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Quick thoughts: Texas eliminated from Big 12 title race in 23-20 loss to Iowa State

Let’s start with the big picture. This is as bad as a loss for Texas since Tom Herman took over the program. The Longhorns outplayed the Cyclones for pretty much the entire game, but when it came down to crunch time Texas showed the all too familiar traits that have gotten them to this point: Untimely penalties, questionable 4th down decisions, abandoning the running game. It is year 4 under Herman and the Longhorns are still plagued by the same issues that were obvious in year 1 of his tenure.
Bijan Robinson had 10 carries on the first 3 possessions of the game and proceeded to only get 3 more carries the rest of the game. The ironic part is many expected Texas to struggle to run the ball against a strong Iowa State front, but the Longhorns actually had their fair share of success. This offensive staff appears to be good at scripting out their first few drives of the hame, and then when it comes time for adjustments, they panic and fail to capitalize on what is working.
A lot of people will look back at Sam Ehlinger’s performance and remember the sack he took right before Cameron Dicker’s 57 yard miss, but overall it was a good game for the senior. He definitely looked better throwing the ball and connected on several deep shots he was missing in previous weeks.
It was by far Brennan Eagles best game as a Longhorn. The junior had 5 catches for 142 yards. One of the biggest frustrations for Longhorn fans and coaches have been the inconsistency of #13. This could be a game that allows him to turn the corner and set himself up for a big senior season.
Now, turning our attention to the defense. It was emphasized all week how good Texas would need to be against Iowa State’s tight ends, and the Longhorns let them do a lot of damage between the 20’s. Charlie Kolar and Dylan Soehner combined for 11 catches for 199 yards. Kolar in particular killed Texas up the seam several times when he was completely uncovered.
All in all, the Texas defense turned in a winning performance. They couldn’t stop Iowa State on their final drive when they went in for the go-ahead TD, but otherwise limited the Cyclones to a lot of field goals.
In regards to special teams, you have to focus on the decision to run a fake punt around midfield up by 7. People can debate whether it was the right call or not, but the fact of the matter is having a brand new punter throw to the least-athletic pass catcher you have on the roster is not a recipe for success. It ended up costing Texas field position, which allowed Iowa State to go down and kick a field goal to cut the lead to 20-16.
What’s next?
 
Texas is now pretty much officially out of Big 12 title contention. The Longhorns still have a game on the road against Kansas State and a makeup game at Kansas remaining, but all eyes will turn to what they decide to do about Herman’s future. He certainly did not do anything to help his cause today and it’s hard to envision any scenario that has him coaching the Longhorns in 2021.
 
 

Game Day: #21 Texas Longhorns vs. #15 Iowa State Cyclones

The Texas Longhorns (5-2, 4-2) will host the Iowa State Cyclones (6-2, 6-1) in Austin, Texas on Saturday.  The Longhorns haven't taken the field in three weeks, with their last on-field action resulting in a 17-13 win over West Virginia on November 7th. Iowa State currently sits atop the Big 12 standings, thanks to a 45-0 thrashing of Kansas State last weekend. Both programs control their own destiny as it relates to earning a spot in the Big 12 Championship game, but a loss on Saturday for either team makes the task a lot more challenging - but particularly for the Longhorns.
 
Texas has fared well against the Cyclones when playing at DKR, holding an 8-1 record.  In the 9 games played in Austin, Texas has outscored the Cyclones by a margin of 13.3 points per game. But, this is a different year.  A ranked Iowa State team that has a balanced attack on both sides of the ball is hungry and in search of the program's first ever Big 12 title.
 
Iowa State running back Breece Hall leads the nation in rushing and has amassed eight 100-yard rushing games this season. The Texas defense allows 117 yards on the ground per game, and improved play from the Texas linebackers will make Hall's job difficult.

 
What: #21 Texas Longhorns (5-2, 4-2) vs. #15 Iowa State Cyclones (6-2, 6-1)
When: Friday, November 27, 2020
Time:  11:00 AM CST
Venue: Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
Television: ABC
The Line: Texas -1
 
Last Meeting Between the Two Teams: Iowa State defeated Texas 23-21 (November 16, 2019, Ames, Iowa)
All-Time Series Record: Texas leads Iowa State 14-3-0
 


The Coaches

Iowa State Cyclones
Head Coach:  Matt Campbell
Head Coaching Experience: 6th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Iowa State:  4
Career Record:  67-42
Career Record at Iowa State:  32-27

Texas Longhorns
Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 6th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  4
Career Record:  52-21
Career Record at Texas:  30-17
 
Relevant Articles & Information


Depth Chart – Texas vs. Iowa State
Staff Predictions – Texas vs. Iowa State
Scouting Report: Iowa State
Win a HornSports Lid by guessing the final score of Texas-Iowa State
[su_button url=https://www.hornsports.com/forums/topic/21796-game-thread-21-texas-longhorns-vs-15-iowa-state-cyclones/" style="flat" background="#a14600" size="13" icon="icon: comment" text_shadow="0px 0px 0px #FFFFFF]Discuss the Texas vs. Iowa State Game HERE[/su_button]

Staff Predictions: Texas vs. Iowa State

The #21 Texas Longhorns (5-2, 4-2) will host the league-leading #15 Iowa State Cyclones (6-2, 6-1) at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium after a three week break from play.  The matchup has significant implications in each team's quest to appear in the Big 12 Championship game, with both programs controlling their own destiny.
 
Tom Herman is 2-1 against the Cyclones as head coach at Texas, and the Longhorns are 8-1 against Iowa State at DKR.  Texas needs a win on Black Friday to remain in contention for a Big 12 title, but can they beat an Iowa State team that appears to be playing their best football of the season?
 
The HornSports staff weighs in with their thoughts.

Devon Messinger
After essentially two bye weeks, the Longhorns should be as healthy as they have been in quite some time. However, they will face a talented Iowa State team, led by quarterback Brock Purdy, who has the Cyclones rolling at the top of the Big 12. Nonetheless, the winner of this contest will likely be heading to the Big 12 Conference Championship game.
 
The key to Friday's game will be Texas's defensive front. Can the Longhorns stop the Big 12's leading rusher, Breece Hall, and pressure Purdy into making poor throws? On the other side of the ball, Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger will have to shake off the rust. Thankfully for Ehlinger, several previously injured offensive weapons will be back in action.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 27, Iowa State 24

TFloss32
This one is simple; win and you are very close to a conference championship appearance, lose and Tom Herman's time at Texas has one foot in the grave. With it being almost three weeks since Texas has seen the field, a decent amount of rust is to be expected. Texas' defense has to continue to defend the run game well as Brock Purdy and Breece Hall can chew up yards in the ground game quickly. Texas' offense needs to continue taking care of the ball despite its inconsistencies all year. As much as I want to pick the home team on a winning streak, I expect it to be a Black Friday with the Cyclones leaving Austin victorious after a close contest.
 
Score Prediction: ISU 34, Texas 27.

Tristan Larsen
It’s Friday night lights in Texas, for high school and college, as Texas takes on Iowa State. This game is critical to the Longhorns' Big-12 title game chances as it is currently a four way battle between both Oklahoma schools, Iowa State, and Texas. Tom Herman is an incredible 7-1 after a bye or week off in his Longhorns career. Iowa State is one of the better rush offenses in the Big-12 as they run for over 200 yards a game. Texas on the other hand is a top 10 team nationally at stopping the run in their last three games as they have only given up 79 yards per game on the ground in that span. This is also a matchup between two of the better quarterbacks in the Big-12 with Ehlinger going up against Brock Purdy. Both offenses are lethal as they both average 437 yards per game while Texas is putting up 40 points per game to Iowa State's 34. In the end, in a must-win contest for Herman and company, I'm taking the home team and the more experienced unit to find a way to win. It’s a game Texas has to have on Friday, they’ll get it done.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 27, Iowa State 26

Jameson McCausland
On paper, this is a very even game. Longhorn fans have to feel confident with how the Texas defense has been performing, but also have to be equally concerned with the inconsistency being displayed on offense. Iowa State has one of the best defenses in the Big 12 and is particularly strong defending the run, which is where Texas has had their fair share of struggles this year.
 
In my opinion, the game will come down to how Texas defends Iowa State’s tight ends. Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen are the real deal. If the Texas linebackers and safeties can slow them down, I think Texas is able to secure a win on senior day. I am fairly confident the Longhorns will find a way to do enough on offense, particularly in the passing game where Texas likely made some adjustments over the last 20 days since their last game.
 
Score Prediction:  Texas 28, Iowa State 21

Aaron Carrara
It feels like an eternity since the Longhorns have played and you have to wonder if they will be a little rusty on Friday?  The good news is the team is the healthiest they have been in some time which will benefit them moving forward. The Cyclones are a well-rounded football team, but I think Texas has turned the corner in what was a dismal season. Sam Ehlinger finds his stride again and an improved Texas defense limits big plays from Brock Purdy, Breece Hall and the ISU offense. Every game is a must-win for Tom Herman, and the Longhorns win this one by a narrow margin.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 34, Iowa State 31

Texas Basketball begins 1-0 with 91-55 win over UTRGV

AUSTIN, TX - Heading into the season opener, expectations had been sky-high for the Longhorns thanks to a plethora of returning talent. In addition, the team was able to land five-star athlete, Greg Brown, from Vandegrift High School. With this in mind, the Longhorns started off their season on the right foot with a 91-55 win against UT Rio Grande Valley at the Frank Erwin Center.
 
