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  1. Everything's bigger

    When you're the head football coach at the University of Texas, everything about your job is super-sized. Among the gargantuan items, fan interest and media scrutiny are perpetually present. Like the never-ending interstate stretching across West Texas, those two constants are both underfoot and always stretching to the horizon.

    That's a large part of the reason that the Big 12 holds it's annual Media Days function - the event serves as a way to connect the league's coaches with the media, who, in turn, relay information to fans that are starved for football. This year, for the first time in 16 seasons, the University of Texas sent a head coach other than Mack Brown.

    Since being hired by UT six months ago, Charlie Strong has heard about the passion between Texans and football. Coming from a basketball-crazed state and university, Strong undoubtedly thought he he was prepared for the scrutiny. At least, hopefully he was ready, because this is the scene that awaited him at Media Days:



    That's what it looked like in front of Strong's table...at his second press conference of the day...30 minutes before his arrival.

    Undaunted by the throng of media, Strong seemed comfortable at the event. He was there to do what he does best - talk football. Why shouldn't he be at ease?

    Since his hiring, fans have read stories about UT's new head coach being a straight-shooting, no-bull kind of man. What the media got at Media Days, was precisely that. In fact, the one thing that is capable of matching those enormous expectations mentioned in the opening is Strong's character.

    The new Longhorn coach is direct, genuine and truthful-to-a-fault.

    Coaches across the country talk about the importance of academics. When Strong says, "We will make sure we graduate our young men," there is no doubt that he means it.

    Taking it a step further, Strong ventured, "We want to make sure we go compete for championships, but we want to make sure they [players] become a better person than they were when they came to the program." And when he says something of that nature, it's as much how he says it, as it is what he says. Even though he was talking to reporters, Strong issues those statements like a father that is daring his child to challenge him.

    A big sign that these mannerisms are a glimpse into the actual man and not superficial coach-speak, is that when he talks football, the Texas head coach has the exact same style. And, fortunately for football-starved fans, Strong talked a lot about football today:

    On Mack Brown...

    I know this, I followed an icon in Coach Brown. 16 seasons at University of Texas and [he] did an unbelievable job, won a national championship. The foundation has been laid. Now it's up to us to continue this foundation.


    On Tyrone Swoopes...

    There's going to be competition in that position. He [Tyrone] understands he's just got to get better and better.


    On winning a national championship...

    Now, we're not as bad as we used to be. I'll tell you this: We still have a lot of work to do.


    On Joe Bergeron...

    When you take something away from a player sometimes and when you take something away that they really enjoy doing, then you can see a lot of change, and that changes very quickly if it's important to them.


    When Texas fans read comments like those, they sound unfiltered. For 16 seasons, Mack Brown said the right thing, the right way, at the right time. That's an inescapable part of the reason that Strong sounds so direct - he has none of polish that Brown had in spades. Strong sounds genuinely raw because that is exactly what he is.

    If you were to ask him why he is so blunt, I expect Strong would level his piercing glare at you, blink and say, "Why would you say anything other than exactly what you mean to say?"

    His football players - and make no mistake, they are his players - are going to embody the character of their leader, or else look for an environment where they're more comfortable. Moncrief Neuhaus Athletic Center is not going to be a place to relax, Strong's persona will make sure of that.

    When asked about needing to erase the "soft" label after he took the Texas job, Strong said:

    It's a toughness. A lot of times when people talk about toughness, it's not physically where you're always trying to just beat them down. It's a toughness to just go do the right thing. Go to class. Just go do the little things. It's having that type of toughness.

    Within our program, we know this: That we have to continue to get better - some areas we have to improve on. And you look at just overall how hard our guys work. And what we really see here in another week or so if this team is going to be one of those teams that is just going to respond.

    I just know this: Just from their attitude right now, I think that we're going to find us a different football team.


    If Strong carried a pistol, he'd carry a Walker Colt. After all, everything's bigger in Texas.

    • Today, 09:07 AM
    • by Matt Cotcher
  2. Big 12 Media Days: Day 2 Recap

    Day 2 of the Big 12 media days saw the heavyweights of the league take the stage. In addition to veteran coaches Bob Stoops and Bill Snyder (OU and KSU were picked 1st and 3rd respectively in the preseason media poll), Charlie Strong made his debut at the league’s annual event.

    While it is inaccurate to categorize Charlie Strong as a “Big 12 heavyweight” in his first year as the Longhorns head coach, he represents Texas and UT is still the single-most dominant force in the conference. That sphere of influence engulfed the new Texas coach, and Strong had a front row seat to witness the media’s verification that Texas football is still a premiere brand in the Big 12.

    The second day in Dallas, TX got underway with Walt Anderson, Supervisor of Big 12 Officiating, presenting the rule changes for 2014. Fans won’t have to learn many new rules - most of the changes being implemented are tweaks to existing rules.

    Following Anderson was Bill Hancock, the Executive Director of the National College Football Playoff. Anderson’s presentation was basically College Playoff 101. The key takeaway being:

    The committee will choose the best four teams, period. When teams look equal, there are four broad criteria they use: strength of schedule, head-to-head results, results against common opponents, and whether the team won the conference championship.


    Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops was the first coach to take the stage and it was less than two minutes before the media was firing questions about the Sooners’ newest addition, Dorial Green-Beckham. Stoops largely ignored the wideout’s transgressions at Missouri, saying, “We felt the person that he is, the potential he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well and be great for his future. We believe in him as a young man and what he’s able to maybe continue to become.”



    Following Stoops was Paul Rhoads of Iowa State. Rhoads talked a lot about hiring Mark Mangino as Offensive Coordinator. The expectation for the Cyclones new spread offense is that it will be a no-huddle, 3-wide, 1-back base system. Rhoads also made a specific effort on multiple occasions to praise the simplicity of Mangino’s offense.

    Amidst the discussion of ISU's new offense, a reporter brought up the Cyclones' “heartbreaking” loss to Texas in 2013. Rhoads said that he couldn’t talk about the loss, “without getting in trouble,” adding that, “there’s no question that devastating loss affected our football team.”

    After ISU was Dana Holgorson of West Virginia. The Mountaineers’ head coach spent quite a bit of his time admitting that the Big 12 represented a major step up from the Big East:

    Well the days of rolling through the Big East and being able to play in a BCS game are long gone.

    Probably the biggest difference in the conference we used to be in and the conference we’re in now is that [building roster depth] needs to happen if you want to win.


    Last up before Strong was the Wizard of Manhattan, Bill Snyder. Among several zen-like references, Snyder focused on his team learning from a difficult first half of the 2013 season, “I can probably reference everyone in our program…is not taking our performance level, our talent level for granted. Not taking the preparation for our opponents for granted. Not taking our workouts during the course of the summer for granted. Trying to find a way to get better every single day.”

    The final speaker of the day was the Horns’ new head coach. With a palpable buzz in the ballroom, Charlie Strong matched the scrutiny of the media with his no-nonsense attitude.

    The newest coach in the conference did not disappoint, rather he confirmed rumors of his personality by unleashing quotes like, “We will graduate our young men. We want to make sure we go compete for championships, but we want to make sure they become a better person than they were when they came into the program.”

    • 2 days ago
    • by Matt Cotcher
  3. Game 5: Baylor Bears

    Under Head Coach Art Briles, the Baylor Bears steadily improved in his first five seasons. Then, in 2013, the Bears finished the job by going 8-1 in conference play and winning the Big 12 title.

    The task is different in 2014 – the Bears have everyone’s attention and will not be taken lightly. One of the most difficult things in sport is to win consecutive championships…and now Waco, the national media and the boosters that financed Baylor’s new stadium are all expecting the Bears to do just that.

    And Briles isn’t flinching at that challenge of staying on top, ““What we’re trying to do is establish a program that is a dominant football team, where every year we’re a team that must be reckoned with if you’re going to win the Big 12 title.”

    The Bears have reason to believe that Briles is up to the task of repeating as conference champs. The team returns some key players, has a solid mix of veterans throughout the depth chart, and, better still, has the same coaching staff in place that they’ve had for the prior three seasons. Many pundits will point to the return of Bryce Petty at quarterback (and rightfully so, it’s the first time BU has a returning quarterback in three years) but that kind of continuity in a coaching staff is a major advantage.

    Baylor’s quest to repeat as conference champions will take place in a new stadium. On August 31, the Bears will open their season against SMU in McLane Stadium – their new, on-campus home that is on the Brazos River.

    On the new stadium, Briles said, “It’s going to be as great a gameday atmosphere, I think, as you’ll find in the United States of America. It’s going to be a very unique experience. It’d be tough to mimic what we’re going to be able to do with the boats and the water and the sailgating.”

    Offense

    In 2013 the Baylor offense set an all-time NCAA record by scoring 52.4 points per game. The quarterback that orchestrated that mind boggling level of production, Bryce Petty, is returning. Most expect Petty to improve this Fall, but considering he is the second place Heisman vote getter (of returning players), that is a tall order.
    While the Bears sort out running backs look for Petty to carry more of the rushing load than he did last year. In fact, Petty’s rushing (he led the Big 12 with 14 TD’s on the ground) is an area that Briles has said he plans to expand in 2014.

    While the Baylor passing attack gets most of the media and fan attention, the Bears’ ground game has led the conference for three straight years. Gone to the Washington Redskins is Lache Seastrunk, but sophomore Shock Linwood looked ready for primetime as a freshman averaging almost 7 yards/carry. Two more underclassmen, Devin Chafin and Johnny Jefferson are expected to see plenty of carries, especially early in the season.

    Briles and his offense owe much of their success to an offensive line that quietly has been one of the best groups in the Big 12. Unfortunately for the rest of the conference, the Bears’ starting five in 2014 will challenge to be the best unit in the league. Replacing All-American Cyril Richardson will be super-sized LaQuan McGowan (6’7”, 385).

    Keep an eye on Spencer Drango at left tackle – he missed the final games in 2013 with a back injury. Although he’s expected back at 100%, Drango is tasked with protecting Petty’s blind side – if he’s not fully recovered (or able to remain healthy), Baylor’s offense could look significantly different.

    Similar to the story at OL, the Baylor receiving corps is replacing a huge talent, but has plenty of options. Replacing Tevin Reese’s production will be a multi-player job, but Antwan Goodley (1st team preseason All-Big 12) is ready for the spotlight.

    Reese is the only player among Baylor’s seven top pass catchers that does not return this Fall. Among the mix of veterans and talented underclassmen, true freshman KD Cannon is good enough to see the field.
    Briles gushes about the talent on the roster, “This is unquestionably one of the top receiving crews in America.”

