November 13, 2008

Inside the Locker Room

Q: (Hornrush) � Curious to know if anyone has asked Greg Davis straight-out why after so much success with the 4-wide offense has he gone back to using one or two tight ends? Will he continue to do so since the blocking of the tight ends, both rush and pass, has been less than stellar?

A: Davis talked about the recent added use of the tight end within the offense and it's strictly tied to his commitment to get the running game going. In his opinion, having the tight end on the field helps them in the running game and it is worth the cost that it takes from the team in the way or having a viable playmaker on the field to help in the passing game. The counter play has been the most successful running play for the team this year and the feeling is that having the tight end on the field helps give the offensive line a little firepower in that phase of the game and specifically with that play. Davis also took the responsibility for some of the sacks and hits on Colt McCoy that the tight ends have given up in recent weeks by saying that those players should not have been left in one-on-one situations against Texas Tech's and Baylor's best pass rushers. Look for Davis to make an attempt to streamline the use of the tight ends moving forward, but they are going to play because Texas wants to run the football and the staff thinks that the tight ends might be the key to that success.


Q: (BoomMF) � Out of the redshirt players, who has made the biggest strides in practice this season? Who is the biggest impact redshirt going into next season?

A: That's a great question. Once the season began, most of those redshirting freshmen have seen very limited reps due to be limited to the scout team. The upcoming bowl workouts might be the first real opportunity for some of these young players to really flash their upside and growth since they've immersed themselves into the program. Among those that have made strong early impressions are wide receiver D.J. Grant and linebacker Ryan Roberson. Don't be shocked if either of those guys makes an impact next season, along with speedsters D.J. Monroe and DeSean Hales. The last two guys are making major position change adjustments this season, but when the light switch eventually comes on, watch out. Keep in mind that nine of the 19-member class has already seen action this season.

Q: (horngrad03�) � Does Mack Brown allow his assistants to interview for other jobs during the regular season? Is all the talk of Will Muschamp interviewing with Clemson next week true? I can't believe MB would allow such a thing to happen at least until bowl preparations are underway.

A: I would expect that Brown will request that all of his assistants respect the framework of the team and not interview with any school until after the conclusion of the Texas A&M game on Thanksgiving Day. He made that request in 2004 and both Greg Robinson and Dick Tomey followed his wishes, but that did not happen with Gene Chizik in 2006, as he interviewed for the Iowa State job before the Texas A&M game. Although Brown has always been very supportive of Chizik's decision, I would bank on him asking his current staff to put any job opportunities on the backburner until after the regular season. If the Longhorns make the Big 12 Championship game, expect that requirement to be extended until after that game.

Q: (Nbhorn81) � I know Duane Akina has been incredibly successful at Texas, although I'm beginning to think he's had some tremendous talent at his disposal. Is it time for new blood at the DB coach position? I continue to see guys use bad technique and poor tackling. The worst part is that they very rarely turn their head to find the ball and usually they can't because they are out of position. I'm not basing my question only on this season because the previous two have been bad and he had some older guys back there. I'm a firm believer that sometimes things can become stagnant and "new blood" is necessary.

A: I think there are couple of important things to consider in this discussion. First, the defensive back play as a group has not been outstanding in the last three seasons and that is with the acknowledgement that Aaron Ross won the Thorpe Award in 2006. That being said, I think the play of the defensive backs has been better than I probably would have expected this season with so many new faces. Forget about the passing stats because they don't tell the entire story. This team spent a three-week stint at No.1 with two freshmen safeties and with a bevy of corners that had no track records entering this season. When you look at the future this team would seem to have the pieces in place to do great things. Between Deon Beasley, Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown, Aaron Williams, Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas, you're talking about 14 years of eligibility remaining. Akina's track record speaks volumes and his loyalty is going to remain rewarded by Mack Brown. However, I agree that if the overall quality of play doesn't improve next season, questions need to be raised and answered.