Texas's athleticism was on full display early, and will be the team's calling card this season. Sophomore forward Kai Jones provided the team with energy and above-the-rim action in the first half, having scored seven points in the game's opening ten minutes. Prior to the season, coach Shaka Smart had stated that Jones "has taken the biggest jump from last year in terms of his confidence". By the end of the first half, the Longhorns held a 49-25 lead over the Vaqueros.
 
Furthermore, freshman forward Greg Brown was exuding confidence for the Longhorns but was off to a slow start from the field. Despite this, Brown was able to catch his first collegiate body on a poster dunk in the opening minute of the second half.
 

 
Looking at Texas's backcourt, guards Matt Coleman III and Courtney Ramey provided a dominant one-two punch and combined for 37 points. Furthermore, both guards looked to be in mid-season form from deep, shooting a combined 4-9 from beyond the arc. Also, Coleman and Ramey were facilitating much of Texas's offense, often finding teammates below the rim for easy buckets.
 
In addition to the expected contributors, junior forward Gerald Liddell provided a spark off of the bench with ten first half points. Liddell's perimeter shooting will be something to watch throughout the season, as the Longhorns need floor spacers to free up the paint for their big men.

And One:
Overall, Shaka Smart and the Longhorns looked decent in game number one. This season, the Big 12 Conference is absolutely loaded. As a result, it will be important for Smart to figure out his player rotations before the start of conference play. However, Texas's win against UT Rio Grande Valley provided the team with some much needed game action, after nearly eight months since their last game.



Key Performers:


G - Courtney Ramey: 20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block.
G - Matt Coleman III: 17 points, 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.
F - Kai Jones: 14 points, 8 rebounds and 1 steal.
F - Greg Brown III: 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Notes:


Redshirt junior guard Andrew Jones was withheld from the game as a precaution, as he had a cough.

Next Game:


#19 Texas vs Davidson: 11 A.M. (CT) on Monday, November 30. Asheville, NC (2020 Camping World Maui Invitational). ESPN2.

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Week 12

Last Friday, I covered Austin LBJ's area playoff game against the Alice Coyotes. Last time I covered the LBJ Jaguars, they held off Manor for a non-district victory early in the season.
 


Week 12:
Prior to the season, I named the Jaguars as one of my sleeper teams in the 4A classification. In addition, LBJ has benefited from two favorable playoff matchups. In fact, LBJ's opponents have had a combined 6-11 record, prior to facing the Jaguars. However, LBJ's offense has found their rhythm and has been able to move the ball downfield. As a result, the Jaguars have been able to score 133 points through their first two playoff games.
 
Jaguars quarterback, Oscar Gordon, has been on the same page with receivers, such as Andrew Mukuba, and threw for five touchdown passes against Alice.  Similarly, the Jaguars have had success on the ground as well. Against Alice, sophomore running back, Sedrick Alexander, tore the Coyotes apart and rushed for three touchdowns. Altogether, the Jaguars were able to eliminate Alice from the playoffs with a dominant 72-20 victory.

Extra Point:
This weekend, the Jaguars will face a big test against the state's third-ranked team, the Calallen Wildcats. Consequently, LBJ will need Andrew Mukuba and Latrell McCutchin to make some big plays. Last weekend, Mukuba had a statement game as he scored a total of two touchdowns, in addition to his stout play at the safety position. Despite missing the first half against Alice, due to being ejected from their previous playoff game, McCutchin was also involved in the scoring action as he caught a touchdown pass in the second half.

Miles Logged:
107 (round trip).
 
 

Longhorns Recruiting Notes:

 
On Monday,
, committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Burton, an Austin-area native, joins former Texas commit, Quinn Ewers, in committing to the Buckeyes.

Previewing Texas Basketball: Depth, Expectations, and a Behemoth Big 12

The Texas Men’s Basketball season tips off Wednesday against UT-Rio Grande Valley and expectations are as high for this season as any in Shaka Smart’s tenure and possibly (excluding the season Rick Barnes was let go to make way for Smart) the past decade. “Optimism? Do Texas basketball fans have a slight sadomasochist streak?” While I will neither speculate nor kink-shame in this article, the facts point objectively to Texas being very talented and literally the deepest team in the nation. The #19 pre-season ranking seems like a floor rather than a ceiling.
 
Do you want to hear a depressing stat to temper this verboten optimism? Since Shaka Smart arrived on campus, Texas has been ranked in 11 of 96 possible AP Polls. That's...not great, Bob. This is only the second time to be ranked in the preseason...the other saw them never rise and fall out after three weeks. The #19 ranking is the second highest Texas has achieved in Shaka's Texas tenure.

YEAR Preseason Peak Weeks Ranked Polls Final Rank 15–16 — 23 5 19 — 16–17 21 21 3 19 — 17–18 — — 0 19 — 18–19 — 17 1 19 — 19–20 — 22 1 19 — 20-21 19 TBD 1 1 TBD 11 96 But perk back up: in the age of the “One-and-Dones,” continuity is typically the biggest differentiator from first round tournament teams and those playing well after your bracket is busted. There are only 10 teams that return over 90% of their possession minutes from the 2019-20 season. There is only one that returns 100%. This is a rare preview with nothing to cover in the “Key Departures” section; literally zero scholarship players left, and one walk-on who totaled 6 minutes in blowouts is no longer with the program. Texas returns an absurd 678 combined appearances, and almost 350 starts. In reality there is even more depth than numbers might insinuate: of the 12 returning scholarship players, 11 started a game last year (due to rotation and injury). They are DEEEEP. We'll discuss that.
 

 

Coaching:
Even though Shaka Smart found himself anywhere from Jalapeño-to-Carolina Reaper on the Scoville Seat scale last season, it was BECAUSE of the talent on the roster and the feeling of underachieving. The Longhorns ultimately finished 19-12 last season, good enough for 3rd in Big 12 (note when comparing records, they will play ~5 fewer games this season). If take a look at expectation last year and add in a sprinkling of expected development, this is the "put up or pack up" season for Coach Smart as he enters his 6th year as Head Coach. Joining him on the touchline is 3rd year assistant Neill Barry and some new faces in Associate Head Coach K.T. Turner from SMU, internally-promoted Assistant Coach Cody Hatt, and Director of Program Development Nevada Smith (real name) - a former G-League Head Coach.
 
Luke Yaklic took a HC job of the UIC Flames (there were many who thought he might have been the informal "Will Muschamp Coach in Waiting” endowed chair of Texas basketball...so read into him taking this job as you will) and Jai Lucas took his coaching talents and recruit rolodex to Kentucky.
 
After a 4-8 start to Big-12 play last season, the team seemed to rally around Smart in spite of injuries and a general consensus that the Smart-era was done in Austin. The season was defined by a end-of-season 5-game conference win streak that included wins over Texas Tech, WVU, OU and probably saved Shaka’s job (in combination with the season-cancelling COVID-19 pandemic arriving minutes before they tipped the Big 12 Tournament). Bottling that magic with the full roster is the expectation.
 

 

Key Returners The Roster:

 
Have you ever heard the term “Guards play in March?” I doubt it, because I think I just made it up, but it basically checks out. Experienced guard play is typically a direct success factor to a deep tournament run, assuming the guards are actually...you know...good to go with experienced. Five of the last 10 men's college basketball national champions have had a junior or senior All-American as their lead ball-handler. I bring this up because as much size and frontcourt talent as Texas potentially has, .........


