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Found 124 results

  1. Reggie Hemphill Mapps to Transfer

    Tom Herman confirmed during his signing day press conference that Reggie Hemphill Mapps will transfer from UT. He has not been working out with the team and is currently looking for a potential landing spot. The redshirt freshman caught 32 passes for 328 yards in 2017.
  2. ***National Signing Day 2 Thread***

    The 2018 recruiting class will officially come to a close as National Signing Day 2 is upon us. Texas inked 19 players during the early signing period in December, but will look to add to that number with a strong finish. Below are the remaining commits and targets, with the time they plan on signing: Committed DL Daniel Carson (SIGNED) DL Moro Ojomo (SIGNED) DL Keondre Coburn (SIGNED) RB Keaontay Ingram (SIGNED) WR Josh Moore (SIGNED) OL Christian Jones (SIGNED) DL Michael Williams (2:40 PM) Targets DL Joseph Ossai (9 AM) LB Andrew Parker (9 AM) WR Lawrence Keys III (10 AM) WR Tommy Bush (10:30 AM) DL Vernon Jackson (TBD) Follow along here at HornSports for live updates throughout the day.
  3. Potential Injury News

    There may be some injury news coming in the next several days that impacts the Texas offense. The injury could be minor, because the player has not had an MRI yet. That's all we can say at this time. We will release more information as it comes to us.
  4. Kirk Johnson appears to have not been improving from his torn ACL last year. The answer why is now known. Johnson had a slight meniscus tear in his knee, which was hindering his progress. Johnson underwent a minor scope procedure to resolve the issue. I would not be surprised if Johnson medically redshirted this year, but he could also be back later in the season. Tough break for him, but he will be back. Luckily, Texas has three solid RB's in front of him. Rumors are circulating that Patrick Vahe injured his wrist in practice and is in a cast. Before any of you freak out, this is just a rumor for now. Nothing has been confirmed. On the positive side, it is not uncommon for a lineman to play in a cast. If there is any way that Vahe can get out on the field against Cal, he will play. Vahe is key to the Texas run game, and OL coach Matt Mattox wlll not hold him out unless the injury is serious. I will update the thread as more information arrives. Stay tuned.
  5. It all began with his tweet after the spring game. "Could've told my mother to save her money on the plane ticket". Half of a game after being called on account of rain, or a subtle blast to the fact he didn't sniff the field? I don't know, but I believe, when it comes to a young guy who wants his shot, it was the latter. When Buechele became the obvious nod to the future with Ehlinger on deck at QB, I knew Locksley was going to have to change positions or transfer. Then it was even more evident when Heard got moved to WR, where a stable of capable guys was already in place. Now, I don't even know what the plan is, if any for the kid. I know he never had huge expectations, but does anyone feel bad for him? I just feel like he is a perfect example of how you can be swept up in the circus that can be recruiting. It's a valid thought to wonder if he ever really knew what he was doing/expecting when he said yes to Texas and bailed on FSU. Then again, you wonder what he was told. Who knows. I'll give him this much: I don't know what it's like to be 18 and have those kinds of decisions to make with the confidence and probably somewhat arrogance that I can go somewhere and be the guy. But at the same time, how do you make such a huge decision without really looking at the reality of the situation and asking yourself where you fit in? At one point during camp, his name came up on a brief article about roster position changes, what ifs, etc. And I completely forgot the kid was on the team. I'm betting the house on Texas this Saturday and putting all my winnings on my next bet, which is news that Locksley transfers before this season ends.
  6. “Texas is back, folks.” These words from Joe Tessitore as Tyrone Swoopes plunged into the end zone in double overtime to knock of the 10th ranked Fighting Irish sent chills down my spine. I’ve probably watched that final play 50 times since Sunday and it still gets the heart racing every single time. Let me begin by saying that I’m extremely happy for senior Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. As much adversity Swoopes has experienced since he arrived in Austin in 2013, he absolutely deserved a moment like that on Sunday. If you flash back to the debacle in South Bend in 2015, Swoopes was a horrendous 7/22 passing for 92 yards and was promptly benched the next week for Jerrod Heard. Getting benched is something that is incredibly difficult to handle mentally as a player. It’s more or less a mark of failure and sometimes there is no coming back from it. So what did Swoopes do in response to his demotion? He didn’t pout or disappear into the Texas bench. Instead, he embraced his new role in his package of plays. When the “18 Wheeler” package was born there was a different person on the field under center. Swoopes was confident, he ran with power and conviction, and he played with a swagger. With true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele getting the starting nod in the season opener, we once again saw Swoopes’ selflessness. It’s not often you see a coach opt to go with the young and inexperienced true freshman quarterback over a senior in an opener of this magnitude. This was another opportunity for Swoopes to get down on himself, and once again he did not. Instead Swoopes played a very key cog in a win that can best be described as a game changer for the Texas program on the field and off the field. Speaking of Shane Buechele, for me it is hard to put his performance into words. The true freshman from Arlington Lamar High School went from making a playoff start against Mansfield High School to playing against the 10th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and he didn’t flinch in the least bit. Did he make some mistakes? Of course he did, and he is going to make plenty more because that’s what freshmen across the board do as they are adjusting to the speed of college football. The main takeaway from his performance is that he played with confidence and poise beyond his years. He had absolutely no problem leading the offense up and down the field throughout the night. The same mental processing that folks have been raving about since seeing him in the spring game earlier this year was on full display again for the entire country to see. We knew coming into this matchup that Notre Dame’s defense was going to show a variety of looks and blitzes in an attempt to try and overwhelm Buechele, and despite following through with that game plan they were unable to get to him all night. Not one sack. That can be attributed to the offensive line's ability to hold up well in pass protection as well as Buechele's propensity to get rid of the ball when he had to, avoiding negative yardage. Either way you slice it, Buechele played a pretty clean game for a true freshman given the overwhelming circumstances. A win of this magnitude in week one means I have to completely recalibrate my expectations for the Longhorns' season going forward. Cautiously, I predicted an 8-4 season, but I was not expecting a win over Notre Dame in any scenario I had in my head. I also did not think that Buechele and the offense would look this good this early in the season. While the defense obviously has plenty of work to do, I want everyone to keep in mind that Deshone Kizer is a future NFL player. The defense is still very young, but has plenty of talent to make strides as the season progresses. I do not think it is unreasonable to say a 3-0 OOC record is a must at this point. I’ve said before that I think that Cal is more than beatable after watching them early on and now having seen what Texas is looking like this year, I believe that even more. What this means for Charlie Strong and Texas on the recruiting trail can’t be understated after Sunday's win. They had over 102,000 people in the stands at DKR on Sunday with 11 million more watching at home; I think it is safe to say the Longhorns stole the nation’s attention. If Texas continues on this trend throughout the season, I think we need to prepare for an even more ridiculous recruiting finish than we saw last February. There is a buzz and a feeling around the team and among the fan base that we haven’t seen in sometime. Football on the 40 is fun again, guys. Buckle up for an exciting ride.
  7. Jerrod Heard started 10 of the 12 games under center for the Longhorns last year. His first game was his best, setting the school record for total yards in the loss against Cal. Now, he will be helping the team in a new capacity. Heard will be moving to wide receiver, a position where the coaches look to utilize his speed, which is by far his greatest strength. With the former quarterback moving to receiver, the future of the Longhorns’ quarterback position has a different outlook now. The transfers of Ryan Newsome and DeAndre McNeal allow Heard to have an early chance at playing time, as the Longhorns were left thin at inside receiver. Devin Duvernay will likely be the starter at that spot, but behind him there are certainly spots up for grabs. With Heard’s grasp of the offense from a quarterback’s perspective, he should know exactly what the receiver is supposed to do. This could give him a big advantage playing the position, and would be a big pick-me-up for a team that lost two players in a span of three weeks at the slot position. Kai Locksley’s athletic ability could allow the Longhorns to use him as a wide receiver as well. The versatility of those two allows them to get on the field and use their best attributes while still taking reps and helping the other quarterbacks out. The role is a new one for Heard, who won two state championships as quarterback at Denton-Guyer, but he’s embraced the opportunity to contribute to his team. “The transition is going good. Right now I'm enjoying it, loving every minute of it. It's just a learning thing every day. I didn't fight against it. Really I was ready for the transition myself, so I felt like it would be a positive thing for me and for my future. So I was all for it and ready to go." Heard making the switch to receiver doesn’t mean he won’t continue to help the team in his former role. He will still probably take some reps in practice with the quarterbacks, and will likely act as the third string guy in the event something happens to Buechele or Swoopes. Texas still has four other guys in the quarterback room - Buechele, Swoopes, Locksley, and Matthew Merrick all there. With the commitment of Sam Ehlinger, there will be no shortage of bodies at the position going forward, making Heard’s move that much easier. Heard's incorporation into the Texas offense as a new weapon at receiver is only one new wrinkle offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert looks to implement this season. Will the new offense live up to the hype it has received through spring and fall camp? "Yeah, definitely. There's so much stuff that we do with this offense, personnel-wise and scheme-wise. It's unreal what we do now. I'm ready to go and ready to see how it all plays out and excited," said Heard.
