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Matt Cotcher

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Everything posted by Matt Cotcher

  1. Texas recorded a convincing 49-24 win over Texas Tech in Austin on Friday. After falling behind 14-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes, the Longhorns dominated the final 50 minutes, outscoring the Red Raiders 49-10. It was Senior Day at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium and the Horns’ rally sent a small Senior class home for the holiday weekend as victors. After the game head coach Tom Herman said, “Small senior class, but the guys around them really, really rallied, sent them out the way they not just deserved but earned to be sent out.” Texas certainly made celebrating their Seniors difficult on themselves. In addition to the quick 14-point deficit, the Longhorns committed nine penalties for 100 yards. It was the second consecutive game with nine errors and 100 or more penalty yards. The Longhorns rank 120th in the nation in total penalties and 126th in total penalty yards. As for the game’s incredibly disparate beginning compared to the result, it encapsulated Texas’ season very well. The slow start and 14-point deficit was consistent with the way the Longhorns played since losing to Oklahoma, and their landslide for the game’s final 50 minutes showed the team’s true ability. For fans, the convincing win makes the team’s November free fall more confusing and frustrating. The obvious question from Friday’s game was: Why was a team capable of dismantling Texas Tech playing so far beneath their capability for a long stretch of the season? After losing to Baylor, it was clear that the Longhorns were a mediocre team capable of beating teams worse than them, but incapable of winning games against teams better than them. A review of the conference standing strengthens that conviction – three of Texas’ four league losses were to teams tied with or above them in the Big 12 standings. Similarly the Horns feasted on teams below them in the standings. Following this thought, Texas’ loss to TCU was the outlier of the season. Regardless of the reality of a 7-5/5-4 record, the fact is that Texas had higher expectations for the season. It was not only fans that had hopes of competing for a conference championship, after Friday’s win Tom Herman admitted to the disappointment of the season, “Obviously we’re not happy with the totality of the season.” But in the same answer, Herman added, “The future is very, very bright. But we’re not oblivious to the fact that we’ve got to evaluate what needs to be fixed and fix it.” Although the conclusion of the 2019 regular season was as dreary as the weather the final game was played in, Herman’s message of hope for the future is what fans will be asked to muster for the next nine months. While Texas awaits an invitation to a bowl game and the valuable practices associated with it, a minor bowl game feels more like penance for a season of mixed results. a minor bowl game feels more like penance for a season of mixed results When looking to the future, Texas would do well to recruit more players like Roschon Johnson. After an early season position switch, Johnson was the player who visibly played the Texas Tech game like he was not satisfied with the way the season played out. Putting team interests ahead of self and playing with aggression are attributes to build on in 2020. Whether there are more players with Johnson’s attitude will ultimately determine whether or not the team reaches preseason goals. It’s likely that there will be changes to Tom Herman’s coaching staff. As much as fans won’t admit it, new schemes and play-calling are band aid fixes. For Herman to have the level of sustained success that both he and fans crave, it must start with players exhibiting Johnson’s mindset. ******************************** Each week Matt Cotcher added to “The Story of the Season”: Preface Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11
  2. Each week HornSports will take a look back at the national scene in college football, so mount up and let’s ride out and check the perimeter. *** The Texas Longhorns looked incapable in a 24-10 loss to Baylor. The Longhorns have plummeted since losing to Oklahoma losing four of their last six games. Ohio State beat Penn State 28-17, but it wasn’t as close as the final score indicates – the Buckeyes led 21-0 in the third quarter. Returning from a 2-game suspension, defensive lineman Chase Young dominated. Minnesota and Wisconsin both won which set up a play-in game for the Big 10 championship game when the rivals meet this weekend. Although the B1G West title is on the line, the rivalry’s trophy, Paul Bunyan’s axe, is plenty of incentive. Ugh-lternate uniforms: If you’re riding a losing streak, might as well wear alternate uniforms that look like a high school team – Missouri’s yellow helmets were awful. People seem impressed that backup quarterback Mac Jones led Alabama to a win over Western Carolina. ‘Bama’s scout team should win a game like that. USC thumped crosstown rival UCLA 52-35. The Trojans’ quarterback, Kedan Slovis threw for 515 yards and USC had four wideouts with more than 100 yards receiving. On Senior Day, Navy beat SMU 35-28. After trailing by 11 at halftime, the Middies outscored the Mustangs 25-7 in the second half. Iowa topped Illinois 19-10 and ended the Cloudbeards four game winning streak. Iowa isn’t splashy but they are steadily solid. Wake Forest continued the winning ways against other teams from North Carolina, beating Duke 39-27. The real story of the game was Wake’s kicker, Nick Sciba, who made his 32nd consecutive field goal. Michigan and Virginia Tech both won again. The Wolverines and Hokies have each rallied from early season low points, but rivalry games await both squads this weekend. Massachusetts set the wrong kind of record when they lost to BYU 56-24. Not only did the Minutemen allow the Cougars to score 42 points in the second quarter, they also broke records for points allowed in a season (total and ppg). UGA topped Texas A&M 19-10. The Dawgs defense held the Aggies to -1 yards rushing, Without their quarterback and a top wide receiver, Oklahoma State hung on to beat West Virginia 20-13. The Cowboys are riding a four game winning streak as they head into their rivalry game with Oklahoma. Arizona State had lost four straight games but turned things around and beat Oregon 31-28. The Ducks’ loss helped clear the CFP picture somewhat.