Q: (EnmuQB3) - I know a lot of people are in favor of the BCS. I also know that conference affiliations (The Big 6) get their conference champions automatically into a BCS Game. What do you think of there being just a Top 10 BCS or Top 15 BCS standings and after the Top 2 the remaining 8 go to the other 4 BCS games? You wouldn't have an over-matched Illinois team playing a dominant USC team, you wouldn't have Missouri getting screwed playing Arky, and you could have Texas, OU, and Tech all possibly in BCS Games this year. I know this would never happen, but I think it would improve the urgency to get into the Top 10 regardless of what conference your team is affiliated with. It may also get teams to play a tougher non-conference schedule to boost votes

A: I think that might create some of the match-ups nightmares that you are trying to avoid. If the season ended today, under that format you might have a Florida/Boise State (4 vs. 9) or a USC/Utah (6 vs. 7), so I'm not sure that your changes would give you the match-ups you are craving.

Q: (moblack) � 1. Who do you think our starting linebackers are next year? If Sergio Kindle is gone? 2. If we had to pick another top-flight DC who do you think would fit the bill? 3. Do you expect our law firm of Payne & Webber to stay or transfer?

A: I think it's obvious that Jared Norton and Roddrick Muckelroy would be two of the starters and I would project Keenan Robinson to start in place of Kindle if he does not return. Given the nature of the conference, the real question is going to be who plays in the nickel package. Obviously, Muckelroy will be there, but Norton is not great in defense of the spread and is more of a true prototype middle linebacker in a 4-3.

As far as a future DC is concerned, I'd take a look at Tennessee's John Chavis if Muschamp were to take a head coaching job somewhere else after this season. His defenses have been very stout over the years, he has a very good reputation in recruiting and he could be looking for a job if the new Tennessee head coach wants to bring in his own guy.

Finally, it's hard to say who will and won't transfer, but it seems clear at this point that both Montre Webber and Phillip Payne has some work to do to get on the field. Personally, I'd love to see Payne at linebacker, just to see if his athleticism can translate to that side of the ball. After all, his versatility is one of the reasons they recruited him.

Q: (bchorn) � After watching Alabama-LSU this past weekend, it was refreshing to see a game where the refs actually called holding. I realize that none of the coaching staff will ever comment on the record about the lack of holding calls being called in the Big 12 this year so I was wondering if any off-the-record comments have been made to you or others.

A: On the record, no. Off the record, yes.

Q: (MCB0703) � 1. Has the NCAA proposed (or at least discussed) the idea of an early signing period for football? We are seeing more recruits graduate early and enroll during the spring semester to begin college courses and participate in spring practice�I know this would help Texas the most in the Big 12 & I'm sure Mack & Co would be in favor of this change, however, a lot of SEC schools are seeing an increase in early enrollments as well. Would you be in favor of adding an early signing period and would this change the recruiting process much?

2. Regarding recruiting�the remaining targets for 2009 are Devon Kennard, JaMarcus McFarland, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jarvis Jones, and Rex Burkhead, with Kirkpatrick & Jones as serious long shots at this point. If Texas is able to gain 1 or 2 more commitments, do the coaches shut down recruiting and focus on 2010? In your opinion or based on your information, are there any surprises out there that may be late commitments? Are there any players that we should keep an eye on that may become targets late in the season or leading up to NSD?

A: There hasn't been an official proposal, but there have been some preliminary discussions between coaches, athletic directors and college presidents about the pluses and minuses of an early signing day. I think it's an idea that is gaining some traction and it has the support of big-name coaches like Mack Brown, but the lower-level schools are worried that it would create an ever larger competitive disadvantage between the have's and the have-not's. At the end of the day, I think it's something we might see by the middle part of the next decade.

As for your second question, I think the out of state guys are a longshots and McFarland is probably 50-50 (or somewhere around there), so I think you could see the Longhorns make a run a couple of guys like Burkhead (who does not currently have an offer), Dayton wide receiver A.J. Dugat or someone else. The final decisions will likely be made with 2010 in mind. If the Longhorns feel like the guy in 2009 is better than the guy in 2010, they'll make an offer, but they are likely to keep the scholarship for next year unless there's a late must-have out there.

Q: (JTM Horn) � What does Texas have to gain by releasing the injury information on Chris Hall when they have not been forthcoming with injury information all year?

