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Matt Cotcher

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Matt Cotcher last won the day on August 31 2015

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  1. Thanks, Bear. I got a kick out of NSD. Seeing recruits pledge to Texas/Charlie Strong validated a lot for me. And thanks also to everyone for the well wishes, prayers & support. Dad is steadily declining but isn't in hospice yet.
  2. Thanks, y'all. It's been a long couple of weeks. Dad is in an inpatient rehab facility in North Georgia while recovering from the brain surgery. We met with the oncologist yesterday - Dad is scheduled to start a 6.5 week gamut of chemo & radiation on Monday (9/21). Please keep praying - we need it.
  3. I mid-September, this has a reactionary feel to it. I hope that Fenves et al are using good logic and not letting emotional check-writers have undue influence.
  4. " I know the press covering UT athletics lacks the testicular fortitude to ask direct, pointed questions of Steve Patterson out of fear of having their credentials revoked, but I would love to hear from Steve why this makes sense for the university." - R. Duke Steve Patterson regularly declines interview requests. There are plenty of media members willing to ask direct questions.
  5. Watson, Swoopes & the OL were the whipping posts this week, but against Rice it's the defense that needs to improve. If the D struggles against the Owls, then Cal will carve them up next week. Tonight each unit needs to take a step forward from last week's effort (and the coaches need to not call the game like they're trying to protect the inexperienced players). As Strong is fond of saying, "It's a process. We have to get better each week." Texas 26 Rice 20
  6. I haven't made it back yet, so I don't have a DVR in front of me...if memory serves on the 2nd play, Heard got a shotgun snap, hesitated (like he didn't know the play), then hurriedly tried to make the read exchange with the RB (almost fumbling it). By the time he had the ball secured, the Irish linemen were converging. You're correct, there was plenty of blame to go around on the play.
  7. I understand the coaches decision to play Swoopes when they were still in the game. Swoopes is a better choice for a pass-oriented chance at a quick strike. When the Irish hit the TD pass that made it 24-3, the coaches' thinking should have changed. Texas wasn't coming back at that point. Additionally, if that's the reason they stuck with Swoopes (as given in post game), the play calls did not match that intent?
  8. Seeing so many freshmen on the 2-deep was a sign of trouble, butt not one that would indicate what happened last night. What happened in South Bend wasn't a personnel problem.
  9. Losing 38-3 without turning the ball over is troubling.
  10. Submitted Today, 10:58 PM in Texas Longhorns Football by Matt Cotcher @mlcotcher FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38 – Texas 3 First half: Notre Dame 17 – Texas 0 Second half: Notre Dame 21 – Texas 3 First half observations After an easy 3rd down conversion to Chris Brown, the Irish came up one foot shy on their second third down and paid for it by jumping offside on 4th down. Johnathan Gray and Marcus Johnson both expressed their frustration with how long the sideline took to get the 3rddown call to the field on Texas’ first drive. On the Irish’s first touchdown and their first down (on the first drive), Jason Hall and Dylan Haines both dropped back into such a deep zone that Zaire had a 5-yard cushion to complete a 15-yard throw. The same soft zone also allowed an easy conversion on ND’s third drive. Despite two three and outs to start, Dickson bailed out the offense with a 52-yard punt that rolled dead at the Notre Dame 5-yard line. At 14-0, the Irish are sealing the edges so well that end-around and off-tackle runs are into the defensive secondary before a Texas player has a chance at making a play. Jerrod Heard saw his first action on the team’s third drive, but was taken out after a solid hit on a rush. The drive started well, but was undone by a holding penalty. Heard was self-sacked twice (with an assist from porous OL play), then Dickson punted it for 28-yards. There are plenty of folks to blame for the first half performance. (The result was a ND field goal.) Midway through the 2nd quarter, Daje Johnson seemed like the only offensive player that wanted to win. In the first half, Malik Zaire let the Texas D-Line rush converge, then broke the pocket by running straight upfield. There was never a ‘backer at home to stop him. On the final drive of the half, the third down screen called to Daje Johnson was excellent. Unfortunately it was an outlier in the first half. Then, Armanti Foreman and the offense were bailed out by a facemask penalty. I refuse to acknowledge