It's never as bad or as good as you think. That's what coaches will always tell you when they go back and look at the film from games, practices, and scrimmages. Today's spring game provided us with the good, bad, and the ugly of the Texas Longhorn football team from the big plays made on both sides of the ball to the lack of quality depth at some key positions.
Here are some of my takeaways from Texas' final scrimmage of the spring, as they prepare to head into the summer portion of the calendar.
- One of the biggest and most notable things was the play of Shane Buechele today. Buechele was sharp, crisp, and accurate for majority of the scrimmage and while he had the one interception he didn’t make many bad passes or decisions out there and was impressive. Buechele finished 23 of 39 for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
- Sam Ehlinger on the other hand a rough go throughout the day and much of it can be attributed to the fact that the second team offensive line didn’t protect him well at all. While the numbers weren’t great and he definitely looked like a kid who just graduated from high school, he flashed at times and made some nice throws. Ehlinger finished the day 10 of 31 passing for 148 yards and a touchdown.
- All things considered, Buechele seems to be much further along right now and looked more comfortable out there today. Herman mentioned that they are still in the hunt for a grad transfer and I think that would be ideal so that Ehlinger can redshirt. I think that would be most beneficial in the long run.
- Freshman running back Toneil Carter received the bulk of the carries today with injuries piling up and while he ran hard and broke some tackles I was a little underwhelmed. He also put the ball on the ground and as Tom Herman noted will have to improve in pass protection.
- I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the state of the running back position. I think they need to be checking the waiver wire for a back as well personally.
- While the first team offensive line held up well and protected Buechele, the second team unit had a very forgettable day at the office and had Ehlinger running for his life for most of the day. Depth on the OL is going to be a concern and coaches probably hope they won’t have to give Terrell Cuney meaningful snaps anytime soon.
- The wide receiver threesome of Collin Johnson, Devin Duvernay, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey is going to give defenses headaches. Johnson looked as advertised and tallied two touchdown catches, Humphrey made a grown man touchdown catch over Kris Boyd, and Duvernay had a nice catch run as well. A nice surprise today was Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, who consistently got open and moved the chains and you also have to mention Dorian Leonard. This group is deep and talented and is only going to get better with time.
- While the second team defense surrendered plenty of yardage to the offense, the first team defense absolutely terrorized the second team offensive line and Sam Ehlinger. The sacks and pressures came in bunches for Todd Orlando’s first team defense, and it no doubt gave the offensive coaches plenty of things to coach up going into the summer.
- Jordan Elliott notched at least two sacks today during the scrimmage. If he gets his weight down and keeps coming along he is going to be quite the player.
- Jeff McCulloch notched a nice sack against a future first round pick in Connor Williams and continues to get better. I bet we will see a lot of The Shark in the fall.
- Chris Brown notched himself a pick against Shane Buechele and also had the big hit of scrimmage along the sideline on Toneil Carter on a swing pass. Brown was a big hitter in high school and continues to lay the wood in Austin.
- Eric Cuffee had a rough day at the office. He got picked on a bit throughout the game and he also took the worst of a collision with Toneil Carter.
- Anyone else listen to how Herman talked about the upgraded lockers when asked about it during the scrimmage? He’s definitely aware of the gap in facilities between Texas and schools in close proximity to Austin.
- Love that Herman tried to ice Josh Rowland during a spring game to try to throw him off. Rowland went 3 for 4 today with his lone miss coming from 49 yards out.
- Also love that Herman didn’t end the scrimmage in a tie and had the first team offense and defense go at it on 4th down at the two yard line. Constantly putting the players in a position to compete.
- Apr 16 2017 11:34 AM
- by Daniel Seahorn
The offseason is in full swing and while we are months away from seeing football games that count in the record column, we still have spring football practices to look forward to, as Tom Herman and his staff kickoff their first spring in Austin. With the turnover on staff this offseason that means new philosophies and schemes are being installed on both sides of the ball, so this will be uncharted territory for the player and coaches alike.
Every player is working with a fresh slate and this will no doubt at fuel to what is sure to be a competitive spring, as the depth chart starts to shake itself out a bit. Herman has said before that there are no starters entering spring practice, and while that is mostly true, I think we can pencil in several players as starters knowing what we know from the past couple seasons.
There are several storylines to keep an eye on this spring, but I am going to break down a few I will be watching in particular as we get off and running into spring practice.
I want to go ahead and get this one out of the way. Shane Buechele had a very solid true freshman season under center for Texas in 2016, but Sam Ehlinger is campus and there is chatter that he will be given an opportunity to win the job heading into the fall. Personally I think Ehlinger should redshirt and be given time to adapt to the college setting and create separation between he and Buechele, but that doesn’t seem to be in cards right now. Ehlinger fits Herman’s offense like a glove and it seems like a forgone conclusion that he is going to see the field in some capacity in 2017. I think Ehlinger’s arrival will be good for Buechele, as it will get the competitive juices flowing and bring out the best of both he and Sam. Here’s hoping both come out of the spring healthy because Texas is still pretty thin at the position.
The Right Side of the Offensive Line
I think we can pencil in Connor Williams and Jake McMillon in as starters on the left side of the offensive line, and I think it is safe to say Zach Shackelford is going to be penciled in at center. From there on I think the final two spots on the offensive will be up for grabs this spring and there will be lots of tinkering from Derek Warehime. Patrick Vahe had an uneven sophomore year, but will likely get the first look at the other guard spot with guys like Denzel Okafor and Patrick Hudson getting looks as well. Warehime will also have to find a solution at right tackle, as I’m not convinced that Tristen Nickelson is the answer just yet. I expect would expect Jean Delance to get some looks there and would be surprised if he isn’t the long term answer at one of the tackle spots.
Texas is ridiculously thin here and I expect there to be a body or two moved here to help them get by this spring. Andrew Beck is your likely starter at this point with Peyton Aucoin coming off the bench, with Cade Brewer arriving this summer. I said before I expected Reese Leitao to factor in heavily early on once he arrived this summer due to his skillset, but due to his off the field transgressions I can’t project him into equation at this point. Texas has had the worst luck at this position for some time now, and unless they find a capable grad transfer I think their woes will continue another year. The goal here will be to just make it thru the spring without losing anyone to injury.
The Defensive Line
This particular group has already been publicly called out by Tom Herman for not being in the best of shape and on top of that the coaches are going to have to figure out where guys fit in scheme wise for Todd Orlando’s defense. I curious to see which guys take Herman’s comments as a challenge and rise up and make a move on the depth chart. Jordan Elliott has been commended for the work he has put in this offseason, and now that he is healthy I think he is in position to have a big spring.
Like the defensive line, this is about who is factoring in where. There has been talk of Breckyn Hager moving to inside linebacker and Malik Jefferson willing the “Rover” role, so it will be interesting to see how players adjust to new roles under Orlando. It seems like we’ve been on the brink of a breakout year for 5th year senior Naashon Hughes for some time now, and I wonder if the light will finally come on for a guy who has all of the physical tools in the world, but that light bulb seems to be flickering come the season. This is a contract year for Hughes, so it is now or never.
It’s safe to say that this group a pretty rough 2016 season. A lot was expected of guys like Holton Hill and Davante Davis, but both had miserable sophomore seasons for various reasons. With the new staff in place, these guys have a chance to start over from scratch and a chance to try to get back on track. Aside from seeing growth and development on the back end, I am anxious to see what combinations we see at corner and safety. Kris Boyd really started to come on as the season wore on, and if you can get Hill playing like he is capable you got yourself a very solid group of starting corners. At safety all eyes will be guys like DeShon Elliott, Jason Hall, and Brandon Jones. Again there is talent there, but can the coaches get the most out of them and find the right combination?
There is no way of sugarcoating it. Texas was absolutely awful on special teams (outside of Michael Dickson’s punting) last year and they have to improve in that phase of the game if they don’t want to have similar results in 2017. Herman’s first commitment was a junior college kicker in Josh Rowland, and he is going to step right in to assume the kicking duties for the Longhorns. Rowland was a JUCO All-American and is already on campus this spring, so it will be interesting to hear how he faring this spring. Outside of kicking, I want to see if blocking and execution across the board improves in this phase and I want to see if Texas can find a return man that can actually do more than fair catch the football.
- Mar 09 2017 10:26 PM
- by Daniel Seahorn
The end of an era, and the birth of a new one. The writing has been on the wall for some time now and today it was finally made official by university officials. The Charlie Strong Texas Football era is over and it looks like his successor has all but officially been decided. Tom Herman you now have the floor in Austin.
I last wrote about shoveling the dirt on Strong’s tenure as the head coach at Texas, so I won’t be spending time on the past. It is time to focus on the present and the future and with Strong being out of a job that means all eyes are now squarely on Herman. By this time most are probably pretty familiar with Herman’s resume. National championship as the offensive at coordinator and won it with his third string quarterback, instant success at Houston in 2015 with a 13-1 record that included a Peach Bowl win over Florida State, and followed that up with a 9-3 season that included wins over Oklahoma in the opener then a beat down of Lamar Jackson and Louisville last week.
This is where everyone screams and hollers about Houston losing to Navy, SMU, and Memphis this year. This is where I say Navy may very well win the conference this year and win 10 games, Memphis was a ranked team just last year and won 8 games, and the SMU game… well yeah that was a bit of a WTF moment, but Houston was really banged up in the middle of the year. Even if that is your sticking point, the man just went 22-4 in two seasons in a place that isn’t used to winning as much as they were. They surely aren’t used to boat racing the likes of Oklahoma, Florida State, and Louisville in a two year span. They surely are not used to landing five star studs like Ed Oliver, and they are not used to almost stringing together consecutive 10 win seasons (never has happened in their history). Here’s another question for those that are in doubt, who would you hire given the state of the market right now? Chris Petersen was and is probably never is leaving the Pacific Northwest, Les Miles was a non-starter, and the Sabans, Meyers, and Dabos of the world are not leaving their current gigs. Any and all realistic options for the position came with flaws. Texas was going to have to gamble a bit, but they are gambling on the most attractive and most sought after name on the coaching carousel. Go up the road and ask the folks at LSU if they would take Tom Herman as their head coach right now. Anyone in that building who says Ed Orgeron was their guy from the start is flat out lying, and I love Coach O a ton. The LSU brass wanted Tom Herman and now they are having the roll the dice a bit themselves on a guy who had a less than stellar first stint as a head coach at Ole Miss. So I ask you, would you trade places with LSU right now and be comfortable making a similar hire?
With Tom Herman you get a coach and staff with established Texas roots who could potentially rescue you from the recruiting purgatory you are currently stuck in due to the fact that the previous coach couldn’t show progress on the field this year. I’m not saying Texas is going to get ERRYBODY with the pending hire of Herman, but he no doubt gives you a shot in the arm down the home stretch and he is a very good recruiter who will now have the Texas brand behind him. I am particularly intrigued by the kind of staff Herman will put around himself with that increase in budget and resources, as he was already doing an outstanding job down in 3rd Ward with a much tighter budget. It’s been common knowledge for some time that Texas was his dream job, so I can’t imagine him being unprepared for making this leap to the big show after putting himself in the best position possible to reap the rewards if the job came open eventually.
In this business you are not always going to be able to find the perfect candidate for the job. There is going to be some risk involved on the behalf of the university no doubt about, but what is a sure fire alternative at this point? One thing I can say for sure is that Herman will be inheriting a better situation than his predecessor a few years ago and there will be much higher expectations to win quicker due to the fact that the roster has much more talent on it and an established starter at quarterback. If Texas wins 10 games in the 2017, the new coaching staff better make sure they send some thank you cards to Charlie Strong, because he was able to put more talent on the depth chart during his stint in Austin.
I know there many out there who have their doubts and I know there are plenty of people who still wanted Strong to stay all things considered, but Texas is where they are for reason. With a changing of the guard now isn’t the time to divide. Now more than ever everyone needs to come together and support the new coach, his staff, and the players. I know that will fall on deaf ears for some, but at this point the only direction to go is forward, and I think Texas fans in time will get excited to the brand of football coming to Austin.
- Nov 28 2016 08:50 AM
- by Daniel Seahorn
Trying to encompass everything that happened on a cold November night in Lawrence is a monumental task. While fans on both sides of the aisle worried about next week’s matchup against TCU, and circled it as D-Day, the Longhorns were stunned in Lawrence against a 1-9 Kansas team that was winless in their last 19 conference games. You’ll notice we did not publish a post-game story, and that’s because the moment the winning field goal went through the uprights the story of the game was inconsequential. We opted to spend last night, and this morning contacting sources to get the latest. Our attempt here is to lay out everything we know about the situation.
· Charlie Strong will not return for 2017. We understand that even a blind man could see that at this point, but we’ve reported that a possible 7-5 season could save him. There’s not a person inside the program espousing any sort of optimism for a return next season.
· We learned last night that there is some division within the ranks. It could be players blowing off steam, but we’ve heard a few reports of players who are incredibly unhappy with the entire situation. There’s a thought that some of the freshmen are questioning their decisions to sign with Texas, and a few conversations are centering around the possibility of transferring. We were told by a source that this is most likely post game hangover, but it is something worth monitoring. Last season during a collapse at Texas A&M we were told that players were telling recruits to re-consider their options. This is something we are watching for in Austin.
· DeShon Elliott described the locker room mood as “Shock and anger” last night, and that was fully on display. Many saw Charles Omenihu reacting on television last night, but there was much more to go around. A majority of the team did not stick around for “The Eyes” after the game, and the mood around the post-game media session was incredibly morose. You will see players running their own PR campaign in support of Charlie Strong on twitter. You will see recruits doing the same thing. It’s admirable, but it won’t matter.
· Expect a rash of negative PR against Texas as a result of this. The loss to Kansas knocked a few people off the Pro-Charlie bandwagon, but there will still be those that claim he wasn’t given the support he needed. Some will claim this is racially motivated. The fact is that the results during his tenure were not acceptable for a program of this stature.
· There was no timetable given on Strong’s impending dismissal, but we were told by one source that a team meeting and announcement could come this evening. We expect Strong to coach the TCU game, but an announcement today would alleviate some media pressure in his final week.
· While other sites rode the wave of emotions surrounding Tom Herman rumors this week, we remain confident in our reporting that Tom Herman is the front runner for the job. A source we spoke with indicated to us a belief that a preliminary deal was already in place for the Houston coach.
· If you want some other names to consider we can tell you that we haven’t heard much. Bryan Harsin is still a name that is generating buzz inside the athletic department. We checked with some sources that previously indicated Texas might make another run at Nick Saban, but the belief is now that this will not happen. The focus at this time is pretty much on Herman alone.
· Don’t expect to see a search firm like Korn Ferry brought on board for this particular search. The primary focus from many in Austin is on Herman, and President Greg Fenves will run the point from what we understand.
· A source indicated that a few of the commits in this class have contingency plans in place depending on what happened next. Expect to see official visits re-arranged, but we are told that those particular recruits will still give Texas the last shot for an official visit.
