May 29, 2011

The Ticket City Locker Room

Q: (Golfpr3145) - What is your feel for the QB situation? I don't mean as to who the starter will be, but if Connor Wood or David Ash should win the job, how do you think Case McCoy would react? Is there a transfer in the mix, or do you see whoever is not selected possibly redshirting?

A: There's simply no getting around the fact that the Longhorns have a tricky situation that they are dealing with at the quarterback position. They've got a pair of second-year quarterbacks that have both big and leery eyes heading into the season. Both Wood and McCoy hope to compete for the starting spot, but both are also concerned about getting boxed out by the other in the pecking order of the position. It is one thing to sit behind a junior, but it's completely another thing to lose precious reps or playing time to a guy in your recruiting class in year number two in the program.

The dirty little truth about the quarterback jostling that is taking place is that something will finally have to give in mid- to late-August when the back-up reps legitimately have to start going dominantly in the projected back-up's favor. Once teams really start to turn the attention to the upcoming season, it's pretty rare for the third- or fourth-string quarterback to get a lot of quality work, especially once the season begins. The top two guys get the majority of the work and it doesn't change much until the team gets to bowl workouts.

Therefore, with Ash almost certainly headed for a volunteered redshirt season, the countdown for the decision on the No.2 and No.3 spot is as critical for Wood and McCoy in terms of long-term expectations because the winner will simply receive a season's worth of reps that the other won't have moving forward. Of course, if Wood wins the No.2 job (assuming Gilbert is the starter) it would allow McCoy to pick up his lost redshirt year of 2010, but it would leave him competitively on lower ground than a player in his own class.

No matter how it plays out, the No.3 guy is going to have a lot of time to consider his future during the 2011 season and it's going to likely be tough to talk him into sticking around with three years of eligibility or possibly less (if it's McCoy and he were to take a snap this season) remaining and a cloudy forecast facing him in Austin.

It's not the most pleasant storyline of camp to follow, but with David Ash and Connor Brewer following both Wood/Ash, something is eventually going to give because it's an extreme long-shot that both players are in Longhorn uniforms at the conclusion of the 2013 or 2014 seasons. That would mean that one of the two almost certainly accepted a position as a career clip-holder and that just isn't going to happen.

Q: (O-blooder) - In regards to The Longhorn Network, I have a couple of questions.

How do you think this will affect football recruiting if we are only showing 1 game a year. i guess what I mean is, is there other means of "showing off" The Longhorn Football Program through the network?

If you are privy to some of these things, is it possible to organize Orangebloods to co-mingle information or maybe even have a program on The Longhorn Network to assist in the promotion of our sports programs?

A: It's impossible to gauge what this new project is truly going to mean for the Longhorns as it pertains to residuals on and off the field. From my vantage point, the biggest residuals for the Longhorns won't necessarily come from eyeballs on the Longhorn Network as much as they will gain hugely from the invested cross-promotion from the other ESPN properties. You would expect Longhorn football to be constantly positioned in key programming properties in an effort to drive the new network. If the Longhorns return to a position of strength on the field, the new network could serve as the kind of PR springboard that absolutely changes the landscape within the Big 12 and in the state of Texas. If Texas is winning, the Longhorn Network has a chance to be a checkmate kind of move from an exposure and profile standpoint.

That being said, I'm guessing the university would protest programming that features Orangebloods. I'm fascinated to see how they cover the team coming off of a 5-7 season and what local relationships they look to make.

Q: (LWOLFE) - While I feel better about the youth on the roster over the Jr and Sr leadership at most positions, the one position that has me wondering and concerned for 2013 and forward is Safety. With Adrian Phillips switched to cornerback, Bryant Jackson not showing anything yet and Mykkele Thompson being someone that people love as much as an offensive weapon, what do you expect the two-deep will look like in 2013? If Phillips, Quandre Diggs or others are back at Safety, what does the depth chart look like at CB and nickel? With only have 10 current scholarship players for a backfield left in 2013, it seems like we need more than just one additionally DB recruit in 2012.

A: First, I think you have to include the 2012 commitments and projections in the discussion if we're talking about the safety position for the 2013 season. The true pool of players at this point will likely consist of 13 players, although attrition at the position could certainly pull the number back closer to 10 when the eventual dust settles.

Of the points you make, I think one really resonates and the other falls a little flat for me. Overall, I don't worry too much about safety numbers with Duane Akina as the secondary coach because so many of his players have been able to cross-train and effectively play all four positions in the secondary. In fact, when you look at the best defensive back units that Akina has fielded in Austin, they've usually featured players that certainly have cornerback abilities (Nate Vasher, Michael Huff and Earl Thomas). Therefore, when I look at the current group of scholarship players there aren't many that I can't envision in that role.