  8. The 2016 season is just around the corner and the Texas Longhorns are looking to make significant strides from their struggles on offense last season. Under Sterlin Gilbert’s new spread offense, there will be a lot of passing, and frequently. However, teams like Baylor and Oregon have shown that running the ball from the spread is key to keeping the defense off balance. Texas will have a stable of talented backs to choose from, and to use in certain situations. D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren will most likely get the majority of the carries out of the backfield. Foreman showed off his talents throughout last year, having multiple bright spots, including an 80-yard dash in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma. Warren didn’t see much time last year, but made the most of it. He had his breakout game on Thanksgiving night against Texas Tech, when he broke the freshman record for most yards in a game. Kirk Johnson saw limited action last year as well, but could see more playing time this season with the fast pace of the offense and the necessity to have fresh legs. Two other running backs to keep an eye on are Tristian Houston, a track star from Galena Park North Shore and incoming superstar Kyle Porter. Houston spent last season red-shirting and building up his body to be able to withstand a season of college ball. Porter, who may have the most upside of any of these guys, could see the field and contribute as a true freshman. Receiver Deandre McNeal has shown an ability to take the ball out of the backfield as well, and could be used on jet sweeps and other outside runs. Needless to say, the arsenal that Gilbert has at his disposal is not lacking in talent. Look for Texas to keep the 18-wheeler package as part of the offense. Tyrone Swoopes excelled in the role of bulldozer last season, especially in goal line and short yardage situations. Throw in a couple of passes to that formation to keep the defense on their toes, and Texas could have a very versatile option to work with on 3rd or 4th and short. The Longhorns did not feature this package in the spring game, but in the fall, it will most likely be in Gilbert's plans. No one has ever doubted Swoopes’ running ability, and with his big frame it is difficult for opponents to bring him down. If the offense can get seven or eight yards on first and second down, slowing down a little bit to bring Swoopes in and move the chains would be an ideal strategy. Sticking with the quarterback theme, despite Jerrod Heard’s regression as a passer throughout the year, he certainly showed off his wheels during his playing time. While it is unclear exactly how Heard fits into Gilbert’s plans at the moment, he could also be used in a wildcat or a trick play situation with his running ability. Heralded recruit and early enrollee Shane Buechele is likely to play this season, and won't hesitate to scramble if given the opportunity. With the running talent the Longhorns possess, it is inevitable that the coaches exploit it. Just because a new spread offense is implemented, doesn’t Texas will stray away from its strength. And Texas’ absolute greatest strength on offense is the ability to run the ball. Charlie Strong and Sterlin Gilbert know this and will work the running game into what is known traditionally as a very pass-happy offense.
  9. 2 months

    with 2 months until Texas vs Notre Dame here is my very early depth chart QB: Beuchele,Heard,Swoopes RB: Foreman,Warren,Porter,Johnson (Kirk to me has all the tools to be NFL safety) TE: Blueitt,Beck,Aucoin WR: Burt,Foreman,Joe WR; Johnson,Humphrey,Leonard WR: Duvernay,McNeal,Newsome,Curtis LT: Williams,Delance,Uriquidez LG: Hodges,Hudson,McMillon C: Shackleford,Rodriguez,Cuney RG: Vahe,Perkins,Major RT: Perkins,Nickelson,Okafor, K: No one all 2pt conversions and going for it on 4th down P: Dickinson Fox: Hughes,Hager,Roach if Fowler makes it on team in time he would be 2nd team DT: Boyette,DCG,Nelson,Wilbon DT: Elliott,Ford,Daniels,Southall DE: Omenihu,Cottrell,Fitzgerald,Vasser LB: Jefferson,Cole,Boyd LB: Wheeler,Freeman,McCullouch,Townsend CB: Hill,Boyd,Cuffee CB: D.Davis,A.Davis,Evans NB: Locke,Bonney, SS: Hall,Elliott,Brown FS: Haines,Joes,Vaccaro
  10. The proverbial Texas football throne. A mythological creation from the minds of Texans and college football fans everywhere. For many years, the general consensus was whichever program ruled the state of football in Texas would rule college football’s landscape. To some extent, this is accurate but not always. When the Pony Express of the 1980s at SMU was riding high, they didn't win a national title but they were the kings of Texas and recruited at a high level (sans the obvious NCAA violations). When Johnny Football captivated the nation in 2012, Texas A&M was riding the wave of endorsement and fandom, even selling more T-shirts than the Longhorns. Don't get me started on that irony. And who could forget what 4th and 5 did for the Texas Longhorns? Mack had recruiting classes filled up with future All-Pros 11 months before signing day. Everyone expects to see the Longhorns at the top, and when they fall from grace everyone likes to take their shots. Goliath is feared when he is standing tall but not when he is wounded. The 2016 season is just around the corner and with it comes opportunity for the program. Texas is older, more experienced and has a chip on its shoulder. It’s time for Strong and company to make the move to reclaim the state’s top spot. And it’s ripe for the picking too. Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat and in all likelihood needs to knock it out of the park this year to keep his job. Easier said than done. Late night Twitter rants from coaches resulting in a loss of recruits doesn’t help Sumlin’s or the program's cause. The aggies have a new starting quarterback and a new offensive coordinator. While both are experienced, there will be a new product on the field in Aggieland. Whether this is a good thing or disastrous remains to be seen. Baylor is reeling from the rape scandal with a fired head coach, 6 signees from the last recruiting class gone (most to Texas) and players defecting from the program. TCU is hoping to reload with Kenny Hill at quarterback but with only 10 starters returning, it might be a rebuilding year in Fort Worth. Kliff Kingsbury is doing what people expect in Lubbock: keeping the Red Raiders competitive and making it to bowl games. Anything beyond that is unforeseen at this point. The Longhorns have survived another insane off-season by going about their business, not talking greatness or wins, but working on improving the product on the field. No real off-the-field issues and no team drama. Everyone is focused on their studies and on their preparation for the upcoming season. This is precisely what Charlie Strong had at Louisville. No drama, no frills... just going about the work at-hand with intentionality and in a manner that yields results in the long run. Does that mean the ‘Horns will go 11-1 and win the Big 12? No. Does it mean they will beat every Big 12 team in the state? No. What it does mean is Charlie Strong’s players must start to methodically take back the throne by taking care of business. Winning games that they are supposed to win (Iowa State), closing out close games (Cal) and not allowing referees to decide games (Oklahoma State). If the Longhorns can do those 3 things consistently, they can be an 8-win team in 2016 positioned to win big in 2017 and 2018. That will be enough to swing momentum back to the 40 Acres and reestablish the Longhorns as the premier program in the state of Texas. Who wants the throne? Only the Longhorns can answer that.
  11. In this week's episode of the 4th and 5 podcast, Will Baizer and Mike Roach discuss Charlie Strong's offseason hires, starting with OC Sterlin Gilbert, Matt Mattox and ending with the last three hires. But first they touch on the implications of Charlie Strong's subpoena, what the new High School Relations hire can do for Strong and the Program, and Sam Ehlinger's bump in the 2017 recruiting rankings.