· News will be fast and furious these next few weeks, but we will do our best to stay on top of it and keep you in the loop.
- Nov 20 2016 03:31 PM
- by Mike Roach
Nothing in the Charlie Strong tenure has been easy, so I’m firmly in the camp that this team goes 7-5 in order to make post season decisions even tougher. Of the three remaining games I believe that this will be the toughest matchup for Texas. West Virginia is a balanced, talented offense with a very solid defense. The Mountaineers lack players like Geno Smith, Karl Joseph, and Tavon Austin, but they are chock full of experienced playmakers in a well-designed system. The Longhorns will put up a good fight at home, but West Virginia will make a few more plays at home.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 31 – Texas 27
Texas is 7-3 at home the past two seasons. Those losses? Cal (missed PAT cost them overtime), Oklahoma State (Eck'd out of the stadium), and Texas Tech (eight starters missed at least half the game). West Virginia is experienced, balanced and well-coached. But I'm done picking against the Longhorns at home — at least until TCU comes to town after Thanksgiving. Skyler Howard threw only 12 passes in this game last year; that figure needs to go way up. I have no confidence in the linebackers to be in the right gaps against the run, but the defense may be able to create enough negative plays to make up for it. WVU's secondary is solid, and they've allowed only three 100-yard rushers this season (two in the same game; Texas has allowed six). I don't know how they'll do it, but Foreman is going to break 100 yards.
Score Prediction: Texas 31 – West Virginia 27
After stepping out on the limb last week with my prediction against Texas Tech, I'm not feeling the warm fuzzies about the matchup against the Mountaineers. This week the Longhorns play host to another ranked opponent at DKR and I anticipate they will have their hands full both offensively and defensively.
West Virginia is a very experienced football team on both sides of the ball and aside from their hiccup in Stillwater, they have played some very good football this year. The Mountaineers will roll out a balanced offensive attack with Skyler Howard at the helm, and like other quarterbacks Texas has seen this yea, Howard is capable of hurting a defense with his feet. The Texas defense kept Patrick Mahomes in check on the ground last week and they will have to be up to the task again this week, though WVU presents a much more competent rushing attack this week.
The Texas offense has been imposing its will on defenses throughout the year, but they will be facing a defense who will no doubt be focused on taking away D'Onta Foreman on the ground and making true freshman Shane Buechele win the game for them. Buechele has played well and been pretty consistent throughout the year, so he very well could continue that on Saturday, but I have a feeling in my gut WVU will force a mistake or two from him.
This Texas team seems to always play well at home, so writing them off to come out on top in this matchup would be completely foolish, but I think of the final three games in the regular season that this is the most likely loss. I am taking the Mountaineers, but I would love to be wrong about it.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 35 Texas 28
To start this off, I will be picking West Virginia again. Not because I think they will win, but because every time I have picked against Texas this year, they have won. If that hurts my record, so be it. Taking one for the team!
At an analysis standpoint, Texas has not faced an offense as balanced as West Virginia's. Justin Crawford is a great change of pace for the Mountaineers. Texas will not be able to place Malik Jefferson as a spy on Skyler Howard because of this. Charlie Strong is going to have to prepare differently. The good news for Texas is that they know how to pressure the quarterback. This is key for the Horns if they want to win. Containing Crawford and slowing Howard down on a career year are two difficult things to do, but are doable in front of a home crowd.
On offense, I actually believe Shane Buechele will be the key to this game. West Virginia only has 13 sacks this year, which can allow the freshman to torch their secondary. That does not take away from D'onta Foreman whatsoever, because he is having the year of his career. If he is still firing on all cylinders, this game could easily go in Texas' favor. The Buechele to Johnson narrative is something I am so excited to see for the next 3 years. Man, this team could really come together. This game can go either way, but I can see it going to whoever has the ball last.
Score Prediction: West Virginia 38 - Texas 34
West Virginia is a good team, but not a great team. Texas is at home and is playing with a ton of confidence. Things are starting to roll again. Enjoy D'Onta Foreman, because he might not be here for long. The chance for 9 wins is still out there, which would be amazing and give the Longhorns a lot of momentum for the rest of the season.
But since I have been wrong all season, West Virginia is going to win this game because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Score Prediction: West Virginia 45 – Texas 42
Harrison Wier: 4-4
Taylor Smith: 4-5
Daniel Seahorn: 4-5
Mike Roach: 3-6
Ryan Bridges: 3-6
Aaron Carrara: 3-6
Chris Flanagan: 2-7
- Nov 12 2016 08:10 AM
- by Mike Roach
Lubbock, TX – The heavy fog that set in over Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock seemed appropriate as the Longhorns prepared to take on Texas Tech. Both teams entered the game with identical 4-4 records, and a figurative fog hung over the Longhorn program and Charlie Strong. Both teams were in search of a win to get one game closer to bowl eligibility. Texas Tech started off the festivities with a 9 play drive resulting in a Cameron Batson touchdown reception. Mahomes was surgical early as he marched the Red Raiders down the field on the strength of his remarkable escape ability and precision passing. The Longhorns answered right back with a 4 play, 69 yard drive in just 54 seconds to tie the game on a D’Onta Foreman run. The Texas running back continued his assault on the record books with a 55-yard run early in the 2nd quarter to put him over 100 yards in his 10th straight game. Foreman is just one game shy of tying Earl Campbell’s record for consecutive 100 yard performances.
While Foreman was putting the finishing touches on what could be his last season in burnt orange, Collin Johnson was busy penning the opening lines to his career. The mammoth freshman receiver hauled in two acrobatic touchdowns in the first half. Texas kept the Raider offense in check by dropping a majority of the defense into coverage and spying Mahomes with Malik Jefferson. The Longhorn offense couldn’t get the separation they needed on the scoreboard due to several unforced errors. Jerrod Heard dropped a deep ball for a likely touchdown, and a chop block penalty cost Caleb Bluiett a touchdown on a pass from Tyrone Swoopes. The oddest play of the year appeared to swing the momentum for Texas Tech. On 3rd and goal from the 24 D’Onta Foreman carried the entire Texas Tech defense to the goal line and appeared to be going in for the score when Texas Tech defensive back Douglas Coleman stripped the ball and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 23-14 lead. The Tech defense forced a three and out on the following drive, and the Longhorns looked like they were officially on the ropes.
Mental toughness is a hallmark of the 2016 Longhorn football team. Despite some very poor performances this season, they rarely find themselves out of the fight. The Texas defense rallied and forced a punt of their own, and Shane Buechele engineered a 9 play, 75 yard drive culminating in Collin Johnson’s second touchdown of the game. Texas forced the Red Raiders to punt again on the following drive, and Trent Domingue converted a 29 yard field goal in the closing seconds of the half to give Texas a 24-23 halftime lead. The Longhorn offense cut through the defense like a hot knife through butter on the first drive of the half. Tyrone Swoopes bulldozed his way into the end zone out of a new look 18 Wheeler package featuring Patrick Vahe from a fullback position. Mahomes and company were stymied again on the following drive, but the Red Raiders converted a 25 yard fake punt to extend the drive. Mahomes took advantage of a new set of downs with a methodical drive to cut the Texas lead to 31-30. D’Onta Foreman continued his incredible season with back to back scores of 38 and 74 yards to put him over 300 yards. The Longhorns held a 45-30 lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter, and looked poised to run away from the Red Raiders.
Patrick Mahomes had other ideas. After getting the ball with nice field position following a Kyle Porter fumble, Mahomes engineered a scoring drive capped off with Da’Leon Ward’s 9-yard touchdown run. The Longhorns suddenly went into the tank offensively, and squandered several chances to kill the game. After the Texas defense stopped Mahomes on a 4th and 1, Texas could not run the clock out with failed attempts at the 18 Wheeler. The Red Raiders got the ball back at the Texas 20 with just over two minutes to go. Mahomes calmly marched the Raiders down the field, and appeared to score on a pass to Dylan Cantrell that was ruled incomplete. With 9 seconds remaining and the ball on the 20-yard line, Mahomes was intercepted by Kris Boyd seal the Longhorns first road win of the season. The Longhorns were fired up for their first road victory afterwards, and Charlie Strong looked like a bit of the burden was lifted off of him in the post-game press conference. “You see guys continuing to battle”, Strong said. “We have a young team. We have some seniors that want to win”. Just a few weeks ago, the obituaries were being written for Strong at Texas, and even though he’s not out of the woods yet it’s possible he can see some daylight. “We can end out the season pretty good. The win last week really helped us”.
The Red Raiders were held to 482 yards on 100 plays, and while that’s not normally a defensive benchmark for a team, it’s encouraging for a defense that performed poorly for most of the year. Strong said in the post-game that he wanted this game to fall on the defense in order to build confidence. The Texas defense really stepped up in the second quarter to keep the Texas Tech offense off the board. “It was big in the second quarter, because we scored. And then I think it was maybe three minutes and then they get the ball back, and I said, hey, we got to get this stop, because it happened to us like the last five minutes of the first half. We have given up a big play and we have given up a touchdown. Then we go and score, and we get the ball back again, and I think they get it back with 30 seconds to take a knee”. The defense came through once again on the game-clinching stop at the end of the game. “I kind of wanted the game to fall on the defense’s hands”, said Strong. “I said, hey, you know what, guys? This is exactly the way we want it. Now, we have been playing well all game, now let’s go finish the game”.
Has this team really turned a corner? That question is still up in the air, but Strong believes his team controls their own destiny. “I told them the other day, I said, we have four games left, and I said we control our own destiny. I said we got to go on the road against a really good Texas Tech team, and then we get to come home against West Virginia. We got to go to Kansas, and then we get to come home again against TCU”. Texas will return to Austin with a matchup against West Virginia next on the docket. The Longhorns remaining road game is a contest against Kansas in Lawrence. If the Longhorns can pull off a win against the Mountaineers they will set themselves up for a nice finish to the season. For now they will focus on a strong, but beatable West Virginia team as they look to continue the “Save Charlie’s Job Tour”.
- Nov 06 2016 10:30 AM
- by Mike Roach
Here we are for yet another make or break game in a season (and tenure) full of make or break games. Despite the tiny point spread Vegas assigned to this game I just can’t see it from my perspective. The Longhorns have been good at home this season, but that has largely been to an underwhelming slate of opponents in Austin. Baylor is coming off of a bye week, and they are headed to Austin looking to get back on top of Texas after the Longhorns defeated them at home last season. The bottom line is that even though I’ve had this game circled as a win for Texas all year I just can’t trust them anymore. I think Baylor scores early and keeps a comfortable two score lead all the way through the game. D’Onta Foreman will get his, and Shane Buechele will continue his strong freshman season, but the issues on defense will be too much to overcome.
Score Prediction: Baylor 44 Texas 30
Texas looks to keep their undefeated record at home, whereas the Baylor Bears seek to keep their undefeated record overall alive. For the Longhorns, this will be the biggest test they have faced thus far. In order for Texas to stay in this game, they must do something that they have not done all year: play well in all 3 phases of the game.
On offense, Texas must add some wrinkles. The Bears are familiar with this offense, and practice against a much more developed version on a daily basis. Bubble screens and deep routes will not help Texas win this game. The middle of the field is frequently open. Use it. When a receiver scores an 80-yard touchdown, keep them in the game. John Burt has to see the field. I don't care how bad he has been at catching the ball. He is still one of the biggest overall threats on the offense. D'onta Foreman will do his thing. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about everything else on offense. Baylor has a very physical defense that has a knack for turnovers. If Texas remains predictable, Baylor will take advantage.
On defense, Texas has to start by stopping the run early. Shock Linwood and Terrence Williams are a two-headed monster that have the ability to take the Horns out of the game quickly. That cannot happen. This LB corps has not performed well all year. I don't expect that to change, unfortunately. A successful run game is only going to open up the passing game for Seth Russell. It's been reported that the Texas defense was demolished by Shane Buechele and the Longhorns offense all week of practice. That's not a good sign. The veer and shoot offense takes a couple of years to fully install. Texas is maybe at 30%. Baylor is at 100%. This defense is in for a long day, unless the players decide to step up to the task.
Charlie Strong is coaching for his job. The coaches know it. The players know it. The fans know it. Will that have an impact on how Texas plays this game? Possibly. Will it effect the outcome? I don't believe so. Baylor is a good football team, but not great. They have an extremely back-loaded conference schedule that will ultimately demonstrate just how good they are. Unfortunately for Texas, Baylor is far better than the Longhorns are. I predict this to be a long day, but Texas will show some fight for their coach. However, it won't be enough. Texas loses its first game at home, and Chalie Strong ultimately seals his fate.
Score Prediction: Baylor 45 Texas 28
It’s sad to say, but Texas will be two below 500 after the weekend. The Longhorns’ struggles with Iowa State and Kansas State don’t prove good signs with an undefeated Baylor team coming to Austin this weekend. As hungry as Texas should be, I don’t think they have what it takes to beat Baylor. The offense doesn’t connect until the second half, and by that time, the defense has given up too many points for a comeback. I think we might see a more explosive offense from the start with the game being at home and a 2:30 start, but I don’t think the offense can score enough points to keep up with the Bears’ offense.
Score Prediction: Baylor 48 Texas 30
Coming into the season I was liking the chances of picking the Horns to win his matchup, but things haven't played out the way I or many thought it would. While the Texas offense has certainly been better, the Baylor defense has exceeded expectations to date and should provide a good test for a young offense with a young budding quarterback.
As for the defense... well it may not be too pretty, as the Bears offense has shown they are capable of pounding the rock and have some playmakers on the outside at wide receivers. Charlie Strong has done a reasonable job of scheming up the Baylor offense in years past, but the defense this year has been all over the map and I have no confidence right now that a game plan will be executed according to plan. As I've said before, this unit will have to prove me wrong on Saturday before I can start to buy in.
If you're Texas, you just hope to try to limit the opportunities of the Baylor offense and give them a heavy dose of D'Onta Foreman, who is no doubt the best back the Bears defense will have seen so far to date.
I like Baylor in this matchup despite the point spread being tight. I think the Bears win this one by double digits.
Score Prediction: Baylor 45 Texas 31
So nearly every prediction I have made, I have been wrong with this football team. So I'm going to pick Baylor to win this game. They have a great defense and offense. This is their one shot as they lose everyone next year so they want to stay on target and win it all. I think they will give it their best shot.
Score Prediction: Baylor 45 Texas 31
Harrison Wier: 4-2
Taylor Smith: 4-3
Mike Roach: 3-4
Aaron Carrara: 3-4
Daniel Seahorn: 3-4
Ryan Bridges: 3-4
Chris Flanagan: 2-5
- Oct 29 2016 12:24 AM
- by Mike Roach
If Texas didn’t have the history they have with Kansas State I’d probably pick this as a somewhat easy win. The Wildcats don’t have much on offense, and the Texas offense has enough big plays in them to get a few scores against even a tough defense. D’Onta Foreman will be the X-factor for Texas against a tough Kansas State defense. The Purple Wizard and his crew have excelled at stopping the run this season, but special running backs find ways to gain yards and make plays. If Texas can put the same pass rush pressure on K-State that they put on Iowa State last week they could force some negative plays and turnovers to help their offense along. If Texas performs like they have on the road over the tenure of Charlie Strong’s career, this could be a long afternoon for the Horns. In a season full of critical contests for Strong’s future, this one seems the most pivotal. I see it as a low scoring game Texas is able to grind out with some inspired play.