  3. The Baylor Bears clinched their first-ever appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game with an exclamation point victory, beating the Texas Longhorns 24-10. The win over the Longhorns comes one week after an epic collapse and loss to Oklahoma. Baylor’s ability to rebound after such a loss is particularly poignant for Texas because it is precisely what the Horns have failed to do since losing to Oklahoma in early October. In UT’s downward spiral there was a last-second win over Kansas and a come-from-behind win over KSU, but even in those games Texas struggled. The fact that the Bears rebounded from their loss isn’t as significant to the way they did it…..by standing aside and letting Texas beat itself. Over 100 penalty yards, a costly turnover, inept offense, 5 sacks allowed – at no point in the game did the Longhorns appear coordinated. Beyond the lack of cohesion, Texas never even appeared capable of winning the game. Without a superlative effort from running back Keontay Ingram just before halftime, Texas was shutout by Baylor other than a garbage-time touchdown. After being collared with a defense that was ineffective at best and incapable at worst, the Longhorn offense has seemingly gone all-in on the defense’s ineptitude. In their last two games, the Horns have punted sixteen times. FOX (FS1) displayed a graphic during the game showing that Texas had only scored 15 points in the previous 20 possessions. When it comes to the offensive drought, there is plenty of blame to share between coaches and players. Anyone watching the last two Texas games who believes there is only one source for the lack of success is drowning in misconception. When all offensive positional units are regressing at this point in the season, most fans default to blaming coaches. While the Texas coaches surely are responsible for some portion of the offensive decline, there are plenty of mistakes and attitude problems from players. While the Texas coaches surely are responsible for some portion of the offensive decline, there are plenty of mistakes and attitude problems from players. Confidence and emotion are impossible to quantify in sports, but it’s obvious when a player lacks either. When Texas was on offense on Saturday, the only confidence being displayed was from Baylor defenders who were more confident in what plays were being run than the Texas offense. With the loss to Baylor, Texas is teetering at 6-5. Head Coach Tom Herman must find a way to build some momentum heading into the first signing day and the offseason. Current trends provide easy fodder for opposing teams to recruit against Texas. One final regular season game against Texas Tech and a minor bowl game should be winnable games for the Longhorns. If Texas remains mired in its current trajectory, it’s easily foreseeable that the team could finish with a losing record. To think that Texas could plummet from 4-1 with their only defeat being a hard-fought loss to the current No. 1 team in the nation all the way to 6-7 is unthinkable. Spiraling to a 2-6 finish should keep players and coaches awake at night. The thought is certainly causing fans to lose sleep. ******************************** Each week Matt Cotcher will continue to build “The Story of the Season” as it unfolds. Preface Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 The post Story of the Season – Chapter 11 appeared first on HornSports. View this article on HornSports
  4. Each week HornSports will take a look back at the national scene in college football, so mount up and let’s ride out and check the perimeter. *** Texas flopped to a 23-21 loss to Iowa State in Ames. The Cyclones kicked a field goal as time expired and sent the Longhorns home with a loss, their third in the last five games. Rutgers scored a touchdown against Ohio State for the first time in four years, but that didn’t stop the Buckeyes from rolling to a 56-21 victory. Ohio State has steamrolled its way to 10-0 with every win being by at least 24 points. Georgia beat Auburn 21-14 in a mostly unremarkable game. Of note, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix ran for a touchdown and it was the first rushing touchdown that UGA has allowed this season. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow passed for 489 yards in a win over Ole Miss. Burrow, the clear favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, already holds seven school records. Georgia Southern smashed Louisiana Monroe 51-29. In the process, the Eagles scored a touchdown in all three phases (offense, defense, special teams). It is the third time GSU has completed the trifecta this year. Ugh-lternate uniforms: Courtesy of Iowa’s helmets, and Iowa State’s uniforms, the state of Iowa made a strong run at the weekly title. But UNC took home the prize with an early bid on Thursday night with their ridiculously bad helmets, featuring a giant foot and the tarheel as the ear hole. Don’t look now but Michigan is throttling teams – Jim Harbaugh has his team rolling. After destroying in-state rival Michigan State 44-10 on Saturday, Michigan has now only committed one turnover in the last 3.5 games. Alabama rolled to another easy SEC win, but may have lost in the process…their starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was carted off field at the end of the second quarter. With their former backup, Jalen Hurts, now playing for OU, the Tide must turn to redshirt sophomore Mac Jones. Utah dominated UCLA, 49-3. Saturday was the fourth time this season that the Utes have not allowed a touchdown. A week after one of the biggest wins in school history, Minnesota fell on the road at Iowa, 23-19. To advance to the Big 10 Championship Game, the Gophers are now in a must-win situation when the face Wisconsin in Week 14. Whether you call it a collapse or a comeback, Oklahoma beat Baylor 34-31. The Sooners were 21 points behind at the half and trailed 28-3 at one point. In the comeback, all kinds of records were broken – Saturday’s triumph by OU was the largest comeback win in school history.