  12. Mr. Trotter, After reading your tweets/comments about the “Florida 5â€, and specifically this tweet “@Jake_Trotter: W/ Cecil Cherry leaving, only Davante Davis left from Charlie Strong's touted "Florida 5." Gamble to recruit heavily out of TX backfiring", I decided to respond with an open letter to clear the air. To insinuate the “Florida 5†could end up as the “Florida 1†due to the recruits/athletes not being from the state of Texas, or “in-state†recruits, is laughable and a weak argument at best. But before I go further, I’d like to be clear. I completely agree that each year the majority of the athletes on the Texas Longhorn football roster should be from the state of Texas. A) As a state, Texas has the best recruits year in and year out. That’s why many major college football programs usually have at least a few recruits from Texas sprinkled throughout their roster. C ) A recruit from Texas likely will be more familiar with the Longhorns and the other football programs within the state, as well as with the coaches that are recruiting them during their high school years. And C) an in-state recruit will still be close or reasonably close to home. Those are just a few reasons why I agree the Longhorns should always build their roster/recruiting classes with mostly athletes from Texas. But to try to argue that the recruitment of the “Florida 5†has backfired simply because they are not from Texas is false. Let’s take a look at the evidence to understand why. 1) Tim Irvin – (Palmetto Bay, Florida) - Auburn: Irvin was the first of the 5 to change course. Leading up to National Signing Day, Irvin decided to flip to Auburn largely in part to unite with former Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, who he had developed a close relationship with according to reports. There’s much more to this story of Irvin’s flip than the simple fact that he is not from Florida. Oh and Auburn isn’t in Florida either… Just sayin’. 2) Gilbert Johnson – (Homestead, Florida/Georgia Prep Sports Academy)/Devonaiire Clarington – (Miami, Florida): Let’s take a look and both Johnson and Clarington together. Johnson was unable to attend Texas because he did not qualify academically. And Clarington, who has been on his own academic journey in an attempt to qualify academically, is waiting to hear back from the NCAA on whether he has clearance to join the Longhorn roster. Would being an “in-state†recruit change anything academically? No. 3) Cecil Cherry – (Frostproof, Florida): There is a number of different reasons that have been stated as to why Cherry is leaving the Texas program just days into fall practices. The main reason seems to be that he initially went against what his father wants for Cherry (which is sad in itself that his father is calling the shots for him). Another reason is that he did not get the jersey number (#3) he wanted and instead received #52. At this point, It’s unclear exactly where Cherry will end up (he very well could end up at a school in Florida). But at the end of the day, it sounds like Cherry (though he’s denied this notion) and his father realized he would play behind fellow freshman Malik Jefferson during his UT days as long as Malik was on roster if Cherry and Malik both stayed at MLB. Was not being an “in-state†recruit the main reason why Cherry left? No. Though I will admit it may play a small role into his departure. But main reason? No. As for the remaining out-of-state recruit from the “Florida 5â€, Davante Davis, reports have been positive for the freshman during the first few days of fall practices. And only time will tell whether he will step into a game this season or not. Oh, and as a bonus point (because who doesn’t love bonus points?), freshman wide receiver John Burt (Tallahassee, Florida) has also been receiving positive reviews during fall practices. And there’s increasing momentum to the notion that he has the skills and athleticism to contribute right away during his freshman campaign. As I stated earlier, I agree Longhorn coaches need to keep “in-state†recruits as their main focus when recruiting. The state is consistently oozing with talent year-after-year-after-year. And if Texas can improve its win/loss record, it will be easier and easier to recruit the top-talent in the state to the 40 Acres. But adding some top recruits from outside of the state isn’t certain death for Texas… Ricky Williams says hey… More importantly, though, to use these specific 5 players as evidence for the argument that “[strong’s] gamble to recruit heavily out of TX [is] backfiring†is weak evidence and paints the wrong picture as to the real reasons of why 3, and possibly 4, of the “Florida 5†are not on the 40 Acres right now for fall practices. - Some chump with a perspective, Wes Crochet
  13. Hi newbie here, so forgive me if I'm crossing any lines, but I recently read the 2015 Texas Longhorn Football Prospectus: Thinking Texas Football and it's really good preview of the 'Horns, our opponents and the Big 12. It's thorough, well-written with an entertaining writing style. Maybe everyone already knows about it, but I wanted to pass on a rec. Hook 'em!
  14. It wasn't the regular season finale the Texas seniors or Charlie Strong envisioned... Fifth ranked TCU and Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin handled the Longhorns easily on Thanksgiving night 48-10. Tyrone Swoopes threw four interceptions and Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray averaged only a combined 2.1 yards per carry. A Nick Rose 47 yard field goal and a big play by Armanti Foreman were the lone scores on the night for the Longhorns. The Texas offense had a tough time getting things going... Boykin was pressured all night by the Texas defense but managed to throw for 233 yards and two touchdowns. TCU running back Aaron Green led all rushers with 73 yards on 16 carries. The Horned Frogs out-gained the Longhorns in total yards 368-290. Senior wide receiver John Harris surpassed the 1000 yard receiving mark for the Longhorns, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since Jordan Shipley's 2009 season. TCU improves to 10-1 overall (7-1 Big 12) while the Longhorns finish the season at .500 (6-6 overall, 5-4 Big 12). The Longhorns are expected to receive an invitation to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis) or Advocare Texas Bowl (Houston). Stay tuned for more from our Matt Cotcher, who reported live from the press box at DKR tonight. Notes and tidbits from the post-game press conference
  15. Grading UCLA

    After a poor week 2 performance against BYU, Texas played much better this week against a tough UCLA team. While the Longhorns didn't come away with a victory, the improvements from last week to this were evident in many areas of the team. Quarterback: For the second consecutive week, Tyrone Swoopes started the game off hot as he completed 11 straight passes. The Longhorns seemed to move the ball a little better at times and Swoopes even used his legs more than he did against BYU. As was the case last week, Swoopes was not a main reason that Texas lost to UCLA. He showed good poise, especially in the TD drive that put Texas ahead with five minutes remaining. Grade: B+ Tyrone Swoopes continues to impress and is slowly proving to the coaches that they can trust him more and more to open the playbook up. Running Back: The Texas Runningbacks played a better game last night than they did in week 2. Instead of constantly being stuffed at the line or in the backfield, the RBs were pushing forward for 4-6 yards after the first hit. Brown and Gray again were not called on often to catch the ball out of the backfield, but they weren't a liability either. They also did a good job of helping the line pass block and keep Swoopes off of the turf. Grade: B Brown and Gray showed growth from week 2 to week 3 in many areas. The Horns will need to continue to see the two five stars improve for the offense to get better. Wide Receivers/TEs: Both WRs and TEs played a better game at times. Marcus Johnson showed up and made several clutch catches, usually on hot slants, while Harris and Shipley continued to perform on a high level. The TEs, on the other hand, were again absent save for a two yard TD reception from MJ McFarland. Grade: B- The WRs are doing what they're being asked. The mistakes were limited, but the late drop was still costly. The TEs did block well, but will need to be more of a factor for the offense to continue to improve. Offensive Line: There were times that the line looked like they did against BYU, failing to get a good push and having difficulty protecting the QB. But like every other position on offense, it was easy to see that the line showed improvement since last week. There were more running lanes and a better push in general for the runningbacks and the pass protection was again good enough for the QB to have time to make his throws. Grade: C+ While the line still had their mistakes, they were limited and didn't seem to take points off the board. As the playbook continues to expand the line will need to prove that they can protect Swoopes longer than just a few seconds for short routes. Defensive Line: With Hundley out of the game after the first series, the defense had a prime opportunity to totally shut down the run and force UCLA to pass. Instead, the Bruins continued to run the read play even though Neuhiesel is a pocket passer with very little running skills. The line played well in the first half, helping to limit UCLA to just 3 points in the first half. But the third quarter problems popped up again, beginning with a 58 yard run on the first play of the third up the middle of the defense. The line made their fare share of plays, including another sack by Malcom Brown and a huge fumble recovery by Boyette. Grade: C The line played well at times, but giving up 217 yards on the ground to a team without their starting dual threat QB is inexcusable when you have guys like M. Brown and Reed. Linebackers: To the naked eye, Jordan Hicks played like a man on fire for most of the night. He really seemed to be flying around and involved or in the vicinity on nearly every tackle. Edmonds had his moments as well, including a huge strip late in the 4th. But, like the line, the LBs cannot allow the 217 rushing yards to a UCLA team without Hundley. That said, it was still a big improvement over last week's loss to BYU. Grade: C+ The boys are improving, but they've got to do a better job of closing the gaps and stopping the run. Defensive backs: On one hand, the secondary played well and limited UCLA to short passes within 3-10 yards of the line for much of the evening. On the other hand, when the game was on the line, the Longhorns allowed a 33 yard game winning TD catch on a pump and go to a redshirt sophomore backup QB with little game experience. Texas defensive backs played well for much of the evening, not allowing the WRs to beat them long (until the end) and keeping the short passes from turning into big yards as missed tackles were limited for much of the evening. Grade: B While the secondary gave up the big play, they covered well and forced UCLA to throw underneath for a majority of the night. Special Teams: Will Russ is really starting to come into his own. Russ boomed kicks and had a career high 62 yard punt. Unfortunately, it was a big Russ punt that turned into a game changer when his punt cleared coverage and allowed Ishmael Adams to return the ball to the 33 with 3:00 left, which set up the game winner on the next play. Field goals were better, but there was absolutely nothing in both punt and kick returns available for Texas. Grade: C- One bad punt coverage helped to cost the a Longhorns the game. You can never fault a punter for kicking the ball too far, but the coverage has to be better.