Senior Matt Coleman led the team in scoring (12.7), assists (3.4), and three-point % (39.5) last year and the consensus is that this teams realizing their ceiling will go as Coleman does. Experts seem to agree, as he was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team and as one of 20 watch list candidates for the Bob Cousy Award (nation's top point guard). A player Smart has recruited since 8th grade, Coleman has started 101 of 102 games since he arrived on campus (streak of 96 straight when he sat out 1 game with an injury last season). Last season, Texas looked to run a pick-and-roll offense (~25% of possesions), and Coleman showed promised but needs to improve his ability to get to the line and finish at the rim. There were also some turnover issues for the team as a whole, and Coleman’s TO rate was 1.48 (1.08 in B12 play), a regression from previous years coming in closer to 2. In addition to ball-handling, he has an ability and often a desire to set the done as the point of the defensive spear as well. How he balances the two will be an interesting watchpoint for the season.
I don't think I need to brief anyone on the incredible story of RS Junior - just know that the 5-star McDonald’s All-American senior has two years of eligibility left, and would probably be in the NBA by now in an alternate universe. He has changed his game and reshaped his body completely, now two years back with the team. Last season, he had six 20-point scoring efforts, and when he was on, he was a complete difference maker. He has become a better shooter through his career, posting 38.3% from three-point range last year. During the late-season win streak, he averaged a team-high 17.2 points per contest while hitting 47-percent from deep. In addition to scoring, he was third in steals (23) and assists (1.9 apg) last season, two areas that could see improvement this season.
Coach Smart describes Junior Courtney Ramey as the “heart” and “fire” of this team. If Coleman is the more quiet "lead by example" and Andrew Jones is the energy and soul of Texas, Ramey is the voice and glue. A combo-guard in the truest sense, there was some disappointment that Ramey didn't make the second year step up that coaches and fans hoped. As a ball handler and initiator of the pick-and-roll, Ramey will have an obvious and seemingly ripe opportunity for instant improvement if he can simply get to the rim and finish. When he was aggressive on both ends, the team thrived—Texas went 6-1 in the 7 games he scored 15 last season. In that defining five-game win streak last season, he averaged 15.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while converting 41.7-percent from deep. The game that makes a best-case-scenario fan salivate was the incredible 26-point, 6-rebound, 5-steal effort at Kansas State in that streak. Ramey did a bit of everything last season, ranking second on the team in assists (2.9 apg), rebounding (3.9 rpg), steals (31) and minutes (31.5 mpg) and third in scoring (10.9 ppg). With the weapons around him, he should be able to pick his spots and focus on being an all-conference defender.
Senior Jericho Simms is one the most explosive leapers in the country and that alone makes him an NBA prospect. There was a very high probability that he would explore the draft last season before a back-injury derailed those plans and saw a rare Texas Big with an All-Big-12 ceiling make it to his fourth year on campus. Last year, he had the Big 12's 2nd-highest 2-point make percentage, was a top-five rebounder, and was solid in the post defensively against some NBA-level bigs. The main question: can he be consistent? He averaged 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in the two contests against eventual No. 1 Kansas in 2019 — and 5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0 blocks in the two games immediately following! He should thrive playing in a frontcourt with GB3, freeing him to do the things he does best: rebound, block shots, and rim run.


A consensus 5* recruit and McDonald’s All-American, Freshman Greg Brown III is the entirety of the "Key Additions" section of this unusual preview article—hence we're just looking at the roster in it's entirety. "GB3" is a lot of things: hyper-athletic, a walking highlight reel, a surprisingly adept "hustle and sweat" player, and an impeccable social media presence. He could immediately start at the "4" — arguably the Longhorns weakest position last year (he was named to the Karl Malone PF of the year watchlist). Texas could also go BIG with him at the 3, giving defenses nightmares with the athleticism that helped him average over 26 ppg in HS. This will depend on how well his three-point shot translates to the next level...which will also determine whether he gets compared to Kevin Durant 3 or 13 times per game (no pressure, kid).

Second Unit
Shaka Smart recently said that there is basically a starting 6 of the five above plus Kai Jones and that he hasn't determined which five will start. For this exercise, I am imagining Andrew Jones and Greg Brown get the initial nod over Kai Jones (one of my favorite players on the roster). Looking just at success last season (when healthy) the next quartet of Jones, Donovan Williams, Gerald Liddel, and Royce Hamm is blessed with tremendous length and defensive potential, however the four combined for about 14 ppg last season. I don't know if they contribute enough offensively to spend serious minutes unless Andrew Jones or a fully-realized Greg Brown is the fifth. But for arguments' sake:


6-foot-11 Sophomore forward Kai Jones is explosive with as much potential as anyone on the team, Brown and Sims included. Legitimately lottery pick ceiling if everything comes together. Can play the 4, projects to a very good 5, but is a bit skinny - has enough athleticism to be a MONSTAR-sized wing. After last season's injury crisis, Jones scored 20 of Texas’ 59 points in a season-ending loss to Oklahoma State, adding seven rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal. He also did one of the silliest things a Texas player managed last season with 5 blocks in 16 minutes in Texas’ first game against OSU. His block rate in conference play ended up 6th in a loaded Big 12.
6-foot-6 Sophomore wing Donovan Williams is streaky with TONS of upside, and boundless energy. He is fully cleared from last season's injury, and "Stretch" is an intersting name to watch in the minutes rotation —  he could be anywhere from 7 to 14 minutes a night depending on how Andrea Hudy is filling out his very NBA-worthy frame.
Listed 2 inches taller at 6-foot-8 this season, Junior wing Gerald Liddell is one of my favorite players on this roster (and not just because his high school coach Lonny Hubbard was a mentor when I was too young to be able to use a full-sized basketball). He has a ton of upside as evidenced by his 14 point, eight rebound, and four assist showing in a big win over Purdue last season. He may be lower in the minutes rotation if he can't find consistency as the Texas staff has to play immediate floor over ceiling with this much depth.
6-foot-9 Senior PF Royce Hamm came on at the end of the season and became a force on the glass. He started the final 7 games for Texas, of which they won 5. With everyone healthy, I think he will not only cede minutes to Greg Brown and Kai Jones, but to Will Baker as well. If Hamm can see the court for 8-10 minutes a night, you will get 200% effort and a player who can excel at one or two things.
6-foot-11 Sophomore Center Will Baker is a pretty large question mark this season. The way he played last season would see him as the 11th man off the bench on this year's team, but the former 5* from Austin has too much talent to think he won't continue to get chances. Shaka has taken time to praise his development - but also used a reporter's question about him to mention that “the reality for our team is there's going to be guys on our team that have made progress and are making progress. And that may or may not be seen in a given game..." Hard to tell exactly how much he plays until we see how he is shooting. He could be the second player off the bench or a player who sees 5 minutes if Shaka gets to a shortened 8-man rotation.

Rotation+


Can 6-foot-9 Junior Forward Kamaka Hepa contribute enough to crack a deep rotation? Can he master the three to make him more appealing on a nightly basis? He has one of the highest basketball IQs on the team, but this is a team loaded with athletic monsters who may bring more. Hepa had 10 starts, is a vocal defensive leader, good at organizing the d, passes well from the 4 spot. I am truly unsure how his minute breakdown will look.
Can Brock shock? Redshirt Sophomore Brock Cunningham is not the first guy off the bench, but he’s the type of player every coach wants on the roster. With injuries at the end of last season, he was given a chance and responded with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 8 points, 11 rebounds in consecutive games last season (WVU, OU during the win streak). He is a plus defender and will have games where he plays a lot simply for what he can do on that end: last year, he helped lock down Desmond Bane of TCU and Xavier Sneed of KSU.
We all know what Senior wing Jase Febres can do: shoot the basketball. He shot 37.2% and 37.4% from beyond the arc the past two seasons. The question will be whether he can take another leap once he is fully clear from the season-ending micro-fracture knee surgery he sustained in March. He still hasn't been cleared, so he could be a good candidate to keep a year of eligibility fro this odd COVID sports season if rehab sees him behind the curve on a deep, deep bench.
 

 

Keys to success


ROTATION: Stop me if you've heard this mentioned a dozen or more times already: the season ultimately hinges on how Shaka can manage the rotation. Does this become an 8 or 9 man rotation that builds on each player’s strengths or is it a half-dozen bench guys getting 7 minutes each? Shaka commented on his own tendencies, saying "At times I’ve tried to play too many players and focused on how the 9th-11th players are doing mentally, but I’ve realized I need to do what is best for Texas.” In a year where COVID-19 is bound to play a large part for nearly every team, having the deepest team in the country may not be a bad thing - but this feels like a gift/curse, depending on how it is deployed.
IDENTITY: Shaka’s identity when arriving half a decade ago was as a relentlessly-pressing, defensive-minded coach who could put a unit on the floor that maximized talent and played efficient enough offense. The Longhorns are replacing defensive-whiz Luke Yaklich, and there are questions to be asked.

DEFENSE: We don't really think the much-discussed, often quoted, "Havoc" is necessarily coming to Austin this year, but there is certainly some upside to pressing (especially with the depth and athleticism on the team this year). Will the Longhorns continue to utilize it  situationally or does that become a more central defensive component? If Shaka were to be reading my thoughts for some reason, I might suggest defending inside out—this may be the deepest stable of shot blockers in the entire country with half-a-dozen fairly adept ones.
OFFENSE: It is unknown what roles and to what extent the new coaches in the program will have input into the offense that Shaka has mostly allowed Neill Berry to run up to this point. My guess is that with this team's athletic blue print there will be changes regardless of who is making them.

Can Texas play faster to maximize athleticism? Last season they ranked 321st (of 353) in possessions per game and ~300 in KemPom's adjusted Tempo rating. This has not been a priority in the past, but you can't worry about players getting tired when (see above, repeatedly)...depth!
Last season offensive efficiency dropped without Jaxson Hayes rim-running, need to see all 3 guards (and at least 2 or 3 others) attack more inside the arc. Coleman especially struggled at finishing and converting — this needs to be a priority area.
Last year, 25% of offensive possessions ended with the P&R handler/screener attempting a shot. That offense is as effective as the guards initiating it...see directly above.
Texas posted the 4th lowest free throw rate in the country last year. They fell in love with the three-pointer, even if it didn’t always love them back at times. Matt Coleman was in a "drive-to-kick mode" by design last season. Can a "drive to score" mentality open more threes AS WELL as improve the easy 1 point attempts?
Finally, Texas had the lowest offensive rebound rate in Big 12, which seems like a thing that might change with Simms, Jones, Brown, Hamm being around the rim a lot. This could be by design, but I have to think there is some execution percentage error that can be improved.