Score Prediction: Texas 23 Kansas State 21
As I stated before the Oklahoma State game, I think 11am games favor the home team. So, I think Texas playing Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday at 11am will be a tough matchup for the Longhorns. The Wildcats will be looking to rebound after a loss to Oklahoma, and Texas will be trying to get its offense going before the second half (referring to the Iowa State game). The Longhorns can’t come out sluggish in order to have a chance at victory. Kansas State can put up points, as seen against Tech at home when the Wildcats scored 44 points. The Wildcats can also have a slow offensive day, as seen against the Mountaineers when they scored 16 points and lost by one. Texas can’t rely on a slow offensive day from Kansas State; the Longhorns offense needs to score often and control the clock to give the defense a chance for crucial stops in the fourth quarter. We didn’t see the Texas offense we want to see in the first half against Iowa State, and that can’t happen this Saturday at Kansas State. If the Longhorns come out and score 14 points in the first quarter, they win this game.
Score Prediction: Texas 38 Kansas State 30
I'm basing my entire prediction on the belief that, having assumed control of the defense, Charlie Strong truly has diagnosed the problems and hasn't forgotten the lessons of last week (namely, the KISS principle). Texas' plan for K-State last year was to play mostly 4-3 and nickel with four DL, and on the back end they played predominantly man coverage. It worked, even though the freshmen linebackers hustled to every hole except the correct one. Tidy up the run fits — I cannot stress enough how bad they were last year, so improvement should not be hard — and tackle well and the defense should be fine. On offense, eventually there will be an opponent that can slow down D'Onta Foreman for more than a half. In my experience, it's usually not the opponent you would expect; it'll probably be Baylor next week or West Virginia in mid-November. That said, K-State is going to throw its safeties at the problem and make Shane Buechele and the passing game beat them. So long as the right tackle — whether it's Brandon Hodges or Tristan Nickelson — can keep Jordan Willis at bay long enough, I think he's up to the task. This week, facing two 5'9" corners, would be a good time for Dorian Leonard (6'4"), John Burt (6'3") or Collin Johnson (6'6") to step up and win some jump balls. Take a deep shot or three, get an early lead, then sit back and chuckle as Kansas State's offense burns the clock and its chances of a comeback.
Score Prediction: Texas 30 Kansas State 23
This game will be a tale like the Pacquiao vs Mayweather fight of the Longhorns’ high flying offense vs the Wildcats’ stout defense. Simultaneously, it will be the matchup Hulk vs Bugs Bunny fight of the Longhorns “super strong and fast but incredibly unskilled” defense (think of Breckyn Hager) vs the “could win a heavyweight wrestling match through sheer pluck” Wildcat offense. Maybe David vs Goliath would have been a more apt description for this game and the two programs… but I like the Hulk vs Bugs Bunny.
Synder has whipped up an offense that can take advantage of the Longhorn second level’s inability to read blocks and attack the ball well. But for me, a lot is pointing Texas’ way this game. Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener are no Collin Klein and Jake Waters. Jesse Ertz is banged up and his OL is pretty bad against the pass rush. The Longhorns’ DL can win the run game match-ups against the traditional Synder running plays, and their passing game is not good enough to take advantage of the defense’s major flaws if the Longhorn defense remains in Iowa State form.
If the defense can slow itself down and keep it simple like they did against Iowa State, I think they can land a few punches on the old wascally wabbit.
However, we are dealing with a wizard here. On top of that they’re facing the best defense this team has seen.
Most know the base and strength of Gilbert’s Veer and Shoot offense is the run game. Well, D’Onta Foreman may run into a bit of trouble in Manhattan. The KSU run defense ranks 3rd in the nation in yards/game (89.83 yards) and 4th in yards/attempt (2.95 yards). Their attack is led by their NT Will Geary who will make Shackleford regret not playing on the same team as him and Elijah Lee who is the soundest LB I’ve ever seen. Malik Jefferson take notes.
The Longhorns will be making their living on offense through the air. I would imagine that the run/pass ratio with shift from 60:40 to about 50:50 this game because it’s the weakness of this defense if there was one. Texas appears to match up well against their pass defense which is nowhere as stout as their run game but still nothing to thumb you nose at.
If the offense can connect on more deep balls and take what the Kansas State defense will give them (my guess is the intermediate plays and over the middle), it will force the Wildcats to take a man out of the box and the Longhorns have a running game to make them pay.
In the end I think it’s a defensive battle and the Longhorns come away with the first win in Manhattan since 2002.
Score Prediction: Texas 27 Kansas State 24
Last year Texas beat Kansas State at their own game by being more physical, running the football, and playing good defense. This time around Texas heads into Manhattan, a place they haven't won game in since I was a freshman in high school. If Texas wants to string together consecutive victories against the Wildcats, then they will need to get D'Onta Foreman going early against a solid KSU defense that is good against the run. On top of that, they need to get Shane Buechele in a comfort zone early with some easy throws and get his confidence up, as The Purple Wizard and his staff will no doubt try to rattle his cage early.
KSU QB Jesse Ertz is expected to play despite suffering an injury last week against Oklahoma, but with or without him their offense hasn't been very potent. If Texas can continue to play sound defensive football like they did against Iowa State they will more than have a shot to win this ball game. Keep KSU behind the sticks and off schedule, contain and keep Ertz in the pocket when he is in the game, and be disciplined against the QB run game.
I'm not sure how healthy Ertz is going into this game, but if Joe Hubener has to get in the game for an extended period of time, then KSU is going to look like they did last year on offense, which is vanilla and one dimensional.
It's hard to pick Texas with confidence with the venue being in Manhattan, but based on how the teams matchup it's a game that Texas SHOULD win. If Texas plays the style of game they desire then they will win by double digits. If KSU is able to dictate the pace, then this will be an ugly game and they will win in ugly fashion. My gut is telling me Texas wins this one, but they will have to sweat it out a bit before pulling away.
Score Prediction: Texas 34 Kansas State 20
Vegas started at -3 KSU and has since changed to -1 Texas. So it's a toss-up. It won't be.
The Iowa State game was a very clear indication that the Longhorns are moving in the right direction. Texas held Iowa State to 280 total yards of offense. "Yeah, but it's Iowa State!" Stop it, stop it now. That's the lowest amount of yards they have gained on offense all year to this point. That's better than the 47th ranked defense in the country's performance against Iowa State (Iowa), and nearly 200 yards better than the 18th ranked defense in country did against Iowa State (Baylor). So Texas showed HUGE gains on defense.
However, the Wildcats are the best defense the Longhorns have played all season so this battle will come down to whether Texas can be efficient on offense. If Texas gets to 40, they win the game. I think they get there.
Score Prediction: Texas 42 Kansas State 17
Texas looks to win in Manhattan for the first time in 14 years. This will be no easy task, as the Wildcats are sound and disciplined on all aspects of the field. Bill Snyder is not called the Purple Wizard for nothing, but Charlie Strong has the personnel to win this game.
In the end, Texas cannot beat themselves. 10 penalties for 100 yards cannot happen. Bone-headed mistakes that result in turnovers cannot happen. Texas is going to have to play their most fundamentally sound game of the season in order to win this ball game. Kansas State has the #3 rushing defense in the country. Can D'onta Foreman bounce back from a sub par performance against Iowa State? More importantly, can the offensive line out physical the Kansas State defensive front (especially Jordan Willis)?
Charlie Strong simplifying the defense seems to have worked out in his favor. Moving Vance Bedford to defensive backs coach also seems to be working well. The Kansas State offense is by no means overpowering, but have a 100% scoring rate in the red zone this season. Texas must have a 'bend but don't break' mentality throughout this game. If they hold Kansas State to field goals, they win this game.
For whatever reason, I feel really good about this game. Maybe it was seeing the defense finally coming together against a team that held their own against Baylor and Oklahoma State. Maybe it was seeing some more wrinkles in an already powerful offense. Anything can happen on Saturday, but I have faith that coach Strong can reverse the spell of the Purple Wizard.
Score Prediction: Texas 28 Kansas State 24
The Longhorns haven't been able to pull of a win in Manhattan since 2002 but things change on Saturday. The Texas offense has the capability to outscore the K-State attack, which ends up being the difference in this game. An improved Texas defense will get the job done and propel the Longhorns over .500 on the season keeping bowl hopes alive.
Score Prediction: Texas 34 Kansas State 31
Harrison Wier: 4-1
Taylor Smith: 4-2
Mike Roach: 3-3
Ryan Bridges: 3-3
Daniel Seahorn: 3-3
Aaron Carrara: 3-3
Chris Flanagan: 2-4
- Oct 22 2016 07:13 AM
- by Mike Roach
AUSTIN --The Longhorns returned home after more than a month on the road as they looked to end their three game losing skid against Iowa State. Texas seemed to be off to a good start as they forced a Cyclones punt on their first drive. The Longhorns moved the ball in big chunks, but they were backed up out of field goal range following a Jake Oliver offensive pass interference play. Iowa State drove 58 yards and got themselves on the board first with a 39 yard field goal from Cole Netten. The Longhorn mistakes continued when D’onta Foreman fumbled the ball on his own 33 yard line. An unnecessary roughness after the recovery compounded the Texas mistake and gave Iowa State starting field position at the Texas 18. The Cyclones weren’t able to manage anything more than three points, and Texas kept things within a one score range.
The usually potent Texas offense struggled to get anything going early on. Shane Buechele struggled with ball placement in some spots, and the Longhorns committed several drive killing penalties. Sophomore punter Michael Dickson was the star of the first half with his 4 punts for an average of 46.5 yards to pin the Cyclones back. The Longhorns did get a scoring drive started late in the half, but a curious third down fade call resulted in an incomplete pass and forced the Longhorns to kick. Trent Domingue’s 21 yard field goal ended a nearly 90 minute scoreless streak going back to last season for Texas. D’onta Foreman found some running room early on, but the Cyclones were able to prevent the big plays on the ground and keep Texas out of the end zone. Sterlin Gilbert relied on his big back with 18 carries for 78 yards in the first half, but Texas couldn’t get much going outside of that.
The much maligned Texas defense looked improved against a less than stellar Iowa State defense in the first half. The Cyclones were held to 140 yards in the opening half, and the new cornerback combo of Kris Boyd and John Bonney limited busted coverages and tackled well in the open field. Texas also benefitted from a strong pass rush from the Texas front seven. Jeff McCulloch, Chris Nelson, Bryce Cottrell, Naashon Hughes, Breckyn Hager, and Malik Jefferson all factored in to a smothering Texas front which kept Texas in the game early. The pass rush was especially potent when you consider that Texas logged many of their sacks on 3rd down.
The Longhorns took the ball on offense to start the second half, and exploited Iowa State’s ‘no deep ball’ defense with hitches and screens. A 37 yard touchdown to Armanti Foreman was wiped off the board when both Foreman and the defender committed offsetting facemask penalties. Texas came right back on the next play when Buechele found a wide open Jerrod Heard for a 37 yard touchdown to take their first lead of the game. After forcing Iowa State to a turnover on downs, Buechele found fellow freshman Devin Duvernay on a 75 yard wheel route for a touchdown to give Texas a 17-6 lead with 7:07 left in the third quarter. Buechele found his rhythm in the second half, and surgically moved Texas down the field on a 13 play 96 yard capped off by an 18 yard D’Onta Foreman touchdown run. That carry put Foreman over the 100 yard mark for a nation’s best 7th straight game, and the Longhorns took a 24-6 lead into the final quarter. The Longhorns never looked back as they tacked on a a field goal and sealed the game with a 27-6 win.
Buechele was sensational in the second half as he reached a new career high for a single game. Buechele said there were no specific adjustments made at the half, it all came down to execution. “We just were executing. When you execute it creates tempo. First half there were penalties that killed drives. There were open guys, and I missed them”. Devin Duvernay echoed Buechele’s comments on execution within the offense. “We knew we could do it”, said Duvernay. “We just needed to all pull together at once and play a complete game”. Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert didn’t sense a tightness in the first half, he just wanted to see the team play a cleaner game in regards to penalties. “That’s something that we put ourselves in that hole. I believe it was nine for a hundred, and that’s something that’s just tough to overcome”.
The big topic after the game was the reported team meeting from earlier this week. Sources reported to several outlets that there were “fireworks” between players and coaches, but nobody seemed to acknowledge that much this evening. “I have a team meeting every Thursday”, said Strong in his press conference. Sterlin Gilbert was slightly more direct and to the point. “We know what’s true, and we know what’s false”. Naashon Hughes was one person who did expand a bit more on the closed door meeting. “Guys just challenged ourselves and challenged each other in that meeting. We all went in there with our pride to the side and said what we had to say to each other”. Defensive tackle Paul Boyette also expanded on the meeting. “We need everyone to pull their own weight and it’s time for us to get this thing together. We’re tired of having these meetings and we’re tired of talking about next week. There is no more next week”.
While there may be no next week for excuses, there is a next week for this team. The Texas players and coaches looked a bit more relieved with a win under their belt, but they go back on the road to a house of horrors for this program in Manhattan next week. If the Longhorn players have any hope of saving Charlie Strong’s job they must continue to put together strong performances and learn to play well on the road. “We have to go play better on the road”, said Charlie Strong. Look at California didn’t play well, and then we came back, played well at Stillwater, and then to go to Dallas and we didn’t play well. It’s going to be a good challenge for us right here and we’ll see exactly how this win will be a good carry-over for us”. Sophomore linebacker Breckyn Hager was a bit bolder in his proclamations. “We will go undefeated. We have no choice and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get there. We have our hardest games at home. You see how we play at home; the excitement, the energy. You see how our defense just played and we’re going to step it up because there are a lot of things we could have done better”.
Following the victory, Charlie Strong left the field with the student section chanting his name. It’s clear that the players love and respect their head coach, and Breckyn Hager spoke to that as well. “I can’t speak on the rest of the team, but I think we play for Charlie and each other. We’re tired of all the crap and we love that man. We want to keep him in house”. A win over Iowa State is not anything to raise a banner for, but this group needed something positive to get them back on track. The hallmark of the Charlie Strong era has been inconsistent results carrying over from week to week. At a time when every game truly matters for this coaching staff, they are going to have to make a change in that trend. They will get the first opportunity to do that in Manhattan next week.
- Oct 16 2016 09:52 AM
- by Mike Roach
DALLAS - - Fans are often cautioned to throw the records out the window during rivalry games, and the Red River Showdown is a good example of why. The Longhorns entered the game reeling from two straight road losses, coaching staff turmoil, and questions about Charlie Strong’s job security. Oklahoma came to Dallas following a big win over TCU to get their season back on track. One team was clearly trending up while the other was in a freefall.
