBQ.

Q: (Capseyes) - Couple of things regarding Mack's legacy struck me the other day while reading some posts: Assuming that Mack coaches the next three years and decides to retire with the streak of 10-win seasons intact, at least two MNC appearances (including at least one win), potentially the most total wins, combined with the type of man that he is and what he expects and gets from his players, how he has been a total class act even in the face of some calling for his head in the early years due to his struggles with OU, and the overall perception of UT's turnaround since his arrival, what can the school do for him? Obviously the stadium and field-house are already named in honor of other UT giants. Renaming the field seems like a rather hollow honor for his contribution?? And I doubt Mack would allow his name to be placed atop the stadium name due to his respect for DKR....plus The DKR and Mack Brown (and Sally for that matter) Memorial Stadium doesn't really roll off the tongue but it is a fitting tribute for his efforts over the years. Have you heard any talk of how UT will try to honor him?

A: Plans are already in the works in Austin for Mack's face to be chiseled into the side of the Mount Bonnell.

Q: (Riddog) - Why would Texas want to play big 10 teams in freezing cold weather? Texas boys play their whole high school careers in the hot summers and cool falls. Snow, ice and freezing weather is not are style of football. It would be a foolish move to join the big 10, no matter how much money they flash in are face! Remember the University of Texas pulls in more money then anyone else in the country! Period!

A: I agree.

Larry Scott

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!