April 4, 2010

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (Kur-tis) - Please compare Colt's pro day to Vince's Pro day

A: It's funny that you should ask that urnbecause I actually asked an NFL scout that very same question a couple of days ago. According to the guy I spoke with, it's an apples to oranges situation because the two players are so different and face completely different question entering the draft.

"Vince is such a specimen," the scout said. "Everyone talks about a guy like Sam Bradford this year, but he's only the most physically impressive guy this year. There have been other guys that have come into the league that have been more impressive in various ways. Vince was one of those guys, physically. He's even bigger than a guy that Bradford and he's a better athlete that can apply a different kind of pressure to a defense. He's really so unique to just about anyone we've ever had entering the league that you have to make that acknowledgement when comparing Vince to anyone. When you compare Vince's workout to Colt's, the only thing similarity is that we all wanted to see both players show that they can drive the ball into the deep middle of the field. With Vince you just wanted to see how natural he looked throwing the football because there were some throws you wanted to see him make that weren't really included in the Texas offense. Let's not make too much of what happens at these events, especially with quarterbacks, because these workouts are controlled and designed to limit the amount of bad exposure. I think the thing we all saw with Colt is the hat he's such a good leader and he's a natural guy. If you're comparing him to Vince, it's pretty clear that he's much more natural in our world. He got a little tired towards the end of the workout, but it seemed like it was just another day at the office for him and I think we both noticed that. I did. Both players are great leaders and they really ooze that confidence on the field. That might not seem like a big deal, but you'd be surprised by how many guys that don't have that. It seems like all of the Texas quarterbacks have it."

Q: (weenhorn) - What is your take on defensive line recruiting this year? Assuming Kendall Thompson is a LB, why are Cedric Reed, Quincy Russell and Marquis Anderson not jumping at the chance to play in Will Muschamp's defense.? Is last year's success at recruiting the positions hurting us this year or is it simply a case that it's still early and these guys just can't decide yet? What is your projection as to where and when each commits and please include Jaumauria Rasco in that projection.

A: First, slow down. It's early April. Were still 10+ months away from National Signing Day and although Mack Brown and his staff seem like an unstoppable machine, there are some kids out there that want to use a little bit of the 300+ remaining days left until signing day before they make a decision.

It's important to understand that every single recruitment really is like a snowflake - each is different in its own way. It really is impossible to throw Reed, Russell, Anderson and Rasco into a group and find a lot of parallels. For instance, I'm of the notion that Reed and Russell could go down fairly soon (before the end of the spring), which would probably answer a lot of the remaining questions about the defensive line recruiting. You mentioned the possibility that the previous success in recruiting along the defensive line could be impacting the progress in this year's class, but I don't think that's been a key issue and I'm a little surprised that we haven't seen a few more guys across the board flinch at the talent that Brown and Co. are stockpiling, but I haven't really seen that as an issue with the players that Texas is recruiting in 2011.

If you're asking me to project what's going to happen, I think that Reed and Russell will eventually pull the trigger for the Longhorns, while Anderson and Rasco won't likely end up in the Texas class. For whatever reason, Anderson just doesn't seem to be overly jazzed about the Longhorns and I just don't think Rasco is going to happen.

Finally, let's not forget that the state's top defensive lineman (Desmond Jackson) was jumping at the chance to play in Will Muschamp's defense. If the Longhorns are able to snare Reed and Russell, they'll have landed the state's top three defensive line prospects after consecutive outstanding defensive line classes in 2009 and 2010.

Q: (Texman19) - 1. Which incoming freshmen do you think has the best chance to break into the rotation; Ashton Dorsey, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jordan Hicks and Taylor Bible?

2. How's it looking for Jared Norton and D.J. Grant to return this fall?

3. Who do see making the biggest impact this summer out of the DTs beside Kheeston Randall and Sam Acho? Derek Johnson, Calvin Howell, Kyle Kreigel, Dorsey or Bible?

4. Is Steve Moore going to play this fall even though he graduated this past December? If so, is he in the mix to be a part of the rotation?

5. Do you see Russell Carter making an impact this year?

6. I know you have answered this before but who do you think, most realistically, will fill out the last 5 to make 23? Below is my very hopeful final 5: Malcolm Brown, Cedric Reed, Christian Westerman, Quincy Russell and Charles Jackson.

A: Lots of questions.