  16. W2W4 in the Big 12: Week 1

    Each week of the season HornSports will take a look at the major storylines and games being played in the Big 12. This piece will pay particular attention to the games that have the most impact on Texas and the Horns' positioning in the conference. In Week 1, every team has a clean slate and the conference race hasn't even started. With that in mind, here are the major headlines from the Big 12 offseason: The new Big 12 logo While a new logo might not mean much, it retired a symbol of upheaval and instability that had 4 teams leave the conference and 2 teams added to the conference. With no substantial conference realignment talk this past offseason, it's was time for a new image and symbol to represent the Big 12. Oklahoma adds DGB to the roster The Sooners added the playmaker wide receiver after he was dismissed from Missouri after multiple arrests. The Sooners expected that Dorial Green-Beckham will be eligible to play this season. The NCAA decided otherwise and denied his waiver for immediate eligibility. It has yet to be determined if he will be back in Oklahoma in 2015. Joe Mixon out for the 2014 season Joe Mixon was involved in an offseason altercation at a Norman, OK establishment and has been suspended for the 2014 season. Mixon, a true freshman, will redshirt this season and get his legal affairs in order. Baylor returns Bryce Petty In a relatively weak quarterback draft class, many sports journalists believed that Bryce Petty would forgo his senior year and opt for the NFL Draft. He decided to stay in Waco. This helped Baylor's preseason perception and ranking. Chris Flanagan's Preseason Big 12 Football Rankings 1. Oklahoma 2. Baylor 3. Kansas State 4. Oklahoma State 5. Texas 6. Texas Tech 7. West Virginia 8. TCU 9. Iowa State 10. Kansas Analysis: The Oklahoma Sooners are the clear favorite this preseason much to the chagrin of Texas fans. Oklahoma has a very good defense, an improved quarterback and a great running attack. Baylor is the only team that on paper can challenge the Sooners this year. With their match-up not until November, the Big 12 race might well be decided on that game. 3-6 is a toss up. West Virginia and TCU will fight it out for 7th. Iowa State might challenge them but right now, it's unclear if they will. Kansas rounds out the list because no matter what they seem to do, they never can put it together. Big 12 Game(s) of the Week for Week 1 (Time (CST), TV, Location): West Virginia vs Alabama (2:30pm, ABC, Atlanta, GA) Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (7:00pm, ABC, Arlington, TX) Why are these games important? Week 1 is always an important week of the football season. For most teams, it's a tune up game to see how much the team has improved from last season. The Big 12 will have two games against the AP preseason #1 and #2 to start the season. No one is expecting these two Big 12 teams to win. If one or both of those teams pull the upset, it will be huge to the perception of the Big 12. More than likely, neither of them will win the game. However, if both teams can keep it close, it will help the perception of the Big 12 as well. These Big 12 teams are representing the conference and if they do well, the Big 12 champion could secure themselves a spot in the College Football Playoff. Other Big 12 games (Time (CST), TV, Location) North Dakota State vs Iowa State (11:00am, Cyclones.tv, Ames, IA) Samford vs. TCU (6:00pm, Fox Sports Net, Fort Worth, TX) Central Arkansas vs Texas Tech (6:00pm, Texas Tech TV on Fox, Lubbock, TX) Louisiana Tech vs. Oklahoma (6:00pm, PPV, Norman, OK) Stephen F. Austin vs. Kansas State (6:10pm, K-StateHD.TV, Manhattan, KS) SMU vs. Baylor (Sunday August 31st @ 6:30pm, Fox Sports 1, Waco, TX)
  17. When it comes time to talk about Texas football and the prospects of 2014, the storyline that most are fixated on is David Ash’s health. Ash’s injury concerns are most definitely problematic, but when fans preface season predictions with “Depending on Ash’s health…”, that is a disservice to the rest of the team. In Part IV of the Texas team preview, HornSports will take an in-depth look at quarterbacks and offensive linemen, and examine just how important David Ash is this Fall. Before looking at the signal callers and the guys up front, it’s important to reiterate that this team will play a ball control, defense-first style that is offensively based in a power run game. The importance of running backs, defense and special teams cannot be overstated when projecting how the Longhorns will fare this Fall. Having said that, there is good reason that everyone focuses on quarterback play: especially in the college game, football has become quarterback-centric. Analysts far and wide are quick to point out how critical quarterback play is to championship football. With such an emphasis on one player, the quarterback depth chart in Austin is lacking – and that might be too generous. Beyond Ash, there is a pair of raw athletes, neither with significant playing experience. In fact, one player, Jerrod Heard, is a true freshman that has only been on campus for a month. When discussing Texas quarterbacks, whether or not Heard should redshirt is an extremely close 2nd to comments about Ash’s health, in terms of how frequently fans mention it. In projecting the Texas signal callers, it’s appropriate first to talk about the offensive line. After all, David Ash touches the ball on every single play, but not until Dominic Espinosa snaps it to him. Espinosa is the key to the o-line. As a Senior, Espinosa has improved steadily throughout his career. In a new offense (with a new OL coach), having a veteran presence to coordinate blocking schemes and make calls is invaluable. From that perspective, Espinosa is central to everything this offense is hoping to accomplish. Even though he weighs in over 300 pounds, Espinosa has historically had difficulty handling powerful defensive tackles. At offensive guard, Kent Perkins and Sedrick Flowers will be charged with helping Espinosa handle the interior of the line. For the Longhorns to be a successful downhill running team, Flowers, Espinosa and Perkins must prevent opposing teams from penetrating into the backfield. Texas running backs need to be making their first cut into a lane as opposed to being forced to make a cut around a defensive tackle. That half-second difference for a running back, for the offensive line, and for the defensive front 7, can make or break a play. At tackle, Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle are charged with keeping Ash’s uniform clean and to keep defensive ends from crashing the party on the running attack. Harrison is a player that is being counted on for the line to be it’s best – Harrison’s size and athleticism make him a prototypical left tackle. Since coming to Austin from Contra Costa C.C., fans have been waiting for Harrison to emerge as the NFL prospect that the Texas line has been missing in recent years. After playing as a reserve in 2013, Harrison has improved under Joe Wickline’s tutelage and is now slated to start at right tackle. If Harrison’s trajectory continues it’s trend, expect Wickline to move him to the left side of the line. For all those positives and his potential, Harrison is currently suspended for the team’s first game and possibly longer. His absence provides valuable experience for Darius James, but for this team to execute their preferred style of offense, Harrison needs to be in the game and developing chemistry with the other starters along the line. The impact of Co-offensive coordinator and OL coach Joe Wickline remains to be seen, but his presence is cause for optimism. While at Oklahoma State, Wickline developed a reputation as one of the nation’s best teachers of line play and he developed several highly regarded NFL draft picks. How readily Wickline is able to transform the existing roster from a team weakness to a strength can improve the entire offensive outlook for this Fall. Wickline prefers versatility in linemen and does not typically platoon an entire 2nd unit at one time, both of which should be beneficial this season since depth on the line is a significant concern. Darius James and Jake Raulerson will both contribute heavily in rotation because of their ability to play multiple positions. While the offensive line is entrenched in the success of the new Texas offense, there will be several points during the season when the Horns need their quarterback to step up and make a play. Whether it’s converting a third down pass to keep a drive alive, or throwing a touchdown that puts six on the board instead of a field goal, just like the other 10 positions on offense, there are specific things that Texas must get from quarterback play to be successful. At the top of the depth chart is David Ash. Despite several years of experience, Texas fans are still unsure of what Ash can deliver on the field. From inconsistent play to debilitating injuries, Ash’s career, thus far, should only be labeled as “incomplete”. Nevertheless, Ash enters the season 100% healthy and is unquestionably the best option on the depth chart. Ash has talked about mastering the complexities of Watson and Wickline’s pro-style offense and he represents the lone quarterback on the roster that provides the offensive staff with the ability to execute the entire playbook. With underrated athleticism, Ash brings diversity to the offense with his ability to gain yards on the ground or to roll the pocket and throw on the run. Watson jokingly talked about reinforcing the importance of sliding rather than taking unnecessary hits to Ash; but it should be noted that neither he or Wickline have mentioned removing designed quarterback runs from the offense. Head Coach Charlie Strong confirmed that Tyrone Swoopes will be David Ash’s backup. The burnt orange faithful have debated all Summer whether Swoopes or true freshman Jerrod Heard should be second string. While Swoopes brings more athleticism to designed quarterback runs, he is not as developed as Ash is in terms of passing or his grasp of the offense. From a passing standpoint, Swoopes’ strong suit is the deep ball. If Swoopes is forced into action, the Texas offense will depend even more on the running game and supplement it with deep passes to prevent the defense from crowding the line of scrimmage. Swoopes would also need to execute in the short, controlled passing game while most of the intermediate throws would be de-emphasized. Behind Swoopes on the depth chart is Jerrod Heard. Much has been made of Heard’s vast potential, but the truth of the matter is that the Texas offense would be very limited with Heard at the helm. While Heard adds even more explosion to the rushing attack, he’s even more inconsistent in the passing game than Swoopes. Whereas Swoopes can be depended on to throw consistently catch-able downfield passes and execute the short range attack, Heard’s inconsistency across all ranges of throws restricts playcalling, thereby giving advantage to the opposing defense. While Ash remains healthy, redshirting Heard is a distinct possibility. Should Swoopes be thrust into service, how the coaches choose to provide Heard with meaningful experience will become a significant storyline. Although there is no arguing the importance of Ash’s health, fans should think of progressing down the quarterback depth chart as an inversely proportional exercise to offensive line and running back play. In other words, if Swoopes sees the field, expect the line and backs to become even more central to the offense. That relationship multiplies exponentially when switching from Swoopes to Heard. After years of quick strike offense and explosive plays, the 2014 offense is going to be less potent. However, less potent does not automatically equate to less effective. Rather than needing to score 35 points to win a game, this offense is going to focus on possessing the football, keeping the defense off the field, limiting turnovers, and a power running game. Stylistically-speaking, it might not be fan friendly, but it complements the foundations of what the coaching staff is building. From a positional standpoint, Texas is poised to execute the offense very well with it’s first string team. Depth, both at quarterback and on the offensive line would be significant hurdles to this team reaching goals on offense. Just like every other team, the Longhorns will trot out eleven young men for their first offensive series of the season. Those players will be more than capable of executing the style of offense needed for this team’s success. Regardless of that, fans throughout DKR will rehash concerns over David Ash’s health. After all, he’s the key to the season.