    Key losses: Lache Seastrunk (RB); Cyril Richardson (G); Tevin Reese (WR)
    Newcomers: KD Cannon (WR); Johnny Jefferson (RB)

    Defense
    While the Baylor offense gets most of the credit for the Bears’ conference title, the defense was an overlooked component of the title. Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett has built a speedy and opportunistic unit and in 2013’s title run, the defense ranked in the Top 10 nationally in yards per play allowed and was No. 1 in the country in three-and-outs.

    It all starts up-front for Baylor’s defense. Briles, Bennett and the local media have not been shy about heaping expectation on the D-Line. Briles even went so far as saying, “I think our D-line up front will be as stout as any D-line in America with the talent and depth that we possess there.”

    At defensive end Shawn Oakman is the top player in a solid four-man rotation. The highly touted offensive line had trouble with Oakman throughout Spring practices. At tackle, Javonte Magee returns from a year away (personal reasons) and will form a three-man rotation with Beau Blackshear and Andrew Billings.

    Bennett employs a 4-2-5 look most of the time and Bryce Hager should serve as the defense’s leader from his middle linebacker position. Hager missed time at the end of 2013 and Spring practice (groin), but he’s been an All-Conference caliber player when healthy. Aiavion Edward played in the middle this Spring in Hager’s absence, but he’s expected to get the nod at outside ‘backer.

    The biggest question marks on defense come in the backfield. In addition to a rash of injuries that kept multiple players out of Spring practices, Bennett has to replace All-American Ahmad Dixon. Because of all the injuries, Bennett will likely be moving players around throughout Fall camp as he tries to find the best five players.

    Orion Stewart and Terrell Burt are the seemingly obvious choices at safety. Burt is the only returning starter in the backfield and Stewart, who inherits Dixon’s spot, saw plenty of time last year.

    The real questions are at corner and nickelback, where the top five players have no starting experience. Terrance Singleton and Xavien Howard will probably start the season opener, but keep an eye on JUCO transfer Chris Sanders as the season progresses. At nickel, walk-on Collin Brence was a major surprise throughout Spring practice and is in position to earn a starting job.

    Key losses: Ahmad Dixon (S), Eddie Lackey (LB)
    Newcomers: Chris Sanders (CB), Javonte Magee (DT)

    Team will have a successful season if…
    The bar has been set, the new stadium is built, offensive records are waiting to be broke…expectations are high in Waco. In the 12 seasons before Briles was hired, Baylor won a combined total of 11 conference games. Using that for perspective makes it difficult to say that winning anything less than the Big 12 title is a failure. Regardless, Briles and the Bears are embracing the lofty expectations and were the only team other than Oklahoma to receive first place votes in the conference preseason media poll (9).

    The key to the Texas game will be…
    The Horns play Baylor, in Austin, the weekend before the OU game. Not only does that make for a rough two-game stretch on the schedule, it also means that Texas only has four games before facing the Bears – that is not a lot of time to work out the kinks associated with having an entirely new coaching staff.

    The Bears and Horns match up very well against each other’s strengths. Going in to OU week, the Baylor game will give fans a good look at Charlie Strong’s purported ability to maximize talent on a roster. This game will be a major opportunity for Malcom Brown and Dez Jackson to wreak enough havoc in Baylor’s run game to give Cedric Reed a chance to pressure Petty in obvious passing situations.

    • A day ago
    • by Matt Cotcher
  4. Questions Answered! (7-18)

    (J.B. Texas Ex) Who are the candidates to replace Kaylee Hartung on LHN?
    When ESPN announced Hartung’s move to the SEC Network on Monday, they (and LHN) had already interviewed several candidates to fill the vacated position. Sources aren’t naming names yet, but it sounds like, since then, they’ve whittled their list down to two finalists.

    (J.B. Texas Ex) Any surprise additions or subtractions from "Camp Longhorn: Under the Lights" this week?

    • Malik Jefferson will not be able to attend – but that doesn’t really qualify as a surprise.
    • Deontay Anderson (2016 Safety from Manvel) was a late confirmation. Anderson already has an impressive offer list and is considered to be a top national prospect (No. 12 on 247's early national composite).
    • Shea Patterson (2016 QB from Shreveport) is one of the few players that had to cancel plans to attend.
    (texasdobbs) Any new information on Ash?
    All our sources say that Ash looks increasingly good as Summer practices progress. Despite being fully cleared earlier this week, we’re hearing the coaching staff plans to limit contact once the pads come on.

    (MikeV73) Any word on if Nick Jordan has improved (hopefully) his leg strength and accuracy as our incumbent returning placekicker? It seems we don't have any scholarship kickers in the fold other than him currently?
    Word is that the coaches intend to let Nick Rose and Nick Jordan compete at PK all the way through Fall camp. It’s difficult to put kickers in game-like situations during Summer practices and that’s what the coaches need to see.

    (Sirhornsalot) Who's the hot name(s) emerging from the 7 on 7s?
    To no surprise, all three quarterbacks tend to be the guys that sources mention the most. At WR, Jaxon Shipley and Marcus Johnson have gotten the most praise. Two names that are mentioned consistently are Jacorey Warrick and MJ McFarland – both will be interesting names to track during Fall camp.

    On defense, the mix of names is wide and varied from practice to practice. The only name consistently mentioned in a positive way is Quandre Diggs. That’s not to say that others are not performing, but everyone else has had at least a couple of hard days.

    (Sirhornsalot) Do you expect improved play in our LB - as a result of our coaching - this year? If so, how much on a scale from 1 to 100, 1 being last year's D.
    Good question – especially after this week’s news about the two linebackers having dinner with an agent. One point to consider on UT’s LB play is that the starting DL is very, very good. If Bedford and Strong turn those four guys loose to make plays, then expectations for the LB’s need to be adjusted. Regardless, we think you’ll see a 50’ish point improvement from the ‘backers.

    (Sirhornsalot) I have my own idea on this, but at the end of the season who do you see being the MVP of the staff? (excluding Strong)
    The hope is that Joe Wickline’s coaching returns immediate results in OL play and that he would get the award. The more realistic candidate is Pat Moorer – this team is already seeing the benefits of his program. When the season starts and players are feeling fast and confident, a lot of credit will be given to X’s, O’s and scheme, but it all starts in the weight room.

    (Sirhornsalot) I know it's early to ask, but what decisive advantages and disadvantages do you see us having against OU?
    Two of the most unproven positions on OU’s roster are OL and RB. That matches up very well against a DL that is expected to be one of Texas’ strongest units. The Sooners certainly have talent in both of those position groups, the question is whether or not that talent is ready to face the Texas DL in early October.

    (killrjoe) What's your take on Patterson's future? Does he play nice with the BMDs or continue to go it alone and if so, for how long?
    The so-called BMD’s need to realize that Steve Patterson is not DeLoss Dodds, nor is Charlie Strong, Mack Brown. Having said that, Patterson’s future will be tied to Strong’s. Wins and losses on the field will be the ultimate arbiter in their UT careers.

    (doc longhorn) Is anyone from Horn Sports going to cover this Friday’s events?
    Yes, HornSports will have eyes and ears in attendance. Check the board throughout the afternoon for updates on the site’s plans to cover the camp.

    (doc longhorn) Are the events closed to the media?
    No. In a surprise of sorts, UT chose to open this camp to media. There are a lot of specific rules (ex: if camp is moved into The Bubble due to weather, the media can not be inside), but media will be allowed to attend.

    (doc longhorn) Are the events closed to the public?
    Yes.

    (doc longhorn) Will there be an orange UT Harrier Jet parked on the field?
    No. Charlie Strong is going to ride in on a unicorn. Bare back.

    (lsampson) How much time does Charlie Strong have to turn the program around? What constitutes a "turn around"? Ten win seasons? Playoffs? National Title?
    Strong’s progress will be measured in Bellmont by wins, losses, conference championships, recruiting, and less quantifiable things like “progress”. Fans are going to have their own measurements for success like playoff berths and BCS bowl appearances, but all of that is secondary to Bellmont’s metrics.

    • A week ago
    • by Horn Sports
  5. Game 4: Kansas Jayhawks

    With a lone win over West Virginia, the Kansas Jayhawks limped to a 1-8 record in the Big 12 last Fall. With a loss at Rice, the nonconference slate was not much kinder. The “good news” is that 2013’s 3-9 record represented improvement over the previous year...when the team went 1-11.

    In December 2011, University of Kansas named Charlie Weiss as their Head Football Coach. When he accepted the role, Weiss took on a major rebuilding effort that is compounded by the fact that his new football program is one of a handful in the entire country that doesn’t dominate the university’s culture (and budget) – Bill Self’s basketball team is top dog in Lawrence.

    Before worrying over wins and losses, first Weiss needed to increase KU’s talent level and build some depth. Considering that the entire roster needed improvement, it is difficult to gauge the progress of Weiss. KU's head coach quickly points to metrics such as “only playing two true freshman in 2013” as evidence that the roster is being steadily improved.

    Notably, there are now 16 Texans on the KU roster. That number is second only to in-state kids (22), and the percentage will increase in August. Weiss and staff added 11 more kids from Texas in February, including Corey Avery and Jacob Bragg.

    John Reagan joined the KU staff last December as Offensive Coordinator and OL Coach. Reagan was a former KU assistant before coaching at Rice for the past four years. In addition to relieving himself of OC duties, Weiss shuffled most of his offensive coaching staff. After making the changes, Reagan and Weiss decided that Weiss should also be the WR Coach.

    Offense

    After spring practice, Weiss and Reagan named Montell Cozart starting quarterback. Cozart is a true sophomore that saw action in seven games last Fall and even started three contests over Jake Heap. For a team that struggled to move the ball through the air last season, naming Cozart is a risk since his passing is best described as a “work in progress”. On the other hand, Reagan is excited about the dimension that Cozart adds to the Jayhawks’ rushing attack.

    Speaking of the ground game, it will need to find a new identity. Not only is Reagan implementing a new offensive scheme (up tempo), KU is also faced with the departure of four-year player James Sims. Senior Brandon Bourbon looked good in the Spring game and has performed better than the competition in Reagan’s new offense. KU will have quality depth at running back as Bourbon is joined by two talented freshman (Corey Avery and Traevohn Wrench) and a transfer player De’Andre Mann. As the highest ranked player in the Jayhawks’ 2014 class and one of the best players in Kansas, Wrench is the player fans are excited to see.

    In 2013, an inconsistent group of wideouts contributed as much to the passing game woes as quarterback play. This Fall, Reagan expects a more experienced group of players to build off the successes they had in Spring practice. Senior Nick Harwell is expected to take the proverbial next step and needs to be a consistent threat this season.

    Along the line, the Jayhawks will benefit from Reagan’s double duty as coordinator and OL coach. Reagan spent the Spring shuffling players around in an attempt to learn which five guys are the best, regardless of position. Senior Ngalu Fusimalohi is the line’s most talented player, but is best suited at Guard. Alongside Fusimalohi, Reagan will mix in some veteran players and a pair of redshirt freshmen (Joe Gibson and Joey Bloomfield) throughout Fall camp and possibly even the early part of the schedule.