  5. Traditionally it’s considered common courtesy to wear black to a funeral, and the Iowa State Cyclones wore all black alternate uniforms as they officially laid to rest any hopes of Texas earning a berth in the Big 12 championship game. In Ames, ISU’s field goal as time expired resulted in a 23-20 win for the home team and a third loss in the previous five games for the Longhorns. After starting the season with a promising 4-1 record, Texas has saddled itself with a 6-4 mark. With two games left on the schedule, the Horns find themselves playing to improve their selection odds for the minor Big 12 bowl games. Of Texas’ four losses, one is to the #1 team in the country and two are to teams above them in the Big 12 standings. Better said, the story of the 2019 season has become that Texas is good enough to beat lesser teams but not good enough to beat a team as good or better than them. Despite being non-existent early against the Cyclones, the Texas offense managed to do enough to put the Longhorns in position to escape Ames with a win. Continued failures by the players and coaches closed that window of opportunity. From that perspective, the lesson of the game was: If a team is outplayed for 80% of the game, odds are they’re going to lose. Outside of 10 minutes total, Texas was outplayed. After two months of concern over the defense, Texas got a serviceable game from that unit and wasted it with inept offense. In doing so, Texas has now completed the circle….all 3 three phases – offense, defense, and special teams – have now had glaring failures that have resulted in losses. One of Tom Herman’s most-used talking points this season is that his team’s best effort is good enough to beat anybody. Beyond being a media sound byte, apparently the idea has been communicated to the team enough that players have echoed the thought when talking to reporters. With the offense stepping up to carry its share of the blame in the ISU game, one of the three phases has underperformed in 9 of 10 games this season. Nobody challenges the notion that, at its best, Texas is good enough to win any game, but with four losses on the books the idea has morphed into a hangman’s knot. If Texas’ best is good enough, why is that level of play elusive? In attempt to avoid the mistakes costing them games, Texas coaches are consumed by tweaking schemes, play calls and the team’s execution. To the observer, perfection and alignment appear as priority. Players win football games, not schemes. Trying to develop perfect schemes and play calls is putting the cart before the horse. Players win football games, not schemes. By focusing on Texas needing to play its best, Herman and his coaches seem to have overlooked a key cog in the wheel – their players. It’s often said that a team takes on the personality of its coach. Herman’s intellectual tendencies of trying to create perfect schemes instead of letting talent win over the course of four quarters has resulted in players concerned with perfect execution of a scheme instead of letting their skill dominate. With just two games remaining, it feels unlikely that Herman and the coaching staff could change philosophically before the end of the season. Even if players were turned loose, there is no guarantee that habits from 10 games could be undone so quickly. However. something beyond schemes and play calls needs to change. Striking a balance between chasing perfection and having players play in an unencumbered fashion is in order. ******************************** Each week Matt Cotcher will continue to build “The Story of the Season” as it unfolds. Preface Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
  6. Cameron Dicker was nails once again, and Texas beat Kansas State 27-24 with a field goal as time expired. After playing an incredibly poor first quarter, UT outmatched KSU 27-10 in the final three stanzas. It’s not a regularity that the Minnesota Golden Gophers are unbeaten in November and have a home date against a Top 10 team (as was the case on Saturday). To celebrate the happenings, Minnesota got their helmets shined and filled up the stadium….then the football team did their part. The Gophers played from ahead and got a win over Penn State, 31-26. Some fans doubt Baylor’s perfect record and question whether they’re deserving of a lofty ranking. On Saturday, the Bears proved them right and wrong at the same time by surviving a three overtime thriller against TCU, 29-23. Illinois completed a touchdown pass with time expiring to beat Michigan State 37-34. This was the fourth consecutive win for the Cloudbeards, and yes, it was on full display: Despite coming in with a meager 3-5 record, Texas Tech jumped all over West Virginia and led 35-10 at halftime. The final score was 38-17 but the game didn’t feel that close. Western Kentucky got their turn and smoked Arkansas 45-19. To be clear, that is the Hilltoppers of WKU dominating an SEC team. It was the end of the line for Arkansas head coach Chad Morris – he was fired after the loss. Speaking of midseason coaching moves…FSU fired Willie Taggart last week and then beat Boston College on Saturday. Maybe there’s hope for Razorback fans? As good as the day’s early games were, Oklahoma, Clemson & UGA put everybody to sleep in primetime. All three schools were up big by halftime and won lopsided games.