  18. Questions Answered! (8-24)

    Contributors: Matt Cotcher Darrell McPhaul (streettopeschel) Any chance of an alternate uniform this year? In a word, “No.” The farthest you might see the team deviate would be a hat tip to history (like the numbered helmets in 2013). (echeese) So far in every practice clip I have seen, the DLs have been down in 3/4 point stances. I am curious if we are going to see the "amoeba" defense we saw CFS run vs Miami where none of the DL were down in stances but all rushed from a stand up position. . . Charlie Strong puts more credence into the fundamentals of the game over schemes. With that in mind, and knowing that his team should beat UNT, Strong and Bedford have focused on teaching this squad how to play defense the way the coaches want it played. We believe you’ll see some wrinkles, but not until the players have proven a mastery of fundamentals. (UTPhil2006) Whats going on with Hartung's replacement? As we told you before, it’s done – the hiring decision has been made. There are minor contractual issues that the parties are working through and that’s why it’s not public information yet. (UTPhil2006) What seating capacity are we looking at when the SEZ is completed? Timeframe? The project isn’t slated for completion until 2017. Since the timeframe is still so far into the future, officials aren’t talking specifics in terms of seating capacity yet. (UTPhil2006) Super Bowl prediction? McPhaul: Denver or Seattle Cotcher: New England vs Green Bay (Shevis Irons) After what has happened to tOSU and KU this week, what would be the plan if Texas lost "2" quarterbacks. Is there a player that could be moved to be a backup? The important thing to understand when talking about moving down the quarterback depth chart is that the Texas offense would change (out of necessity). The offense would look different is Ash, Swoopes or Heard was forced to play an entire game. (Reads become simpler and designed quarterback runs increase as you move down the depth chart.) If all three of those players were unable to play, the coaches would start Trey Holtz over Logan Vinklarek, today. They would not move a scholarship player to quarterback unless Holtz and Vinklarek were completely overwhelmed (and neither would be, so we’re told). Again, the offense would shift focus in this scenario with a ton of pressure placed on the OL and RB’s. (drgilbert) Some members have posted videos of TOS at practice and interviewing the players. How close are we to getting to that level. First, practice is closed to the media. If you’re seeing actual practice footage, it’s originally from texassports.com . Orangebloods.com has had a video camera at some of the player availabilities that all media attend. At this point, HornSports is reporting from those events instead of providing video. If video coverage is something that the membership emphasized a desire for, then that is something that the site would consider next season. (MikeV73) Is wickline really calling the plays or is it mainly Watson ? Or am I asking the obvious? Party line is a "group effort" and all are involved. Still think this is all a ruse to avoid the Wickline buyout from ok state. Watson will be the play caller. Wickline will be in constant communication with Watson via headset. The goal is to have Wickline help design the scheme (and plays) during the week and have Watson be attuned to that input before each game. (MikeV73) Who will be the backup punter behind Russ? Do we have any true punters other than him or just our collection of unproven place kickers to shuttle in for punts as needed? Will Rose continue to handle knockoffs as well as place kicking? I hope, he seems to have a much stronger leg than our other options. Redshirt freshman Mitchell Becker from League City (Clear Creek HS) is behind Will Russ. Nick Rose and Nick Jordan have focused on exclusively on kicking duties. Rose will be responsible for all kicking duties against North Texas. (MikeV73) Tevin Jackson, what's his story? Jackson has been plagued by health issues. If he stays healthy, look for Jackson to be a special teams standout. There at least a half dozen players ahead of Jackson on the overall LB depth chart, but that is more from a lack of practice time than a comment on Jackson ‘s talent. (MikeV73) Heard Darius James mentioned in a thread for the first time all summer, is he poised for some playing time with or without the suspended guys in the fold? Charlie Strong said Darius James or Marcus Hutchins will start in place of Desmond Harrison (suspension). We’re told it will be James. Playing time in the opener is basically an audition for James. If he proves capable at OT, then Wickline has more flexibility on where he uses other reserves. (CapnHook) Any update on Hammad's status? Rami Hammad elected to transfer after meeting with coaches.
  19. Chalk Talk - In the Zone

    Now that we have looked at the different positions on the offensive line, it’s important to know how they work together. The most common type of run play in college football is a ‘Zone Run’ and one of the most advantageous aspects of this play is that it can be executed from any formation, versus any defense. The only time a team should audible out of a zone run is when the defense is overloaded, making them too vulnerable to the pass. Before diving into Zone Combinations it’s important to understand the terminology that offenses use to identify defensive players. Defenders line up either on one of an offensive lineman’s shoulders or directly in front of him (also known as “Heads Upâ€) (fig 1). These different defensive placements have corresponding numbers to help coaches and players recognize the defensive fronts. Each O-Line position is assigned an even number that correlates to the heads-up position of the defender. The other spaces on the offensive line follow a similar pattern on both sides (fig 2) (many teams like to use a tight end in their formations but for the purpose of this article we will only be discussing a five-man offensive line). Most defenses align their ‘3 Technique’ on the same side as the running back to minimize the amount of ground linebackers have to cover (fig 3). In most instances, the linebackers will shift opposite of the defensive line to ‘balance’ the defense. As you know from previous Chalk Talk articles, the first step of a successfully blocked play is identifying ‘Mike’ (the pivotal linebacker). Once done, the offensive line can then call the corresponding zone combinations; the first call will always be how or who should effectively block the Mike (fig 4). Each team will have varying rules and will handle their calls slightly different, but all teams will first account for the Mike. The general rule that offensive linemen follow is that if you’re covered (in a zone run), that defender is yours and if you are uncovered, then you work with the lineman back-side of you (fig 5). Zone combinations are broken into two different kinds, ‘front-side’ and ‘back-side’. The front-side refers to the side of the offensive formation to which the ball is intended to go. If the play is called to the left side of the offense the Left Tackle, Guard, and the Center would be considered ‘Front Side’. The backside however, is the key to the success of the run. These combinations are most important because when running the zone, the backs are taught to “Read the Three†and react based upon how they play the block. In the ‘Gun’ formation the running back will almost always line up on the backside of the play in order to allow the QB to hand him the ball easily. Generally front-side zone combinations are identified by three letter words and back-side combinations are identified by four letter words. For example, if the center and front-side guard are working together to block a ‘1 Technique’ [see fig 2] they would make a three letter call like “Cog†or “Cig†(Center and Guard). If the back-side tackle and guard are working together to block a ‘3 Technique’ [see fig 2] they would call a four letter word like “Grit†or “Goat†(Guard and Tackle). For younger offensive lineman the concept of blocking just half of a defensive lineman seems foreign, but fortunately, there’s a ‘little’ tool that offensive line coaches use to teach a successful zone block called the Rae Crowther Sled. --(yes… your High School Coach used this piece of equipment wrong)-- With extensive knowledge and a great Coach, an offensive-line can block a Zone Run against a three, four, or five man front. They can run the Zone with or without a tight end and they can run it with or without the read. The Zone is successfully executed with teamwork and great communication. An offensive line that has only one of these two skills will not be a successful blocking unit. Remember, there are no poor play calls… only poor blocking.
  20. Head Coach Charlie Strong met with the media on Thursday afternoon. It was the final press conference during Fall camp. The only thing heard more often than a reference to the first game being only 9 days away was reporters that start every question with "Talk about..." Compared to some of the more recent media events, Strong seemed relaxed and confident. There was a glimmer in his eye and he seemed genuinely eager when talking about the start of the season. After weeks of endless questions about toughness and a lack of decals on helmets, Thursday's press conference was focused on football, the team, the upcoming practice schedule and depth chart/injury concerns. Strong seemed at ease talking about actual football topics compared to weeks of talking points about sleeping in a dorm room. Opening with a few remarks about being pleased with the team's intensity during Thursday morning's practice, Strong quickly switched gears, referencing upcoming practices. Strong spent a brief amount of time fielding questions about injuries and suspensions. Although the team will likely issue an official injury report next week prior to the North Texas game, Strong made it sound unlikely that Jaxon Shipley will play against UNT. Additionally, tight end Greg Daniels will not play after arthroscopic knee surgery. Regarding the previously suspended players, Strong said he has not yet determined the length of their suspension. He also confirmed that offensive lineman Rami Hammad has elected to transfer.<br> After declaring that the coaching staff had not made final decisions on starters at cornerback and safety, Strong rattled off who he plans to start at the other defensive positions: DL - Shiro Davis, Malcom Brown, Desmond Jackson, Cedric Reed LB - Peter Jinkens, Steve Edmond, Jordan Hicks DB - Quandre Diggs, Duke Thomas, Mykelle Thompson Strong mentioned that both Jason Hall and Dylan Haines will see time at Safety. He did not mention the nickel back position even though it figures to be a defensive staple this season. On offense, Strong was quick to praise both John Harris and Daje Johnson, While Johnson is one of the players suspended for the North Texas game, Strong commented that Johnson, "Has done everything we've asked him to do." About Harris, Strong said, "[Harris] has had an unbelievable camp." Considering that quote came a day after the SID office selected Harris to be one of a handful of players made available to the media, the tea leaves are telling us that Harris could be a focal point of the offense. Toss in the fact that Harris is a Senior and all the ingredients are present for him to make a serious contribution this Fall. Regarding the rest of the offense, Strong said that the coaches are still unsettled at wide receiver and have not decided who will start at tackle in place of Desmond Harrison (suspended). Strong mentioned that the coaches will start Darius James or Marcus Hutchins. When projecting the starter at tackle for the game against North Texas, it's worth noting that Strong spent quite a few minutes talking about walk-ons and practice squad players. In addition to praising their hard work and dedication, the Texas Head Coach only mentioned three players that will participate - Dylan Haines (safey), Ty Templin (receiver) and Nate Boyer (deep snapper). Other notable offensive positions mentioned include Tyrone Swoopes as 2nd string quarterback and Geoff Swaim as the starting tight end. Both MJ McFarland and Andrew Beck were listed as backups at tight end. JUCO transfer Blake Whiteley was not discussed as an option.