First, I think you'd have to say that the path for playing time for the two incoming defensive tackle is pretty wide open with the inability of anyone outside of Randall really stepping up inside from the defensive tackle position If Bible and Dorsey are ready to play, the coaches aren't going to flinch at getting them on the field. My guess is that all four of those players are going to play as true freshmen.

Second, I'm not sure how either fits into the plans for the 2010 season at this point. I keep hearing that Norton could be back in the fall, but there are younger players that have been getting a lot of reps and have stepped up and earned Muschamp's confidence. Throw in the fact that there seems to be some real concern about whether he'll be able to hold up in the fall and you could have a situation where the page starts to turn a little. As for Grant, he's expected to be back to 100%, but he might not be released for contact until close to the start of the season, which could limit his ability to contribute this season. He's up to 232 pounds and his long-term prospects remain pretty high.

Third, I still think those young defensive linemen will eventually come around and I'd put some money on Howell being one of them. He's going to be a really good player in time.

Fourth, Moore is participating in workouts this spring and is competing for a spot on the two-deep inside.

Fifth, I'm not sure where and how the snaps come for Carter this year with three very good players returning at end and a number of other star prospects arriving in the fall. Add in other developing pressure players like Dravannti Johnson and you've got a tough ladder to climb for Carter.

Finally, I predicted the final five commitments in the 2011 class a few weeks ago, but I'm ready to make a switch. I'll go with Reed, Russell, Brown, Westerman and Josh Turner. Previously, I wasn't giving the Longhorns a real chance at Turner, but my mind is changing.

Q: (Sanch06) - Do you think the perception about Texas football players in the NFL has finally been laid to rest with the resurrection of Vince and the emergence of Jamaal, Cedric, Derrick Johnson and everyone else from the 2005 NC team? What do you think really contributed to that stigma and why do you think it has gotten so much pub considering we have the most current NFL players of any University? Follow up - what are you least/most looking forward to "laying to rest" as a married man? Go

A: Great question. I think we might have seen the end of the silly softness talk, especially after a year in which so many former Longhorns dominated in the NFL, including starting Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo, who was forced to harness the unfair Texas stigma last spring leading up to the draft. With Texas leading all of college football with 43 current NFL players, it seems pretty preposterous to suggest that the label has any merit at all right now. Yes, some former Longhorns that went on to the NFL haven't lived up to expectations, but quite a few are and quite a few others have surpassed them.

I haven't heard a single comment about leading up to this year' draft about teams needing to stay away from Texas players because they are soft or whatever else that used to be alleged. In fact, the only player who has been questioned is Colt McCoy and if someone really thinks he was faking his injury in the national title game to protect his NFL career, then that's a them issue. I think that dragon might have been slain forever in 2009.

Q: (rct568) - Can you give us your thoughts on Keenan Robinson's and Emmanuel Acho's NFL upside?

A: I think it remains to be seen. Both players have the size, athleticism and ability to not only make it in the NFL, but have success once they get there. However, both are still coming into their own as players at the collegiate level and because we haven't seen their best yet, it's hard to say where each player's true ceiling exists.

Q: (UTexUHouFan) - Ok, so I just read the great Pro Day quotes from Gil Brandt about the Texas program being top notch from coaches, to the equipment people, and how it "all starts with Mack". I think some of us (not me) are still taking what Mack does for granted. I may be a minority, but I hope Mack decides to coach forever. I realize that Will is a stud DC and knows his football. But even having studied under Mack, can he ever be the Silky Smooth Mack Daddy of all things Texas Football that Mack has been? If not, will he be able to maintain the high level culture some other way? To me this is obvious, but who will be harder to replace, Mack Brown as HC or Will Muschamp as DC?

A: I don't think there's any question that Mack Brown gets so taken for granted that it's not even funny. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he's been around long enough that many just can't remember the way the majority of the nation actually lives. What makes Mack such a perfect CEO for the football program is his attention to the detail. The first time the next head coach forgets a name or doesn't send out an honorary scholarship to newborns, we'll know that something is different. The first time a high school head coach has an issue with way the Texas staff handled a situation, we'll know that Mack's no longer in control. Details, details and more details. It remains to be seen whether Will Muschamp, if he is indeed the next head coach, can work his magic with the same touch, class and skill. Mack is a Hall of Famer and one of the best program builders in the history of college football, which means his ability as a head coach should never get taken for granted and it does all the time. That's why this building three-year apprenticeship with Muschamp working under Mack has been so beneficial because it's allowed Mack to groom his successor, so that the new Texas way that he has masterminded won't be forgotten.