Brian Kelly burning timeouts at the end of the half. Second half observations The offense and defense opened the second half the same way they played the first. Special teams was a bright spot though when Kris Boyd leveled the returner after Dickson crushed a punt (plus the missed FG attempt by the Irish). The long completion to John Burt was a beautiful throw by Swoopes. Credit the O-Line for giving him time. In the 3rd quarter, Texas was only down 14 points and needed a game-changing play from the defense with ND starting on their own 10-yard line. Instead they allowed a Zaire-to-Fuller game-killer. The lone bright spot on offense tonight was Daje Johnson’s effort and the number of touches he received. Notre Dame’s OL play + Texas’ DB play = Malik Zaire, Heisman contender In the first half, DB’s had to run up 5 yards to tackle a receiver in front of them. In the second half, DB’s let receivers run 5 yards past them before they reacted to the ball. 3rd down defense was stressed in the offseason. Early in the 4th quarter, Notre Dame was 5-10 on third down conversions (and they had more than 20 other first downs converted before 3rd down). Whereas the first half score felt like Texas was losing (more than Notre Dame winning), at 38-3, Notre Dame has established that this result is about them too. Top takeaways Texas looked like they played the game at practice speed while Notre Dame played at game speed. It’s a mistake to make the offensive ineptitude a Swoopes vs Heard debate. The failures on offense belong to everyone (including coaches), not just #18. That’s not excusing him because he didn’t make a difference either. Notable Stat’s Texas had 4 first downs and 75 total yards at halftime. Notre Dame had 17 points. Tyrone Swoopes had a 33.5 passer rating in the first half, and finished at 67.3. Notre Dame had 30 first downs, 214 net yards rushing, and 313 yards passing. Total TOP: Irish – 39:10, Longhorns – 20:50 Malik Jefferson finished with 9 tackles, including 2.5 TFL’s. Malik Zaire finished 19-22 for a 86% completion ratio and a 250.9 rating.
  11. A few thoughts & expectations from the press box... 1. Ty Swoopes gets 80-85% of the work. 2. Jerrod Heard will dazzle on a few runs, but prove coaches right with a turnover. 3. Johnathan Gray will be the one running off tackle, and Swoopes (when he keeps it) will stay inside. I expect Zaire to run inside also. 4. The defensive front has a ton of pressure on them today. The inexperience in the back 7 will be in the wrong place on multiple occasions. If the front is neutralized, then the Irish will strike for a few big plays. 5. A tweaked offense and a hurried tempo will be an improvement from what fans endured in 2014, but it won't be perfect in Game 1. 6. Justin Rose has to be better than last season's 67%, especially today. 7. It's overlooked that nine out of ten departed starters got drafted or picked up as free agents - more than the number of players that were lost from last year, it's the quality of players that's concerning (especially in an opener). 8. It's time to stop talking about OL improvement and physicality, it's time for everyone to see it. 9. Throughout preseason camp, Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford talked about the defense's top priority this year being to get off the field on 3rd down. To do that today, the need to keep Zaire in 3rd & 5 or more. 10. Notre Dame is both more experienced and more talented. If this game was in November instead of the beginning of September, I think it plays out differently. Irish 27 - Texas 20
  12. submitted Today, 11:03 AM in Texas Longhorns Football By Will Baizer The 2014 defense was the team’s identity and the reason Texas won six games despite losing their starting QB and most experienced offensive lineman. In addition to being the centerpiece in all of the Horns’ wins except one, the defense kept Texas in games vs. Baylor, OU, and UCLA. In 2012-2013, the Texas defense was a nightmare, but last year’s defense finished 25th in the nation in total yards allowed while playing the majority of the game due to a struggling offense. Last year, Charlie Strong was also able to wake up players who seemed to have been floating along through their Texas careers. This year Charlie Strong lost all of the leaders on his defense in Malcom Brown, Quandre Diggs, and Jordan Hicks, and is relying on some incredible talent in the freshman class to fill those voids. With mere days before the team travels to South Bend, the hopes of Texas are upon the defense all the live long day. Let’s take a look at the defense and what the Horns have to work with this season. Defensive Line KEY LOSSES: Malcom Brown, Cedric Reed RETURNING STARTERS: Desmond Jackson, Hasaan Ridgeway, Shiro Davis, Naashon Hughes KEY ADDITIONS: Quincy Vasser KEY POSITION BATTLES: Shiro Davis vs Bryce Cottrell