    Key losses: James Sims (RB)
    Newcomers: Traevohn Wrench (RB), Corey Avery (RB)

    Defense
    There are some individual stars sprinkled throughout the defensive unit, but the position group with the highest potential is the defensive backfield. KU’s 3-3-5 sets up nicely with JaCorey Shepherd, Dexter McDonald and Kevin Short all possessing the ability to cover receivers on their own. After a great Spring practice, Short will line up as the Jayhawk’s nickelback and be all over the field from play to play.
    The secondary’s strength extends to safety where Isaiah Johnson and Cassius Sendish return. Johnson was voted as Defensive Newcomer of the Year in the Big 12 and adds a physical presence to the unit.

    At linebacker, KU has solid depth and a variety of good players. The leader of the pack is Senior Ben Heeney who finished fourth in the conference with nearly 9 tackles per game and fifth in tackles for loss/game (1.15). Heeney was just voted to the All Big 12 Preseason first team. Alongside Heeney, Jake Love notched a team-best in tackles in KU’s Spring game.

    The situation on the defensive line isn’t quite as strong as it is in the back 7. There is a pair of capable players up front, but the Jayhawks don’t have depth on the DL like they do elsewhere on defense. Ben Goodman (BUCK) and Keon Stowers (DT) both started 12 games in 2013. Goodman, from Beaumont (Westbrook HS), finished second on the team in sacks.

    Key losses: Keba Agostinho (DL), Kevin Young (DL)
    Newcomers: Kapil Fletcher (JUCO – DL)

    Team will have a successful season if…
    Realistically, Kansas would be thrilled to go 6-6 after only winning a total of four games over the last two seasons. That looks like a tall order with the Jayhawks playing Duke, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State all on the road (games they would be much more likely to win at home). But this is a veteran squad and playing away from Lawrence shouldn’t automatically result in six losses.

    The important thing is for Charlie Weiss to be able to look at recruits and legitimately be able to show them how the team is continuing to improve. This should easily be Weiss’ best team at KU, so that should be the minimum goal in 2014.

    The key to the Texas game will be…
    On paper, the Texas versus Kansas game is one that the Longhorns should win. For KU, the challenge is to play their best and keep the loss respectable. In order to show recruits a season-to-season improvement, the Jayhawks need to eliminate the four and five touchdown losses.

    Since this game falls relatively early in the season, expect Kansas to still be finding their way on offense – specifically establishing a replacement for Sims. To keep the Texas game competitive, the Jayhawks will need a solid defensive performance and for Cozart to throw the ball accurately from outside the pocket.

    • A week ago
    • by Matt Cotcher
  6. Game 3: UCLA Bruins

    The Longhorns will face a tough test early in the season when they face the Bruins of UCLA at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This matchup marks the first return to the stadium since Hunter Lawrence’s last second field goal clinched the 2009 Big 12 Championship for Texas. The Bruins have been fast risers on the national scene the last few seasons. In 2014, they projected to take the next step as a program, and are one of the favorites to win the Pac 12.

    In 2013, UCLA went 10-3 and capped off their season with a Sun Bowl win over Virginia Tech. Third year coach Jim Mora Jr. looks to take the next step in an ambitious re-building project with an eye on the 4-team playoff. With the success he’s had in LA, Mora has reportedly turned down several offers to move to other schools. One of the keys to UCLA’s rise has been Mora delivering three straight top twenty recruiting classes.

    Offense:
    The Bruins are led once again by Brett Hundley who was projected as a high NFL draft pick, but turned down first round money to play one more year in college. Hundley’s 2013 season saw him pass for 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also contributed 750 yards and 11 touchdowns with his legs. Hundley’s athleticism, accuracy, and knowledge of the offense combine to make a dangerous trigger man for Mora’s pro style system.

    Posted Image
    Brett Hundley hopes to build of 2013's success.
    photo credit: USA Today

    Inexperienced play along the offensive line in 2013 will pay dividends this Fall, as plenty of young players are now experienced. Katy native Caleb Benenoch (Soph) will anchor the Bruins line at left tackle, while Alex Redmond (Soph) and Poasi Moala (RSFR) are favorites to win starting jobs.

    Shaq Evans departure means that the Bruins will have to find a new leading receiver, and while there are many candidates for the job, the majority of them are young and inexperienced. Devin Fuller and Jordan Payton both have experience and production at wideout and both will help fill the void left by Evans. Thomas Duarte and Devin Lucien need to progress into a larger role this season to help pick up the slack.
    UCLA operates as a pass first offense and tends to generate their rushing yards from Hundley. Jordon James and Paul Perkins figure to get the lion share of carries from the running back position, while true freshman Nathan Starks will work to break his way into the Bruins backfield.

    Key Losses: Shaquelle Evans (WR), Darius Bell (WR), Xavier Su’a-Filo (OL)
    Newcomers: Eldridge Massington (WR), Nathan Starks (RB), Poasi Moala (OL)

    Defense:
    Even with the loss of their defensive talisman Anthony Barr, the Bruins return four of their top five leading tacklers from last season. Myles Jack will slide into Barr’s position at outside linebacker. With an explosive combination of size and speed, Jack was named to the Freshman All-American team and was also picked as the PAC 12’s defensive freshman of the year. Jack’s 2013 campaign resulted in 76 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. He’s joined at linebacker by leading tackler Eric Kendricks. Newcomer Zach Whitley benefitted from being a spring enrollee and should be one to watch at the other inside linebacker position.

    The entire secondary returns following a season where they finished third in the conference against the pass. Safeties Anthony Jefferson and Randall Goforth lead an aggressive attack that totaled 14 interceptions last season.

    The biggest question for UCLA on defense will be in the trenches. Eddie Vanderdoes could land a starting position at end and will be heavily relied upon to continue and deliver on his potential as one of the top recruits in the nation.

    Key Losses: Anthony Barr (LB), Jordan Zumwalt (LB), Cassius Marsh (DE), Brandon Sermons (DB)
    Newcomers: Zach Whitley (LB), Deon Hollins (LB), Tyler Foreman (DB), Jayon Brown (LB)

    Posted Image
    Jim Mora Jr.'s Bruins have placed a lot of emphasis on the Texas game.
    photo credit: USA Today

    UCLA will beat Texas if...
    On paper, the Bruins are the more talented and experienced team. Their key to this game will be avoiding costly mistakes and letting the Longhorns hang around. Brett Hundley commands an offense that can strike quickly, and the defense returns a wealth of experienced playmakers. Facing a first year head coach breaking in a new systems on both sides of the ball, the Bruins can win by executing the gameplan, taking advantage of scoring chances, and limiting turnovers.

    UCLA will have a successful season if…
    The bar has been set at “playoffs or bust.” To be assured of a playoff berth, the Bruins will most likely have to win the Pac 12 but they have an excellent chance to do so in what is a bit of a re-building year for the conference.

    The key obstacles in PAC 12 play will be the familiar faces of Oregon and Stanford along with a re-energized USC team under Steve Sarkisian. As we’ve seen the past few seasons, quarterback play is huge and luckily for the Bruins they have one of the best in the nation. If Hundley can elevate his game and get significant contributions from his new group of receivers, the sky is the limit for the offense. For the defense it is simply a question of if the young players will take the next step. There is a large amount of talent and athleticism assembled on that side of the ball, and if UCLA plays up to that talent they could be a very dangerous team.

    • A week ago
    • by Mike Roach
  7. Commitment focus: Garrett Thomas

    The Longhorns lit up the recruiting scoreboard with the commitment of Louisiana offensive lineman Garrett Thomas. Thomas is the fourth offensive lineman committed to the Horns in this cycle, and the third out of state prospect the Horns have grabbed as they broaden their national recruiting profile.

    Despite being a composite three star (247sports.com ), Thomas boasts an impressive offer list. Texas won his commitment over competition from Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Auburn, South Carolina, and Oklahoma State. Credit goes once again to Joe Wickline who has clearly defined his preferred type of prospect and prevailed in yet another recruitment.

    The Longhorns landed their tackle prospects early in the recruiting class with the commitments of Ronnie Major and Toby Weathersby. Thomas profiles as an interior player at the next level, joining early commit Patrick Vahe in the mix at guard or center. But Thomas is an intriguing prospect anywhere along the line, giving Wickline the flexibility needed to pursue any final difference makers that are interested in joining the Longhorns.

    With this commitment it would seem that the offensive line class is close to being full. There is still a possibility Texas could accept one or two more pledges before closing up shop.

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    photo credit: louisianastate.scout.com

    Film Analysis:
    Thomas has a large, developed frame at 6’5, 310 lbs. While he shows the ability to move well in space, Thomas really shines as an in-line blocker. His strong lower half allows him to excel at run blocking. On film, Thomas shows the ability to lock on and drive his man down the field before finishing him off. He also shows an ability to get to the second level and contribute to a play by blocking multiple defenders.

    In pass blocking, Thomas plays a bit on his heels and is inconsistent with his hands. Thomas is not as much a technician as he is a mauler. If played at tackle, he looks like he could have some problems with speed rushers off the edge. While Thomas can play a bit high at times, he shows some real flexibility that allows for him to recover when initially beat off the line. Thomas also displays the physical mentality Wickline seems to value in his players. The biggest thing that stands out on film is his work rate. Thomas is a high motor player who is always looking to finish the play.

    Final Verdict:
    There are definitely some rough edges for Thomas and Wickline to polish in the young man’s overall game, but Thomas has all the necessary tools to be successful at the collegiate level. Thomas will require some coaching to clean up his technique, but his projectable frame and football mentality will help him in that growth. At this point, Thomas is a ball of clay with loads of potential, and could blossom into a multi-year starter under Wickline if he reaches that potential.

    • 2 weeks ago
    • by Mike Roach
  8. Game 2: BYU Cougars

    The second game of Strong’s inaugural season at UT will be against the Brigham Young University Cougars at home on September 6 at 6:30 p.m. The Cougars handed Mack Brown a pivotal upset last season (40-21), causing a change in defensive coaches and a fall from the Top 25.

    Though BYU is not affiliated with any major conference, they continue to prove themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the field and in recruiting. Led once again by Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall, BYU will add one of its most successful recruiting classes yet with their 2014 team when twelve defensive and eight offensive additions join the squad. ESPN ranked BYU number 31 on their preseason power index, while Texas sits at 25.

    Preseason has treated the Cougars well. Their quarterback, Taysom Hill, and running back Jamaal Williams, were selected for the Maxwell Award watch list. BYU has also secured four-star recruits, such as Fred Warne and Troy Hinds (after his return from an LDS mission). The Cougars also got some key transfers that should contribute immediately.