  7. On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 27-24 at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium in front of 97,833. While that sentence is a traditional lede, it doesn’t begin to acknowledge the significance of the final score. Put aside Texas’ remaining three games for a moment and consider that, until today, the season was split into halves. During the first four games, the Horns looked capable of continuing the skyrocketing trajectory set by winning the Sugar Bowl. But the month of October had other ideas. A youthful roster was exposed by a rash of injuries, and the Longhorns morphed from “promising” to “dismal” during a four-game stretch in which the team went 2-2. As the season turned to November, a timely bye week greeted Texas. With two weeks to heal and focus on their deficiencies, Tom Herman’s team was tasked with flipping a switch along with their calendars. Could the Horns find a winning brand of football and finish the season the way they started it? No one knew the answer with Kansas State coming to town fresh off an upset win over Oklahoma. After ten minutes of comically inept football, Kansas State led Texas 14-0. In those initial ten minutes, all of shortcomings that plagued the Longhorns throughout October were on full display. Worse yet, after an off week where Tom Herman and his charges had ostensibly worked on those habits, there they were at kickoff in the first quarter. With the season’s goals, and likely several coaches’ futures hanging in the balance, Texas’ known flaws were putting the season in a stranglehold and dictating the theme for the Story of the Season. Then pride kicked in. Herman recognized the balancing act after the game, “You know, with what these guys have been through these last few weeks and every — all the misinformation that’s been out there and said and written about this team and the attitude and togetherness of this team – teams that aren’t together, teams that don’t love each other, teams that are splintered, teams that are selfish…Teams that are all those things, they splinter, and it turns into a blowout.” Texas reeled off the next 24 points and kicked a field goal as time expired to win 27-24. In doing so, the Horns kept their chances at earning a berth in the Big 12 championship game alive. Herman acknowledged the gravity of the situation, saying “Obviously extremely proud of the win, but maybe — not maybe, but definitely more importantly, the things that this crew has been through these last few weeks, to overcome what they overcame, it was special.” In the grand scheme of the 2019 season, it is difficult to discern whether the Kansas State game will eventually align itself with the first four games or the second quartet. Whether Saturday was a springboard to a return to September’s trajectory or if it represented another iteration of consistent flaws masked by a win remains unknown. It is a fool’s errand to predict how Texas finishes their season. With consecutive road trips over the next two weeks, the Longhorns are still standing at the crossroad they were in before the Kansas State game. The obvious advantage to their position is the confidence the team gained by responding to their difficult start against the Wildcats. Whether that confidence can overcome the team’s weaknesses will determine how the season is remembered. ******************************** Each week Matt Cotcher will continue to build “The Story of the Season” as it unfolds. Preface Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 The post Story of the Season – Chapter 9 appeared first on HornSports. View this article on HornSports
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. " 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.
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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?
  15. 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.
  16. Losing 38-3 without turning the ball over is troubling.
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Welcome - glad you here, man! Good to have you around!
  22. We're compiling the whole staff's predictions for the season for an article this weekend.
  23. ....are you taking the over or under? Tell us why... "Push" is not a valid answer here! (My question = my rules!)
  24. IMO, no, a football coach should not be a moral authority. That guidance should come from the family unit. But in 2015, the world is looking to public figures on issues of right/wrong. In that sense, Charlie Strong has a firmly entrenched set of convictions that I, personally, think society can benefit from.

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