This team lost their two big guys (literally and metaphorically) in Malcom Brown and Ced Reed, but if Desmond Jackson plays to his potential, the defensive line could be the best unit on the team. Last season Jackson started the first three games at defensive tackle before lisfranc surgery on his injured foot ended his season. Jackson will be next to Hassan Ridgeway, who last season racked up six sacks and has been the leader for the defensive line this offseason. Despite the loss of the first round talent Malcom Brown, the interior of the defensive line will be tough to keep out of the backfield for offensive lines and tougher to get past for running backs. Behind Jackson and Ridgeway are Poona Ford and Paul Boyette. A sophomore, Ford has been a favorite of Charlie Strong this offseason, while Boyette has experience and production. Boyette shined at times last fall, especially vs Oklahoma State where he got a sack and two tackles for loss. Expect these two to see a lot of playing time this year. On the outside of the defensive line things are a little more unclear. Texas returns Shiro Davis, Bryce Cottrell and Naashon Hughes who together have played in 66 games but have only recorded 6 sacks, 8 QB pressures, and 11.5 TFL’s. Hughes appears to have taken a significant step forward - playing at the FOX position he turned plenty of heads during the Spring Game and has been a name that has been consistently mentioned in every practice report. Davis and Cottrell could challenge for the next spot but both have weaknesses. Davis, while a physical freak, does not have production to match his appearance and demeanor. Cottrell is a fourth year defensive end, who also has not produced very much, only impacting games vs North Texas and UCLA. Davis and Cottrell need to elevate their performance or risk being replaced by Charles Omenihu or Quincy Vasser. All in all it appears to be a reload and not a rebuild season at defensive line. Linebackers KEY LOSSES: Steve Edmond, Jordan Hicks RETURNING STARTERS: Peter Jinkens, Dalton Santos KEY ADDITIONS: Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler, Breckyn Hager KEY POSITION BATTLES: Edwin Freeman vs Peter Jinkens This position is headlined by the highly touted class of four freshmen: Malik Jefferson, Anthony Wheeler, Brekyn Hager, and Cameron Townsend. The arrival of the youngsters softened the blow of losing two NFL-caliber starters at this position in Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks. Linebacker Coach Brian Jean-Mary made it very well known that a tie at any position will go to the freshman, so for upperclassmen Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens it’s do or die time. Jinkens, who flashed potential in his freshman year, regressed the next season, and didn’t seem to find the ability to turn himself into the coverage linebacker that’s needed in the Big 12 last season. The senior, Dalton Santos was injured for a majority of the offseason; however, when Santos could serve as an emotional leader on defense. Although Santos makes incorrect read, he does so at maximum effort. Unfortunately 110% in the wrong direction doesn’t help the defense move forward. Meanwhile Malik Jefferson has been the talk of Texas football since his commitment last year. Jefferson arrived at campus in January and was D-1 ready the moment he got to Austin. As Duke Thomas said, “He [Jefferson] is the leader of the freshmen. If I need to get something across I go to him.” Jefferson will start, and make huge plays during the season, the bigger question is will he do it as an ILB or OLB. Added to Jefferson’s arrival are: Edwin Freeman (the redshirt freshman) looked excellent during the Spring Game; and Anthony Wheeler, an incredible talent but outshined at the moment by Jefferson. This linebacker corps could emerge as a team strength. Secondary KEY LOSSES: Quandre Diggs, Mykkele Thompson RETURNING STARTERS: Duke Thomas, Dylan Haines, Jason Hall KEY ADDITIONS: Kris Boyd, Holton Hill, DeShon Elliott, Davante Davis KEY POSITION BATTLES: Sheroid Evans vs. Antwuan Davis vs. Bryson Echols vs the Freshmen, Jason Hall vs DeShon Elliott vs Adrian Colbert Quandre Diggs was last year’s team leader. Diggs was perfect to help usher in the Strong era by being a menacing force on the field and not being afraid to call guys out for underperforming (even calling out the fans). Diggs and the rest of the secondary led the defense and were one of the best in the nation at stopping the pass (13th in the nation). Although Diggs graduated, DBU is still looking pretty good. Duke Thomas assumes Diggs’ role as the senior leader - getting hyped during practice and playing lights out on defense during the offseason. Thomas appears to have grown mentally as well, taking full responsibility for his blunders (especially during the UCLA game). John Bonney is