With his job potentially on the line, Charlie Strong took over defensive play calling duties, and his unit looked improved as they showed a bend but don’t break mentality as they held the Sooners to a missed field goal on their first drive. The Texas offense struggled to find any success. The Longhorns went three and out on their first drive, but a reinvigorated defense forced their first turnover of the year when Dylan Haines came up with a ball that was jarred loose from Mark Andrews. Malcolm Roach made a big hit on the play that launched it into the opportunistic hands of Haines. The Longhorns were once again forced to punt, but Dylan Haines once again found himself in a position to make a play. Haines intercepted a Mayfield pass thanks to a fortuitous no call on a clear pass interference, and his 38 yard return put Texas in the red zone. Texas missed on a near touchdown pass to Collin Johnson, and settled for a 33 yard Trent Domingue field goal.
The Sooners found success in the middle of the field running the ball, but Texas was able to keep the Sooners out of the end zone for most of the first quarter. With the Longhorn offense still trying to find their feet, D’Onta Foreman turned the ball over on the Texas 16 to set up a very short field for the Sooners. Samaje Perine finished off a 3 play, 16 yard drive with a touchdown to give Oklahoma a 7-3 lead. Texas responded with an 8 play, 66 yard drive aided by 30 yards in penalties called against Oklahoma on one play. Foreman made up for his earlier fumble with a 1 yard touchdown run that put Texas back in front.
The Longhorn defense kept finding big plays, as a burgeoning Oklahoma scoring drive was halted by Poona Ford’s strip of Joe Mixon. The Longhorn offense was not able to capitalize, and Shane Buechele spent the first half looking like a true freshman quarterback. Buechele missed on multiple deep throws to wide open receivers. His first half stats tallied a pedestrian 9-21 for 79 yards. Buechele displayed some happy feet in the pocket, and missed a wide open Armanti Foreman for what would have been a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half. On the other side of the field, Baker Mayfield struggled through most of the first half as well. While the Sooner offense was clearly superior to Texas, Mayfield tossed two interceptions, and missed several open throws. Late in the second half Mayfield got some mojo back when he found Dede Westbrook for a 71 yard touchdown pass. That score accounted for the longest touchdown completion for OU in the storied history of this rivalry. Texas put together an 18 play, 64 yard drive ending in a Trent Domingue 29 yard field goal as time expired in the half. That score cut the lead to 14-13 Oklahoma at the intermission. As both teams entered the locker rooms for halftime the story was clear to see. Oklahoma out gained Texas 281 to 130, including 87 yards on 11 carries for Samaje Perine. Texas minimized that performance three turnovers and much better tackling.
The Longhorns opened the second half on offense, and much like Frampton, Buechele came alive on that drive. After under throwing a go route to Jerrod Heard, Buechele found freshman wide receiver Devin Duvernay for a 63 yard touchdown. Oklahoma responded immediately with a 3 play, 79 yard drive capped off with a 42 yard touchdown pass to Dede Westbrook. A shootout officially began when Buechele answered the OU score with a 45 yard touchdown pass to Dorian Leonard. The Sooners answered back with an 85 yard drive that ended with a Baker Mayfield touchdown run. Texas was the first to blink, and a drive that included a false start, and a John Burt dropped. Dede Westrbook continued his record breaking day when he scored his third touchdown on a 47 yard pass to give the Sooners a 35-27 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter. Westbrook broke the Oklahoma record for receiving yards in a game. His 10 catches also accounted for an OU record in this series. A Joe Mixon muffed punt gave Texas the ball in the red zone, and it looked like Texas could equalize. On a critical third down, Buechele threw a back breaking interception. Oklahoma drove the dagger in with a 13 play, 93 yard drive capped off by a Samaje Perine 3 yard touchdown.
The Foreman brother came up huge on the next drive. D’Onta Foreman pushed his rushing total to 114 yards, and his brother Armanti finished the drive with a 10 yard touchdown reception. Oklahoma took over up 42-34, and the Longhorns were unable to get them off the off the field. The Sooners choked out a majority of the clock with a 15 play, 60 yard drive that took up nearly 8 minutes of possession before extending the lead by 3 after a field goal. With Texas on the ropes D’Onta Foreman factored in big on a on the following drive. The junior runner put on a gutsy display today pushing through a frustrating first half to finish with a career high 159 yards on 22 carries for 2 touchdowns. This performance was the sixth straight 100 yard game for Foreman, and the 8th of his career. The Longhorns failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, and ultimately got the ball back too late.
The loss drops Texas to 2-3 on the year, and now the heat on Charlie Strong is just about unbearable. In a week where he demoted Vance Bedford and took over play calling duties, Strong’s unit gave up 672 total yards (5th most in school history) and 45 points. He also gave up individual rushing and receiving performances of over 200 yards to Samaje Perine (35-214-2) and the aforementioned Westbrook. Baker Mayfield overcame his shaky start to amass 390 yards passing and 3 touchdowns on 22-31 passing. Charlie Strong’s comments were all too familiar and hollow to the ears of many. “We’ve just got to continue to work and get better”, said Strong following the loss.
Strong’s defense looked like it could be effective in the first half, but when the dam broke in the second half it was clear we would see the same story. “We lost the game so there wasn’t improvement”, said Strong when asked to assess his play calling performance. Safety Dylan Haines thought the team played hard, but once again it was the same story for this beleaguered unit. “Just busted coverages. I know that’s been said before, but we’re just not finding a way to get our assignments and execute those”.
The eyes of Texas will turn to Strong once again this week as he endures more scrutiny. The loss dropped his record to 9-11 against Big 12 competition during his tenure at Texas. He’s also out of excuses and cards to play. Texas will look to rebound in a “revenge” game against Iowa State next week, but the most important task will be to get this team believing in themselves once again. At this point in time that task looks as tall as the State Fair mascot “Big Tex”.
- Oct 08 2016 03:32 PM
- by Mike Roach
Weird things can happen after dark, and the Longhorns found themselves on the losing end of a game full of twists and turns. California outlasted Texas 50-43, and we bring you five takeaways following that loss.
1. Plenty of blame to go around
On a night where plenty of fingers will be pointed at different aspects of this squad, it's important to remember that this is still a very young team struggling to grow up. After riding high through two weeks this was a massive trap, and the mistakes were endless. We'll get to the defense in a bit, but penalties reared their ugly head once again. While the Horns cut down on the number of overall penalties from previous weeks, the infractions tonight came at the absolute worst times. Freshman center Zach Shackelford committed penalties on back to back drives that stalled the offense in crucial situations. Add in unforced errors like drops and blown coverages, and you have a recipe for disaster. Speaking of drops it appears that John Burt is in the middle of a sophomore slump. For Texas to be a consistently dangerous offense they he will need to do whatever is necessary to slow the regression. While we're talking about blame, can we discuss special teams? Trent Domingue missed two field goals, and I'm not going to hold those against him too much since they were from well outside of his range, but there were plenty of other errors there. Outside of the Brandon Jones blocked punt in the second quarter I'm not sure there was anything to applaud. The return team is the opposite of dynamic, and the coverage team looks like a big return waiting to happen every time down the field.
2. About that defense
Yes this unit is still young, but the performance tonight was inexcusable on many levels. The Longhorns couldn't get a stop when it mattered, and they let the Cal offense go up and down the field without effectively pressuring Davis Webb. From my couch it looked like Vance Bedford opted to let Cal dictate the way they'd play defense, and that played right into the Bear Raid's hand. The offense has improved enough to win more games, but the question of if Texas is back or not cannot be truly answered until some things are fixed on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary is in shambles, and they were dominated by a receiving corps full of inexperience and youth. While most fans lament the safety duo of Dylan Haines and Jason Hall, the Texas cornerbacks were mostly at fault for big passing plays tonight. Cal does have a dynamic offense, but Texas better get ready to see this style for the majority of the season. Vance Bedford definitely has some heat on him from the fanbase.
3. Shane isn't perfect
We knew there would be some rough patches in his development, and to be honest I'm not sure he didn't push himself back on the field through a concussion. The true freshman wasn't horrible by any means (19/33, 196 yards, 1/1 TD/INT), but he didn't look himself after returning to the game. Buechele stared down receivers, forced balls into coverage, and let a deep pass hang for an interception that could be considered the turning point of this game. It's mind boggling that a defense as porous as Cal was the one to decode Buechele so effectively, but this wasn't a back breaking performance. There's still enough there to be encouraged about as Texas moves forward throughout the season. The priority will be to keep him upright and in positions to succeed.
4. Process vs. results
Twitter was buzzing with pleas from the fans to run the ball continuously, but that's not what this offense does. While Texas found great success with the run, they have to continue to be aggressive and take shots when they are presented with them. Results tonight weren't in their favor, but the Texas offense did plenty enough to pull out a win. Remember that Sterlin Gilbert is also maturing as a young coordinator, but also remember that you shouldn't bemoan aggressive play just because it didn't work out. If nothing else, find encouragement in the fact that an off night for this offense by some people's standards resulted in 500 yards of total offense and 41 points. As this offense continues to develop remember that process oriented decision making usually wins out over result oriented decision making.
5. Where does Texas go from here?
Before the season I think many considered a 2-1 start a realistic best case scenario for this team. Texas enters the bye week at a great time, because they've got some banged up players in need of recuperation. The Longhorns need to enter conference play as healthy as possible in order to to achieve their goals. This is still a dynamic offense, and if Texas can find something to plug the leaks on defense they should be a tough out for any team on the schedule. While this might feel like a major step back, I'd offer that I think this is something young teams learn from. The Longhorns know they have some emerging players in the front seven on defense, and a nasty running game. We think that there is finally a quarterback in place to take this team to the next level, but there are still important areas of growth needed. If Texas can recover and play well against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, they should be able to springboard into the rest of the season. If they let this loss get them down they will be right back where they were last year. Adversity is always a test for young teams, and despite failing their first true road test they have the opportunity to pass the adversity exam.
- Sep 19 2016 08:04 AM
- by Mike Roach
This article serves to inform you that what you saw really just happened. The Texas Longhorns stunned Notre Dame 50-47 in double overtime. We bring you five thoughts following an electric victory in Austin.
1. Welcome to the new age
The Shane Buechele era begins, and the freshman was sensational when it counted tonight. He made some freshman mistakes, but he showed brass balls and composure beyond his years. Buechele operated the offense with a surgical passing game, and strong decision making skills. As with any young player, he will have some lows throughout his growth, but how about this performance to start your career. Buechele entered the evening standing on the edge of history as the first true freshman to start since Bobby Layne. He finished the game 16-26, 280 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. The most impressive thing was his good decision making when the pressure mounted most.
2. Let's not forget about the other quarterbacks
Tyrone Swoopes could have been down about not winning the starting job, but he came prepared to carry the team when they needed it most with the 18 wheeler package. Texas was the more physical team on the field against a pretty good defensive line, and Swoopes was all heart near the end. Speaking of heart, how about D'Onta Foreman and the performance he put on. The duo of Foreman and Warren are very strong, but I think it's clear that Foreman is the alpha in the pack. While we're talking about quarterbacks, how about Jerrod Heard sparking Texas with a huge deep ball in the first half? The buy in for players on this team is indicative of their love and devotion to their head coach.
Texas had so many issues last season finishing these type of games last season, but they were never out of the fight tonight. The team could have folded after Notre Dame roared back to take the lead, but the calm hand at the helm from the quarterback and head coach inspired strong performances from less heralded guys like Chris Nelson, Jacorey Warrick, Jake Oliver, and countless others. Though this doesn't signal a total comeback for Texas, this crew knows they have the stuff to win games with a ton of grit. Charlie's young guys are growing up,and his older players have bought in to the system.
4. The defense is better but...
They still have a long way to go. It was inspiring to see the defense finally get off the field on third down, but there was plenty of room for improvement. The most disappointing aspect of the night was a bit of regression from Davante Davis. Davis gave up two touchdowns on blown coverage mistakes, and was generally not the difference maker we think he can be. Texas will need a better effort from the secondary in the coming weeks in order to compete in the high octane Big 12. There were also some moments in the third that looked a lot like the malaise the team experienced out of the half started to creep back in. The team should celebrate, but there will be plenty to coach on during film sessions.
5. Sterlin Gilbert ladies and gentlemen
There's some room for schematic improvement, but I thought the new offensive coordinator was a shot of life for this program. Gilbert mixed and matched the quarterbacks well, and he dialed up th eright plays at the right time. Notre Dame isn't as strong of a team as they were last season, but that's a damn good performance to build on. This offense is designed for guys like D'Onta Foreman to chew up big yardage, and Gilbert pulled the right levers to keep the offense from going stagnant. Texas fans have to be excited for what is in store.
How about a big hand for the crowd in attendance. That atmosphere looked incredible from tv, and the monster list of recruits in attendance had to love it. If you think Texas recruited well the last two years, let Charlie have a successful season and enjoy the results.
- Sep 04 2016 10:35 PM
- by Mike Roach
The open practice that started this morning at 9:30 has concluded and while I didn't start a thread earlier here are some of my immediate take aways.
- I've already touched on how the team seemed to be in great shape and with the tempos of practice it's not hard to see why. Between working with Coach Moorer and the coaches constantly keeping their foot on the throttle this team will be in tip top shape when Notre Dame comes to town.
- There is no down time for the players during practice outside of a water break at the half way point. Every minute is being maximized.
- Buechele and Swoopes were both taking reps with the first team today. Both had solid days from what I saw, but if I'm leaning one way after today it will be with Shane.
- Even though he is a freshmen, Buechele always seems in control and is getting the ball out. Just seems to process things quicker than the other guys. With the amount of reps going around, he is only going to get better with time.
- The offensive line is noticeably bigger than those in years past. First unit from left to right: Williams- Vahe- Shackleford- Perkins- Nickelson
- Patrick Hudson is massive and he worked at right tackle, while Buck Major was working at guard.
- The young wide receivers made some nice plays and catches today. I'm optimistic about the future of the position with the talent there.
- Burt caught a deep touchdown pass on Davante Davis early on. I'm excited about him for sure this year.
- Collin Johnson made some nice catches today. Devin Duvernay is going to be a problem out of the slot. If you group Dev, Collin and Burt together they are going to give defenses fits.
- We had a Kai Locksley sighting today. He actually got reps in 7 on 7 work and hooked up with LJ Humphrey who made a very nice catch.
- Anthony Wheeler deflected a pass during 7 on 7 that was intercepted by Holton Hill who made a diving catch.
- Kris Boyd looked solid in coverage and went step for step with Johnson on a deep ball and broke it up.
-Jeffrey McCulloch picked off Jerrod Heard during 7 on 7. Davis also had a pick in the EZ of Buechele.
Real football is almost here guys. Can't wait!