    Another good sign for BYU fans, the Cougars won’t see much of a shake-up in the coaching department. Under Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall, Robert Anae, who has served as an offensive line coach for Mike Stoops (Defensive Coordinator for OU), will return as offensive coordinator for his second year, and Nick Howell returns for his second year as defensive coordinator.

    Offensively, BYU lost a significant receiver in wideout Cody Hoffman. A preseason Phil Steele All-American, Hoffman holds career records at BYU for receptions, touchdowns, and receiving yards.

    But the loss of Hoffman might be softened by one of the Cougars' key transfers. “Jordan Leslie, who led in pretty much every receiving category for UTEP last year, will play his senior year at BYU,” Kacey Robbins, a contributor for CougarNation.com, said.

    Though the offense gains incoming recruits such as Tuni Kanuch and Ului Lapuaho, Robbins notes the key to having a successful offensive strategy lies in the offensive line. “In the 80's and 90's under Lavell Edwards, BYU consistently had big, strong, and mean offensive lines,” Robbins said. “Offensive Line Coach Tujague and Offensive Coordinator Anae both played under Lavell and want to bring back the consistency and meanness.”

    Defensively, BYU added senior transfer Harvey Jackson from Nebraska. As a safety, Jackson totaled 54 tackles overall in his three seasons with the Cornhuskers and has played in 35 total games. BYU also picked up Fred Warner, a four-star linebacker out of California. Warner was ranked number fifteen on Rivals.com. They also added Tyler Cook and Sione Takitaki; three star linebacker prospects.

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    Photo: USATSI

    If Texas wants to win this pivotal game, the Longhorns offense will be a key to the matchup. Though the defensive class at BYU is strong, the Longhorns will have to blaze through the defensive line to prove successful.

    “Bronco Mendenhall consistently turns out top 25 defenses,” Robbins said. “I think this defense has depth in the backfield and has talent at the linebacker position.”

    Along with offensive pursuit, Texas may also have a little luck thrown at them by the returned missionaries at BYU. Robbins elaborates, “Returned missionaries are a crap shoot, some come back ready and some come back with heavy legs and out of shape.”

    With a Longhorn win, this game could serve as early validation of Charlie Strong's hire. Being a defensive-minded coach, Strong's first order of business will be to contain Hill who had a historic night against Texas last season.

    • 2 weeks ago
    • by Kylie Hopkins
  9. The Countdown #3

    HornSports is counting down the games of the 2014 football season. For this series, each opponent was ranked according to "most important games", which is defined as those games having the biggest impact on the program's outlook and the 2014 season.

    The main question to ask is "How would a win help bolster Texas's national perception?"

    The Countdown - #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys

    Analysis:

    The final three games for the Longhorns are all crucial to the season - if you have been following this series, you know what those three games are. First up in the final three, and No. 3 in the series is the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

    Some might argue that the Baylor game means more to the national perception to Texas than the Oklahoma State game. I disagree with that. The Oklahoma State game is in Stillwater plus the last Texas-Oklahoma State game ended with controversy.

    On the OSU campus and even in some circles nationally, Mike Gundy is seen as a football genius. He doesn't haul in big recruiting classes, but is normally right in the mix for the Big 12 title. Coach Gundy gets players that fit his system and when it all clicks, the results are outstanding.

    That's why the Oklahoma State game means more than the Baylor game - forget the preseason magazine rankings, Mike Gundy and the Cowboys are a proven commodity in the Big 12. Not to mention this game will be the next to last regular season game for the Texas Longhorns, meaning it the Longhorns win the games they are supposed to win and steal a few others, they could end up in a situation much like the one they were in last year. Beating Oklahoma State convincingly in Stillwater will help bolster UT's national perception.

    About Oklahoma State University

    Founded in 1890, Oklahoma State University was a university even before Oklahoma was a state. It was originally called Oklahoma Territorial Agricultural and Mechanical University. Once Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the name was shortened to Oklahoma A&M University. In 1957, the school officially changed their name to Oklahoma State University. Like many schools in the Big 12, Oklahoma State has a rich history of agriculture but offers over 200 undergraduate majors.

    Stillwater, Oklahoma is a very small town but is situated near 4 major metro areas. Those metro areas include Oklahoma City (1 hour by car), Wichita (2 Hours),Tulsa (2 hours) and the DFW Metroplex (4 hours). Notable Alumni include country singer Garth Brooks, golfer Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, T. Boone Pickens, and US Senator Tom Coburn.

    Oklahoma State football has a mixed history. While the program produced football greats like Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders, it is barely over .500 for their all-time record. In fact, OSU just recently (2011) elevated their record over .500 and is currently only 19 games over that mark despite playing more than 1100 games.

    The turnaround of the program started when Oklahoma State hired Les Miles as their head coach in 2001. Miles led the Cowboys to 3 straight bowl games - the previous time that the Cowboys did that was between 1983-1985. OSU had 1 undefeated season in 1945 but have also had 3 winless seasons, the last one occurring in 1991.

    • 2 weeks ago
    • by Chris Flanagan
  10. Questions Answered!

    (SFlonghorngirl) Give me your 4 playoff teams. No generic answers like "winner of Big Ten."
    McPhaul - FSU, Ohio State, the Alabama/Auburn winner and Oregon. FSU with the return of Jamies Winston are going to be a team to reckon with. Ohio State is a veteran team and I’m not seeing any team on their schedule that they should not beat. The winner of the Alabama/Auburn game and quite possibly both of these teams. Oregon with the return of Marcus Mariota at QB is going to be a threat to beat anyone.

    Carrara - Florida State, Auburn, Oregon & Ohio State - The 'Noles lost a fair number of starters but Jameis Winston makes this team just as dangerous offensively as they were last year. I think Auburn wins the SEC again this year, which includes another win over Alabama. Nick Marshall is simply a playmaker and AUburn's offense will be difficult to stop. The PAC12 is loaded with talent this year, particularly at the QB position; and while there are a couple of teams that could earn one of the 4 playoff spots, Oregon returns 9 starters on offense, including QB Marcus Marcus Mariota. And, as much as I don't want to put a Big10 school in the playoff projection, it's hard to not take notice of what Urban Meyer is doing in Columbus. The Buckeyes face a dangerous Wisconsin team at home and if they win, I expect them to go undefeated.

    Adams - Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon

    Cotcher - Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Alabama - FSU looks too strong for the ACC and tOSU & OU should take advantage of conferences that set up well for them to be in the playoff. I think 'Bama is a cut above a bunch of SEC teams that will beat each other up. If I had to take a flier on a team that is outside the Top 10 (I don't expect the playoff to be 4 teams in the preseason Top 10), I'd take Notre Dame.

    (J.B. TexasEx) What games will be broadcast by LHN this season?
    The only confirmed broadcast for LHN as of now is the UNT game. A total of 4 games have been picked up by networks at this point - FOX channels will broadcast the BYU, UCLA and TCU games. That means, the choices for additional LHN games is narrower. Expect LHN to add one or two additional broadcasts (think "third tier" games like KU or ISU).

    (J.B. TexasEx) Rumor is ESPN and SEC Network is close to reaching a deal with Comcast. Is LHN bundled into this?
    Our understanding is that SECN will be a regional or tiered service as opposed to national (part of Comcast's basic package). If true, although ESPN would prefer to package the LHN, how Comcast negotiates delivery of SECN will dictate whether or not LHN is bundled. Based on how other carriers are handling LHN, we expect Comcast to negotiate LHN as a standalone entity.

    Moving forward (re: SECN), ESPN and the SEC Network should always be bundled with LHN. The Longhorn Network is small & incremental comparatively, so as a coupled ESPN product, it should be packaged with SECN.

    (J.B. TexasEx) I read that Zach Gentry will be our only 2015 QB recruit. Does this change if Kai Locksley wants to play at UT?
    If a blue chip national prospect makes it known that he wants to attend your school, you make room. Locksley fits that description. FYI - according to some team sources, there is no such commitment to Gentry. That doesn't mesh with Charlie Strong's message.

    (J.B. TexasEx) In the past, UT has been opposed to the SEC practice of "grayshirting". Why did our policy change? Do we need the flexibility?
    No, Texas has never really been opposed to grayshirting. It’s the recruits that are sensitive to the matter. You have to find kids that want to be at your school and are willing to make that sacrifice to be there. More than anything, Texas needs numbers and talent at key positions. They don't need to waste scholarships on guys that might be a risk but if they get a guy deemed a contributor at a need position, they might approach him about grayshirting. It should be looked at as a rarity but useful.

    (Bear19) Any new info regarding Augie's contract extension? Are we willing to give Skip a hefty raise to keep him around?
    Augie requested a three year extension and was given two years. Yes, negotiations with Skip Johnson are ongoing.

    (SirHornsalot) I have heard there may be an addition to the UT uniform this year, or at least is being considered. Apparently Nike made a pitch. You heard anything on this?
    Nike made pitches in the past and they were not accepted. We don't expect that to change this Fall or for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of revenue to be made from alternate jerseys, but that isn't a concern for Texas, so Nike's pitch is less impactful in Austin than it is elsewhere.

    (Topstarr) What is your thoughts on a 13 win season.....
    David Ash would have to stay healthy all year which he has not done in the past and the offensive line would have to drastically improve. With a new coaching staff and implementing a new offensive & defensive schemes, it is going to take a season or two before 13-0 is a realistic possibility. Not many teams go undefeated even when they have a veteran squad and tenured coaches...

    (texasdobbs) Will Strong wear a turtle neck on game day in Austin? Do I need to invest in a turtle neck to be a cool Longhorn fan?
    Good question. We're split on this one. Some think he will if allowed. Others think Nike and Strong will continue the "coach's polo" look on the sidelines.

    (Capn Hook) When do the first players report this year?
    Currently all but three of the freshman are on campus. Those players are taking summer school classes and participating in voluntary workouts. UT hasn't announced dates for Fall camp yet.

    • 2 weeks ago
    • by Horn Sports
  11. Chalk Talk: XYZ's

    Football today is dominated by pass-first offenses. Quarterbacks are putting up ridiculous numbers in terms of touchdowns and passing yardage. This increasing number of passing plays has changed the way offenses look by utilizing three or four receivers in nearly every formation (fig 1).

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    Due to that change there are a greater number of notable wide receivers in every level of football. Historically, teams were more likely to use two or even just one receiver in their offensive formations (fig 2).

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    That trend led to the powerful and celebrated QB-WR duos of the past, names like: Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swan; Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin; Joe Montana and Jerry Rice; and Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. While quarterbacks will always have their preferred guy that they depend on, the new receiver-laden formations provide more opportunity for quarterback to spread the ball and keep defenses guessing.

    Football has universal terms. For the most part the following terms describe the different wide receiver positions being used in today's formations:

    X Receivers:

    An ‘X Receiver’ is the Split End - in other words, the receiver away from the strength of the formation (fig 3). The ‘X’ will usually line-up on the line of scrimmage and is the receiver most likely to see press coverage.