LUCK

Shaka Smart has had an unbelievable tenure at Texas in terms of injuries of the normal variety and the...unbelievable (again, Andrew Jones is a literal inspiration). Can Texas stave off an injury bug - or can this unit at least prove to be as deep as we believe to better handle it? In a year with a pandemic raging, I hate having a coach who has been unbelievably unlucky, but maybe this was all prepping Shaka for this moment in time.
Texas has been on the wrong end of some close games, can the OU game-winner be the sign of better things to come in that department. I wouldn't hate a modus operandi of "that dang Texas won another one by 3" as opposed to the opposite.


 

 

Rest of the Big 12
Y'all...the Big 12 is good. Like GOOD good. Like how good the SEC thinks they are in football or how good the West was in the Lakers/Spurs NBA of the Duncan/Kobe post-Jordan era. Last year was the first since 2013 the KemPom didn't have the Big 12 as the highest-ranked conference - and that was a combination of injuries and re-loading to any team not called Baylor or Kansas.
 
I think there are seven tournament teams in this conference - and that's WITH OSU's post-season ban.

Tier 1 (5):
Baylor, Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia all find themselves in KenPom’s Top-10 (Texas, of course at #9). Those are basically all #1 or #2 seeds if they were the final March rankings! That is absolutely nuts!


At the top is Baylor...if they unfortunately win the conference, it’ll be their first since 1950. They have Jared Butler - a probable top 5 player in the country

With another Top-25 player in Macio Teague, this is looking like the best backcourt in the country
Davion Mitchell is 2nd on his team, but 7th in the country in steals. An incredible two-way player and a Top-75 player in the country
Mark Vital is somehow probably the 4th best player on the team and yet another reason Baylor has the best defense in the country. A top-75 caliber player sitting down here.
This is all with former Preseason-Big 12 selection Tristan Clark medically retiring from basketball after never quite coming back to his self after the 2019 knee injury...


Kansas’ Marcus Garret is one of the best PG in the country, last year’s DPOY will look to lead a "rebuilding" Kansas team that is still loaded.

Ochai Agbaji is a candidate for breakout player of the year - fringe top-50 player
Have to replace by far the most talent of any team in this tier — Devon Dotson and center Udoka Azubuike carried Kansas to last year’s season end #1 ranking


Kyler Edwards for TTU is another fringe Top-50 player, the Jr. combo wing will probably dictate TTU being a 2 seed or a 5 seed.

Terrance Shannon is an athletic NBA prospect and a Top-100 talent
Mac McClung was cleared to play after transferring from Georgetown and will have a lot to say if Tech can challenge the rest of the teams in this tier.


If Oscar Tshiebwe make a second year leap, he could be the best big in the Big 12 and a lottery pick

Miles McBride came out of nowhere last year to make the Big-12 freshman team. Looks to breakout even further — a Top 75-player
6’10 Derek Culver is one of the best rebounders in the conference a fringe Top-100 player - there aren't many front courts in the country better than WVU and they may be the best rebounding team in the NCAA.



Tier 2 (2):
Oklahoma (31) and Oklahoma St (33) — These are 7 or 8 seeds: very dangerous teams on their night


OU's Brady Manek is just about a Top-50 player and has the best nickname in CBB: Larry on the Prairie. 6’9, knockdown 3-point shooter, looks like Larry Bird.

His partnership with PG Austin Reaves will be one of the better 1-2 punches in the conference


Cade Cunningham for OSU seems to be a consensus Top-2 pick in next year’s draft, so you know he's talented. He will be more focal to the Cowboys offense than Greg Brown for Texas, so he is the front-runner for Freshman of the Year and not that crazy of a pick for PoTY if he get's it going to full-speed early. Who else steps up for them and if they can learn to shoot the 3 will dictate a lot.

Tier 3 (3):
TCU (53), ISU (67), KSU — These are Bubble Teams...well maybe not Kansas State (but hey, we have been surprised by them before...in literally any sport).


The upside of this Jamie Dixon TCU team is that if the transfer portal parts can come together, this could be a team that punches way above their weight a few games this year (please God, don't do it to Texas in basketball AND football). They could flirt with the bubble even with a Desmond Bane sized hole in their roster. The obvious other side of the coin is that they finish last in the conference and never gel. Time will tell.
Iowa State has had a serious talent drain to the players going pro early and Fred Hoiberg isn't walking through that door. Rasir Bolton, Solomon Young, and George Conditt IV are all good players, but I don't think any of them are potential lottery picks like Tyrese Halliburton was last season.
Bruce Weber may be on the hot seat (…again) for Kansas State unless some freshmen can come in and surprise some people.
 

Scouting Report: Iowa State

Following a long layoff due to a bye week and cancellation due to Covid, the Longhorns will return to the field on Black Friday to host Iowa State. The Cyclones currently sit at the top of the conference standings with a 6-1 record, while the Longhorns sit at 4-2 and control their own destiny if they win their final 3 games. On the surface, it appears to be a game between two teams who are very evenly matched. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Cyclones:
 
Offense
 
Entering 2020, the prevailing thought throughout the Big 12 was Iowa State would go as far as QB Brock Purdy would lead them. The junior was entering his 3rd year as the starter and was coming off a strong 2019 that saw him throw for close to 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. While Purdy has put together a good 2020 season so far, it has been the running game that has carried the Cyclones to their 6-2 record. Running back Breece Hall burst onto the scene as a true freshman last season and has been the most productive ball carrier in the Big 12 this season. Hall already has over 1,100 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns and is averaging a whopping 6.5 yards per carry. He has busted several long TD’s so far and shows a great feel for letting plays develop. 
 
When Iowa State does throw the ball, they will focus on getting it to WR Xavier Hutchinson and TE Charlie Kolar. Hutchinson leads the team with 41 receptions, but the real challenge for the Texas defense will be slowing down Kolar, who is a matchup nightmare at 6’6 and had 5 catches to go along with a touchdown against the Longhorns in Ames in 2019. In addition to Kolar, Purdy is also not afraid to target fellow TE Chase Allen. The Cyclones will run a lot formations featuring 2 and even 3 tight ends. Matt Campbell and his offensive staff do a great job at isolating their tight ends and forcing linebackers and safeties to cover their big body pass catchers. 
 
Along the offensive line, the Cyclones have done a good job replacing several starters off of last year’s team and they have helped pave the way for the productive season Hall is having running the football. Similar to many teams the Longhorns have faced this season, Iowa State does not take a ton of deep shots and emphasizes the short passing game, which helps their offensive line hold up and slow down the opposing defensive line. 
 
Defense
 
The Iowa State defense against the Texas offense will be the key matchup to follow throughout the game. Last year, the Cyclones defense dominated the Longhorns for long stretches until the 4th quarter, when Texas was able to find some success in the passing game. Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock is able to generate a lot of pressure with 3-man rushes due to the talent Iowa State has along the defensive line. DE JaQuan Bailey has 6 sacks on the season and is a future NFL player. Fellow DE Will McDonald is the team leader in sacks and Christian Jones will have his hands full trying to slow down whoever Heacock wants to throw his way.
 
The biggest injury news entering Friday’s matchup centers around LB Mike Rose. Rose is questionable for the game with a lower body injury and if he were to miss the game or be limited, it would be a huge blow for the Iowa State defense. Rose leads the team with 4 interceptions and 63 tackles, but his impact is felt far beyond the box score. He has started every game of his career and is the glue of the defense.
 
Texas is most likely to find success through the air on Friday afternoon. The Cyclones defensive backs are probably the weakest of the 3 groups on defense, but a lot will depend on if Sam Ehlinger is able to connect on throws he has been missing the last few games. The Longhorns should welcome back Jordan Whittington from injury and Joshua Moore is expected to be at 100% following a shoulder injury, so the opportunities will be there for Texas to stretch the field.
 
Overall Thoughts
 
A big concern for Texas fans will be how the Longhorns will respond after 20 days without playing a game. Texas can not afford a slow start where they fall behind by double digits. The Longhorns have shown flashes offensively of taking a step forward, but they will need to show consistency. If Sam Ehlinger and the offensive staff cleaned up whatever was ailing the passing game over the last month, there is a good chance the Longhorns can walk out of DKR with a victory on senior day, but there is no denying how good Iowa State has looked. Matt Campbell is a coach of the year candidate in the Big 12 and will Iowa State ready to play. 

Talking Texas with 2020 Football Commit Byron Murphy II

This past week, recruiting for the Tom Herman and the Texas Longhorns, has gotten back on track. Recently, the Longhorns received two four-star defensive commitments, one from Terrence Cooks (Shadow Creek) the other being Byron Murphy (DeSoto.)
 