  21. 2014's Key Ingredient

    When it comes time to project the 2014 season, Longhorn fans are quick to talk about David Ash’s health, offensive line play and a thin secondary. A closer examination reveals that there is a different area that has more questions than any other – special teams. After more than a decade of dominance from the Texas special teams unit, fans probably take them for granted. Regardless, the truth is that the importance of special teams is vastly underrated. The most memorable name in special teams from last season was Anthony Fera. The kicker and punter was praised and awarded (rightfully so) more than any other player on the team. Though Fera deserved recognition, little to nothing was said about the rest of the special teams (kickoff return, punt return, etc). Absent Fera’s contributions in 2013, the special teams units have been a bleak area for the Longhorns in recent years. In 2013, Mack Brown stuck with his 2012 kick coverage coaches in Manny Diaz and Duane Akina even though that season was a sub-par year for the coverage units compared to those Texas had in prior years. In addition to working with the defensive backs, Charlie Strong tabbed Chris Vaughn to take the lead on special teams. Vaughn has the daunting task to make Texas’ special teams a force to be reckoned with by starting from scratch when searching for returners. With recent suspensions and dismissals forcing changes in the lineup for punt and kick returners this season, Coach Vaughn will rely on veterans to carry the torch and lead the team. Texas only averaged 20.1 yards per kick return last season, so Vaughn has challenged the team’s veterans to improve that number. Vaughn has Jaxon Shipley and Quadre Diggs as his punt returners, but has been quoted as saying he will make room for players who prove that they have the power to be a reliable returner. Preseason projections have the Longhorns picked to battle through several close games, so special teams figures to play a very significant role throughout the Fall. Without breakout star Fera, punters and kickers have huge shoes to fill before the season begins. Fans expect an extra point after a touchdown, and booming punts and kicks that pin opposing teams deep in their own territory. Coach Vaughn is having players fight for positions, and by doing so, he is finding out which players want to live up to fan expectations. Punter First Unit: Will Russ Top Reserves: Senior Michael Davidson and redshirt freshman Mitchell Becker Given that Anthony Fera’s performance on the field was both dependable and impressive, he is arguably the biggest loss from last year’s team. Will Russ, who was hindered by a back injury last spring, is tasked with replacing Fera at punter. Russ hasn’t seen much playing time, but unlike his two predecessors, Justin Tucker and Fera, Russ will not be used as a kicker. The separation of the positions puts less pressure on Russ and should allow him to focus on the task at hand. The key purpose of a punter is to limit the opposing team’s field position. “Hidden yards” are a key metric for punters and punt coverage teams. One of Russ’ strengths is his consistency. During the spring game, Russ’ three punts averaged 43.3 yards with two inside the 20-yard line. Expectations for Russ aren’t extremely high, so he should have the opportunity to prove himself valuable without the pressure that comes with being a Texas punter. Place Kicker First Unit: Nick Rose/Nick Jordan plus Will Russ as holder Top Reserves: Junior Ben Pruitt and senior Michael Davidson Coach Vaughn has Nick Rose and Nick Jordan competing for place kicker this season, and different publications have different answers on who’s winning the battle. Though Jordan didn’t have a chance to kick at all during the 2013 season, he was the backup for Fera in 2012. As a freshman, Jordan played in several games, but he only went 9 for 15 in field goal attempts. When Fera returned for the 2013 season, Jordan watched Fera from the sideline and hopefully took good notes. Rose, on the other hand, kicked the only live field goal during open practice last weekend. Vaughn has praised both players, but Strong indicated to the media that Nick Rose is serving as kicker on the first team. As we’ve seen multiple times in previous games, Texas relies heavily on the kicker to perform in all types of scenarios – from conference championship field goals to severe Midwestern weather. Even moreso than with punting, consistency is absolutely critical in the kicking game. Both Tucker and Fera were models of dependability during their respective times on the team. As stated previously, separating the kicker’s position from the punting duties should provide for more focus for all involved. The former walk-on (Rose) and the high school All American (Jordan) have both waited patiently for their opportunity to shine as the next heralded kicker for the Horns. Fans are hoping that both young men soaked up some of the moxie that Fera, Tucker and Lawrence left in the locker room. Punt & Kick Returners First Unit: Punt Returners- Jaxon Shipley, Quandre Diggs Kick Returners- Marcus Johnson, Duke Thomas Top reserves: Punt Returners- Armanti Foreman Kick Returners- Armanti Foreman, Jacorey Warrick As stated above, Texas ranked as one of the worst kick return teams in the country last year (21.02 yard average – 72nd nationally). Junior Kendall Sanders’ dismissal directly impacted the depth at kick returner. Marcus Johnson, who served as a kick returner last year, is slotted for one of the spots on returns this Fall. While Johnson isn’t an electric open field runner, his straight line speed is a plus (and on kick returns, the latter is more important than elusiveness). With Johnson’s experience, Vaughn may be willing to gamble in the opener and pair him with a younger player like Jacorey Warrick or Armanti Foreman. The safer bet is that Duke Thomas will provide a steadier pairing to Johnson. At punt returner, Vaughn will rely on Quandre Diggs against UNT. After the opener, the position is surrounded by question marks such as Jaxon Shipley’s health and Daje Johnson’s eligibility. Johnson’s suspension (at least one game) will affect the Longhorns, but maybe not to the extent that it’s projected. Although Johnson is vividly remembered for his 85-yard punt return during the Oklahoma game last year, most fans have forgotten his lack of reliability on returns after the OU game. Johnson definitely presents a high risk/high reward choice for Vaughn (assuming his return to the team). Conclusion Whether it’s providing the offense with a short field, pinning an opponent deep for the defense, or converting on every opportunity to score points, special teams is poised to have a huge impact this year. If the special teams units perform to their greatest potential, it literally could mean getting a win in what would otherwise have been a loss. Between consistency and accuracy of the place kicker and punter, to the speed of a return, Texas has a lot to prove in its special teams. For this team, especially for this year, special teams must be special.