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    The X is generally the largest and most physical of all the different wide receiver positions. The way defenses usually play forces the X to have a great release into his route despite physical play near the line of scrimmage. Defenses generally put a cornerback on the X receiver in press coverage and by pressing the receiver at the line of scrimmage plays and passing routes develop slower, making the pass rush more effective. Notable X receivers in the NFL include: Calvin Johnson, Michael Crabtree, and Anquan Boldin.

    Z Receivers:

    A ‘Z Receiver’ is the Flanker - the receiver lined up to the strong side of the offensive formation. The Z lines up off the line of scrimmage to allow the tight end (the last man on the line of scrimmage) to become eligible. Z’s are often a smaller receiver than the X, however, they typically compensate for a lack of size with speed. The Z is normally a team's best deep threat and one of the fastest players on a team (fig 4). Notable Z receivers in the NFL include: Desean Jackson, Percy Harvin, and Brandon Marshal.

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    Y Receivers:

    Most often the ‘Y Receiver’ is the tight end (fig 5). If the Y is on the line of scrimmage he is not eligible unless he is the last man on the line of scrimmage. So, by making him a blocking threat as well as a receiving threat, he is more difficult to cover. Y’s are generally used to catch passes in the middle of the field, in heavy traffic. Notable NFL Y’s (in the receiver sense of the word) include: Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzales, and Jason Witten.

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    A Receivers:

    When a team runs a four wide or five wide set, the receivers’ roles change slightly. Teams don’t always have a great receiving tight end so the Y becomes a slot receiver. Offenses that utilize a tight end as well as three receivers will call the slot an 'A receiver’ (fig. 6).

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    The A receiver's role is similar to the tight end. Routes are most often times in the middle of the field or in the flats to the sideline. A’s and slot receivers are commonly expected to make things happen after they catch the ball. Notable A Receivers or Slots include: Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon, and Victor Cruz.

    • 3 weeks ago
    • by Coleman Feeley
  12. Game 1: UNT Mean Green

    The first game of the Longhorns 2014 season will be against The University of North Texas (Denton, Texas). The game will also mark Charlie Strong’s much anticipated inaugural season and kicks off in D.K.R. at 7 p.m. In 2013, the Longhorns recorded a disappointing year (compared to past seasons), while UNT is coming off of their first bowl appearance since 2003 and first bowl victory since 2001.

    Conference USA and the BIG 12 aren’t competitive equals, but North Texas is a program on the rise. For frame of reference, in 2009 UNT finished the regular season ranked 115th out of the 120 Division 1A schools; Texas finished third. Out of the many preseason ranking systems in the nation, CBS has UNT ranked No. 60 and Texas is No. 30. Although that is still a considerable difference in rankings, UNT has continued to become more successful over recent years.

    Last season UNT played the University of Georgia and the Mean Green ended the first half down by just one score and took the Bulldogs into the fourth quarter with the score 21-35. Three members from last season’s 9-4 UNT squad are now on NFL rosters; Marcus Trice, Zach Orr, and Brelan Chancellor. Notable recent UNT alums include the new “total offensive weapon for the Dallas Cowboys”, Lance Dunbar and the Cleveland Browns starting linebacker, Craig Robertson.

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    photo credit: usatoday.com

    Leading UNT is Head Coach Dan McCarney, who played and was team captain at the University of Iowa from 1972 to 1974. Coach McCarney is a product of the Hayden Fry and Barry Alvarez coaching trees. McCarney spent almost ten years with Coach Fry at Iowa before leaving for Wisconsin where he spent the 1990 through 1994 seasons with Barry Alvarez. McCarney then moved to Iowa State University as Head Coach, and led the Cyclones to five bowl game appearances. Those five appearances are more than any other Iowa State coach in the program's history. After resigning at ISU, McCarney moved on to the University of Florida where he coached defensive linemen for the “most talented team [Urban Meyer has] ever coached”. That roster included Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes… and an assistant defensive coordinator named Charlie Strong.

    Offense:

    North Texas' offensive coordinator, Mike Canales, has been a part of some of the nation’s most talented teams including the 2007 USF Bulls (who were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country). Canales has coached at the University of Arizona, BYU, NC State, and South Florida and even with the New York Jets. North Texas runs a balanced offense focusing primarily on the run. UNT will shift formations frequently, ranging from a two tight end/two running back set to a five wide spread - all with the same personnel.

    The offensive unit is led by a strong and experienced offensive line that includes three linemen starting for their fourth year (Cyril Lemon-RT, Antonio Johnson-LT, and Mason Y’Barbo-LG), and another returning letterman (Kaden Kirby-C).

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    photo credit: dallasnews.com

    North Texas has finished every season under offensive line coach Mike Simmonds (3 seasons), in the top 25 for sacks allowed, including a number one finish in 2012. However, with a three year letterman graduating from the quarterback and running back positions, the skill positions of this UNT offense are still an unknown at this point in the Summer.

    Defense:

    John Skladany, UNT's defensive coordinator, arrived in 2012 and his arrival kick started a new trend of stout defense in Denton. Skladany has been coaching for over thirty years (with several prestigious programs) and has been a position coach for defensive backs, defensive linemen, and linebackers. In 2005, Skladany was the defensive coordinator for Dan McCarney’s Iowa State Cyclones and together they produced a defense that allowed only TEN rushing touchdowns all season.

    North Texas’ defense finished number eight in points allowed last season (18.6 per game). They also finished fourth in the nation for turnovers with thirty-four. However, the Mean Green graduated six of the starting eleven defenders from last season and twenty-two total seniors.

    The defense will be led by a strong secondary that returns three of four starters (Kenny Buyers-CB, James Jones-CB, and Lairamie Lee-S) from last season. Buyers, Jones and Lee have a combined forty-two starts and had a combined total of thirteen turnovers in 2013. At Safety Lee, had a stand out season last year by amassing 74 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. Derek Akunne, the middle linebacker, is another stand out player for the Mean Green. Akunne is a three year letterman with twenty-four total starts and has compiled 180 tackles over the last two seasons. At the center of the defense, Derek Akunne is responsible for much of the defense’s alignments and audibles.

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    photo credit: dentonrc.com


    Overall, Texas versus UNT should not be a game for the ages. Games like this happen every year, and for the most part they go unnoticed. However, every year there is a surprise victory in the first week. Players for top tier schools sometimes don’t prepare the same for “tune-up games” as they would for a regular conference game, which leads to poor performance. Conversely, players for the smaller school have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. As the first game with the new coaching staff, the Longhorns will also have a set of unique challenges heading into the UNT game. In summary, this looks like an easy victory on paper, but the result on the field could be much different than what that paper indicates.

    • 3 weeks ago
    • by Coleman Feeley
  13. Questions Answered!

    (Whisenant) How is Rami Hammad doing under the new regime?
    Last year Hammad was slow at learning the plays but, has he is flourishing under Coach Wickline and really coming on. Right now in the coaching office, he's listed at 2nd team right guard, but we're told he's likely going to be the first guard off the bench on either side.

    (Randolph Duke) As the reputation of UT football took another nosedive over the last week and the positive showing of the baseball team in Omaha was completely eclipsed by the incessant bashing by the nation's sports writers, one question comes to mind, "Does Steve Patterson intend on allowing Nick Voinis to remain on the payroll and thereby ensuring the continued degradation of the reputation of the football program at the University of Texas, or is there even a small chance someone competent could someday be hired to replace Nick?"
    Patterson is reviewing every position and employee. That's not lip service - it's real. Look for more in Crossfire.

    (Randolph Duke) People (including myself) complain about Charlie Strong's 2-13 record in head to head recruiting battles against aggy, but those numbers are downright stellar compared to Nick's performance in managing the media perception of UT compared the performance of his counterpart over at the cow college. Some of us are getting tired of the ineptitude of those managing various aspects of the program. How long is sub-mediocre going to be an acceptable job performance rating within Bellmont?
    You are basing a lot on your own assumptions and perceptions. We are confident that Patterson will straighten issues when/if they arise. And to be clear - Kevin Sumlin recruiting well and a few negative articles do not constitute an 'issue' in our perspective.

    (SFlonghorngirl) Any exciting future OOC teams on our schedule for 2018 and beyond?
    You have good timing in the sense that we're getting word that Notre Dame may be trying to get out of future games with us (2015, 2016, 2019). However, expect Texas to stick to the formula with 1 major OOC opponent for the foreseeable future (UCLA, USC, Arkansas, Ohio State, etc.)

    (SFlonghorngirl) Will Belmont stick to scheduling a team from the BIG 5? Maybe a home game against Georgia/South Carolina/North Carolina/Clemson along with the already scheduled Maryland and USC for 2018?
    Keep in mind that Steve Patterson has already shown as desire to market big games. With that in mind, you should expect him to find creative ways for the football schedule to enhance whatever happens with a playoff and/or realignment.

    (monarch) what is the latest vibe regarding the prospective job as per vince young? just what role shall he be performing as per UT?
    Fans should expect Young to have a similar position to what Earl Campbell has done for years. If he's on campus, you have to have him help with recruiting. One thing that he will work on is helping socialize the current players (especially the "new guys"") to college life, college football and everything (good and bad) that goes with it.

    (monarch) we have not heard anything lately regarding TEXAS prospective facilities. south end zone? BB arena?
    You aren't hearing updates because there isn't really anything to report. As we've shared, UT is still reviewing potential properties for the basketball arena (the AAS site still leads). As for football, Bellmont is talking about adding more suites as part of the south end zone project.

    (monarch) just what on earth are the FOB's, BMD's, vs top UT officials, saying in regards to the "banner days" that aTm are now enjoying, in regards to stellar recruitment / public relations... along with their new found nationally respected momentum? are their any discussions vs plans to offer any proven countermeasures as per UT?
    Yes, A&M has some momentum right now. But that's not really "new". UT is playing catch up in the momentum department and the first thing they needed to do was hire a new football coach. Done. The next step is to gain more momentum by winning. The folks in Bellmont aren't over-reacting like a small percentage of UT's fan base.

    (monarch) what is the very latest regarding the partnership as per disney? what are they recommending? are they nearing completion?
    We had a Disney update last week and there's not much new to report since then. A "FOB" is meeting with Patterson in a week, so you can expect to hear new details after that meeting.

    (monarch) i had referenced a statement upon another site indicating that coach strong has some forthcoming surprises as per recruitment. are you now aware as per any forthcoming recruitment surprises coming forth from bellmont?
    "Surprises" as in commitments? If so, Texas is leading for a plenty of kids but, they're all planning to take multiple official visits to several schools. We don’t expect any of the Horns' top targets to commit early.