- Aug 07 2016 12:04 PM
- by Daniel Seahorn
It’s no secret that this is an important year for Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns. Some would go so far as to categorize the upcoming season as make-or-break for Strong, who has yet to post a winning season as head coach in Austin. There are many positives to look at respective to the work Strong has put in headed into his 3rd year as head coach, but the time for prep-work has ended. Fans, alumni, players and staff want to see on-field results translating to a winning season. Anything less would be considered a step-back, leaving the program, once again, in tumult.
Let’s look at the Top-5 key games on the Texas schedule that will help make or break a winning season in 2016.
5.) Texas @ Cal, September 17th, 2016
The first true road game for expected starter at quarterback, Shane Buechele, awaits in Berkley against the team that handed Texas arguably their most heartbreaking loss of the 2015 campaign. This matchup will give Buechele a true taste of what it’s like to quarterback his team on the road, and all the pressures that come with it. Outcome aside, this is the game for him to make mistakes and learn from them so he is ready to go as Big 12 play commences after the bye week.
4.) Texas @ Oklahoma State, October 1st, 2016
This is the opening game in conference play for the Longhorns, and they are thrown right into the fire in Stillwater. OSU is poised for a big year with almost every starter returning from last year, and playing in Stillwater is never an easy task. Winning this game and starting off conference play on the right foot would be a huge momentum swing for the Longhorns who play the Sooners in the Red River Shootout the following week.
3.) TCU @ Texas, November 25th, 2016
The final game of the season comes the day after Thanksgiving, when the country will still be tuned in to football. Besides it being the final regular season game the Longhorns play, they might need this win for multiple reasons. They could be in contention for the Big 12, or be on the bubble for a bowl berth. Avenging the 50-7 beating in Fort Worth last season and leaving a lasting impression in the minds of the bowl selectors and fans could be huge for Strong’s future in Austin.
2.) Texas VS. OU, October 8th, 2016.
This one goes without saying. The virtual midpoint in the season, and the two Big 12 powerhouses come together in Dallas for one huge weekend. A win or loss in this game almost always gives an indication on how the rest of the season is going to trend for the two schools (sans last year). If Texas can emerge from the two week gauntlet of OSU and OU with at least one win, that will set them up well for the rest of the year - the two favorites to win the Big 12 will be out of the way in the first five games.
1.) Notre Dame @ Texas, September 4th, 2016.
Two of the nation’s most storied programs will face off in Austin to kick off the 2016 season. The game will be played on Sunday night and it will be the only televised game at the time, which means the eyes of the nation will be tuned in. It’s an important game for both programs, but it’s critical for Texas. Notre Dame has very high expectations for this year, and it is probably the most talented team Texas will see throughout the season. Playing the Irish right out of the gate will be a good measuring stick for the Longhorns, as team strengths and weaknesses will indubitably manifest themselves. While Notre Dame is favored to win this game, if Texas can find a way to pull of the upset, it could be a sign of things finally turning around in Austin. As someone put it to me recently, “If Texas wins that game, I have them as my dark-horse team in the entire country, let alone the Big 12.”
It’s not often that things work out how you would like them to during the course of the year. If I was told Texas would be guaranteed 3 wins out of these 5 games before the season started, I would take those three games and run. Winning 3 out of these 5 would mean, in all likelihood, that they would at least amass a bare minimum of 6 wins (given the nature of the rest of their schedule), good enough for a bowl berth. What they do with the seven games not mentioned here will be determined by how they play in these 5 key games. Winning key games builds momentum into the next week and so on, and the momentum factor will be ever so important in a year that has high stakes for the Texas program and its future.
- Aug 01 2016 07:45 PM
- by Jeffrey Cooperstein
It’s unusual to see a coach brimming with confidence following a 5-7 season and facing a do or die year, but loose and confident was exactly the vibe Charlie Strong conveyed during Big 12 Media Days. The third year Texas coach was relaxed during his initial press conference, and he held a lively session with multiple members of the media during the afternoon portion. Strong started the day off by talking about his excitement for the upcoming season, and the need to elevate the program.
“We've gotta be better than what we were the last two years. We've got to elevate. We've got to elevate this program and it's about making sure that our players understand it's about accountability, about responsibility and it's about moving this program forward,” said Strong. He noted that the way he’s recruited in his first two full classes led to the bullish attitude he had on display Tuesday. “I look at the last two years of what we've done in our recruiting and really you look at Malik, Vahe, Connor Williams, you look at three All-Americans last season and our two freshmen corners, we had a lot of freshmen play last year, Chris Warren, but you look at the signing class we just brought in with 28 signees and we got the four players from Baylor and I told the players the other day these are Texas Longhorns and let's welcome them in.”
The hashtag “believe” appeared in January, and it preceded a monstrous finish to the 2016 recruiting class. That motto and momentum flowed into the spring, and the Longhorns have made it the theme for this season. “Our team is coming together, a lot of energy and momentum and guys are beginning to believe in one another. One of our themes right now is believe, and I tell 'em all the time, if you don't believe me yourself no one will every believe in you, so it time to start believing in yourself and get this program head back in the right direction.”
Despite the confidence, it’s well known that Strong’s seat could at best be described as very warm. Strong deftly sidestepped questions about the number of wins it would take to keep his job, and instead chose to talk about the high expectations in Austin. “The expectations here are always high, which they should be and why would you want it any other way. They should. There is no reason for us to go 6-7 and 5-7 and you want to see progress. I totally agree with that and we should, and that's what we're working for. Our goal is to win every game and it's the work to go win those games and they shouldn't be any different.”
In his first two seasons, Strong commented multiple times on a lack of upperclassmen leadership. Strong chose to bring seniors Paul Boyette, Dylan Haines, Kent Perkins, and Caleb Bluiett to represent the program in Dallas, and he expressed pleasure with the way seniors have stepped up. “It's better than it has been, and if you harp on something enough I think they get the message and they've gotten the message now because the four guys I got here, even with Tyrone. Tyrone doesn't say much but he works and he goes about it the right way. Another, Bryce Cottrell, and probably one of my best leaders on the team is Tim Cole. Tim understands his role. He plays behind Malik. But guys respect Tim Cole because of how hard he works and how he carries himself."
Despite the praise heaped upon his upperclassmen, a big reason for optimism is the wealth of young talent recruited from the last two cycles. Strong utilizes an unorthodox recruiting strategy that allows the Longhorns to close late in the year. “You always look to go improve your recruiting and guys always know this. I'm one of those guys that I like to close late. I always say a lot of times when guys make commitments they're raking a reservation. A lot of times they don't stick to it, so I will always be one of those guys who wants to close late. I tell guys all the time, listen, you go visit wherever you want to visit, commit to whomever you want to commit to. But at the end I'm going to come back and see where your interest is and see if we can somehow convince you to come to the University of Texas.”
While a number of freshmen are likely to see significant playing time this season, no recruit from the 2016 class is more important to team success than freshman quarterback Shane Buechele. The Elite 11 finalist enrolled early in the spring, and he wowed fans during the annual Orange and White spring scrimmage. It was clear that Strong would not tip his hand in regards to the starting quarterback position, but he was effusive in his praise of the young signal caller. “I call him one of those guys, you know, you see guys they're gym rats. That's what he is. He's always around the facility. You always see him. I was in there Sunday, getting ready to go down to San Antonio and walked in the game room and him and Collin Johnson were in there shooting pool, and I said, do you ever go to your room? But he's a guy that -- some guys just have that ability about 'em and you can just tell that, you know what? He's a special young man.”
What is it about Buechele that has the forty acres buzzing? His work ethic and competitive nature stand out to just about every person that interacts with him. “When you have a guy like Shane working the way he works, it rubs off on the whole team. Now everybody is seeing the way he works and they all did it. Last night me and Bluiett was talking about it and Bluiett, every time I walk in the game room and see him and Bluiett there they're shooting pool and Bluiett is like, there's nothing he can't do. Then he goes and plays Ping-Pong and then he goes and plays basketball and then he goes and plays golf. But just like his overall attitude, within the whole team it's seepin.”
It hasn’t been all smiles and high fives for the Texas players this offseason. While Charlie Strong will remind players of great performances against Oklahoma and Baylor, he also shows them their poor performances. “You know, what I did is I took -- like the last few weeks, I've taken a game and I've put it on in the building and one week it may be the Oklahoma game and the next week it may be the Iowa State game, but I put on those games for our players to see and some of them they liked the game and some they did not like, and tried to get me to turn it off, and I said, ‘Do not touch that TV. Do not turn it off!’" Players like Caleb Bluiett and Dylan Haines acknowledged that it angers them to see the Iowa State matchup, but they also acknowledged that it reminds them to be consistent. Consistency was a big issue for the Longhorns last season, and it left them wondering what could have been.
“You're sitting in the locker room after the Baylor game and guys are just sitting there, and I call them up and talk to them and I said, okay guys time to go and they're looking at me and I said, what's wrong? And they said the season is over. And I said, yes, the season is over but if we had played like this, they should be continuing on. And I think that's the taste left in their mouth because they felt like we should be a team that continued on. Then we get into the Bowl season and I texted a few of them and I said, how do you guys feel now and they were all upset. But you should be, but now it stings a little and it should sting because if you're a competitor, it's going to sting”.
It’s unclear at this point if the confidence is real or just bravado, but the media saw a different side of the Texas program in Dallas. While the season still looms large for an embattled coach and his young core of players, the optimism expressed from players and coaches says a lot about the team’s frame of mind going into a make or break year.
- Jul 22 2016 01:52 PM
- by Mike Roach
The Big 12 released its preseason football predictions, and despite the top players Texas has signed for the 2016 class, the Longhorns remain in the middle of the pack. Texas is predicted to finish fifth with Oklahoma winning the conference. TCU, Oklahoma State and Baylor are all in front of Charlie Strong’s Longhorns as well.
Texas finished the 2015 season with a 4-5-conference record and a 5-7 overall record. The Longhorns endured a losing season for the second straight year, but there were flashes of hope for the 2016 season, which included beating Oklahoma and Baylor in 2015.
Many Longhorn fans are ready to forget that 2015 season, but the biggest “fear” most people still have with Texas football is its quarterback situation. As HornSports.com writer Jeffrey Cooperstein already mentioned, it is expected to see three different players at the quarterback position this fall.
Tyrone Swoopes will be in the game under center for short yardage situations, but after that, it appears to be a toss up between sophomore Jerrod Heard and early enrollee Shane Buechele. Heard has proven he can run the ball, but Texas needs a running and throwing quarterback threat to keep defenses on its toes.
Heard finished the 2015 season appearing in all 12 games and starting in 10 of them. He completed a little over 57 percent of his passes (92-of-159) for 1,214 yards and five touchdowns. On the ground, Heard rushed for 556 yards and three touchdowns. In his second year, there is a possibility of Heard improving his completion percentage. Coming out of high school, Heard was ranked the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in Texas by 247Sports.
Buechele enrolled at the University of Texas in January 2016 ranked the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in Texas by 247Sports. In the Horns vs. Texas spring game, Buechele completed 22 of his 41 passes for a total of 299 yards without an interception and two touchdowns. Buechele graduated high school with a career total of 6,379 passing yards with 37 touchdowns and 1,805 rushing yards with 21 touchdowns.
Heard did not play in the spring Orange and White game.
In order for Texas to become the “Texas Football” everyone knows again, finding a quarterback who can run, throw and play every down is crucial. And, if Texas can find that quarterback, nothing says the Longhorns won’t finish above that fifth seed preseason prediction.
- Jul 16 2016 01:02 AM
- by Mike Roach
Charlie Strong tabs Octavious Bishop for newly-created position of Director of Student Leadership/Personal Development.
Press release from University of Texas Athletics.
Austin -- Octavious Bishop, who helped pave the way for Ricky Williams’ Heisman Trophy campaign as the Longhorns’ starting left tackle in 1998, has joined the Texas football staff as Director of Student Leadership/Personal Development, head coach Charlie Strong announced on Friday. He will begin his duties at Texas on June 1.
“Having the opportunity to work at The University of Texas has always been a dream,” Bishop said. “Being able to come back and share what I’ve learned over the years is truly humbling.
“Coach Strong and his staff are passionate about the players, and it’s easy to discern their genuine desire to see them succeed on and off the field. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Coach Strong and love that he is a genuine straight shooter. His plan to help his players with life after football is transformative. The student-athletes in his program will leave the 40 Acres as better men.”
In his role, Bishop will work with Strong and the football staff to provide strategy and implementation of programs to support student-athlete development. Among the program’s goals and objectives will be personal growth, character enhancement, leadership assessment and development, life skills and career preparation.
“I had an unbelievable conversation with Octavious about what we were looking for in this position and knew right away that he was the man for the job,” Strong said. “He’s an engaging and energetic person who has a ton of experience working with personal development and has gained so much knowledge in handling all aspects of student-athletes’ lives. I just really loved his passion and all of the ideas he was bringing to the table. On top of that, he’s a Longhorn letterman who overcame a lot of obstacles in his own life. I’m so excited to have him joining our staff.”
Since his time as a Texas student-athlete, Bishop has managed a wide range of roles in a career that has focused on the academic, physical wellbeing and mental health needs of student-athletes. He has additionally developed relationships with parents, coaches, academic advisors and athletic trainers.
A four-year letterman (1995-98) and three-year starter at left tackle for the Longhorns, Bishop was a key part of the offensive line that cleared the way for Williams to rush for UT records of 1,893 yards and 25 TDs in 1997. He was clearing lanes again for Williams in 1998, as the eventual Heisman Trophy winner broke those same records with 2,124 yards and 27 TDs, while becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher. Bishop was a part of Texas teams that claimed the final Southwest Conference title in 1995 and the first-ever Big 12 Championship in 1996. In Bishop’s final year, Mack Brown’s first at Texas, the Longhorns went 9-3 and won the Cotton Bowl.
“My roots began here at UT,” Bishop added. “Playing football for the Longhorns was an amazing experience, but having two degrees from Texas is what I’m most proud of. That has been significant in the pursuit of my dreams.”
Bishop spent time in NFL camps on free agent contracts with the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons. He played in NFL Europe in 2000 before a serious leg injury during his time with the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL ended his professional football career. After retiring from football, he returned to UT and completed his bachelor’s degree in social work in 2001. He went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Texas in 2008. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Walden University-Minnesota.
Over the past several years, Bishop has worn many hats and gained valuable experience in a number of areas that will be vital in his role with the Longhorn football program. While he was working on his master’s, he served as a mentor and tutor in the UT football academic department. He also was an intern for Crossroads Counseling Associates, dealing with marriage, family and addiction counseling.
A native of Houston and graduate of Westfield High School, Bishop has long been an advocate of the mental health and educational needs of at-risk students. From 2008-09 he was the Communities in Schools of Central Texas XY-Zone Coordinator, working with at-risk populations at five Austin area high schools as Male Involvement Program Coordinator.
“Many of the student-athletes who will attend The University of Texas come from backgrounds similar to my own,” Bishop said. “I have a unique perspective, as a former player and student, that many of them will share. The relationships I’ve established outside of football have played a profound role in my professional and personal development.”