  22. The Oklahoma State Cowboys finished last season with a 10-3 record, ending an otherwise solid season with a close (and a bit controversial) 31-41 Cotton Bowl loss to former Big 12 foe, the Missouri Tigers. Though the Cowboys are one of the league’s most consistent teams, finishing with at least nine wins in five of the last six seasons, this year could prove to be one of Mike Gundy’s most difficult in Stillwater, considering the team only returns nine starters. While most football fans don’t know what to expect from the Cowboys this season, they are a team that traditionally seems to do best when flying under the radar. It won’t be easy, however, as the Cowboys open up the season in Arlington against Heisman winner Jameis Winston and the reigning National Champion FSU Seminoles. They end the season by traveling to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears, who are no doubt seeking revenge against OSU for ruining their National Title chances last year, as well as Norman, where they will face their in-state rival Oklahoma Sooners for the Bedlam Series. Here’s a look at the 2014 Oklahoma State Cowboys... Offense The Cowboys are most known for their high-powered, high-scoring offense and it’s almost a guarantee that we will see the same this season. While Gundy hasn’t officially named him the starter, it seems that it’s just a matter of time before J.W. Walsh, the most experienced quarterback on the roster, gets the nod. Walsh struggled a bit in the passing game last season (less than 60% passing efficiency), eventually being replaced by Clint Chelf, who graduated in May. Nevertheless, based upon what we did see from Walsh last season, especially with his ability to use his feet, he should be able to at least be efficient in leading the systematic offense. If not, Arizona transfer Daxx Garman, a pass-first QB that may fit the system a bit better than the run-first Walsh, is waiting in the wings. In fact, Gundy has stated that Garman, who hasn’t seen real action in more than two seasons (but has been learning the OSU system the last two years) very well could see the field against the Seminoles. A major concern on offense is that the Cowboys have to replace three of their top wide receivers, but, fortunately for them, they have an embarrassment of young talent at the position. They return three 200+yard receivers in sophomores Jhajuan Seales (who is expected to have a breakout season), Marcell Ateman, and junior Brandon Sheperd. Austin Hays, Blake Webb, Ra’Shaad Samples, C.J.Curry, and David Glidden, all of whom have some experience, return as well. Yet despite a logjam at the position, no one has made more noise this preseason than incoming freshman receiver, James Washington. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on. Oklahoma State returns their leading rusher from last season, senior Desmond Roland (811 yards). Rennie Childs showed some promise last season as a true freshman, so he and Roland should provide a solid run game. Additionally, QB Walsh is a threat to use his legs, adding a dimension to the OSU rushing attack. Incoming JUCO transfer, Tyreek Hill (whom many think could be the fastest player in college football this season and was named the Big 12’s Preseason Newcomer of the Year) will be the player to watch this season for the Cowboys. If he lives up to expectations, he could become a huge part of the offense, both in the running as well as passing game. The biggest question mark on offense, however, is the offensive line. While they return six offensive linemen, the Cowboys will have to replace 1st Team All-Big 12 guard, Parker Graham as well as position coach, Joe Wickline, widely regarded as the best OL coach in the country. It will be interesting to see how new OL coach Bob Connelly fares with Wickline’s talent. Again, while the offense must replace multiple starters, there is no doubt they are incredibly talented on that side of the ball. Key losses: Clint Chelf (QB), Tracy Moore and Josh Stewart (WRs) Newcomers: Tyreek Hill (WR/RB), James Washington (WR) Defense While the Cowboys have never been known as a strong defensive team, defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer had them playing solid defense against both the pass and the rush in his first season at OSU. However, the defense was even more gutted than the offense, and Spencer is dealing with the loss of many key players. The top two linebackers Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis, as well as lead tackler Daytawion Lowe and last year’s top ten draft pick Justin Gilbert, are all gone this season. Regardless, the team’s success in stopping the run should continue with six experienced players returning along the defensive line, including James Castleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Jimmy Bean. Additionally, Ogbah and Bean led the Cowboys in sacks last season. Junior Ryan Simmons, who had 58 tackles last season, will be the leader of the linebacker corps. Junior Kris Catlin and sophomore Seth Jacobs, both of whom are expected to have big years, also return to the fold. The secondary is the defense’s biggest question mark heading into the year – the Cowboys have to replace every starter from last year’s secondary. Fans are hoping that Josh Furman, a safety transfer from the University of Michigan, will provide the group with some experience that it is lacking. While he only started three games last year for the Wolverines, he is expected to immediately compete for a starting job. Despite their youth, sophomores Miketavius Jones, Ahston Lampkin, Keven Peterson, Jordan Sterns, and Deric Robinson all saw some action on the field last season. Senior Larry Stephens, who suffered a game-ending injury in the first game of the season last year, is also expected back. So while there will likely be a bit of a drop-off due to a lack of experience, the Cowboys do have some young talent waiting to step up. Key losses: Justin Gilbert (CB), Caleb Lavey, Shaun Lewis (LBs) Newcomers: Josh Mabin (LB), Josh Furman (S) Team will have a successful season if… It doesn’t really matter who starts at quarterback, but for the team to have success, either Walsh or Garman will need to have a solid season for the Cowboys to continue to rack up points. If that happens and if the young group of wide receivers performs as expected, the Cowboys should continue to have one of the top offenses in the conference. On the other side of the ball, the young secondary needs to step up and perform. Though some drop off is to be expected from such a young group, if the Cowboys’ defense is going to continue to grow under DC Glenn Spencer, they will need to consistently make plays to keep opposing offenses honest. Concerns in the defensive backfield, particularly in a pass-happy Big 12 (and undoubtedly against FSU) must be resolved early. If OSU can somehow pull off what would be an incredibly surprising upset in Arlington (the FSU game is at AT&T Stadium), that could set the Cowboys up for another nine-win season. The key to the Texas game will be… With the uncertainly revolving around a Texas program under a completely new regime, it’s hard to say how the Longhorns will fare against anyone this year. David Ash will need to take advantage of a young and somewhat inexperienced Cowboy secondary and Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray will need to run well enough to rack up enough yards to keep the OSU defense honest. Needless to say, this truly hinges on the Longhorn offense line and whether or not they are able to protect Ash and open up some holes for Brown and Gray. If the Texas offense can remain two-dimensional, Texas could have a big day against a young defense. Defensively, the Longhorns will have to put some pressure on J.W. Walsh (or Garman) while keeping him contained. If they can shut down the running game and force Walsh to pass, they will stand a better chance of slowing down the high-powered Cowboy offense. If Garman lines up under center, Texas’ thin secondary could have some trouble with the Cowboy receivers, so fans need to hope that they remain healthy. Winning in Stillwater is never easy, and with the game falling late in the season, both teams will have had time gel. It will definitely be an interesting match-up, particularly with the Longhorns bringing a brand new style of offense with them. Will this new Texas offense be able to put enough points up on the board? Will the defense be able to keep one of the highest-scoring teams in the last decade off the field? We will have to wait until mid-November to find out.
  23. Questions Answered!

    Contributors: Matt Cotcher; Darrell McPhaul Lukus Alderman - What is it that is setting guys like Taylor Doyle and Dylan Haines apart to the point that they are moving up from the scout team to finding a way into either the starting lineup or at least finding meaningful snaps? There are multiple factors contributing to Doyle & Haines moving up the depth chart: 1) The previous staff (and scouts) misevaluated some guys. 2) Coach Strong is going to play the best players regardless of recruiting rankings or age. 3) Haines and Doyle are 3rd and 4th year players (respectively). With focus and dedication, players can make huge strides as they’re maturing physically. 4) They both play at a position of need. Coaches are giving everyone on the OL and at S a serious look. Credit Doyle and Haines for being ready to take advantage. 5) For Doyle, being 100% healthy is a big boost. It’s never been headline news, but he’s battled nagging injuries. MikeV73 - Antwan Davis, is he looking like a player who can play significant time this year? Been following him since high school recruitment. Has speed, does he have coverage skills as well? Davis is running second team and making plays. He’s been good enough that the coaches have given him a few looks with the 1st team grouping. At this point, there is little doubt that Davis will play – the question is how much? He played both ways in high school and ran track – great athleticism. Expect him to be a standout on special teams (multiple units) while the rotation in the defensive backfield sorts itself out. MikeV73 - Is the walk on JC transfer QB doing anything meaningful at practice? Seems that Heard has the skills to avoid a RS year (hate to say it, and hoping to RS him) and will play above this guy as needed. Fingers crossed for Ash to stay healthy and have a great season (or two counting next year with his medical RS). I think he can be a quality QB if healthy, has experience and a good arm. Our reports have Trey Holtz taking the most snaps after the three scholarship quarterbacks. To your point, Heard has his moments but is understandably struggling with the speed of the game. Swoopes has been described to us as “James Brown-like in that he plays better in live game situations than a practice drill”. That makes it difficult for coaches to evaluate him. MikeV73 - John Harris: does he still have stone hands or is he catching the ball in practice? Good size, upperclassman, hoping he brings it this season. Foreman looked sharp, quick, and polished in the few clips I saw on the news. Is he a slot guy, possession type guy, or deep route guy? All of the above?! When Harris is fully concentrating, he catches everything in sight. How to make sure he is 100% engaged at all times is the battle. Especially with the dwindling depth at wideout, Harris is a player that the coaches are giving every opportunity to be a contributor. As we’ve commented in other reports, Foreman looked good early. Like many true freshmen, he’s had a more difficult time as the intensity went up. When Strong talked about hitting the wall earlier this week, we’re told the freshmen were a focus of that message. This team needs contributions from the incoming class. MikeV73 - JC TE Whiteley: any news on his abilities in practice this far? I remember his game clips as a tall high schooler destroying short Canadian football players. Seems to have good potential? His high school stats and mix of blocking and receiving skills make Whitely an intriguing guy to keep as eye on. When he adjusts to DI competition, he will contribute. Until that happens, he’ll stay behind MJ McFarland and Geoff Swaim on the depth chart. doc longhorn - Does Hornsports have a body at the practices and pressers - now that they are credentialed? If so, who is it? Practices are closed to the media. To get reports, we’re talking to team and staff members. At the press conferences and media events, Matt Cotcher is there as our representative. He’ll be in the press box during games and at post-game pressers as well. doc longhorn - Any inside info on the suspensions - like how many games? Some issues still need to be resolved. Until that happens, Coach Strong has not decided how many games suspended players will miss. doc longhorn - Where do the Strong’s live - what part of town? West of town. doc longhorn - Is Strong’s wife active in community affairs? The Strong’s chose a church and have been attending for several weeks. Notably, Pat Moorer is also attending the same church - no confirmation on if he smiles in church. You can expect Vicki, Coach Strong’s wife, to get increasingly active around Austin as they continue to get settled and the kids are in school. doc longhorn - Any prediction about which runner-up teams from the Big 12 and the SEC will play in their interconference bowl game? Bob Bowlsby has done an excellent job of improving the Big 12’s bowl lineup. Top billing is the Sugar Bowl deal which features the Big 12 Champion vs the SEC Champion, unless either is in the 4-team playoff. The two conferences will also face each other in the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Liberty Bowl. As for predictions… McPhaul: I predict Alabama & Baylor. Cotcher: I picked ‘Bama & OU to go to the playoff, so I’ll take Baylor vs UGA in the Sugar Bowl. doc longhorn - How many players live outside of the athletic dorm and who are they? Per Coach Strong there are only a few upper classmen that are still living off campus. KatyHorn - With Directtv's standalone agreement to carry the SEC network, is the chances that Direct picks up the LHN becoming slimmer? Yes. The fact that SECN was negotiated as a standalone offering certainly weakened LHN’s leverage with DirectTV. Echeese - Speaking of the next recruiting class. . .can you break it down by position (QB, RB, OL, DL etc). . .what have we filled so far, what do we need to fill, how many do we likely take and rank our key targets . ..Aslo, keep in mind the OLB v MLB are actually 2 different positions, CB v S, Slot vs WR. . .looking for some specifics. . .a DE may or may not be a DT so DL .. . not the depth I'm looking for. . We like this idea so much, we’re gonna get multiple folks together to collaborate and make it a full article! Thanks for the input.