    (MikeV73) Any info on how Gary Johnson is recovering from his skull fracture? Just saw him on a LHN replay vs Kansas '08. Hope he is doing well.
    In February Johnson collided with another player while playing in Israel. He had surgery and had to be put in a medically-induced coma. He is expected to make a complete recovery and rehab is ongoing. Johnson has not publically stated whether he plans to continue to pursue a pro basketball career.

    • 4 weeks ago
    • by Horn Sports
  14. Chalk Talk: Tackling

    “Some people try to find things in the game that don’t exist; but football is two things – blocking and tackling.”- Vince Lombardi

    My great grandfather, my grandfather, my great uncle, my uncle, my father, and myself; we all played college football. Even though I never played without a face-mask (or helmet), and my great grandfather never pass blocked 50 plays a game, we ALL blocked and tackled. American Football, or at least the game we’re familiar with today, was created soon after the first game of American Rugby-Football was played in 1869. That year Princeton defeated Yale 6-4 in a game that didn’t allow the use of hands, but the American Football game with 11 players on each team and a ‘snap’ that initiated ‘the scrum’ was formed in 1880. Since then the game has changed so dramatically that the “Father of American Football”, Walter Camp, may barely recognize it.

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    Arley Finley Sr. - 1916 at Peidmont College, second row, second from the left

    Football is such a complex and violent game that the rules of the sport are amended just about every year. In 1905 eighteen college football players died while playing, and another 159 were “severely injured” due primarily to the fact that there were so few rules on tackling. If the ball carrier hit the ground the play ended, black and white. Players often ‘speared’ runners with heads down and no padding. There’s an old joke among football coaches, “[coach] is so old that when he played he folded his helmet up and put it in his back pocket at the end of the day.” It’s funny but true.

    Shoulder pads were sown into the jerseys and helmets were little more than leather hats. Now in 2014 helmets, face-masks, shoulder pads, and even the knee pads are more like armor than padding.

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    Arley Finley Jr. -1957 Georgia Tech, second row, number 76


    In the 40s, a notorious tackler named Hardy Brown became famous. He stood six feet tall and weighed about 180 lbs, not a giant by any means, even for the time. However, ‘Hardy Brown Humper’, was one of the most feared defenders in all of football, first in college then twelve years in the pro’s. He used a ‘shoulder thrust’ to level players in the open field. He once knocked out the entire Philadelphia Eagles back-field forcing ‘flankers’ (wide receivers) to play quarterback and running back. Hardy Brown’s brand of tackling from the 40's and 50's is more than frowned upon in today’s game. In fact, players are taught that the shoulder thrust is poor form, this is probably due to the fact that Hardy Brown played before facemasks, but now players are taught to hit with their faces.

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    Michael Feeley -#70 -1974


    “Bull your neck!” - another golden nugget of coaching advice that all players are familiar with. “Bulling your neck” means flexing the muscles in your neck by pulling your shoulders up and pushing your face out. It is important to flex these muscles when tackling to protect your neck and spine. This is also why you see football players add bulk to their shoulders and neck muscles. When tackling, it is also important to wrap your arms around the ball carrier so that even if you can’t bring him down yourself, you slow him down enough to give your teammates time to join the pile. The proper ‘form tackle’ consists of three steps commonly known as "A-B-C" or "Tap, Wrap, and Drive":

    A- Square your hips to the ball carrier while opening your arms and lowering your hips.
    B- Put your face on the ball carriers chest (preferably the ball itself) and wrap your arms around him.
    C- Explode your hips through on contact, drive your feet and don’t let go ‘till he hits the ground.

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    Coleman Feeley - 2012

    When ‘spearing’ (tackling with your head down while air born) became illegal in 1976, players were forced to follow these ‘form tackling’ steps more closely. In the 2000s Cowboys safety Roy Williams became infamous for his now illegal ‘horse collar’ tackle. This tackle was made from behind by grabbing the inside of a players shoulder pads and pulling him to his back while running. Roy Williams, along with other NFL players, injured a number of opponents and soon after the ‘horse collar’ became illegal.

    Recently, both the NCAA and NFL have decided to penalize ‘helmet to helmet’ collisions in the open field because, you guessed it, many players were getting severely injured due to these violent impacts. The game’s greatest tacklers have consistently caused rule changes. Greats like Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert, and Lawrence Taylor all changed the game. Now, as the yellow penalty markers are almost as common as first downs, players will be forced to change the way they play the game, and especially the way they tackle. However, through all these changes, the game is still made up of two skills, blocking and tackling.

    • 4 weeks ago
    • by Coleman Feeley
  15. Questions Answered!

    (budreaureye) Is there any news on Myles Turner at the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team training camp that starting on the 10th?
    Word out of Colorado Springs (where the USA’s U18 team is practicing and playing) is that practices have been tougher than expected. Billy Donovan is coaching the team and this is most of the players’ first experience with college-level effort (read: conditioning and defense).


    (budreaueye) Football coaches get to work a certain number of hours with players each week in the summer - ten hours per week it is, I think. Do basketball coaches get to do the same?
    Football and basketball coaches are allowed eight hours per week of “contact” with players. In hoops, coaches are only allowed to use two of those eight hours for on-court practice. The new football rules don’t allow for any practice time at all, instead those two hours can be used for film study.

    The loophole in these rules is the term “sport-specific physical activity”. How that is defined across campuses is wide-ranging.


    (SFlonghorngirl) Over or under = Texas defense allows 20.5 points per game?
    Two of us said over and two of us said under. However, we all agreed that it should be very close to 20. There are too many unknowns at this point to be more specific.


    (SFlonghorngirl) Over or under = Texas offense scores 35.5 points per game?
    We all agreed here that the offense will average UNDER 35.5 ppg. Between questions at quarterback and our expectation that Texas will play a ball control offense with a focus on rushing the football, there wasn’t argument from any of us on this one.


    (streettopeschel) Does UT really only care about money? What exactly is 'fan experience' and how should it be graded?
    As you know, every business cares first & foremost about money. UT is a public entity, but isn’t vastly different in that regard. When you read “fan experience”, think “gameday atmosphere and/or “homefield advantage”. What Patterson is doing is taking an unbiased look at the mix of ticket sales, donations, seating, in-game advertising/sponsorships, etc and how that combination plays a role at every venue. It’s an prickly subject with lots of “bosses” and each has a different way of defining a “successful fan experience”. Yhe Disney folks are expert in this regard – people pay obscene ticket prices and then pay even higher food and souvenir prices, yet the park is always full and everyone leaves smiling.


    (Sirhornsalot) What QB starts the opener?
    David Ash – even if his foot is not 100% recovered, Ash is still an obvious choice. (and we’re hearing that Ash’s rehab is “good, not great”)


    (Sirhornsalot) Who's starting by Game 3?
    As long as Ash is healthy, he will start and take the majority of snaps.


    (Sirhornsalot) We all know Shipley will be all-world this season. It's just what Shipleys do. Who else steps up with him?
    For good reason, everyone expects Kendall Sanders and Marcus Johnson to become receiving threats. Both players have the ability to make fans forget about Mike Davis pretty quickly.

    The name we’re hearing currently is Jacorey Warrick. If Warrick delivers as well as reports indicate, then the entire offense opens up.



    (Sirhornsalot) When does the team report?
    Almost everyone is on campus for conditioning and 7-on-7 (other than a few freshmen, rehabbing cases, etc). Bellmont hasn’t set the official dates for Fall practice yet, but expect it to be on/around August 6th.


    (Sirhornsalot) Who's our next commit?
    Hard not to think that UT’s latest offer, Tyler Moore (GP North Shore), might be the next one to pull the trigger. Moore has said that Texas is his dream school, but he might be beaten by a linebacker prospect. Rumor is that a Houston area ‘backer might be ready to commit. The reality is that there are a lot of recruits lining up official visits for Fall – so, it might be pretty quiet this Summer in terms of commitments.


    (texasdobbs) Who will be a surprise commitment?
    It wouldn’t be a surprise if we told you! Actually, we think this staff will pull several rabbits out of the hat before signing day. In addition to flipping a few commitments (after they see the style of play at UT), the uncommitted name for now is Kendall Sheffield.


    (FamilyMan5) What role does Vince play?
    Details are still being worked out, but essentially think of Young’s role in similar terms to Earl Campbell’s - an “ambassador” (although we’re hearing Young will be more involved with the team than Campbell is).


    (CCausey11) There seems to be quite a concern in the general public arena about our 2015 recruiting efforts (or lack thereof) specifically around in state prospects. Are the powers that be (FOB etc.) concerned by this as well, or will Coach Strong be graded primarily on his 2016 class given the time frames involved with his hiring? If there are expectations for the 2015 class that he will be graded on what are those?
    Good question. It is not a lack of effort by the staff. On the contrary, this staff has worked harder and covered more ground in five months that the previous staff covered in the last 4 years. The staff is far from conceding the 2015 class but, they are several years behind other schools in terms of building relationships with these recruits and their coaches. The biggest expectation for this cycle is to fill needs on the offensive & defensive lines.

    All that said, there is no doubt that the Texas staff is looking at 2016 as the year they ascend back into a Top 10 recruiting status – with the understanding that their belief is based on how current targets are responding.


    (_Hooked_) Is Augie going to retire or be re-assigned?
    Apologies for the tease, but look for info on this subject in Crossfire. There’s a lot of smoke out there.

    • Jun 19 2014 10:30 PM
    • by Horn Sports
  16. Chalk Talk - Zone Blitz

    Every fan of football has heard the term ‘Zone Blitz’, but how many of those fans really understand what a zone blitz really is? For starters, a zone blitz is an exchange of defensive roles that confuses and surprises the offense.

    Zone blitzing, as well as zone coverage, has grown in popularity throughout the ranks of football. The complicated and up-tempo offenses of the modern era have produced multiple defensive fronts ranging from five defensive linemen to just three. The two most common zone blitzes in college football today can be run from any front and just about every college team runs them. For the purposes of this article we’ll call them ‘Mad-dog Switches’ and ‘Barks’.

    Four Man Fronts:

    The most common defensive front in football is the four-man defensive line. The four-man front gives defenses a good chance at controlling the line of scrimmage and the D-linemen assume a large share of the responsibility in the run game. A zone blitz from a four man defensive line is when one (or more) of the defensive lineman drop into pass coverage and a linebacker(s) assumes the responsibility of that lineman and/or blitzes. The Mad-dog Switch is when one or both defensive ends drop, causing a great deal of pressure up the middle of the OL (fig 1).

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    A Bark, however, puts pressure on the edges of an offense and can come either from the field or the boundary. A Bark forces a defensive lineman to drop into coverage and brings the outside linebacker off the edge (fig 2.). The timing and execution of this defensive call is difficult because it requires either the defensive end to play the wide side of the field (Boundary Bark) or the linebackers to rush from farther away (Field Bark).