emerging as one of the best corners on the team, and might be the best cover corner on the team. Bonney’s spot in Charlie Strong’s nickel defense is secure. The position still being contested is at corner back opposite Thomas. Senior Sheroid Evans was the favorite to win the position, but he is again plagued by injuries. Bryson Echols and Antwaun Davis are upperclassmen fighting for the spot: Echols has more experience and better technique than Davis; but what Davis makes up for those shortcomings in athleticism (even being called the most athletic player on the field by some). Also waging battle for the position is the trio of Kris Boyd, Holton Hill, and Davante Davis. These three have been a handful for the upperclassmen on offense and defense throughout the offseason and Longhorns fans should expect them to keep it that way for other teams as long as they’re on campus. At safety, last year’s big story, walk-on Dylan Haines, has the free/deep safety spot securely in his grasp. Last year Haines stood out as a player who was always around the ball and had 86 tackles on the year. With a year of experience, look for more of the same from Haines. At strong safety there is more uncertainty, but not much. Charlie Strong called out Jason Hall, by saying that the rising sophomore didn’t make a play all season after body slamming Samaje Perine in early October. In his defense, Hall experienced an injury that was not widely publicized, but limited his playing ability for the rest of the year after the OU game. The guy who was going to give Hall a run for his money, DeShon Elliott was another highly touted recruit coming out of high school. Elliott has a reputation as an very physical player, and drew a lot of comparisons to Jason Hall. Elliott, injured his toe early in preseason practices and missed significant time. Adrian Colbert is also vying for the Hall’s position. Although Colbert is the most experienced of the three players competing at strong safety, Hall is considered a much better option.
  13. submitted Today, 04:45 PM in Texas Longhorns Football By Ryan Bridges Offensive Line KEY LOSSES: None RETURNING STARTERS: Marcus Hutchins, Sedrick Flowers, Taylor Doyle, Kent Perkins KEY ADDITIONS: Connor Williams, Patrick Vahe KEY BATTLES: Connor Williams vs. Marcus Hutchins This year’s offensive line is the definition of addition by subtraction. Gone is Camrhon Hughes, who started the second half of the season at right tackle. Joe Wickline has options to replace Hughes including junior Kent Perkins and senior Marcus Hutchins. Perkins is widely seen as the Longhorns’ best lineman - he started 10 games at right guard and three at right tackle in 2014. The surprise of the spring, true freshman Connor Williams, sets up opposite Perkins at left tackle. A tight end for most of his high school career, the 6-foot-5-inch, 283-pound Williams has the athleticism — if not yet the size and strength — to protect the blindside of the Texas quarterbacks. Next to Williams at left guard is senior Sedrick Flowers. The second-heaviest player on the team at 326 pounds (behind late arrival offensive tackle Buck Major), Flowers has played in 31 games — including 14 starts, all of them at left guard. He’s the only member of the Texas O-line to have seen action in more than 19 career games. Meanwhile, right guard will be occupied by Perkins or true freshman Patrick Vahe, the Tongan with the wild hair whom assistant head coach for offense Shawn Watson described as a “cage fighter.” Finally, snapping the ball is senior Taylor Doyle, who started the last 11 games of 2014, including the final seven at center. The leadership of Doyle and Flowers will be critical to keeping the freshmen calm and focused when the season kicks off. If either freshman struggles, there’s depth behind them to fill the void, unlike last season. The most obvious replacement for Williams would be senior Marcus Hutchins, who started 12 games last season at left tackle, while Perkins would likely bump inside to right guard should Vahe struggle, with Hutchins again joining the mix at one of the tackle spots. Tight End KEY LOSSES: Geoff Swaim RETURNING STARTERS: Andrew Beck KEY ADDITIONS: DeAndre McNeal, Caleb Bluiett KEY BATTLES: Everyone If there was any doubt that Geoff Swaim will be missed, consider this: Four players — including a defensive end and a freshman who came in as a four-star wide receiver — were moved to tight end this offseason. Before a week ago, senior Alex De La Torre (formerly a fullback) and sophomore Andrew Beck were the favorites to see the majority of the snaps, at least early in the year. The addition of junior Caleb Bluiett, who is working at tight end for at least the third time since coming to the 40 Acres, to the mix is an indication of the depth available…to say the least. At 6-foot-4-inches and 258 pounds, Bluiett is