After the additions, Texas’s 2021 recruiting class now sits as the 17th ranked class in the nation via 247Sports.
 
11 of the 19 hard commits in the class are on the defensive side of the football. Texas has made it clear what they want to improve on in the future. One area they have been lacking in their most recent classes was the defensive tackle position. Murphy becomes the first four-star commit (via 247Sports) at the position since 2018. It’s important to land a quality defensive tackle in the class as Texas has transitioned to a base 4-3 defensive scheme.
 
Murphy, one of the best defensive tackles in the state of Texas, originally committed to Baylor back in June of this year. He announced his decision to flip to Texas however on November 18.
 
“Texas became a clear choice after Coach Hagen and Coach Giles laid out the plan, how I would fit in the defense,” Murphy said. They said I would see the field my first year as a true freshman. I love the approach they are taking to build up the defense.”
 
Murphy has been dominating offensive linemen in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for the past few years as a part of the DeSoto defensive front. He, along with fellow four-star lineman Shemar Turner, have made DeSoto one of the better programs in the entire state.
 
In the past two seasons DeSoto holds a record of 15-4. This season, they’re 6-1 and well on their way to making playoff noise again. In 2020 DeSoto is allowing 15 points a game as they have completed two shutouts as well. Murphy on the season has compiled 45 tackles, seven for a loss, five sacks, and a forced fumble in seven games this season.
 
Murphy is on pace to have another stellar year. Last season he racked up 98 tackles, 12 for a loss, five and a half sacks, and four forced fumbles in 12 games. The 6’1 defensive tackle was a unanimous first-team all-district selection last season and he has sights on doing it again in 2020.
 
“My goals for my last year at DeSoto is to make all-district, all-state, have a deep run in the playoffs, and hopefully bring home a state trophy,” Murphy said.
 
Murphy also has big plans for when he officially becomes a Texas Longhorn in a year.
 
“My goals for when I officially become a Longhorn is to become a better player, make first-Team all-Big-12, Big-12 Defensive Freshman of The Year, and become a household name,” Murphy explained.
 
Murphy is a guy who will be making Texas fans happy on day one. A guy who can come in and on day one succeed on the frontlines. He will probably be a starter for his entire tenure at Texas.
 
Get ready to hear the name “Byron Murphy” a ton for the next three years at least.
 
“Texas fans should know that they are getting a real dog. I'm going to be relentless and go hard every snap.”

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Week 11

Last weekend, the Texas high school playoffs started for small schools. As a result, the Hallettsville Brahmas traveled up to Bastrop to face Little River Academy. I was looking forward to seeing 2021 Longhorns commit, Jonathon Brooks, who has been an absolute star for the Brahmas. In addition to Hallettsville's playoff game, I also attended Westlake's regular season game against Bowie.
 


Week 11:

Game #1: #3 Westlake vs Bowie.
Once again, I was able to watch Texas targets, Cade Klubnik and Jaden Greathouse, in action for the Chaparrals. Currently, Klubnik is one of two class of 2022 quarterbacks in the state of Texas with an offer from the Longhorns, the other being Conner Weigman. Cade threw for three passing touchdowns against the Bulldogs, including one to Greathouse. Along with his passing, Klubnik also had some big pickups on the ground with his legs. In addition, Westlake's defense continues to be rock solid as they prepare to do damage in this year's playoffs. In the end, Westlake won handily, 45-7.
 


Game #2: Hallettsville vs Little River Academy
Before covering Hallettsville's playoff game, I had only been able to see Jonathon Brooks' talent on Hudl. However, seeing Brooks in person is even more fun to watch. Jonathon's best skill is his ability to make people miss, which happens quite often thanks to his filthy juke moves. It didn't take very long to see why the Longhorns offered Brooks, as he scored touchdown after touchdown in the bi-district playoff matchup. Eventually, Brooks tallied a total of seven touchdowns in Hallettsville's 61-26 win, including: five rushing TDs, one receiving TD and one punt return TD. Tonight, the Brahmas are set to face Diboll in the area round of the playoffs.

Extra Point:
Brooks plays well above his three-star grade and is bound to make some noise for Hallettsville in their playoff run. Furthermore, what impresses me about Brooks' game is that he has a nose for the end zone as a running back and a punt returner. It should be noted that when I said Brooks has filthy juke moves, I mean it. Jonathon is able to stop on a dime, like a player in Madden, and circumnavigate defenders with ease. Quite simply, Brooks is a home run threat whenever he has the ball in his hands. As of this moment, Brooks is Texas's only running back commit in their 2021 recruiting class.

Miles Logged:
76 (total).
 
 

Longhorns Recruiting Notes:

 
Last week, the Longhorns offered 2021 three-star offensive lineman, Remington Strickland.
 

 
Last Saturday, the Longhorns landed a commitment from 2021 four-star outside linebacker, Terrence Cooks. Last season, Cooks won a state title as a member of the Shadow Creek Sharks football team.
 

 
On Wednesday, the Longhorns also landed a commitment from 2021 four-star recruit in Byron Murphy II. The 6'1" defensive tackle became Texas's 19th commit in the 2021 recruiting cycle.
 

 
Lastly, the Longhorns extended an offer to 2022 quarterback, Conner Weigman. Currently, Weigman leads Texas's eighth-ranked team in the 6A classification, the Bridgeland Bears.

Commitment Spotlight - Byron Murphy II

A month ago, Texas lost a four-star commit as Billy Bowman Jr. flipped from Texas to Oklahoma. On Wednesday the Longhorns had some good news, with the commitment of Byron Murphy after he de-committed from Baylor.
 
Murphy is a four-star defensive tackle via 247Sports. He’s ranked as the 21st best defensive tackle in football and overall the 46th best player in the state of Texas for the class of 2021. Murphy originally committed to Baylor back in June, but then tweeted at 11 AM yesterday that he was reopening his recruitment. About an hour later, he made it official, announcing he was becoming a Longhorn.
 
Murphy and DeSoto so far this season are 5-1 and are one of the best teams in the state of Texas. Their lone loss this year was by seven-points at the hands of Cedar Hill. Murphy has headlined the defense as he is second on the team in tackles (40), second in tackles for a loss (seven) and second in sacks (five) in just six games.
 
The 6’1 near 300-pound interior defensive lineman last season was a unanimous first-team all-district selection as a junior and just recently received his fourth star on 247Sports. In his high school career Murphy has compiled 28 tackles for a loss, 175 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles.
 
Murphy becomes the 19th hard commit to the 2020 class for the Longhorns. Texas now holds the 17th ranked class nationally via 247Sports and the second-ranked class in the Big-12.

Player Information
Name: Byron Murphy
Position: Defensive Tackle
High School: DeSoto
City, State: DeSoto, TX

Measurables
Height: 6’1
Weight: 290

Film


Three Best Traits
Plays well in a 4-3 scheme - Murphy plays in a base 4-3 scheme at DeSoto and is wildly successful in it. Texas and new defensive coordinator Chris Ash recently switched to a 4-3 scheme from a 3-3-5 base. Thus, Murphy will fit right into what Texas does on the defensive side of the football. He’s a guy who they can plug right in on day one and will be able to find immediate success for Texas.
 
Quickness - What Murphy lacks in size he makes up for with his quickness. In a blink of an eye he can be harassing the opposing quarterback in the backfield. Interior linemen aren’t known for accumulating sacks yet Murhpy excels at it. Furthermore, his ability to move quickly around opposing centers and guards also helps him in the run game as he can meet running backs at the line of scrimmage and clog up the hole if it’s near him.
 
Winning culture - With the recent struggles of Texas football, the program needs players who come from a winning culture and can hold the team to their standards. Murphy fits that build. DeSoto in recent memory has been one of the more successful high school football programs in all of Texas. The Longhorns’ last two commitments have come from successful programs with Murphy and Terrence Cooks from Shadow Creek. It’s clear Texas has a plan to change the culture and it starts with commitments from guys like Murphy.

Areas for Improvement 
Run defense - Even though Murphy is a defensive tackle, he is a better pass-rusher than he is a run stopper. Murphy is solid at stopping the run but usually is helped out by his fellow four-star freak athletes on the defensive line. Can he be a guy that at the next level can clog up the hole and stop the run in its tracks? Only time will tell.
 
Undersized - Murphy stands at just 6’1 tall. Among the top-24 defensive tackles in the 2021 class via 247Sports, Murphy is tied for the shortest. Luckily he does make up for it with his 290 pound frame. Still, if he can add a little more to his frame while maintaining his quickness and elusiveness, he can be a problem for any interior offensive lineman.

Summary
Byron Murphy is a 6’1 290-pound defensive tackle who will be ready to contribute on day one. He plays exceptionally well in a base 4-3 scheme and is among one of the quicker interior defensive linemen in the country. Murphy marks the second commitment Texas has landed in the past couple of days joining Shadow Creek linebacker Terrence Cooks. He becomes the third true defensive lineman commit in Texas’s 2021 class. He joins four-star defensive ends Derrick Harris Jr. and Jordon Thomas. Five-star athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders is also expected to play on the defensive line. With the recent struggles and de-commitments that have plagued the Longhorns as of late, it’s refreshing to see Texas get back on track with a win over Oklahoma State and landing commitments from two four-star talents.