Q: (Golfpr3145) -Since we are making major changes in our offensive scheme because of the loss of our major components to run that offense, how do you see the rest of the teams in our conference changing their offensive approach? Which teams, if any, do you see making changes? Also, now that we have Kansas State on our schedule this year, do you see that as a hidden trouble game? Snyder always brings a competitive team to the game and K.State seems to be a real thorn in our side in the years we play them.

A: You ask a lot of good questions and I'm not sure that factual answers for several of them exist. One of the reasons for the spread offense's success in the Big 12 is that its seen as the great equalizer in college football and while the pendulum seems to be swinging a little bit towards the other direction, I'm not sure that many feel like it's something that is going to cause mass changes from a philosophical approach to offense. The Longhorns don't need the spread because they have the athletes and size to do whatever they want. The same is true in places like Norman and Lincoln, but until the talent bases start to improve in other locales, I'm not sure we'll see a lot of change like the one we've seen take place in Austin this spring.

As for the game against Kansas State, I'm not sure anyone that's having an honest conversation about the Texas program can take that game for granted because if there's been one unusual constant thorn from the Big 12 North in Mack Brown's backside, it's been Kansas State. I expect Bill Snyder's team to make improvements in 2010 in year two of his return and as the only game the Longhorns play away from Austin for the rest of the season once they get through the road game against Nebraska on October 16th, there's no way it can be taken for granted.

Q: (Principle) - My question is about who you think will win the Big 12 next season? Who do you think are the top four teams?

A: Texas has to be the favorite in the Big 12 next season. People can reinvent history last season because of how close the Big 12 Championship was, but if they played that game last season 10 times, the Longhorns were going to win eight or nine times. The Huskers had a perfect storm kind of game in Dallas and still couldn't pull it off. Had the Longhorns played up just a little they would have won that game by double digits and relative ease. Frankly, if it had been a seven-game NBA playoff series, I think the Longhorns would have won in five. That's just the way I feel about it and I say that with what I feel like is proper respect to a very solid Nebraska football team, but the Longhorns were at worst the second best team in the nation last year for a reason.

Therefore, I think the Huskers still have a ways to go before I'm buying that they've turned the corner as a program and deserve to be mentioned in the same terms with the Longhorns and Oklahoma. The Huskers can say whatever they want, but without Ndamukong Suh, they look like a pretty average football team to me. They are the team to beat in the otherwise "Meh" Division of the conference.

At this point, Oklahoma looks like they'll be down a little from their normal top ten self, but they still look like the league's No.2 team in my eyes, while the Huskers rank third. If I had to pick a fourth place team, I might go with Missouri or Texas A&M. Honestly, everything is up for grabs once you get past the top three teams.

Q: (Dattexboy) - Greg Timmons, John Chiles, and Malcolm Williams are considered penciled in as starters with James Kirkendoll being first off the bench according to your updates. Do you really believe all those highly recruited receivers we signed not named Mike Davis take a redshirt and watch this year or will they all get a fair chance to bide for playing time? I ask this because I remember Mack Brown stressing the fact that when the freshmen arrive the board changes.

On the defensive side how many players on defense fits the Buck position in WM defense? Do you expect Muschamp to go more to a 3-4 look with the lack of depth in our defensive front? I feel we have a ton of talent coming in the next two years at our linebacking positions and it looks like we're heading in that direction. What say you?

Who do you think will have the best pro career from UT going into this year's NFL draft?

A: I think you've got things a little backwards. The top three receivers in my mind going into two-a-days will be Williams and Marquise Goodwin on the outside, with Chiles in the slot. Kirkendoll looks like the first reserve off the bench and Timmons might be the fifth guy in the group today. When the freshmen arrive, that looks like the ladder that they'll have to climb.

The number of freshmen that play at receiver this fall will be determined by how many of them can come in and show that they are ready to play and make a real contribution. If Mike Davis or Darius White or anyone else can do what Goodwin was able to do last August, they'll get on the field. Those that can't make that kind of dent will probably will be headed for redshirt seasons.

I assume when you ask about the "Buck" position, you're asking about the non-true defensive ends on the roster. Dravannti Johnson is a guy that's going to be a factor at the position in the next couple of years. can all As for the players on the defense that can play in the Buck rush position. Keenan Robinson is another guy that could contribute in that role, but they likely have enough depth to be able to lean on other players. Incoming freshman Tevin Jackson will be another player that could contribute in that role.

Finally, asking to name the best NFL player from this year's draft class is a tall order, but I'm going to go with Sergio Kindle. When it's all said and done, I think he has a chance to be a star as an outside linebacker at the next level in a 3-4 scheme.