  24. It’s Year 2 for the Frat Pack – at least that’s what the media nicknamed Texas Tech. Kliff Kingsbury, the face of the Frat Pack and Head Coach of the Red Raiders, is entering his second season at the helm of the program. Kingsbury’s tenure leaped off to a hot start in 2013 with Tech winning seven consecutive games to start the season. Then reality hit and the Red Raiders lost their final five conference games, notably playing the top four teams in the league. Tech finished the year by solidly beating the ASU Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl and Kingsbury became only the second coach in school history to win a bowl game in their first year as coach. What is in store for Kingsbury and the Raiders in 2014? It depends on who you ask. Tech was picked 6th in the Big 12’s preseason poll. That equates to the best of the bottom half of the league, or the worst in the top half of the conference. In 2013, Tech assumed what now seems like their rightful spot at the top of the Big 12’s passing attacks by averaging 373.7 yards/game. A porous defense was not the only culprit in their second half struggles – Texas Tech only finished with 116.9 yards/game rushing. In years past, when the Red Raiders have seemed unstoppable, it is because their offense relies on an efficient ground game to keep defenses honest. Last year Tech finished next to last in the Big 12 in rushing. With plenty of experience returning on both sides of the ball, Kingsbury is expected to show improvement in his second year. With those expectations mounting, the Frat Pack’s leader sat down to address reporters at Big 12 media days and his opening remarks were, “Let’s just get to questions.” Offense Kingsbury and Tech fans are all wildly optimistic about quarterback Davis Webb’s potential. Webb followed up a strong freshman season by throwing 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in three scrimmages this Spring. While Webb should be at or near the top of the league in passing statistics, the void behind him on the depth chart is alarming. Texas Tech has no experience behind Webb….as in no one. True freshman Patrick Mahomes was penciled as the No. 2 quarterback the day he arrived in Lubbock. Last year Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington split carries at running back. In 2014, Williams is transitioning to linebacker and Washington is the clear cut starter. The depth behind Washington looks solid on paper, but is unproven. As usual, the Red Raiders have explosive athleticism at wideout. Jakeem Grant, Bradley Marquez, and Reginald Davis all return to serve as Webb’s primary targets. The trio dominated ASU in the Holiday Bowl, combining for four touchdowns. D.J. Polite-Bray looks like the No. 4 receiver after torching Tech’s secondary throughout Spring practice. With speed to burn among all four players, it should be noted that Kingsbury has eagerly talked about how much more vertical the passing game will be this Fall. Along the offensive line, things are considered a work in progress. All American La’Raven Clark is sliding back inside and will play left guard. Massive JUCO offensive tackle Dominique Robertson, who arrived in August, is the key player allowing Tech to shift Raven to the line’s interior. On the right side, tackle Rashad Fortenberry was awarded another year of eligibility and provides solid experience. Clark’s move to the left guard spot, gives the Red Raiders the ability to move Andrew Morales to the right side of the line. Key losses: Jace Amaro (TE); Eric Ward (WR); Baker Mayfield (QB) Newcomers: Justin Stockton (RB); Patrick Mahomes (QB); Dominique Robertson (OT) Defense Many Longhorn fans remember Thanksgiving night 2013 as the single-best performance by the Texas running game in recent memory. Kliff Kingsbury remembers it too. That’s why Texas Tech signed four JUCO defensive lineman in the offseason. While end Branden Jackson returns and was Tech’s best player on the d-line last year, he needs quality help. The mass of humanity that is JUCO transfers Rika Levi, Brandon Thorpe, Marcus Smith, and Keland McElrath need to be that help for Jackson. How many of the four pan out will go a long way towards determining the success of Tech’s season. As mentioned, “football player” (his preferred term for the position he plays), Kenny Williams has moved to defense and looked like a star-in-the-making this Spring at the “Raider” linebacking spot. Joining Williams is a solid group of returning upperclassmen: Pete Robertson; VJ Fehoko, and Sam Eguavoen. The Red Raiders are young, but experienced in the defensive secondary. At safety, Tech returns JJ Gaines from injury and has hard hitting Keenon Ward. Justis Nelson, who started as a true freshman, is back to man the boundary corner spot. At field corner, Tech has questions that lack answers. Nigel Bethel was reinstated after a jury did not indict him. How will his suspension affect the position? Who will step up early in the season while Bethel is suspended? After Bethel’s three game suspension will he be in football shape, or will the current starter have locked down the position? Key losses: Terrance Bullitt (LB); Kerry Hyder (DT) Newcomers: Rika Levi (NT); Brandon Thorpe (DE); Marcus Smith (DT); Keland McElrath (DT) Team will have a successful season if… Texas fans have heard these phrases too many times over the last two weeks – “If we can keep the starting quarterback healthy..." and “If our starters avoid injury…” Interestingly enough, it’s the same things that fans in Lubbock are saying. Texas Tech has solid starting talent. If the Red Raiders can avoid injury, particularly to Davis Webb, and if at least two of the JUCO d-lineman are consistent producers, then Tech is a sleeper team to watch in the Big 12. The Red Raiders must do a better job of stopping the run. Tech’s offense should rival Baylor as the top scoring team in the league, but if the defense cannot stop the run and get off the field, then the offensive fireworks will be for naught. The key to the Texas game will be… November 1st is an eternity away in football. That’s when the Longhorns will travel up to Lubbock to play the Red Raiders, but so much will happen before then. The first, and most important, question is whether David Ash and Davis Webb are still healthy. Clearly an injury to either player is enough to solidly tip the scales in the other team’s favor. The second key is also surrounded by question marks on both sides. How the Texas O-Line matches up with Tech’s revamped D-Line will dictate the pace of the game, and possibly the outcome. Churning out rushing yards, and chewing up the clock will be keys for Texas playing on the road.
  25. Hitting the wall

    Head Coach Charlie Strong met with the media on Tuesday after his Longhorns practiced. This is the third time in a week that Strong has made time for the media and his scowl signaled that today’s news conference would be different. Strong’s opening statement told us why he wore such a dissatisfied look, “During preseason camp there's going to be days where you hit a wall. You're just going to have to be able to just push through it. Mentally, you're going to have to have some toughness to you. Today we hit that wall and we were unable to push through it. We just weren't very pleased with today's practice. “ Strong continued, “We're not a good enough football team to just waste days. We only have so many opportunities and we've got to take full advantage of the opportunities.” Yep, it was puppies and rainbows at Moncrief-Neuhaus tonight. After launching into a litany of why it was readily apparent that today was a subpar day, Strong recognized that today marked the beginning of the second week of practices, “It's going to be a grind. This week is a grind.” Continuing with, “You look at it and the first week went good because everybody's fresh and new, and here comes the second week and the battles begin. It's just a mental battle and physical battle and you're just trying to finish up school. This is the last week, they're dealing with final exams.” Strong also noted injuries to Miles Onyegbule, Duke Catalon, and Greg Daniels, although the latter two are not considered serious at this point. After detailing his displeasure with the team’s practice effort, Strong noted a few positives about the team’s senior leadership and talked about how he expects the seniors to propel the team through the tough days ahead. One senior in particular, linebacker Jordan Hicks, drew praise, “The thing about him is he works so hard and you want him to do so well just because of how much he's put in to it and just tried to overcome.” Also discussed was the importance of the offensive line, “You look at your offensive line -- you like to have at least seven or eight guys ready to go play and then you just continue to roll those guys during the game.” As expected Strong confirmed only Dominic Espinosa’s position, saying that the rest of the line is still a work in progress and noting that Coach Wickline does a great job because, “he's getting guys prepared and he's placing them in those situations where we're going to need them.” Texas’ Head Coach concluded by talking about how difficult it is for a lineman to come in and compete in their first year. 4th year lineman have obvious weight and strength advantages over an 18-year old freshman. However, Strong provided a clue about which freshmen might contribute when he added, “You look at the skill position, it's totally different than when you're looking at linemen. With the skill guys, it's all about athletic ability, just skill where you can make a guy miss. They're going to get bigger and stronger but if you can outrun people and just put them in the right position, the skill guys it's not hard for them to go play.” Although Coach Strong’s demeanor and updates told the media it was a tough practice day, Texas fans should be encouraged by what I saw after the press conference: And remember, that’s after a bad day.
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