Final Verdict
Murphy is a great commitment for Texas and is a guy that helps Texas’s defensive class for the future. With Texas landing Cooks and now Murphy, the recruitment cycle for 2021 and beyond is back on track for the Longhorns. 11 of the 19 hard commits for Texas are now on the defensive side of the ball. There’s no denying that Texas is trying to load up on defense to match the electric Big-12 offenses. Texas has allowed more than 50 points in multiple games this season so their focus on defense in this class makes sense. Murphy is a guy who will be able to help right away for Texas and can be a force for many years to come. If he can add some size, the Big-12’s interior offensive linemen need to watch out.

Saturday's Texas-Kansas Game Postponed

The Texas Longhorns (5-2, 4-2) and Kansas Jayhawks (0-7, 0-6) were slated to play on Saturday at 2:30 PM at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. That game will not happen as scheduled, and instead will be pushed back to December 12th per the Big 12's announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
 

 
The reason for the postponement has to do with the Kansas program not being able to meet the minimum position requirements established by the conference.
 
The Big 12's game cancellation thresholds can be found here.
 
The Longhorns will have another week off before hosting Iowa State in Austin on November 27th.
 


Commitment Spotlight - Terrence Cooks

It’s been a tumultuous month for Texas football, particularly in the recruiting arena. A month ago, five-star athlete, Billy Bowman flipped from Texas to Oklahoma. Bowman was a centerpiece of the 2021 class for Texas and his decommitment was a huge blow. It got worse however as a few weeks later, Texas not only lost four-star 2022 wide receiver Phaizon Wilson but five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers as well.
 
Quinn Ewers is widely regarded as the best quarterback prospect not only in the class of 2022 but in recent memory as well. While it will be hard to replace him and others along the way, Texas got back on track today as they landed a commitment from star Shadow Creek linebacker, Terrence Cooks.
 
Cooks is a four-star outside linebacker via the 247Sports Composite. He’s the 20th ranked outside linebacker in the 2021 class and the 46th ranked player in the state of Texas. Cooks as a junior accumulated 72 tackles, two for a loss, and caused three fumbles. Shadow Creek in 2020 has made the move to 6A and in five games thus far Cooks has 24 tackles, one for a loss, and one sack.
 
The Longhorns already got their toes wet with state champion Shadow Creek talent when they locked down 2020 safety Xavion Alford. Now they get his teammate in Cooks.
 
Cooks had 37 offers ranging from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and even Alabama. In July he announced his top-six via his Twitter of Baylor, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, and Washington. But, ultimately, he becomes commit number 18 for Texas’ 2021 recruiting class.

Player Information
Name: Terrence Cooks
Position: Outside Linebacker
High School: Shadow Creek
City, State: Pearland, TX

Measurables
Height: 6’2
Weight: 210
Film


Three Best Traits
Speed - Cooks is like a heat-seeking missile when he comes after the ball carrier. On film, he consistently chases down receivers and running backs who should have been breaking away for a touchdown. When Cooks is on the field he chases them down every time. At the linebacker position, Cooks is a rare breed in terms of speed.
 
Winning Culture - Cooks spent his junior season with the Shadow Creek Sharks. A team that went 16-0 including defeating Denton Ryan in the 5A D1 State Championship. Cooks comes from a winning culture and has already played in the biggest games at the High School level. 
 
Intelligence - Cooks holds a 3.8 GPA going into his senior year. He is a workhorse when it comes to the books as well as on the field. This high IQ translates to his football IQ, and when you watch the film Cooks is always in the right place at the right time.

Areas for Improvement
Adversity - Since its inception Shadow Creek has been a dominant football program and one of the states finest. Of their 16 games last season, only three were within one possession. Cooks and company usually played with a heavy lead and in no real danger of losing. This has changed a little this season as since the Sharks made the jump to 6A, they're now 3-2. Yet, their three victories are all shutouts. How will he respond when Texas finds themselves down late or early in a ball game?
 
Pass Coverage - Meeting the running back at the line of scrimmage or getting loose around the edge to get to the quarterback has become clockwork for Cooks. One area for him to improve in his senior season in pass coverage. He absolutely has the speed to keep up with short/intermediate crossing patterns and just needs more experience in that area.

Summary
Cooks is a lightning-quick linebacker who can do it all on the field for Texas. He’s superb at meeting the ballcarrier at the line of scrimmage as well as pressuring the quarterback consistently. He’s a highly intelligent ballplayer from a winning program who should help Texas’s defense immediately. Cooks joins fellow four-star prospect, Morice Blackwell, as the second linebacker to commit to Texas’s 2021 class.

Final Verdict
Texas signed only two linebackers for the 2020 class. Three-star Jaylan Ford and four-star Prince Dorbah. The signings of Cooks and Blackwell provide tremendous depth for a position that Texas has been lacking in. It’s no secret that this has been a tough season for the Longhorns. This was supposed to be their year to break out of the Big-12. Not only are they still meddling near the middle of the pack, but recruiting has flipped on its head as well. This commitment comes at a critical time as Texas is showing that through adversity they can still land top-level prospects to come play in Austin. Cooks is a prospect that offers the Longhorns' defensive unit a ton of upside and should be a viable starter in their front-seven for years to come.

Longhorns Recruiting Road Trip: Week 10

After Texas's upset win over Oklahoma State, 2022 four-star quarterback, Cade Klubnik, received an offer from the Longhorns. Last year, I was able to watch Klubnik play in a supporting role for the state title winning Westlake Chaparrals. However, I was looking forward to seeing how Klubnik would perform when given the keys to the car.
 


Week 10:
This past weekend, I took in Westlake's game against Akins, a district opponent. However, in addition to Klubnik, the Eagles would also have to try to stop Texas's other target in Jaden Greathouse. Unfortunately for Akins, the Eagles did not stand much of a chance.
 
Initially, Klubnik was off to a slow start as an Eagles defender made a great break on a pass over the middle and came away with an interception. However, Klubnik kept his composure and accounted for three touchdowns from then on. Primary target Jaden Greathouse was also involved in the scoring action and had a couple of big receptions and a receiving touchdown. In fact, there was one deep pass from Klubnik that Greathouse was able to snag despite being tackled before the ball arrived. Westlake head coach, and former Longhorns quarterback, Todd Dodge, once again has a squad that is very capable of going the distance.
 
In addition, Chaparrals defensive coordinator, Tony Salazar, was recognized as last year's top assistant coach in Texas. However, Westlake's defense is also having an award-winning type of season, allowing only thirteen points through six games. Against Akins, the defense was able to tally their fourth shutout of the season with a 48-0 win.

Extra Point:
So far this season, Cade Klubnik has impressed me with his patience in the pocket. Despite being a talented runner, Klubnik also has a good feel for the pocket and makes smart decisions with the football. Last year, Klubnik was quick to tuck the ball and run. However, this season, Klubnik has picked his spots and it has been working brilliantly. Through six weeks, Klubnik has tallied 15 touchdowns through the air and seven on the ground. Of course, current Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger also attended Westlake High School before arriving on the forty acres in 2017. Westlake is one of the premier quarterback-producing powerhouses in the country; and the Longhorns could, once again, win a commitment from a Chaparrals quarterback.
 
As previously mentioned, 2023 wide receiver Jaden Greathouse is another stud for Westlake. Last season, Greathouse became the first-ever freshman to start for the Chaparrals. This season, Jaden has picked up where he left off and is continuing to torment defensive backs. Furthermore, he has a large frame for quarterbacks to target and has great hands. Currently, Greathouse leads Westlake in receiving yards (537) and is second in touchdown receptions (5).
 
Both Klubnik and Greathouse have tremendous potential and I am looking to seeing how the duo fares in the playoffs.
 
 

Miles Logged:
16 (round trip).
 
 

Longhorns Recruiting Notes:

 
Last week, the Longhorns offered 2023 cornerback, Javien Toviano. Texas's offer is the Arlington Martin product's second, joining the Rice Owls.
 

 
Last Thursday, the Longhorns extended a scholarship offer to 2022 defensive end, DJ Wesolak. Currently, the Longhorns join 17 other college football programs to have offered Wesolak.
 

 
Last Saturday, Texas offered 2021 three-star defensive end, Barryn Sorrell. Barryn, a Louisiana native, has 21 college offers at this point in time.
 

 
In addition to Sorrell, the Longhorns also offered 2021 three-star defensive end, Gharin Stansbury. Currently, Stansbury is committed to joining Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards at Arizona State.
 

 
On Monday, 2022 four-star defensive end, Tyson Ford, received an offer from the Longhorns. The 6'5" defensive end attends John Burroughs in St. Louis, Missouri.
 

 
Yesterday, the Longhorns offered 2021 three-star wide receiver, Keithron Lee. In addition to Texas, Lee also holds offers from two other Big 12 programs: TCU and Texas Tech.
 