The numbers issue is an interesting once because the defensive back position is one that usually sees as much attrition as any, so it's fair to suggest that Texas could enter the 2013 season with close to 10 players in the cupboard and in order to fill up a two-deep of quality players, they'd need to have a hit-rate at 80% of the remaining players to achieve that goal. Asking Akina to churn out eight quality players out of the 13 guys still on the roster isn't a Herculean effort, but there is some risk involved that taking an extra defensive-back in the 2012 class (a total of four) might help avert that potential long-term pot-hole. The argument against your case would include the ace in the hole that the coaches possess which is the wildcards of the 2013 class, which could include elite-level candidates to help fill depth problems.

Q: (anwason) - What components will it take for us to get back to that championship level? Could you see Garrett Gilbert getting us to the promised land?

Also, with the infusion of SEC type coaching will we ever transform into an SEC type team complete w attitudes, and scheme??

A: Man, you asked the constant million-dollar question. The most important thing is simply lifting the talent levels back up to an elite level, primarily at quarterback, all of the skill positions and along the offensive line. When you look at the current projected two-deep, there's a lot of youth all over the map and the unknowns at quarterback make this season a tough one or project. Off the field, there has to be a level of dedication that was missing last season and has been missing in some areas of the program for years, only to be covered by the veil of the 2008-09 success.

Obviously, I have a very high opinion of Gilbert after watching him carry a formerly sad-sack program on his back to two state championships. I'm of the opinion that there's a great player/winner inside of Gilbert, but I can't tell you with certainty that we'll ever see it of it the failures of last season scared him in a way that he can't recover from. The upside is there, but he needs to take some major steps forward.

As for the SEC thing, I think we just need to sit back and watch the product that this new staff delivers before we start talking about any kind of identities.

Q: (emdavis1) - It could be that no one knows the answer to this question, but here goes: What is the really skinny behind the DeAndre Daniels recruitment, and what is your prediction of the outcome?

A: I think this is a fairly easy question to answer. There are simply so many people involved in the process with so many opinions that making a decision has become impossible because there will be more losers than winners in any choice that's made. If he becomes an NBA player in a few years, those involved will likely never care that his recruitment has been a mockery of a process that most already view with an icky feeling. This is a case where it would appear that a college decision is being based on a lot of non-college factors.

Q: (Newfroid) - The OB brotherhood is wondering about the quality of the team we'll field this year. We lost 6 more games in 2010 than we did in 2009. So here's the question- can a football team get good as quick as they can get bad.

A: Yes, but perhaps not with this bunch when you consider the issues up-front that still plague the program. The skill positions and defense could improve overnight pretty quickly, which would get the team back up to respectability quickly, but until the Longhorns are stronger and more physical, the last step back to elite could take more time.

Q: (dropshot_7) - It's been mentioned that there are already some attendance problems with the summer workouts and 7 on 7. From what you know, are these a couple of isolated cases, or is this going to be a team issue moving forward? If the team isn't bought in at this stage, I think it changes everyone's hopes and expectations for the upcoming season.

Who's your breakout guy next season on offense (excluding Mike Davis and Garrett Gilbert from the discussion) and defense, and why?

Is there another offense, pro or college, to which you could compare Brian Harsin's offense? I'm trying to nail down exactly what we're looking at. Boise seemingly did everything well on offense, so I'm trying to figure out what the overall philosophy is

A: We'll know more about this team's dedication levels when the summer seven-on-sevens begin in about a week or so. The last four to six weeks of April/May are tough to gauge because everyone is in the middle of the final stages of the spring semester on the academic side. It won't be rocket science if the participation is sketchy in a few weeks. It needs to be made mandatory by the players.

As for breakout players, I'm buying stock in Darius White. The kid is a total playmaker with superstar upside and the impression I have is that the new staff understands that they've got a weapon in the making with the kid. He's a guy that has a chance to be a big-play provider for this team. On the defensive side of the ball, Jordan Hicks can be the best linebacker on the team if he's healthy, which is quite a statement considering the Longhorns have two outstanding seniors starting next to him. It's only a matter of time for both players.

Finally, I'm not sure that we've seen a lot of the Boise offense that Harsin brings with him to Austin. It's been kind of its own deal the last few years and there haven't been a lot of true copycats that I can think of.

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