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    Three Man Fronts:

    The three-man defensive line is generally anchored by a nose tackle (larger than a typical d-tackle), and, in effect, allows linebackers to roam and make plays in space. Blitzes, particularly zone blitzes, are more difficult for the offense to spot because it is not necessary to drop a lineman into coverage. Both the Mad-dog Switch and the Bark are popular from these fronts and equally successful. The Mad-dog Switch still forces pressure in the interior of an offense but is much more easily disguised (fig. 3).

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    Barking from the three man front is the most common zone blitz in college football today because of the particularly powerful edge rushers at outside linebacker (fig.4).

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    Zone blitzing is a great tool to have in the “old bag of tricks”, but it doesn't makes up for superior offensive execution. If an offense can spot the blitz before it happens, they will audible to the weak point and take advantage of a defense’s aggressiveness. This makes it vital that all defenders know their roles and execute them precisely. While difficult to block, blitzing is definitely a high risk, high reward proposition.

    • Jun 18 2014 10:14 AM
    • by Coleman Feeley
  17. Recruiting Spotlight: Darius Anderson

    Darius Anderson may only be a rising junior at Hightower high school, but as the recipient of the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in one of the most difficult districts in Texas, he’s already one of the top DT recruits in Texas for 2016.

    “Honestly, he is dominant,” Hightower WR Coach Ed Jones said. “He knows what he wants to do, he knows his goals for himself, and he goes after it.”

    At 6’1”, 285 pounds, and still growing, Anderson has a quality that many others in his weight class don’t possess: speed. “He’s quicker than a lot of people would believe,” Coach Jones said. “For a big guy, he gets there [fast]. He ran a 5.2 at a Nike Training Camp. It’s scary how quick he is.”

    Jones said Anderson isn’t one of the loud members of the team, but he is one of the most respected. “He’s not as vocal, but he has a lot of people’s respect,” Jones said. “The way he lifts in the weight room, the way he works, makes him a leader.”

    Though no offers are on the table yet, Anderson has been invited to summer football camps at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, LSU, UT, A&M, and even received a personalized invitation to a Notre Dame camp. “Every school has been impressed with him,” Coach Jones said. “With him, we’re trying to get that first offer so that domino effect can go. When it happens, it’s going to shatter the glass.”

    Unlike many highly rated recruits, Anderson’s award-winning season last year only serves as motivation for him to reach a higher level. “He wants to be the best. [He doesn’t] have any offers, so that motivates him,” Coach Jones said. “He wants to be the best defensive player Hightower has ever had.”

    In previous articles written about Anderson, he showed an elevated interest in UT, naming Fozzy Whitaker as a prime reason. “[Anderson] talks about him all the time because Fozzy is his god-brother,” Jones said. “He always talks about how he wants to work hard to be like [Fozzy]. It’s something that is an integral part of his football career and his life in general.”

    Anderson attended the Spring Game this year and had positive remarks about the process. “He loved [UT],” Jones said. “He loved the coaches and he really loved the interactions with the recruits. It’s something that he needed to see for himself as a prospect instead of just a fan.”

    Jones visited UT for the coaching clinic and saw how the team would be run next year. “I absolutely love the new Texas coaching staff,” Coach Jones said. “Just hearing them talk about what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do things was great. I think they’re going to be a very tough team to beat.”

    The biggest difference Coach Jones noticed at the UT Coaches Clinic was the emphasis that the new staff had on team toughness. “Earl Campbell, Vince Young, Colt McCoy, they were tough. You weren’t just going to come in and beat them up.”

    Although Anderson was quoted in March as saying that Texas was his number one choice, the influx of interested teams has made him more open about his decision next year. “Texas will always have a place in [Anderson’s] heart, but he’s very open,” Jones said.

    • Jun 05 2014 02:39 PM
    • by Kylie Hopkins
  18. Chalk Talk - Tight Ends

    The Tight-End position is pivotal to the success of an offense. You gain not only a large target for the quarterback to throw to in the passing game, but due to the nature of the position, your offense will gain unpredictability. The same formations that offer huge support for the run game can instantly become packages that highlight your best receivers (fig. 1). The NFL is currently loaded with possible Hall of Famers at the tight end position, including Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzales, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Gates, just to name a few. These NFL superstars not only consistently contribute to offensive success in the passing game but in the run game as well.

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    At the University of Texas, tight ends coach Bruce Chambers is a veteran coach to say the least. Chambers is in his 17th season with Texas and in his 12th year as the tight ends coach; making him the only coach retained from Mack Brown’s staff. Chambers first solidified his reputation in the state of Texas by coaching the legendary Dallas Carter teams of the ‘90s (as seen in the movie Friday Night Lights). Chambers took over the head coaching position at Carter High for two years before he accepted the UT running backs coach position in 1998, Ricky Williams’ senior year. Coach Chambers now finds himself at the helm of an exceptionally deep group of tight ends. With four seniors and two JUCO All-Americans, leadership and effort will not be an issue.

    Run Game:
    Tight ends’ run responsibilities usually consist of reaches, and second level blocks. The Tight-Ends combination of size and speed allow him to ‘set the edge’ and get to the second level more quickly than offensive lineman. If you want a run game that isn’t limited to the interior (Isolations, traps, inside zones, etc), then you need a strong tight end like Jason Witten or Vernon Davis (fig. 2).

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    Tight-Ends are also extremely useful when in motion or in the ‘wing’ position (fig. 3). These motions and unbalanced formations contribute to the unpredictability of an offense and force defenses to stay basic or ‘vanilla’. By forcing a defense to play vanilla, you gain the advantage because defenses with less movement are easier to block.

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    Pass Game:
    Tight ends are not only invaluable to a quarterback under pressure because of their size and strength, but they are also vital to the success of a play-action passing game. Tight ends can be as involved as any wide receiver in the pass game; however, they are generally found running the deep routes or in the shallow routes (fig.4 & 5). In a Cover 2 look (very popular zone coverage), two players cover the ‘deep halves’. This opens up the ‘deep middle’ where you often find tight ends like Tony Gonzales or Jimmy Graham.

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    As the game progresses, different positions will always find more or less use. Even in today’s game, where the pass is so heavily favored, offenses without a tight end are still called gimmicks. In the days when running backs won the Heisman, tight ends consistently found a vital role, just as they do now that quarterbacks win the award.

    • Jun 04 2014 08:57 PM
    • by Coleman Feeley
  19. Texas adds a quarterback

    HornSports confirmed with Logan Vinklarek that he verbally committed to play at Texas. Vinklarek just completed his freshman year at Blinn Junior College. He will be a preferred walk-on this Fall for Head Coach Charlie Strong.

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    In his freshman season, Vinklarek played in nine games, completing 54% of his passes and throwing for 485 yards. He threw for three touchdowns and was intercepted four times. The Buccaneers were 4-5 in those nine games.

    Vinklarek was a two-way standout at La Grange High School (football and baseball). Here are some video highlights of Senior season for La Grange.

    HornSports will have more on Vinklarek throughout the day.

    • Jun 03 2014 11:15 PM
    • by Darrell McPhaul
  20. Chalk Talk: 1-on-1's

    In college football, practices are strictly monitored and regulated due NCAA restrictions on the amount of time players can spend on the practice field. Most collegiate practices are broken down into five minute blocks of time referred to as ‘periods’. So, if a team was having a traditional two hour practice, it would be referred to as a “twenty-four period practice”. Generally, coaches will receive a practice schedule divided into periods and not hours or minutes. Having such a specific breakdown makes it easier for coaches to know how and when they should be working individually, in groups, or as a team.

    A clock runs throughout practice and sounds a buzzer at the end of each period, letting coaches know it’s time to move on or how much time remains. Football is such a multi-faceted sport that it is extremely difficult to ensure players receive sufficient work on individual technique, group concepts, team plays, and all phases of special teams. With that in mind, the single most important aspect of any practice from a coach’s perspective is the ‘One-on-One’ periods.


    WRs vs. DBs:
    Wide receivers and Defensive backs are accustomed to competing in one-on-one situations – it’s the nature of those positions. However, their one-on-one period must be different than the 7-on-7 everyone is so familiar with because during 7-on-7 there are multiple routes and coverages, resulting in more possible outcomes. In a one-on-one drill there is only one target for the QB. To mix up these drills, however, a WR will occasionally be told to run block the DB in coverage to test not only the receiver’s skills when blocking, but the defender’s ability to recognize plays and shed blocks.


    RB's vs. LB's:
    Due to the multiple responsibilities that both running backs and linebackers have on any given play, their one-on-one period is usually broken into two segments: rushing and blocking. When performing the running segment of the one-on-one, the drill has to be modified to simulate the ‘traffic’ created by other players. By using heavy bags to simulate running lanes, it creates a more realistic set-up for this unrealistic drill (fig.1). The running back will start with the ball in his hand and the drill will begin on a whistle. The winners are clear here…if you’re tackled, you lose.
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    The pass-rushing and pass-blocking segment of the one-on-one period is more difficult for RBs because it is a skill most running backs don’t spend practice time on in high school. Linebackers are given the freedom to perform a ‘jet’ pass rush (which means a rush where they’re not held accountable for a gap). Three bags simulate half of an offensive line and one more represents the QB. In this drill the objective is clear, stop the rusher from hitting the QB (fig. 2).
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    O-Line vs. D-Line:
    These are the most well-known and popular one-on-one drills due to their physicality and similarity to a fight. Five defensive linemen line up across from five offensive linemen and everyone knows it’s a pass (fig. 3). From right to left or left to right, one at a time, defensive linemen perform a ‘jet’ pass rush to try and hit the QB bag. The term “any means necessary” comes to mind most often for either side of the ball.
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    In 1-on-1’s, all eyes are on you and there’s nowhere to hide. A player’s eagerness to compete and win will test his concentration and execution of the trained technique. Teammates as well as coaches “whoop and holler” to build anticipation for the inevitable decision on who won and who lost. No one forgets how you did the day before, and no one forgets how you do today. When your name is called… will you answer?

    • May 29 2014 01:07 PM
    • by Coleman Feeley
  21. Horns Up!

    The quarterback position is the most important position on the football field. It garners the most fame but also the most scrutiny. It's the position that fans young and old invest their hope for glory. No fan wants to hear about their quarterback going down with an injury or getting in trouble with the law.

    Injury and legal trouble are at one end of the spectrum. There are other situations that are not as detrimental to a team, but they're not ideal either. For example, consider the risk/reward proposition of starting a true freshman at quarterback - is it short-term pain in terms of wins and losses, or long-term gain by helping to build the program?
    It's a delicate balance at the University of Texas, one of the largest universities and one of the most profitable football programs in the country. Starting a true freshman quarterback is about as popular as closing down 6th street forever and for good reason - teams that start a true freshman quarterbacks typically don't win a lot of games. Jared Goff is the starting quarterback at Cal. As a true freshman, he ranked 18th in the country in passing yards (3,488 yards); however, Cal finished 1-11 in 2013.