Since 2009, he has worked with the Neurosensory Centers of Austin/V5 Sports Science, assessing the educational, physical and personal growth in the mission to prepare the complete athlete. Bishop helped manage and evaluate the mental health of patients who ranged from high school and college to professionals. From 2012-16, Bishop also was an adjunct professor of psychology at Austin Community College.
Bishop and his wife, Elizabeth, have a son, Anderson, and daughter, Tatum Louise.
- May 27 2016 06:41 PM
- by HornSports Staff
Introduction of famed Texas Longhorn to come during 100th anniversary of the mascot.
Press release via University of Texas Athletics.
The search for BEVO XV is complete.
The Silver Spurs Alumni Association has identified the next longhorn to represent The University of Texas as its famed mascot. BEVO XV is in the midst of training, and he is set for public debut prior to Texas Football’s 2016 season-opening game against Notre Dame on Sunday, Sept. 4 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
"BEVO has embodied Longhorn pride and Texas spirit for 100 years,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said. “He is part of our campus culture and has watched our football team’s successes for decades. I’m looking forward to seeing BEVO XV in his place of honor on the field this coming season."
BEVO XV’s debut corresponds with the 100th anniversary of BEVO’s first appearance at a University of Texas football game. BEVO has been a fixture at Texas games since Nov. 30, 1916 – a Thanksgiving Day 21-7 victory over Texas A&M in Austin. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of BEVO, a special product line complete with the official BEVO100 logo, will be available throughout the season at the Texas Longhorns Official Team Shop, University Co-op, H-E-B, Academy and other retailers.
“We are excited to kick off the upcoming athletics season by introducing the newest edition of one of our most beloved traditions at The University of Texas,” said Texas Men’s Athletics Director Mike Perrin. “It’s also appropriate to unveil BEVO XV during this 100th anniversary year. We all look forward to meeting BEVO XV in September.”
In addition, Longhorn Network will commemorate the 100th anniversary and welcome BEVO XV with related content.
BEVO XV succeeds BEVO XIV, who passed away in October 2015. BEVO XIV began his tenure at the age of two in 2004. He was on the sidelines for many historic moments. BEVO XIV was a part of back-to-back Rose Bowl victories, including the January 2006 win over Southern Cal that resulted in the most recent Longhorns football National Championship. In addition to his prominent position on the sidelines at Texas football games and being a fixture at many campus events, BEVO XIV made multiple national appearances, including the second inauguration of President George W. Bush in Washington, DC.
The Silver Spurs, an honorary UT student service organization founded in 1937, is responsible for the management, care and transportation of BEVO. The Spurs provide students the opportunity to give back to campus and the community through philanthropic endevors associated with the BEVO Endowment. Through public appearances and strategic marketing partnerships, BEVO provides funds for the Neighborhood Longhorns Program and UT scholarships, covers expenses associated with the care and management of BEVO, and other UT philanthropic endeavors.
“BEVO XIV was the most charitable mascot in the country,” said Ricky Brennes, executive director of the Silver Spurs Alumni Association. “He did more for his community and university than any other live mascot. Over his last two years, BEVO XIV provided more than $300,000 to Neighborhood Longhorns. We look forward to BEVO XV continuing that legacy of giving back.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 100th anniversary items will benefit the BEVO Endowment.
“BEVO XV has all of the characteristics that we were looking for—he is a beautiful steer with great disposition, color and a championship pedigree,” Brennes added. “Each BEVO has had his own unique personality and BEVO XV is no exception. He’s very gentle, smart and curious. He is used to being around people and enjoys the attention. Silver Spurs handlers are working with him, becoming more familiar with his personality as well as proper leading and showing techniques. He will be ready for gameday.”
- May 23 2016 08:24 PM
- by Mike Roach
Press release via Texassports.com
Clay Jennings, a Texas native who has extensive collegiate experience in the state as both a player and a coach, has been named defensive backs coach at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong announced Wednesday.
"It's an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to coach in my home state and represent one of the nation's premier football programs," Jennings said. "I'm excited to be a part of the Longhorn family and ecstatic to have the chance to join Coach Strong's staff. I've followed him for a long time, and he's a man that so many of us as coaches look up to and admire. Coach Strong is all about transforming young men's lives, and that is first and foremost to me, as well, so I'm just thrilled to be a part of that."
"Clay has a tremendous track record for developing defensive backs and has coached in a lot of great defenses," Strong said. "He's knowledgeable, personable, brings a lot of energy and is a coach our staff all thought fit in really well with us. On top of that, he's from Texas, has years of experience coaching here and already has great relationships across the state. That's a big advantage for him to get in here and get going right away. After spending time with him, we felt like he has everything we're looking for. I know our players will all really respond well to Clay, and we're looking forward to having him on our staff."
Jennings comes to Texas after spending two years at Arkansas as defensive backs coach. In a defense that ranked 12th in the nation against the run in 2015, seven of Jennings' defensive backs ranked among the top 10 on the team in tackles. That group combined for nine tackles for loss, while producing nine interceptions and 30 pass breakups. For the second straight year, Jared Collins led the unit in breakups with nine after tying for the SEC lead with 13 in 2014.
That year, Jennings helped the Razorbacks finish 10th in the nation in both scoring and total defense, as the team allowed just 19.2 points and 323.4 yards per game. Arkansas finished in the top 40 in passing yards allowed for the first time since 2011, surrendering just 208.8 passing yards per game to rank 37th. The Razorback secondary helped hold Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper of Alabama to just two receptions for 22 yards, his lowest output of the season.
"Having a chance to work with Coach (Vance) Bedford is really exciting, too," Jennings said. "I've always admired his work with defensive backs and the great job he does as a defensive coordinator. Working with Vance, Brick (Haley) and BJ (Brian Jean-Mary) on defense is going to be special. I've known those guys for a while, and I'm really looking forward to getting in the room and helping them continue to develop defensive schemes and young men."
Jennings also made an impact in his first season on Tevin Mitchel. The senior made the switch to nickel back and thrived, finishing second on the team with 10 passes defended and going on to be selected in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. Alan Turner, who was fourth on the team in tackles, signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I'm truly excited to have a chance to come back home and recruit in the state of Texas," Jennings said. "I look forward to continuing to nurture and develop relationships with the Texas high school coaches. That's important, now and in the years to come, as we continue to help Coach Strong support those coaches and get the Texas program back on top.
"My dad was a big UT fan, and growing up in Texas, I always rooted for the Longhorns. I know my mom and dad, my wife, my whole family is excited that we're Longhorns."
Prior to Arkansas, Jennings spent six seasons (2008-13) at TCU as cornerbacks coach and was part of some of the most successful teams in school history. In his first three years from 2008-10, the Horned Frogs became just the third program in NCAA history to lead the nation in total defense in three consecutive seasons.
While there, Jennings coached two-time All-American and first-round NFL Draft pick Jason Verrett, who was taken 25th overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2014. Verrett picked up first-team All-American honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WCFF) in 2013, in addition to being the Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat by the conference coaches. He ranked sixth in the nation in passes defended with 16, including 14 pass breakups to earn unanimous first-team All-Big 12 honors.
"I think of myself as a players' coach," Jennings said. "As a coach, I think kids have to know how much you care before they care how much you know. I think it's really important to build relationships – teach the kids inside the lines and out. We want them to win a lot of games, but we also want to make sure they're staying on track to graduate. There's a time to coach and teach, and there's a time to fire them up, and we'll do both of those things. At the end of the day, I really want to have an impact on their lives, and I'm looking forward to doing that at Texas."
Also under Jennings tutelage, Kevin White accounted for 11 passes defended with three interceptions and was ninth in the nation with three forced fumbles. White was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and went on to sign as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons. The Horned Frogs defense ranked 11th nationally in pass efficiency defense that season.
In 2012, SI.com named Verrett first-team All-America, and the WCFF selected him second-team, while the San Antonio Express-News chose him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also tabbed the nation's top cornerback by CollegeFootballNews.com. He led the Big 12 in interceptions (six) and passes defensed (22), the only player to rank in the top 10 nationally in both categories.
Verrett and Greg McCoy, a 2012 seventh-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears, earned All-Mountain West honors in 2011 when TCU posted an 11-2 record and ranked 28th in the nation in scoring defense. McCoy was also the MWC Special Teams Player of the Year as a return specialist.
Jennings was part of a TCU staff in 2010 that led the Horned Frogs to a 13-0 record with a victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He helped craft the nation's top-ranked passing defense (128.8 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (94.9) that were part of the top-rated scoring defense (12.0 ppg) and total defense (228.5 ypg). Jason Teague, who led the team with nine passes defended, was a 2010 All-MWC second-team selection. Malcolm Williams moved to cornerback as a senior under Jennings and developed into a seventh-round pick by the New England Patriots.
Both Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders were first-team All-MWC picks in 2009 when the Horned Frogs suffered their only defeat of the season against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl to finish 12-1. That season, Jennings helped the pass efficiency defense to fourth in the nation (92.3) and the passing defense to sixth (159.5 ypg) with the scoring defense also sixth (12.8 ppg) and the total defense number one (239.7 ypg). Priest later signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
A year earlier, the same duo received all-conference accolades as the pass efficiency defense was fourth nationally (97.9) and the passing defense was 11th (170.7 ypg). The scoring defense was ranked second (11.3 ppg) with the total defense first (217.8 ypg) en route to an 11-2 season.
Jennings came to the Horned Frogs after serving as cornerbacks coach at Baylor in 2007. Prior to that, he worked two seasons (2005-06) as the safeties coach at the University of Houston. He helped the Cougars to back-to-back bowl appearances and the 2006 Conference USA Championship. In 2006, Cougars' free safety Will Gulley earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors, while Brandon Brinkley was named to the league's all-freshman squad.
In his first season at Houston, Jennings helped Rocky Schwartz earn Conference USA third-team honors, and Kenneth Fontenette to be named an honorable-mention Freshman All-American by Sporting News.
Prior to his two-year stint at Houston, Jennings spent two seasons (2003-04) as the defensive backs coach at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he helped the Ragin' Cajuns to a No. 11 national ranking in pass defense. There he tutored C.C. Brown and Michael Adams, who each had seven-year NFL careers. Jennings also mentored Antwain Spann, who played three seasons for the New England Patriots.
Jennings worked two years (2001-02) as secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Sam Houston State. He helped the Bearkats to a share of the 2001 Southland Conference championship and the quarterfinal round of the FCS playoffs. He coached All-American and Buck Buchanan Award finalist Keith Davis, who played five seasons for the Dallas Cowboys.
Before SHSU, Jennings coached the secondary at Southern Arkansas (2000), Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa (1999) and Morehouse College in Atlanta (1998). At SAU, Jennings mentored Jordan Babineaux, a nine-year NFL veteran who played for the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. At Morningside, Jennings coached first-team All-American Matt Walker.
A four-year letterwinner (1992-95) as a defensive lineman and special teams standout at North Texas, Jennings was a member of the Mean Green's 1994 Southland Conference championship team and the school's first NCAA FBS squad in 1995. He began his coaching career as a student assistant (1996) and then graduate assistant (1997) at North Texas before moving on to Morehouse.
A native of Waco, Texas, Jennings is a 1997 North Texas graduate with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He and his wife, Belinda, have a son, Kirby, and daughter, Kenzie.
- Feb 17 2016 09:19 PM
- by Mike Roach
Press release via TexasSports.com on the hiring of former Colts RB and WR coach Charlie Williams:
A 30-year coaching veteran at both the college and NFL levels, Charlie Williams has been named wide receivers coach at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong announced Monday. Williams has coached several Pro Bowl receivers on the NFL level and numerous future NFL Draft picks during his time on college campuses.
"Coaching at Texas, one of the premier football programs in the country, is an unbelievable opportunity," Williams said. "After coaching in the NFL for the past four years, I'm excited to get back on a college campus to help these young student-athletes grow and develop both as players on the field and students in the classroom. It gives me a chance to coach and teach young student-athletes again, and I'm excited for the challenges ahead."
"Charlie (Williams) is a well-respected veteran coach who has been developing a lot of great receivers at the collegiate and NFL levels for a long time," Strong said. "He's a high-energy coach who we are really excited to be adding to our staff. Charlie will do a tremendous job working with all of our young, talented receivers and rounds out a terrific offensive coaching staff. You could see he connected with all of them during his interview and that they were all on the same page. I know he'll bring a lot of expertise and passion to our team and is a coach our guys will really respond to."
Williams comes to Texas after spending the last four years (2012-15) with the Indianapolis Colts, including last season as running backs coach, and the previous three as wide receivers coach.
"I had a chance to talk at length with Sterlin (Gilbert) and Matt (Mattox) on my visit to Austin and they're two young coaches who have been a part of some great offenses over the years," Williams said. "The fast break, no-huddle offense, as I like to call it, is going to need our wide receiver group to play a big role in it. I'm looking forward to working with the offensive staff, teaching our players and getting things going at Texas.
"First and foremost, our receiver group is going to be about 'we.' We'll work hard each and every day to get better, and it doesn't matter who gets the credit. I know we have a lot of young talent, and we'll work together to find our identity as a group and develop in all of the areas it entails to be a great receiver. I've always felt that if you master all of the little things, the big things take care of themselves. And that will be our goal as a unit."
Last year, despite the offense being limited by having QB Andrew Luck sidelined for a large part of the season, Williams helped RB Frank Gore post 967 rushing yards and six touchdowns and total over 1,200 yards from scrimmage for the 10th straight season.
"I've known Charlie since his years at South Carolina, and I've followed his career ever since," Williams said. "He's done a great job at every place he's been and is a guy that everyone in our business has great respect for. I'm looking forward to working with Charlie and the rest of the staff as we dive into the challenge of getting the Longhorn program back on top."
In his most recent year as wide receivers coach, Williams guided Colts receivers to combine for 219 receptions for 3,004 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014. T.Y. Hilton became the third player in franchise history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and recorded the most receptions (214), receiving yards (3,289) and 100-yard receiving games (16) in the first three seasons of a player's career in Colts history. He also earned his first career Pro Bowl nod.
Reggie Wayne finished second on the team with 64 receptions for 779 yards and moved to seventh place in NFL history in career receptions (1,070) and eighth in receiving yards (14,345). First-year receiver Donte Moncrief became the seventh rookie in team history to record multiple 100-yard receiving games in a single season. The wide receivers helped Indianapolis lead the NFL in receiving yards and finish fourth in receptions during the regular season and then advance to the AFC Championship Game, finishing with a 13-6 record.
In 2013, Williams coached a group of receivers led by Hilton and Wayne. Hilton topped the Colts with 82 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns, claiming his first career 1,000-yard season. In the AFC Wild Card game against Kansas City, he set a franchise record and tied for the second-most catches in a single game in NFL postseason history with 13, while his 224 receiving yards also set a team record and ranked as the third-most in NFL history. Wayne recorded 38 catches for 503 yards and two touchdowns for the year before suffering a season-ending injury in week seven against Denver. The Colts finished 12-6, earned a Wild Card playoff berth and advanced to the Divisional round.