 
Lastly, 2021 four-star linebacker Terrence Cooks will be announcing his college decision on Saturday. Cooks, a product of a dominant Shadow Creek program, has named Texas as one of his four finalists. In addition, recent 247Sports crystal ball predictions have linked Cooks to the Longhorns.

Pierce, Texas Baseball finalize 2021 Recruiting Class

Texas Baseball officially welcomed ten new recruits to the program on Wednesday, solidifying its 2021 recruiting class.  Head coach David Pierce and his staff took full advantage of in-state talent, securing National Letters of Intent from eight players from the state of Texas.  They also signed one out-of-state player (Alabama) and a junior college transfer.
 
The class is pitching-heavy, which fits Pierce's philosophy on roster management.
 
“I learned a long time ago that when you think you have enough pitching, recruit more. That’s exactly what our staff did,” Pierce said. “Sean and Philip did an outstanding job of finding seven arms that prepare well and compete. All of these young men have great character and work ethic. They will arrive on the Forty Acres ready to contribute to the future success of Texas Baseball.”
 
Seven of the ten signees are pitchers.
 
Texas also signed an infielder and two outfield players.

2021 Texas Baseball Signees
Jack Arthur - RHP/INF
6-1, 195 lbs.
Flower Mound High School - Flower Mound, Texas
 
Alec Grossman - RHP
5-10, 170 lbs.
Lake Travis High School - Austin, Texas
 
Luke Harrison - LHP
6-2, 175 lbs.
Lutheran South Academy - Friendswood, Texas
 
Jace Hutchins - RHP
6-5, 220 lbs.
Blinn College, College Station, Texas
 
Gavin Kash - INF
6-3, 198 lbs.
Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School - Sour Lake, Texas
 
Carson McKinney - RHP
6-4, 225 lbs.
Briarwood Christian - Birmingham, Alabama
 
Cameron O’Banan - RHP
6-2, 185 lbs.
Dripping Springs High School - Dripping Springs, Texas
 
Joshua Stewart - RHP
6-2, 185 lbs.
St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School - Georgetown, Texas
 
Gage Wakefield - OF
5-11, 180 lbs.
Bullard High School - Bullard, Texas
 
Ace Whitehead - OF
5-11, 185 lbs.
Lampasas High School - Lampasas, Texas
 


Texas Basketball signs four players to 2021 Class

Entering his sixth season as head coach at Texas, Shaka Smart continues to recruit at a high level.  Smart capped the Longhorns' 2021 recruiting class on Wednesday by signing four players, Tamar Bates, Emarion Ellis, Keeyan Itejere and David Joplin, all from out-of-state, to National Letters of Intent.
 
"We're very excited about the four young men who have chosen to join our Longhorn Basketball family," Smart said. "First off, all four share a high degree of receptivity that will allow them to take advantage of coaching and progress quickly at the college level. They each bring distinct elements and a variety of talents to our program. All four possess tremendous character, come from a strong family background and fit very well with who we are."
 
The class is ranked 16th by Rivals and 21st by 247 Sports.

Class of 2021 Texas Basketball Signees
Tamar Bates - Guard
6-5, 180 lbs.
IMG Academy (FL)
 

 
Emarion Ellis - Guard
6-5, 175 lbs.
Assumption High School - Davenport, Iowa
 

 
Keeyan Itejere - Forward
6-9, 190 lbs.
GRACE Christian School - Knightdale, N.C.
 

 
David Joplin - Forward
6-7, 215 lbs.
Central High School - Brookfield, Wisconsin
 

 
 

Texas Defense bends, doesn't break—rescues Offense again against Mountaineers

We knew from the opening kick that this was gonna be a weird one—most fans found themselves scrambling to find "ESPN News" as ABC cut to coverage of the the breaking announcement of Joe Biden as our nation's 46th president. The Texas Longhorns have a #46 Joe of their own, and though Joseph Ossai came back to earth (a *mere* 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and a few QB hurries) mainly because WVU gameplanned to avoid him at all costs, the rest of the defense stepped up.
 
That's really the story of this one, the defense winning the game when the offense faltered. The Longhorns won their 3rd-consecutive Big-12 game; their third consecutive game where the defense unequivocally outplayed the offense. The Longhorns have actually been outgained in 4 of their past 5 matchups and there are two possible explanations:


the defense is giving up too much
the offense is providing too little
With the confidence of a cable news election analyst zooming in on counties no one has ever heard of, I predict Texas finds itself heading into the bye week with a focus on fixing the latter.

PointDif Opp UT Net L TCU -2 458 388 -70 L OU -8 469 428 -41 W Baylor 11 316 429 113 W OSU 7 530 287 -243 W WVU 4 363 360 -3 Av: 427 Av: 378 -244 How has Texas been able to win when Sam Ehlinger has thrown for less than 200 yards in the past two games (something he had only done three times in his career when finishing a game uninjured after being the sole-starter at QB )? How have they "won" only 8 of their last 20 quarters and still found themselves in each game? How has Texas been able to win three-in-a-row (and be two late-game plays from winning the last 5) while being outgained in all but one?
 
The answer to all of these questions is the much-maligned University of Texas defense! Yes the same one that is giving up an average 427 yards SINCE they fixed things against Tech. Please refer back to my article last week for an explainer on scheme and defense in the Big 12 requiring an evolution of thinking.
 
https://hornsports.com/index.php/2020/11/01/texas-gets-the-w-in-stillwater-but-the-a-remains-elusive/
 
“Some people around the country are going to be surprised that we won a game 17-13,” said the ever-quotable Ta'Quon Graham.
 
How did they do it against the West Virginia Mountaineers specifically? It wasn't by creating constant turnovers like weeks past (they are 11-1 under Herman when forcing 3), but by employing some of the most effective bend-don't-break defense I've ever seen. The Horns channeled every bit of Norm Parker's cover-2 Iowa Hawkeye defense of the 2000s or Bill Belichick's preferred scheme that he most famously was a Philly-Special away from riding to a Super Bowl trophy in 2017. (A quick aside on that team: picking two from a litany of universally BAD defensive stats—they were 29th in total yards per game and 32nd in yards per drive. Yet despite being dead last in yards per drive, New England ranked 6th!!! in points per drive! That's actual sorcery)
 
While I'm not ready to call Chris Ash 'Bellichickean', West Virginia was able to muster just 13 points despite 5 trips to the red zone! 
 
Texas protected a one-score lead for the last 17 minutes and 31 seconds, and by the absolute thinnest of margins. It required a scrambling, nick of time, play-the-receiver-with-my-back-to-the-ball 4th down pass break-up from B.J. Foster and a 4th down Chris Brown PBU that probably would've been called for pass interference with last week's Big 12 officials.
 
There was also a DeMarvion Overshown sack and a T'Vondre Sweat pass deflection on third down to set up field goals in the red zone.
 
Texas has actually been great in the defensive red zone all season: of teams with at least 4 games played, Texas ranks 22nd in Red Zone touchdown rate at 58% (remember: in the Big 12, allowing RZ FGs is a win). And there is some infamy in this stat...but because they have allowed many red zone trips for opposing offenses, they are second in the nation in defensive red zone trips without a TD allowed through last week with 13. Add 4 more to that tally after this game!
 
After the opening TD drive, Texas allowed 22 yards on the next 15 plays (then a XFL-ish turnover on downs, and ultimately zero additional points) and surely stared in disbelief as it felt like a blowout everywhere but the scoreboard as they headed to the locker room for half time.
 
Facing their second consecutive Top-10 rusher, Texas clearly set out to take the run game away as they did to Oklahoma State last week. Wisely, WVU made a half-time adjustment after rushing for 21 yards on 15 carries in the first half. The result was an incredibly effective mid-range passing game that got the ball out of Jarret Doege's hands before the impressive Longhorn DL could do their damage and approximated a run game. In the second half, Doege went 19/27—including 1 throw away, 1 endzone drop, and the aforementioned 4th down plays and LoS bat down. That's only 3 of 22 that he attempted to throw outside the endzone that fell incomplete! Though the Mountaineers racked up 233 yards and almost 6 yards per play in the half, the going got significantly tougher in the money zone.
 
If there is a Webster's equivalent of college football, this is the definition of both bending (a lot) and not breaking (for 54 minutes).
 
I'll break down the offense and how fit it all together tomorrow, but for my initial thoughts the defense comes first (just like their performance).