significantly larger than any of the other options, and he’s also one of the most athletic. In addition to the names mentioned, true freshman DeAndre McNeal is sure to see some action. All of the contenders have their areas of expertise - McNeal’s is as a receiver. De La Torre’s strength should be lining up in the backfield; Bluiett has obvious upside with his hand in the dirt next to a tackle; and McNeal, the tight end/wide receiver hybrid, should be the most dangerous when split out wide. Wide Receiver KEY LOSSES: John Harris, Jaxon Shipley RETURNING STARTERS: Marcus Johnson, Daje Johnson KEY ADDITIONS: John Burt, Ryan Newsome KEY BATTLES: Marcus Johnson vs. Armanti Foreman, John Burt vs. Dorian Leonard/Lorenzo Joe, Daje Johnson vs. himself Based on practice reports, there are four receivers standing out: senior Marcus Johnson, senior Daje Johnson, sophomore Armanti Foreman and true freshman John Burt. Given what little experience most of those players have — outside of Marcus Johnson, they had 15 catches between them in 2014 — fans don’t know how the position group will shake out once the crowd, cameras and lights are introduced. Also unknown is how often Texas will come out in four-receiver sets in the “new” offensive scheme. Marcus Johnson is the leading returning receiver (27 catches, 313 yards, 1 touchdown), and he should be a legitimate threat if new receivers coach Jay Norvell has fixed his inconsistency in catching passes. Foreman and Daje Johnson are explosiveness personified, but Foreman is young and Daje is an enigma. What looked to be an exciting battle between sophomores Dorian Leonard and Lorenzo Joe became much less interesting after the spring game and was all but decided only a couple of days after Burt joined the team. Junior Jacorey Warrick, who caught 10 passes last season and saw the second-most targets among returning receivers (18, behind Marcus Johnson’s 57), should find his way onto the field as well. There is more speed and athleticism in this year’s receiving corps than in last season’s group, but there’s no one as sure-handed as Jaxon Shipley, and Tyrone Swoopes will need to find a new go-to guy to make the contested catches that John Harris was known for. Running Backs KEY LOSSES: Malcolm Brown, Duke Catalon RETURNING STARTERS: Johnathan Gray KEY ADDITIONS: Chris Warren KEY BATTLES: D’Onta Foreman vs. Chris Warren Johnathan Gray, one-half of the 10-star backfield the Longhorns enjoyed for the past three years, is the all-purpose, every-down workhorse of the 2015 rushing attack. In terms of importance to the offense, only Gray’s leadership will surpass his ability to catch and run out of the backfield (Marcus Johnson is the only returning player who had more receptions last season). Behind Gray are two big backs: 241-pound sophomore D’Onta Foreman and 232-pound freshman Chris Warren. Both are capable of running in traffic and wreaking havoc on the second and third levels of a defense. In terms of speed, Warren had the better 100-meter time as a high school senior (11.00 vs. 11.57) but Foreman showed he can get the corner in limited action last season (16 carries for 74 yards) and is purported to be able to run a sub-4.5 (hand-timed) 40-yard dash. With redshirt freshman Duke Catalon transferring to Houston a few days into fall practice, the door is open for true freshmen Kirk Johnson or Tristian Houston to see the field. Johnson is probably the most similar to Gray in terms of skill set and can be a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. It’s unclear how many backs the coaches intend to play; only three saw action last season, and the same could be true in 2015. A redshirt seems likely for Houston, who is probably the fastest of the position group. Quarterback KEY LOSSES: None RETURNING STARTERS: Tyrone Swoopes KEY ADDITIONS: Kai Locksley KEY BATTLES: Tyrone Swoopes vs. Jerrod Heard Thrust into action after the season opener in 2014, Tyrone Swoopes hovered around average for most of the season before imploding in the final two games of the year. Most Texas fans expected redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard to be the frontrunner in the quarterback race by this point in the offseason. But by all accounts Swoopes executed the offense better than Heard this spring and summer, and according to the coaches he appears to have put his disastrous finish to 2014 behind him. While Swoopes is expected to start against Notre Dame; Heard is certain to play. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. True freshmen Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick will likely redshirt barring serious injuries.
  14. Welcome - glad you here, man! Good to have you around!
  15. We're compiling the whole staff's predictions for the season for an article this weekend.
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