Williams guided the 2012 wide receivers unit to 231 receptions for 3,211 yards and 16 touchdowns. Wayne totaled 106 receptions for 1,355 yards, which were both the second-highest single-season totals in his NFL career. He also added five touchdowns en route to his sixth career Pro Bowl selection. Wayne posted his sixth season with at least 1,200 receiving yards, which tied him for the third-most all-time.
Williams also directed Donnie Avery in 2012, who set single-season career highs in receptions (60), receiving yards (781) and 100-yard games (two). Hilton ranked first among NFL rookies in receiving touchdowns (seven) and 100-yard games (five). He was also second in receiving yards (861) and tied for fourth in receptions (50). Hilton's five 100-yard receiving outings were the most by a Colts rookie in franchise history as he finished with the second-most receiving yards and tied for the third-most receiving touchdowns by a rookie in team history. Indianapolis posted an 11-6 record and earned an appearance in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Prior to Indianapolis, Williams was wide receivers coach at the University of North Carolina for five seasons (2007-11) where he developed some of the most prolific receivers in school history.
Dwight Jones was a two-time All-ACC honoree and finished ranked fifth at UNC on the career receptions (152) and receiving yards (2,163) lists and fourth in receiving touchdowns (16). In 2011, he set the school single-season mark for receptions (85/No. 5 on the ACC list), tied it for touchdown receptions (12) and finished second for receiving yards (1,196) en route to second-team all-conference honors. His averages of 6.5 catches and 92.0 receiving yards per game both ranked 22nd in the nation. Along with Jones, Erik Highsmith caught 51 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns and helped the Tar Heels rank 36th in the country in passing offense (254.4 ypg), finish with a 7-6 record and an Independence Bowl berth. Jones and Highsmith both went on to sign NFL free agent contracts.
In 2010, North Carolina ranked 26th in the nation in passing offense (264.0 ypg). Jones emerged as the top receiving threat with 62 catches and 946 yards, which both ranked fifth all-time on the UNC single-season lists at the time. His average of 72.8 receiving yards per game was fourth-best in the ACC. Highsmith added 25 receptions for 338 yards and two touchdowns. The Tar Heels posted an 8-5 record, including a win over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.
The year prior, Greg Little had 62 catches for 724 yards and five touchdowns, and was a second-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2011. Highsmith was named to the Sporting News All-ACC Freshman team after 37 catches for 425 yards and two touchdowns. UNC registered an 8-5 record and appeared in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Williams was also responsible for the development of 2008 first-team All-ACC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who finished his three-year North Carolina career with 14 school records including career receptions (181), receiving yards (2,580) and touchdowns (21). He totaled 68 catches (third-most in UNC history) for school records of 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008. His average of 94.0 receiving yards per game led the ACC and ranked 12th nationally. After a 217-yard performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, Nicks declared for the NFL Draft where he was selected in the first round (29th overall) by the New York Giants. Despite a one-point loss in the bowl, North Carolina finished 8-5 for the season.
All three starting wide receivers from 2008 were selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, including Nicks, Brandon Tate (third round – New England Patriots) and Brooks Foster (fifth round – St. Louis Rams). Foster pulled in 30 passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns, while Tate caught 16 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns in just six games.
In 2007, Nicks set the single-season school record with 74 catches for 958 yards (third-most in UNC history) and five touchdowns. Tate and Foster each had 25-plus catches and 400-plus receiving yards. Tate recorded five receiving touchdowns and rushed for 131 yards and another touchdown, while Foster had two receiving touchdowns.
Williams went to North Carolina after serving as wide receivers coach at the University of Arizona from 2004-06. There, he developed Syndric Steptoe into a two-time honorable mention All-Pac 10 performer who was the Wildcats' leading receiver in 2006 with 55 receptions for 568 yards. He was also one of the nation's top kick returners, ranking in the top 25 in both punt returns and kickoff returns. Steptoe went on to become a seventh-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2007. Mike Thomas was Arizona's second-leading receiver that year with 50 catches, and led the team in receiving yards with 597. He later became a fourth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2009 draft.
The year before, Thomas set the freshman school record with 52 receptions to go along 771 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Steptoe caught 37 passes for 493 yards, while Anthony Johnson made 32 catches for 419 yards and three touchdowns. Steptoe led the team in both receptions (30) and receiving yards (446) in 2004.
Williams also coached one season for Lou Holtz at South Carolina in 2003, where he helped develop Troy Williamson, who would become a 2005 first-round NFL draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Williamson led the team with 31 receptions that year.
Prior to South Carolina, Williams spent six seasons (1996-2001) as receivers coach with Tony Dungy and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tutoring standout performers such as Keyshawn Johnson, Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green. Johnson was chosen to play in three Pro Bowls while Williams was his position coach. The 2000 and 2001 Tampa Bay offenses set several franchise offensive records, and the team advanced to the playoffs four times during his tenure.
Prior to his first NFL stint, Williams was wide receivers coach for three seasons (1993-95) at Miami, two under Dennis Erickson and one under Butch Davis. In 1993 and 1994, Williams coached Chris T. Jones, who led the Hurricanes in receiving and was first-team All-Big East both years. The 1993 Hurricanes (9-3) played Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, and Jones led Miami with six catches for 98 yards. Jones went on to be selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the 1995 NFL Draft, along with A.C. Tellison, who was drafted in the seventh round that year by the Cleveland Browns. Williams was part of the 1994 Miami staff that led the Canes to a 10-2 finish and played Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. He also coached Yatil Green, who was eventually a first-round pick in the 1997 draft by the Miami Dolphins.
A native of Long Beach, Calif., Williams began his coaching career at Long Beach City College in 1984. He worked as wide receivers coach for two years at New Mexico State (1986-87), four seasons at TCU (1988-91) and one year at Minnesota (1992) before joining the Miami program.
A 1982 graduate of Colorado State, Williams played two years as a defensive back for the Rams (1978-79). He and his wife Lisa, have two daughters, Sydney and Jada, and a son, Gregory.
- Feb 15 2016 03:45 PM
- by HornSports Staff
Press release from Texassports.com
Mattox named offensive line coach/running game coordinator at Texas
Matt Mattox, former co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Tulsa, has been named offensive line coach/running game coordinator at Texas.
AUSTIN -- Matt Mattox, the former co-offensive coordinator with Sterlin Gilbert and offensive line coach at Tulsa, has been named offensive line coach/running game coordinator at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong announced Saturday. He will receive a three-year contract worth $550,000 per year pending the approval of the UT System Board of Regents.
"Obviously this is one of the greatest institutions in the United States, and it's the football capital of the world being in the state of Texas," Mattox said. "Getting an opportunity to be here and coaching at The University of Texas, I'm very honored and very excited to get here and get to work."
Mattox has spent the past three years coaching with Gilbert at Tulsa, Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois. This past season at Tulsa, he helped the offense rank 14th nationally in total offense (502.8 ypg), 25th in scoring (35.9 ppg) and 11th in passing (329.5 ypg). That offense scored at least 40 points in five of Tulsa's six wins, leading to an Independence Bowl bid versus Virginia Tech.
"We just made two great hires for our staff," Strong said. "They're outstanding coaches who will do a great job of not only developing our players, but also representing this university and doing things the right way. We did a lot of research on both of them and we know they will be the right fit for our staff. I really feel we have two quality coaches who work well together, and they'll do an outstanding job.
"Matt will handle the running game. He's an unbelievable coach himself, who has shown great ability in coaching offensive lines in the places he's been."
The offense was led by American Athletic Conference first-team WR Keyarris Garrett, who is second in the country in receiving yards (1,451) and receiving yards per game (120.9 ypg), and tied for ninth in receptions (88). WR Josh Atkinson is just short of 1,000 receiving yards with 932, while QB Dane Evans is seventh in the country in passing (329.8 ypg) and 25th in efficiency (151.3).
"In the time I've had to meet Charlie and sit down together, I've enjoyed our time together. My wife got a chance to meet him and ask him questions, and it really felt like he promoted a great family atmosphere for me and my family. Obviously, he's high character, a guy that's ready to do whatever's necessary to go get the job done, and I'm looking forward to working with him."
Prior to Tulsa, Mattox was the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Bowling Green in 2014. The Falcons gained 432.9 yards per game to rank 41st nationally in total yards, while averaging 173.0 yards on the ground and 259.9 yards passing, all without starting QB Matt Johnson who was injured and would the next year become the 2015 Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
Offensive lineman Alex Huettel was tabbed second-team All-Mid-American Conference and was named to the 2015 preseason Lombardi Award watch list, while WR Roger Lewis recorded 1,093 receiving yards and earned first-team All-MAC honors. RBs Travis Green (949/12), Fred Coppet (764/6) and Andre Givens (479/8) combined for 2,192 yards and 26 TDs. BGSU finished the season with a victory over South Alabama in the 2014 Camellia Bowl.
"Having played in Kansas, but then also being able to play in Texas and recruiting down here, I know the type of athletes that are being recruited here and the type of talent that comes from the state," Mattox said. "I know the tradition that's here at The University of Texas, and I'm just looking forward to getting a chance to put my mark on that."
During the 2013 season, Mattox served as the offensive line coach at Eastern Illinois, where the Panthers led the nation in total offense (589.5 ypg) and scoring (48.2 ppg), while ranking second with 372.4 passing yards, and 20th with 217.1 rushing yards per game, leading to a 12-2 record and an Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
Behind third-team All-Americans OT Dominic Pagliara and OG Collin Seibert, the offensive line paved the way for the record-setting offense that included QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who was named the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, and consensus first-team All-American Erik Lora, who led the nation in receptions with 123, which tied for second in FCS history. In addition to Paliara and Seibert, while offensive linemen Nick Borre was tabbed second-team All-OVC, and Jimmy Lowery was on the All-Newcomer Team.
Previously, Mattox spent six years as an offensive line/tight ends coach in the junior college ranks. He served as the offensive coordinator during the 2012 season at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. In his one season at Coffeyville, the offense averaged 370.2 total yards, including 170.2 rushing, and 28.8 points per game, finishing the year at 6-4. Five of Coffeyville's offensive players earned all-conference honors, including sophomore C D.J. Lynn and freshman OG Hayden Chandler.
Prior to Coffeyville, Mattox was the offensive line/tight ends coach at Butler (Kansas) Community College. During five seasons with the school from 2007-11, he helped coach the program to four conference and NJCAA Region VI Championships. In his tenure, he coached 31 all-conference offensive linemen and six junior college All-Americans.
In 2007 and 2008, Mattox was part of a staff that coached Butler to the NJCAA National Championship. The 2007 team went a perfect 12-0 and led the Jayhawk Conference in scoring with 35.1 points per game. The following year, Butler was 11-1 and again led the league with 34.2 points per contest. Butler posted an 8-3 record in 2009, however still finished ranked No. 10 in the NJCAA poll.
In 2010, Butler also advanced to the national championship game again and finished the season ranked second in the nation with an 11-1 record and a conference and region title. The offense averaged 38.0 points per game, including a 40.4 average in region games, while recording over 370 yards per game.
The 2011 season also saw Butler post an 11-1 record with a conference and region championship, along with a bowl win and a No. 2 final national ranking. The offense averaged 48.6 points and 499.3 yards per game in region play heading into the bowl and finished averaging 46.3 points for the season with just under 480 yards of offense.
Mattox began his coaching career at the University of Houston under Art Briles, first working with the football program as an assistant strength coach in 2005 and then as a graduate assistant in 2006, assisting with the offensive tackles. Houston posted a 10-4 record in 2006, won the Conference USA Championship and made an appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
A native of Holton, Kansas, Mattox was a second-team junior college All-American tight end at Butler Community College. He played his final two collegiate seasons (2002-03) at Houston under Briles, moving from tight end to offensive tackle prior to his senior season. As a senior, Mattox earned second-team All-Conference USA honors at offensive tackle as the Cougars posted a 7-6 record and played in the Hawai'i Bowl.
Mattox earned his bachelor's degree in sports administration with a minor in health from Houston in 2005. He and his wife, Stacey, have two children, Kirby and Macey.
- Dec 12 2015 03:22 PM
- by Mike Roach
Press release from Texassports.com
AUSTIN -- A former Texas high school standout quarterback and coach, Sterlin Gilbert has helped lead some of college football's most prolific offenses in recent years. In his four seasons as a collegiate coordinator, his offenses have averaged almost 500 total yards and nearly 38 points per game. He will now bring that explosive offense to Texas where he will serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, head coach Charlie Strong announced Saturday. He will receive a three-year contract worth $850,000 per year pending the approval of the UT System Board of Regents.
"I feel extremely blessed by this opportunity," Gilbert said. "I've been looking forward to an opportunity like this for a long time, and we're finally here. I'm excited to be on campus, and to get around our kids and our coaching staff. Coach Strong has been great through this process, and I just can't wait to meet and see our kids."
Gilbert spent this past season at Tulsa as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks/receivers coach, helping the Golden Hurricane rank 14th nationally in total offense (502.8 ypg), 25th in scoring (35.9 ppg) and 11th in passing (329.5). That offense scored at least 40 points in five of Tulsa's six wins, leading to an Independence Bowl bid versus Virginia Tech.
"We just made two great hires for our staff," Strong said. "They're outstanding coaches who will do a great job of not only developing our players, but also representing this university and doing things the right way. We did a lot of research on both of them and we know they will be the right fit for our staff. I really feel we have two quality coaches who work well together, and they'll do an outstanding job.
"Sterlin is an outstanding coach, and he's done a great job developing quarterbacks everywhere he's been. He has a great mind for the offense and will do a great job leading it."
The offense was led by American Athletic Conference first-team WR Keyarris Garrett, who is second in the country in receiving yards (1,451) and receiving yards per game (120.9 ypg), and tied for ninth in receptions (88). WR Josh Atkinson is just short of 1,000 receiving yards with 932, while QB Dane Evans is seventh in the country in passing (329.8 ypg) and 25th in efficiency (151.3).
"Charlie Strong has high character," Gilbert said. "I like the direction that he's taken the program. The support and just his openness to what we want to do offensively, that was a fit for us, and a fit for him. Texas is home for me. I was a Texas high school football coach. If you cut me open that's what I am. So it's good to be back in Texas.
"I've always been a Texas fan. It's just an unbelievable program. The tradition, and the people that have been involved with this program, the players that come out of this program, the coaches – it's just an unbelievable place."