A: Great question and I was stunned that the information was released in the middle of the week. Frankly, I wouldn't have even let that cat out of the bag until Saturday morning. Heck, they haven't been straight-forward about injuries all year long, so why start now? Honestly, I still don't get it. The only thing I can gather is that they might have been concerned about the possible rumors that might have spread with 72 hours left before the game and perhaps the injury is such that they felt like they couldn't keep it under wraps. The fact that they released the info like they did makes me think we might not see Hall for a while.

Q: (Sportzcaster) � Ketch, I grew up going to many High School playoff games at DKR-Memorial. You could go and watch 1 game from at least 3 classes. You could see great CenTex teams playing in Austin every weekend. My question for you is this. Why is DKR no longer hosting HS playoff round games? Is it a matter of the athletic dept. at UT not wanting to be libel for an injury in the stadium? Is it that other facilities, like The Palace at Parmer, have caught up to the seating capacity required for a Texas HS Playoff game.

Also, what do you think is keeping Rivals from putting Garrett Gilbert in the top 10? Is it really just the fact that they haven't seen him in person? I don't buy that b/c his numbers, if nothing else, speak for themselves. His yardages, TDs, low number of INTs, playing through injury, and most of all, WINS should have this young man in the top 10 hands down!

A: Actually, DKR has played host to some high school football games in recent years, but most of the games are obviously steered to Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. Those sites are better suited to host double-headers and triple-headers than DKR.

Here's something that I think gets overlooked when it comes to rating five-star guys, especially the ones that you rate among the top ten players in the state � once you give a guy that status, it's hard to take back. national recruiting analyst Barry Every will be on hand to watch Gilbert tomorrow night and I think the national guys wanted to wait until the end of the season, so that he could have as much time as possible to recover from his injury in the off-season. Although he's been great this season, he wasn't other-worldly when the they watched him up close at the Elite 11 and that's for obvious reasons. In my opinion, the national guys have played this situation right and if Gilbert does his thing tomorrow night and they see the same player we've seen all season, I believe he'll be in the top ten and maybe higher.

Q: (2HORNS2) � Why is it for the last three years Texas can not run the football? There are a few games here and there where they have moderate success but overall the running game does not exist. Even last year it was just a few big plays Jamaal Charles would break out on a game. With the talent we have recruited on the offensive line it seems we should have more success.

A: Every years presents new problems. In 2006-07 this was an offense that was still trying to find itself, especially in the running game post-Vince Young. Once they finally hit their stride in the last half of 2007, they needed to replace the key cog in the running game with the departure of Charles. This year the coaches think they know the answer as far as scheme and identity are concerned, but they still lack a go-to-guy. At the end of the day, that's just a bunch of excuses. It needs to be better and the staff, players and everyone else would agree.

Q: (lsampson) � With the upcoming Kansas game looming and OU in our rear view mirror, should we expect a let-down type of game on the horizon or should we expect a more complete game with Brian Orakpo back and us not scoreboard watching with OU and Tech on a bye? I've read a lot of threads on late-season meltdowns during the Mack era...does this seem like a game that could fall under that category? Also, should we see more of Fozzy Whittaker after the decent performance that he and Vondrell McGee put together or will the coaches be too worried about the protection of Colt to keep Fozzy back there in serious situations?

A: They wouldn't be let-down games if you saw them coming. I've heard nothing but good things in regards to the team's focus and overall mentality coming into the game, but there's no telling how this team will play in the morning, on the road and after weeks of a grueling schedule. Finally, yes, you're going to see a lot of Whittaker this season.

Q: (MCB0703) � OK Ketch the soothsayer, Texas beats Kansas 37-21 and A&M 41-17. OU beats TT 41-35 and Okla ST 34-31 in OT. Who, in your opinion represents the B12 South in the B12 Champ game? Please include other scenarios if you want too.........

A: Oklahoma. But, what happens if Oklahoma loses in Kansas City to Missouri? Who plays the SEC champion in Miami under that scenario? What about if Tech beats Oklahoma in Norman and then loses in Kansas City? Just something to think about.

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