Q: (scooterhorn) - I have a question regarding the coaching staff. Obviously, we've had pretty good stability in the ranks (outside of our rotating DCs for a while), but where do our coaches stand in terms of career advancement? I can obviously see Major as someone who won t wait around as a running backs coach forever. Is he waiting for Greg Davis to retire in the hopes that he'll be our next OC or we will he want to leave for greener pastures? How about Bobby Kennedy as well? Oscar Giles? I assume Mac McWhorter, Davis, Mike Tolleson, Duane Akina are pretty willing to stay here until they retire. I'm just curious as to your thoughts on the younger guys.

A: Of the non-coordinator assistant coaches on staff, I think Applewhite is the most obvious candidate to move up the ranks from position coach to coordinator and then possible to head coach. I have a hard time thinking that he's going to be a position coach at Texas for the rest of his career. In fact, that's simply not going to happen. He'll either be the next offensive coordinator at Texas or he'll be coaching somewhere else at some point.

Akina has considered some offers over the years to become a coordinator elsewhere and I think he'd consider the move if the right dream opportunity came along, but he seems to have developed some roots in Austin.

Outside of Applewhite and Akina, I think Kennedy is a guy that would probably have an interest in being a coordinator in the right situation, but those opportunities are far and few between and I get the feeling that he'd prefer to stay in Austin or out West. Giles is another young coach, but I've never heard from anyone talk about his level of interest in going anywhere else. I think everyone else is comfortable in their current position.

Q: (zholley) - Garrett Gilbert has shown in spring ball his ability to take control of the offense and step up as a leader. I feel like he has tremendous upside and has the potential to be a 1st round draft pick if his college career continues to progress. That being said, I've noticed he has a somewhat longer throwing motion compared to Colt (but not nearly as long as Tebow). Have either the coaches and/or Garrett started working to tweak his delivery to be more efficient and set him up for a better transition to the next level? Thanks!

A: I would imagine over the course of the course of the next year or two that the coaches will work to slightly tweak and improve his mechanics, but this off-season is about developing his comfort on the field - both as a player and a leader. They don't want him thinking about his mechanics on every throw, so tweaking them now isn't something that they are worried about.

Q: (texaztom) - The slot receiver position has been a key component of the offense the last couple of years, especially without a receiving threat at TE. I have several questions about the slot position in the 2010 offense. 1) With the increased emphasis on running and the use of an H-back or TE, will the slot position be as big a piece of the 2010 offense? 2) Which player from last year's active roster do you think is best suited for the slot position? Which freshman or RS freshman receiver do you think is best suited for the slot? Who do you expect to line up at slot receiver most often for the 2010 Longhorns?

A: Yes. Of course. The slot position will remain a vital role in the offense because the three-receiver and four-receiver sets will still have a place in the offense each week. The player that appears to have created a niche in that role is senior John Chiles. After having played quarterback for two seasons, Chiles has the mental side of the position down better than any other player on the roster and he seems to be earning the trust of Gilbert. Of the younger players on the roster, sophomore DeSean Hales is probably the next in line to assume a staring role in the slot and he flashed some of his explosiveness and ability in the spring game. Still, the No.1 guy for 2010 is likely going to be Chiles.

Q: (streettopeschel) - It's Sept 2013. Who is the head football coach at Texas? at A&M? at OU? the Texans? the Cowboys? UT hoops and baseball? What conference are the Horns in? Thanks, I'll hang up and listen.

A: I'll go with Will Muschamp at Texas, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and although I dearly want to say that Mike Leach will be in College Station in three years, I'll go with Kevin Sumlin. In the pro ranks, look for Jason Garrett in Dallas and I'll go with Bill Cowher in Houston. Augie Garrido and Rick Barnes will still be with the Longhorns and sadly, they'll still be coaching in the Big 12.

Q: (Downgoesfrazier) - First time, long time. Do you think it is a more difficult transition to the college game going from a hot weather climate to a cold weather climate or vice versa? Example: Jordan Hicks to Texas or Ryan Mallett to Michigan.

Newlywed advice: Don't do it, but if you must make sure you have hand.

A: It's probably depends on the person. I'd say adjusting to the cold weather would be more difficult, but that's only because I'm from Texas. If I were from the North and was forced to go through 100-degree temperatures in August, I might have a different answer.

Finally, I'm not sure what your last comment is supposed to mean, but I have two hands.

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