Quick Thoughts: Texas defense comes through in 17-13 win over West Virginia

It was a defensive showdown at DKR on Saturday afternoon as Texas defeated West Virginia, 17-13, to win their 3rd straight game and improve their record to 4-2 in Big 12 play. Here are some thoughts and takeaways from a Texas victory:


The Texas defense was the difference in the game. Chris Ash has his unit playing at a high level right now, especially in the red zone. The Longhorns defense came up with two huge 4th down stops in the red zone and shut down Leddie Brown, who is one of the best running backs in the Big 12. The Mountaineers finished the game with 43 yards rushing.
Keondre Coburn exited the game early with an ankle injury, creating the opportunity for Moro Ojomo to make his presence felt. Ojomo had a sack and lived in the West Virginia backfield all afternoon. T'Vondre Sweat also contributed some quality snaps and it was obvious from the first snap the West Virginia offensive staff was worried about the impact the Texas defensive line would have on this game.
DeMarvion Overshown continues to flash at linebacker, and it's hard to believe at time he's only playing his 7th game at the position. Overshown came up with a huge 3rd down sack to force a Mountaineers field goal. He is still learning on the fly and makes mistakes at times, but Coleman Hutzler is doing a nice job with the junior and his development.
On the backend of the defense, the Texas corners and safeties did a nice job keeping the everything in front of them and benefited from some drops from the West Virginia wide receivers. BJ Foster had a big pass breakup in the endzone on 4th down and Chris Brown followed it up the next possession with very tight coverage on a 4th down pass. Josh Thompson and D'Shawn Jamison allowed completions but limited big plays.
Offensively, it was not pretty for Texas at times. We can start at QB, where it is obvious Sam Ehlinger is not anywhere close to 100%. He missed on several throws in the first half and didn't have the typical zip on his balls. In the second half, he made enough plays when it counted.
Ehlinger was not getting much help in the second half from his receivers. Tarik Black and Brenden Schooler both dropped passes that would have been huge gains. Kai Money also dropped a pass that was initially ruled a backwards pass and was almost a disaster. The Longhorns have to get consistent play from their receivers outside of Jake Smith.
Speaking of Smith, the sophomore had another good game with 59 yards on 3 catches and a TD. Texas has to find more ways to get him the ball out of the slot.
It was a huge day for Bijan Robinson, who rushed for over 100 yards as the lead running back. Robinson took the first carry of the game and ripped off a 54-yard run to set up the first TD of the day. The next possession, Robinson had perhaps an even more impressive run when he broke two tackles and tight roped the sideline while getting his face mask held. It is becoming clear Robinson is the best back on the Texas roster, and the coaching staff will likely need to be getting him 15-20 touches a game moving forward.
What's next?
 
The Longhorns will get a bye week before traveling to Lawrence to play Kansas. There are only 3 games left in the season, and the Longhorns control their own destiny to make an appearance in the Big 12 title game. The bye week will come at a good time with several guys, most important Ehlinger, banged up and needing some rest. If Texas is able to figure things out offensively and continue to play solid defense, they will certainly have a chance to make some noise down the stretch.

GAME DAY: #22 TEXAS vs. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

The Texas Longhorns (4-2, 3-2) will meet the West Virginia Mountaineers (4-3, 3-2) in Austin, Texas on Saturday.  Both teams are coming off their best wins of the season, with Texas defeating sixth ranked Oklahoma State 41-34 in Stillwater, and West Virginia handily beating #16 Kansas State in Morgantown.
 
The Mountaineers have fared well in Austin, notching a 4-1 record all-time at DKR, but haven't won a road game this season.
 
Texas is a Top-10 team nationally in scoring offense, averaging 44.3 points per game.  West Virginia's defense is is ranked fourth in the country in total defense.  While the Longhorns' running game has struggled as a whole this season with the exception of Sam Ehlinger, Texas did have some success last week against the Cowboys. The tandem of Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson gained 108 yards on 22 carries in the win.  West Virginia's impressive defensive line will look to limit the ground game and put pressure on Ehlinger.
 
Junior Mountaineer QB Jarret Doege has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his last three games, including a 301 yard, 2 TD performance in the upset win over Kansas State on Halloween. West Virginia averages 33 points per game, and they will need Doege to have an efficient, mistake-free game against a rising Texas defense to pull off consecutive wins over ranked opponents.

 

 
What: #22 Texas Longhorns (4-2, 3-2) vs. West Virginia (4-2, 3-2)
When: Saturday, November 7, 2020
Time:  11:00 AM CST
Venue: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
Television: ABC
The Line: Texas -6.5
 
Last Meeting Between the Two Teams: Texas defeated West Virginia 42-31 (October 5, 2019, Morgantown, WV)
All-Time Series Record: West Virginia leads Texas 5-4-0
 


The Coaches

West Virginia Mountaineers
Head Coach:  Neal Brown
Head Coaching Experience: 1st year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at West Virginia:  2
Career Record:  44-25
Career Record at West Virginia:  9-9

Texas Longhorns
Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 6th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  4
Career Record:  51-21
Career Record at Texas:  29-17
 
Relevant Articles & Information


Depth Chart – Texas vs. West Virginia
Five Questions About Texas vs. West Virginia with Blue Gold Sports
Staff Predictions – Texas vs. West Virginia
Scouting Report: West Virginia
Win a HornSports Lid by guessing the final score of Texas-West Virginia
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Staff Predictions: #22 Texas vs. West Virginia

The #22 Texas Longhorns (4-2, 3-2) will face the West Virginia Mountaineers (4-2, 3-2) on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium. Both teams are coming off of wins over ranked opponents, and both teams need a win to remain in contention for a slot in the Big 12 Championship game.  Can Texas win their third straight and second consecutive game over West Virginia? Or will the Mountaineers win their third straight in Austin and extend their all-time lead in the head-to-head series?
 
The HornSports Staff weighs in with their thoughts and predictions on Saturday's game.

Devon Messinger
Texas's win against Oklahoma State served as a nice reprieve for the program. However, this week, the Longhorns will have to beat a pesky West Virginia team in order to prove that they are heading in the right direction.
 
The key to this game will be Texas's offensive line. Other than Samuel Cosmi, the performance of the offensive line has been less than inspiring. In addition, the Longhorns will face a talented West Virginia defense that is led by the Stills brothers on the defensive line. If Texas's offensive line, (particularly the right side) can keep a clean pocket for Sam Ehlinger, the Longhorns will be in great shape to win at home.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 30, West Virginia 20

Jameson McCausland
It is not often you see a defensive battle in Big 12 play, but this game has all the makings of a low scoring affair. Nothing the Texas offensive line has shown this year should give fans confidence they can slow down the Stills brothers. On the other hand, the Texas defense has shown significant improvement week to week and West Virginia does not have a potent passing game. The Mountaineers have found success running the ball but the Texas run defense will be the best they have faced so far this season. I will take Texas in a low scoring defensive battle with Sam Ehlinger making just enough plays for the Longhorns to come out on top.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 24, West Virginia 14

Aaron Carrara
Both teams are 4-2 on the season and both teams need a win on Saturday.  With Texas you have to worry about how they will perform after a big road win over a ranked Oklahoma State team. West Virginia hasn't won a road game this season.  Something has to give on Saturday and I think Texas will have the advantage as long as they don't shoot themselves in the foot with costly penalties and turnovers.  The West Virginia defense is ranked 4th in the country in total defense, giving up an average of just 255 yards per game. Sam Ehlinger and company are going to have to find ways to run the ball and move the chains against a stout defensive line, but I like the odds of the Texas wideouts against a young WVU secondary.  Much like every game so far this season. I expect the final score to be tight but Texas has too much to lose by not winning.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 31, West Virginia 24

TFloss32
This is setting up to be a bit of letdown game after such a huge win in Stillwater. 11 AM starts statistically aren’t kind to Texas under Herman, and West Virginia will be another big challenge after they absolutely spanked a solid Kansas State squad last weekend. Predicting the Longhorns’ chances in these matchups has become like a riddle of plugging multiple holes in leaking boat; they simply can’t get all three phases playing soundly. If we assume the defense continues to progress and do well stopping the run, the offense must produce consistently and avoid their cold spurts. It’s highly unlikely they will receive four or five extra chances to score as they did against Oklahoma State, and the Mountaineers’ defense will make them earn everything. As much as I have an unsettling feeling about this one and don’t expect Texas to cover, I’ll give them the home bump since West Virginia hasn’t had much luck on the road.
 
Score Prediction: Texas 34, West Virginia 31

Tristan Larsen
Texas earned a huge victory on Saturday by dethroning the undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Longhorns now finds themselves back in the top-25, and awaiting a 4-2 West Virginia squad who’s also coming off of a big victory over ranked Kansas State. Expect this to be another high scoring affair as the over has hit in five of six Longhorns games this season. Texas is 10th in points per game led by Sam Ehlinger while West Virginia is 4-0 at home yet 0-2 on the road in 2020. Texas is also coming off of an amazing defensive display as they forced four turnovers against the Cowboys. After a huge victory for Texas last week, this is another must-win to continue to build momentum for the rest of this season. The Big-12 is a mess and at this rate anyone has a chance to make it to the championship game. Texas isn’t out of it yet and they’ll show people that this Saturday. Texas wins and covers the 6.5 point spread in doing so.
 
Score Prediction:  Texas 38, West Virginia 28

  • 2021 Texas Football Schedule

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    Opponent
    W/L
    9/4
    Louisiana
    9/11
    @Arkansas
    9/18
    Rice
    9/25
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    Oklahoma
    10/16
    Oklahoma State
    10/30
    @Baylor
    11/6
    @Iowa State
    11/13
    Kansas
    11/20
    @West Virginia
    11/27
    Kansas State

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