    But Cal fans can live through that, why? Hope.

    Admittedly, Texas and Cal are on different levels. Cal had very little talent whereas Texas does have talent, but it's mainly on the defensive side of the ball. On offense, it's no secret that Charlie Strong wants to run the football. Johnathan Gray should be back in the fall and so will Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, Jalen Overstreet and others to give Charlie Strong the stable of running backs he needs to run his offense.

    The issue on offense is at the quarterback position. David Ash may not even be healthy enough to go in the fall and even if he is, can he take hits and stay in games? Tyrone Swoopes desperately needs a redshirt and Max Wittek is not an option anymore.

    So who does that leave? Jerrod Heard.

    Jerrod Heard won two Texas high school state championships and many feel that he is the future at Texas. Pair Heard with Charlie Strong, who has never hesitated to play his best players, and the quarterback issues in Austin might be solved.

    In 2011, Strong started a true freshman at quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. To be fair, Bridgewater wasn't the starter for the entire season...he began as the starter in the 4th game of the season against Marshall. Bridgewater didn't have a particularly good year but I remember watching him as a true freshman in the Belk Bowl against NC State and although Louisville lost that game and fell to 6-7, I remember thinking that Bridgewater was going to be something special. The next season, Louisville went 12-1 including a Sugar bowl victory.

    I am not going to say that Jerrod Heard is going to help Texas win the Big 12 in 2014. However, if your goal for Texas football is the Big 12 championship in 2014, you are likely going to be disappointed. The future is the goal. With Jerrod Heard's special quarterback ability and championship pedigree, it's time to seriously consider starting him as a true freshman.

    • May 17 2014 11:58 AM
    • by Chris Flanagan
  22. Taking Sides - Adams vs Cotcher

    In last weekend's NFL Draft, the Texas Longhorns did not have a player selected for the first time since 1937. The 76-year streak was the longest active streak in the country.

    In the previous thirteen years, 55 Texas players were drafted. Most Longhorn fans are incredulous that their team averaged more than 4 players selected for thirteen years and then had such a precipitous drop. Some of those fans begrudgingly admit that the 2014 draft results make it easier to understand how their Horns went 8-5 last season.

    The shutout in the draft may make things in the rear view mirror more clear, but are they a harbinger of things to come? Is not having any players taken in the 2014 draft indicative of what level of talent is on the roster for the 2014 season?

    Be sure to tell us what you think


    I predict...pain - Clubber Lang Sean Adams

    The fact that the University of Texas had no players drafted in 2014 serves as a predictor for the 2014 season for a number of reasons.

    Everyone should know by now that the Longhorns are in need of an infusion of talent and the accompanying development of that talent.

    Conventional wisdom will tell you that a good team with nobody drafted means that the team would be better the next year but conventional wisdom won’t work here. Texas’ biggest need is in mentality, real confidence and an identity. False bravado can only get a team so far and this is a team that has not had much success against teams on par or better than them.

    Most believe that the Charlie Strong regime will work on the mentality, the confidence and the identity but the question is how much development can be done in 8 months? The fact that nobody was deemed worthy of a draft pick in the 2014 draft is clear indication of where the entire program is right now.

    While I like Strong and his staff, I believe overcoming where the program was is more than an 8 month fix.

    Quit living in the past - Matt Cotcher
    Everyone is upset about the draft's results. That's understandable. But here's the thing....the 2014 draft has no impact on the upcoming season.

    "No" as in zero, zilch, nada. Wash that dirt off your hands and let those concerns circle the drain.

    There are two main reasons that last weekend isn't any kind of predictor for this Fall:

    1. Each college football season is statistically independent from previous seasons
    That's right...push-up your horn-rimmed glasses and dust off your statistics book because we're talking probability theory.

    Rosters are different. Schedules are different. Athletes are a year more mature and have had another year of practice. And, just like some players improve - others do not. There are academic casualties, transfers and the ubiquitous "unspecified violation of team rules".

    All that is to say that what happened last Fall has absolutely no impact on what will happen this Fall. This is mathematical fact, so don't even bother to argue.

    2. Charlie Strong
    Even if seasons weren't statistically independent, how can anything from the 2013 season translate to this season when the entire Texas coaching staff is different? All anybody has talked about is culture change in the football program. And it isn't just the head honcho that changed - all of the position coaches did too.

    Do you think Pat Moorer and Jeff Madden run the same strength and conditioning drills? I don't. I also think that S&C can have a significant impact on a roster of 20-year olds.

    Now, consider what a small piece strength & conditioning represents of the global changes taking place in the Texas football program.

    Albert Einstein is credited for saying, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." That must mean that the definition of stupidity is to do something different and expect the same result.

    • May 16 2014 02:21 PM
    • by Matt Cotcher
  23. The Countdown - #10

    Over the next several weeks, Horn Sports is counting down the most important games of the 2014 football season. For this series, "most important games" will be defined as those having the biggest impact on the program's outlook and the 2014 season.

    The main question to ask is "How would a win help bolster Texas's national perception?"

    The Countdown: #10 Kansas Jayhawks

    Games against Iowa State and Kansas don't bolster Texas's national perception all that much but the game against the Kansas Jayhawks is ranked higher than Iowa State because of the simple fact that it is on the road. Lawrence has been a place where the Texas Longhorns have struggled to win convincingly for several years.

    In 2012, the Longhorns needed a last minute touchdown to beat the hapless Jayhawks 17-14. The Longhorns were in a similar situation in 2004 when Vince Young converted a 4th and 18 and then needed a touchdown pass to win the game.

    The KU game will also be played right after the UCLA game. It will be interesting to see how the Longhorns respond after their first big test of the season.

    About the University of Kansas:

    The University of Kansas is located in Lawrence, KS. The campus sits atop a large hill, called Mount Oread. The school is located 30 minutes west of Downtown Kansas City and 30 minutes east of Kansas's capital of Topeka, making it a popular destination for students in both metro areas. Notable alumni include Former Senator Bob Dole, Paul Rudd, Gale Sayers, Adolph Rupp, and Dean Smith.

    The University of Kansas football team is mostly used as a distraction and a countdown mechanism for Kansas basketball. Although they are near the Kansas City metro area, KU still struggles to recruit well in football. Charlie Weis is doing his best to rebuild the Jayhawks but it's been a difficult process. He is 4-20 in two seasons in Lawrence but does have some hope for bowl eligibility this season after winning three games last season.

    • May 13 2014 05:15 PM
    • by Chris Flanagan
  24. Recruit Profile: Cameron Townsend

    The UT Spring Game brought an onslaught of prospective recruits to Austin, including Cameron Townsend, an outside linebacker from Ridge Point High School in Missouri City.

    Townsend is expected to be a four-star recruit coming out of his senior year with an ESPN ranking of 81.

    Townsend, a 6’1”, 205 pound LB, is still growing, and according to Ridge Point head football coach Brett Sniffin, is a leader for his team. “He definitely leads by example,” Sniffin said. “He does everything the right way.”

    Not only is he a force on the field, Townsend is also popular with his classmates and people around town, “We like to call him Mr. RPHS around here,” Sniffin said.

    Townsend also does the announcements on television for his high school. “He’s like a Tom Brokaw if you will,” Sniffin said. “He’s probably more adult than kid; he’s very mature.”

    Now entering his senior year and his third year as a captain for his team, Townsend has been a high commodity for recruiters, “The majority of the Big 12, Pac 10 and half of the Big 10 [have been in contact with me],” Sniffin said. “[Townsend] definitely has a top 5.”

    Sniffin says that Townsend’s “explosive quickness” is his greatest strength, but that when he gets to the collegiate level, he’ll need to “adjust to the quickness of the game.” Townsend’s 40-yard dash was recorded at a 4.63, an above average score for outside linebackers in his class.

    With the Spring Game visit from Townsend, the Longhorns have made their presence known in the running for Townsend’s commitment. Sniffin has only met a couple of the new Texas coaching staff. “[The coaches] have been out to campus and they’ve been great and open,” adding, “I like all the things that Coach Strong stands for and the discipline he’s put in place there.”

    “Coach Strong and Coach Mack Brown are two totally different people. But, you know, I still get similar vibes,” Townsend said in an interview with ESPN. “I definitely like the new coaching staff a lot. I really like Coach Strong. He seems like a legit guy.”
    “[Townsend] is just an outstanding individual,” Sniffin said. “His parents have done a great job with him.”

    Townsend hasn’t verbally committed to a college yet, and Sniffin didn’t disclose his top 5 picks. “That’s for [Townsend] to divulge, not me.”

    Click HERE for Townsend's highlight reel.

    • May 09 2014 09:13 PM
    • by Kylie Hopkins
  25. The Recruiting Bridge

    Tonight, the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft will take place. It's very unlikely that a Texas Longhorn will be drafted in the 1st round, so why should Longhorn fans watch the NFL draft (except to see how bad Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys fumble their pick)?

    Teddy Bridgewater.

    Teddy Bridgewater is the hope for Texas fans on Thursday night. Longhorns all across the country should be rooting for Teddy Bridgewater to go in the first round. Why? Recruiting. That's why.

    Thursday night will be a big night for the Aggies. Johnny Manziel, Ryan Matthews and Mike Evans are likely top 10 picks in the draft. Compare that with the best Texas prospect - Jackson Jeffcoat, who is projected as a 3rd to 4th round pick.

    Charlie Strong is the new head coach for the Longhorns but his claim to fame is building up the Louisville Cardinals into a powerhouse program. He did that with Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterback for the last three years. Getting his ex-quarterback drafted in the first round would be a big boost for Strong in terms of slowing down the Aggie's recruiting machine, .

    In the USA Today Mock Draft, Teddy Bridgewater was the first overall selection......in the 2nd round. That isn't high enough to impress the top tier Texas recruits that Strong needs to build a championship program in Austin. If Texas A&M has all three prospects (Manziel, Matthews, and Evans) drafted in the top 10, then the Aggies would have 4 players drafted in the top 10 in the last 2 NFL drafts. Texas recruits know that Texas hasn't been playing at a level to produce NFL prospects and they need to see the new regime putting players in the position to get drafted in the first round. Tonight, Teddy Bridgewater is Strong's evidence.

    As a head coach, Charlie Strong has only had one player drafted and that was in the 7th round. Strong needs a big weekend to show recruits he will get them to the next level. His Louisville team has two potential 1st round picks and potentially five players total.

    Regardless of overall draftees, the big name for Strong is Teddy Bridgewater. Running backs love to play behind a great quarterback; offensive lineman want to block for a great quarterback and wide receivers want to catch passes from a great quarterback...great quarterbacks want to go to a school that can get them to the NFL.

    So Texas fans, watch the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night and hope that Teddy Bridgewater is one of those 32 names mentioned on Thursday night.

    • May 08 2014 09:29 AM
    • by Chris Flanagan