Prior to his appointment at Tulsa, Gilbert was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2014 season at Bowling Green. That year, the Falcons gained 432.9 total yards per game (41st NCAA), while averaging 173.0 yards on the ground and 259.9 yards passing. That production all came without the services of starting QB Matt Johnson who was injured and would this year become the 2015 Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
Gilbert mentored back-up QB James Knapke to a 3,000-yard passing season despite his only having 10 previous collegiate passing attempts. His 3,173 yards ranked seventh on the school single-season list at the time, while his 280 completions were sixth. Wide receiver Roger Lewis recorded 1,093 receiving yards and earned first-team All-MAC honors, while RBs Travis Green (949/12), Fred Coppet (764/6) and Andre Givens (479/8) combined for 2,192 yards and 26 TDs. BGSU finished the season with a victory over South Alabama in the 2014 Camellia Bowl.
During the 2012-13 seasons, Gilbert served as the offensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois, where in his second year he was named 2013 FootballScoop FCS Coordinator of the Year. The Panthers led the nation in total offense (589.5 ypg) and scoring (48.2 ppg), while ranking second with 372.4 passing yards, and 20th with 217.1 rushing yards per game, leading to a 12-2 record and an Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
Under the guidance of Gilbert, QB Jimmy Garoppolo was named the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, given to the nation's best player. Garoppolo led the nation and ranked second in FCS single-season history with 5,050 passing yards, while ranking second in the nation and fourth in FCS history with 53 passing TDs. He was also third in the country in passing efficiency (168.3) and was chosen OVC Offensive Player of the Year.
During his two seasons with Gilbert, Garoppolo passed for 8,873 yards and 84 TDs. He finished his career seventh in FCS history with 13,156 passing yards, and sixth with 118 passing TDs. He went on to become a second-round draft choice by the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft.
In addition to Garoppolo, five other players were named 2013 first-team All-OVC, representing each position group with running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line. Three more players were named to the second team.
Two-time consensus first-team All-American WR Erik Lora led the nation in receptions with 123, which tied for second in FCS history, only behind his own record of 136 in the previous season. He was also second in TD receptions with 19 (tied for sixth all-time in FCS), and third in receiving yards with 1,544 (16th all-time in FCS). He finished his career second in FCS history with 332 receptions, and 12th with 4,006 yards.
Fellow WR Adam Drake was just behind Lora with 85 receptions for 1,305 yards (fifth in the nation) and 13 TDs (eighth in the nation) and earned second-team All-OVC honors. Both went on to sign free agent contracts with NFL teams.
The running backs came up 12 yards short of a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, including first-teamer Shepard Little with 1,551 yards (seventh in the nation) and 15 TDs, and second-teamer Taylor Duncan with 988 yards and 10 TDs. Tight end Jeff LePak (51-723-8), OT Dominic Pagliara and OG Collin Seibert accounted for the other members of the OVC first team and were selected third-team All-America, while offensive linemen Nick Borre made the second team, and Jimmy Lowery was on the All-Newcomer Team.
In his first season at EIU, Gilbert directed a Panthers offense that ranked sixth in the nation in passing (334.9 ypg), seventh in total offense (470.9 ypg) and eighth in scoring (36.5 ppg). The offense set several school records at the time, including touchdown passes with 34. That year, Garoppolo was seventh in the nation in total offense (318.5 ypg), while Lora set the FCS record for receptions (136) and led the nation in receiving yards with (1,664/sixth all-time in FCS) en route to being named OVC Offensive Player of the Year. Seibert joined him on the all-conference first team, while RB Jake Walker rushed for 1,133 yards and 12 TDs and made the second team, along with TE Sam Hendricks and C Kevin Kapellas.
Gilbert enjoyed a successful career as a high school coach in Texas before moving to Eastern Illinois. In 2011, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Temple High School, where the team advanced to the Texas state 5A playoffs. There he coached Zach Allen who is now a sophomore quarterback at TCU.
Prior to joining the staff at Temple, Gilbert was the head coach at his alma mater, San Angelo Lake View High School, for three seasons (2008-10). He rebuilt a program that had won only three games in three years prior to his arrival to a team that won the 2008 Bi-District Championship and the school's first playoff game in 12 years. He was named the West Texas High School Coach of the Year in 2008.
Gilbert developed a name for himself as a prolific offensive coach at Abilene Cooper High School during the 2006 and 2007 seasons when he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2006, Cooper was the state's top passing offense in District 3-5A with 3,172 yards, while in 2007, he helped take the team to the state playoffs.
The first collegiate coaching experience of Gilbert's career came as a graduate assistant under Art Briles at the University of Houston in 2005 when the Cougars earned a trip to the Fort Worth Bowl. Gilbert assisted with the quarterbacks and running backs. His first job was on the prep level as the quarterbacks and running backs coach at Springtown (Texas) High School from 2003-04.
A standout prep performer at San Angelo Lake View High School, Gilbert was a two-time All-State quarterback and was named District MVP in 1996. He was Big XII Region All-America and All-West Texas 4A MVP.
Gilbert went on to start at quarterback for three seasons at Angelo State University, where he led the Rams to back-to-back Lone Star Conference South Division championships. A two-time team captain, Gilbert concluded his career in fourth place all-time in total offense and was named Honorable Mention All-Lone Star Conference in 2000 and 2001. He earned his Bachelor's degree in kinesiology with a minor in history from Angelo State in 2002.
- Dec 12 2015 03:16 PM
- by Mike Roach
It's been a wild couple of days on the 40 acres following the pursuit of TCU Co-Offensive Coordinator Sonny Cumbie. A brief recap, Cumbie was interviewed by Charlie Strong on Sunday night and traveled to Austin with his wife yesterday to survey the campus and facilities. Since then, the Longhorn world has been in a holding pattern waiting for Cumbie to make his decision. After a busy day yesterday, news was very slow today. 247 reported Cumbie met with Patterson today but no decision had been reached yet. They also reported Cumbie was out recruiting for TCU. Our own Will Baizer confirmed this with sources at Cedar Hill earlier today. So where do we stand?
1) Cumbie is the top target. He's been offered a lot of money (Somewhere north of 1M per year on a 3 year deal according to reports) and total control of the offense. Chip Brown of HornsDigest also reported Texas was willing to make concessions for Cumbie including changes in practice to maximize an up tempo offense, and a different schedule on Sunday so Cumbie could attend church with his family.
2) Cumbie is very comfortable at TCU and is in line to slide into the sole OC position if Doug Meacham takes a job this year or next. Part of that has to be weighing on him along with the decision to uproot his family and move them to the capital city.
3) Cumbie recruiting could be something but it also could be nothing. Many coaches (see Will Muschamp) have been out recruiting for their current schools while negotiating a deal for a new job. The big news for Texas fans is that no decision has been made, and while Cumbie was indeed recruiting for TCU today, you would think if it was a no there would be movement on someone else. I never would have guessed this would drag into three days but it's starting to look that way according to a report from the Austin American Statesman.
4) Texas is scheduled to meet with Shane Buechele tomorrow night and it could be very bad to show up without a plan at offensive coordinator. The good news is Buechele is slated to take his official visit this weekend, so if Texas can get a guy in place by then they should be able to calm the waters there.
5) By all reports, Cumbie is a good man of tremendous faith and I don't think he's dragging this out for any nefarious purpose. It's a huge decision for him muddied by the situation surrounding Charlie Strong's job security and the black hole at the quarterback position currently on campus at Texas. If I'm Charlie Strong I wait the night out, and if I don't have an answer in the morning I move on to plan B for the time being.
So what is Plan B?
By all reports it would be Tulsa Co-OC Sterlin Gilbert. We told you about Gilbert in a November edition of Burnt Ends where we previewed candidates for the upcoming job. Here's a refresher from that article.
Sterlin Gilbert – Co-offensive Coordinator/WR and QB coach – Tulsa
Bio: Gilbert is a former star quarterback at San Angelo State who cut his teeth in the Texas high school ranks at Abilene Cooper and Temple High School. Gilbert helped install offenses at Houston, Eastern Illinois, and Bowling Green. Gilbert developed Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo into a pro prospect and Harlon Hill (FCS Heisman) winner at Eastern Illinois. A student of the Art Briles offense, Gilbert was hired by Phil Montgomery when he took the job at Tulsa. Gilbert has great ties to the state with experience installing offense from his time under Briles, Montgomery, and Dino Babers. He also has playcalling experience at both Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green.
Obstacles: This might not be a big enough name for some people, and Gilbert hasn’t had a big time coordinator job.
Advantages: He’d be a fool to say no, and it wouldn’t cost nearly as much as the others.
Gilbert's offense might even fit the Texas personnel a little better since it employs more of a power run look to compliment the spacing and wide open passing game. If I'm Charlie Strong, I'm headed for Tulsa tomorrow to see Gilbert. If Cumbie is still taking his time, you can tell him that you have to interview candidates in the case that they miss on him. While Gilbert doesn't give you instant recruiting cred like Cumbie, he is well known in the state and should have some good ties.
We will keep you updated if anything breaks so stay with us as we dance dangerously close to day 3 of Coordinator Watch 2015.
- Dec 08 2015 08:31 PM
- by Mike Roach
WHO: Texas Longhorns 4-7 (3-5) vs #7 Baylor Bears 9-2 (6-2)
WHEN: Saturday December 5, 2015 at 11AM
WHERE: McLane Stadium, Waco TX (ESPN)
ODDS: Baylor -20
Baylor's offense rolled into this season and picked up where they left off. The Bears rank first in scoring and yards per game due largely to the fantastic play of Baylor receiver Corey Coleman. The junior from Dallas posted ridiculous numbers this season including 1300 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns. The Bears have also received great efforts from KD Cannon and Jay Lee who added 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns between the two of them. The real key to the Baylor offensive success has been the balance with their run game which ranks 10th in the nation in yards. Shock Linwood has long been one of the most underrated players in the Big 12, and the do it all back added 1370 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage this season keeping opposing teams completely off balance. When Baylor wants to get the tough yards they run Linwood in behind the mammoth Laquan McGowan, a 6'7 410 lbs. tight end. On defense the Bears have shown improvement, and Travon Blanchard is quietly one of the biggest playmakers in the conference. The Baylor defensive line is big and nasty and can cause issues with Shawn Oakman or Andrew Billings up the middle. Baylor suffered two road losses this season to Oklahoma and TCU, but are nearly unbeatable by the Brazos. We should also mention the kicking game as a big plus. Freshman Drew Galitz has been a sensational punter this year, and Chris Callahan is a reliable place kicker.
While the Bears haven't suffered a high number of injuries this season, the ones they have suffered are huge impacts. Baylor is down to third string quarterback Chris Johnson after losing Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham to season ending injuries. Johnson kept the ball rolling against Oklahoma State, but struggled to pass in a messy game against TCU. The Baylor defense is also susceptible to big plays at times and could be without a couple of key players including Orion Stewart and Beau Blackshear due to injury. Baylor is inexplicably worse at defending the run at home and have a higher rate of penalties inside McLane stadium.
Early on it looked like Baylor was going to make the run into the playoff, but they just couldn't sustain after the injuries mounted up at the quarterback position. A loss last week in Fort Worth may provide a bit of a hangover. While Baylor could still have a nice bowl ahead of them, their season goals were dashed and washed away with the rain at TCU. If Texas can put together a sterling performance coupled with a Baylor let down, they might be able to catch the Bears in a bad position. We've also yet to see what Chris Johnson truly is as a quarterback. He was great against Oklahoma State coming on in relief of Stidham, but awful against TCU. Was that an issue of ability or just the messy weather that seemed to plague everyone on that night? Art Briles has been able to plug and play just about anyone into his offense and make them a star, but the Longhorns have shown the ability to throw some different looks at young quarterbacks and frustrate them before.
What's at stake:
Baylor would love to get that 10th win here and give themselves a chance for a nice bowl bid. Texas is playing strictly for pride, but a shocking win in Waco could end the season on an upswing and show recruits that the Texas program isn't dead yet.
- Nov 30 2015 12:10 PM
- by Mike Roach
I really don't know what to think about this game. On one hand I think Texas will have success running the ball against Tech and might even be able to generate a passing attack. It will be a lot more difficult without the help of D'Onta Foreman and Johnathan Gray, but I think Kirk Johnson has the goods to open some eyes while Chris Warren acts as a sledgehammer. While Texas ultimately gives up some big plays to the explosive Tech offense I think both teams are about the same level of quality. Jerrod Heard shines in this game in a way he hasn't since the Cal game while the 18 Wheeler continues to do its thing. This is probably the last win Texas gets on the season but they pull out a thriller.
Score Prediction: Texas 38 Texas Tech 34
The quest for a bowl has reached a watershed moment. Texas will need to take down this Texas Tech team to get to 5-7. Texas needs this win in a very bad manner. Tough L to WVU and Texas needs a bounce back win. I would like to see come out having Jerrod Heard throwing bombs. Test that defense early and often and put that poor Texas Tech secondary on watch early on. That should help open up and soften the coverage for some punishing runs. Chris Warren looks to be the man at running back this game, I think he’s been battling injuries all year long, long for him to be fully health and lets see what he’s all about.
On defense I think the key to this win is what Texas did last year to really take them down, that is get pressure on the quarterback. If Texas can make Pat Mahomes uncomfortable early and often, force him into a turnover or two Texas’ marginally better defense should have the advantage here. Also, look for Malik Jefferson to come back to form. He has not been 100% the last three weeks. But he should be ready to roll this game. Look for him to cement his Big 12 Freshman Defensive player of the year this game.
Texas gets a much needed win over an instate rival.
Score Prediction: Texas 45 Texas Tech 31
Texas Tech's offense is too powerful for the Longhorns to handle. Even with a weak Red Raider defense, the Longhorns will struggle to score without D'Onta Foreman leading the running game. Unfortunately, Tech wins this game and stops the Longhorns hopes to go bowling.
Score Prediction: Tech 50 Texas 35
Texas needs to be prepared to score a lot of points in order to beat Texas Tech - and it's tough to see them doing so. The Longhorns average only 25 points per game compared to 37 by the Red Raiders. With D'Onta Foreman and Johnathan Gray both nursing injuries Texas will need unknown play-makers to emerge. Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes has the arm and the offensive system to carve up the Longhorns if he has time to throw. Solid Texas defensive line play and a steady diet of blitz packages will be key in shaking things up for Mahomes.
This is the last home game of the season for Texas and losing isn't an option. Bowl game hopes are on the line.... Charlie Strong NEEDS a win..... it's imperative.
Texas finds a way to win this game with a great defensive performance and solid rushing jobs from freshmen Kirk Johnson and Chris Warren.
Score Prediction: Texas 34 Texas Tech 31
Texas has not been able to put together a great performance since Oklahoma. Because of this, it makes it difficult to determine who is going to show up on the field. Does the fact that one more loss means the end of the season for the Longhorns have any effect on their play? Are they just done? I'm not sure.
So how do I see the annual turkey day game turning out? With a Longhorns victory. Why? Because I say so. And because it's not the same if Texas doesn't win on Thanksgiving.
Score Prediction: Texas wins 42-35.
Kirk Johnson has a 100 yard game and Heard runs wild. The defense forces Tech to become one dimensional and snuffs them out.
Score Prediction: Texas 38 Texas Tech 34
- Nov 26 2015 08:51 AM
- by Mike Roach