March 27, 2010

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (Golfpr3145) - Ketch, with all the elite receivers coming in the new class, how do you see that impacting the playing time of our current crop? Do you think that the current guys need to step it up as far as consistency is concerned or risk losing their jobs to the younger guys? Better still. Do you see any of the new guys that, in your opinion, could win the starting job over the current WRs?

A: Let's take a look at the receiver position.

I don't think there's any doubt that the players on campus are aware of the talent that's on the way. When you look at the trio of Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll and John Chiles, you'll see a group of players that just haven't been as consistent as the coaches need them to be. There was never a point last season when you actually knew what you'd be getting from them in a game and it's also hard to overlook the big-game struggles that each had at the end of the 2009 season. The image of big drops by both Kirkendoll and Williams are impossible to wipe away when reviewing the narrative of the season.

If the Longhorns played a game tomorrow morning, this would be your starting trio in Texas' three-wide sets, but there aren't any games on the schedule in March and the line-up/rotations could look quite different by September. For one thing, the coaches currently view Marquise Goodwin as a definite starter and a possible No.1 receiver for sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert. When you start thinking about player groupings and allotted playing time, he'll be front and center, which means that everyone else is fighting for two spots.

By all accounts, Williams and Chiles have done some things this spring that have probably separated themselves from the pack of players on campus behind them. Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis mentioned Williams this week as a possible No.1-type receiver and it's the first time I can remember Davis talking about Williams in that manner.

Check out this quote: "Malcolm Williams has a chance to be that guy because he's big, strong, fast, he's hard to press. He can beat you deep. He can body you up inside on some of the short stuff. He's the one who has a chance to be that guy."

Pretty telling stuff. Re-read his last sentence again. "He's the one who has a chance to be that guy." It doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand that Williams is going be on the field a lot and Davis doesn't currently view the rest of his group of receivers on a high tier.

Also, Chiles has a huge lead over the other players at the slot position right now, which means I think you're top three is going to feature Goodwin, Williams and Chiles. That's my guess at the first three when the Longhorns hit the field against Rice. That's going to leave Kirkendoll as the first guy off the bench and he's going to be the guy, perhaps more than anyone else, who is going to have to hold off the likes of Mike Davis, Darius White and the rest of the freshman troops from that sensational receiver class. Those inside the program believe that Davis is destined to make a first-year impact, so the competition is going to heat up once everyone is on the same field together in August.

Q: (Bobble-Head Bevo) - I would think that a series of delayed pass plays to our Running Backs would be a good complement to our new running game. Have we seen or heard anything this spring that would indicate that our running game will be supplemented by screen passes to our running backs?

A: There's been so much focus on running the football and identifying a new offensive identity through the first half of the spring that I'm not sure the team has had a chance to totally commit the time needed to develop a good screen game, but that will likely be an element that they continue to work on heading into the season. Historically, the Longhorns have been pretty uneven in their running back screen game during the Mack Brown/Greg Davis era, so it'll be interesting to see how much of it they try to bring with them into the season.

Q: (Horns a Plenty) - 1. Any chances of getting some interviews or updates from Jackson Jeffcoat, Jordan Hicks, and Reggie Wilson? I would like to know how they are approaching this next season at UT, how much they have grown and how their personal lives have changed since committing to Texas.

2. When a player finishes his career at UT and gets his degree, is he pretty much set for life even if he doesn't have a chance in the league. Can you give us an idea as to exactly how much that plays in getting a kid to commit to Texas?

3. Does Darrell Royal still have much input on the Athletic Program any more at UT?

A: Yes. If you'll notice, Suchomel has been rolling out a steady stream of profiles on the 2010 guys in the last couple of weeks and all three of those players are on the list to get for the coming weeks.

Second, I wouldn't say that finishing a career at Texas assures anyone of a golden ticket in life, but it certainly provides a carousel of opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available. As long as a guy has his stuff together and takes advantage of his opportunities, the dividends from playing at Texas can be quite plentiful. As far as how it relates to recruiting, there's no question that the post-career networking possibilities play a factor in some decisions, although it would be impossible to put a number on the true percentage where it plays a first, second, third or last in a ranking of factors in each individual decision. .

Third, remember in The Godfather when Michael takes over the family and Don Vito Corleone is around for council whenever he needs him? That's pretty much Royal's role in the Longhorn program right now. Although he's not involved in day-to-day activities or even a lot of the big decisions that are made, he's always there if Mack needs to bend his ear or seek a wise opinion.

Q: (SallyStruthers) - 1. Assuming we play 14 games next year we will probably have around 550 rushing attempts (including sacks) and 300 pass receptions. How do you think they will be divided up among the RBs and WRs?

2. If conference realignment takes place would you rather be in the Big-10 or Pac-10 and why?

3. Who will start against OU in 2011 on the Offensive Line and at Corner Back.

A: Obviously, these projections are based on the assumption that there won't be any injuries and it's probably unlikely that the Longhorns could avoid the injury bug at the running back and receiver positions all season.

Running game carry distribution

Tre' Newton - 200 carries
Foswhitt Whittaker - 100 carries
Chris Whaley - 55 carries
Cody Johnson - 45 carries
Garrett Gilbert - 65 carries
D.J. Monroe - 45 carries
Vondrell McGee - 25 carries
Receivers: 15 carries

Passing game distribution

Marquise Goodwin - 65 receptions
Malcolm Williams - 50 receptions
John Chiles - 50 receptions
James Kirkendoll - 30 receptions
Mike Davis - 28 - receptions
Tre Newton - 20 receptions
Darius White - 17 receptions
Fozzy Whittaker - 15 receptions
DeSean Hales - 15 receptions
Chris Whaley - 5 receptions
Cody Johnson - 5 receptions

As for your other questions, I'd probably pick the Pac-10 over the Big 10 for a number of reasons, including travel and weather, but I think the biggest reason is that a combination of the Texas and California markets, along with the rest of the Northwest, West Coast and Southwest, would give everyone involved a powerful television entity that could compete with anything that the SEC or Big 10 could create. From Dallas to Los Angeles to Houston to the Bay Area to Seattle to Phoenix to San Antonio and every other major- and mid-market in-between, I think you've got quite a product to sell.

Finally, I don't think you'll see a lot of change on the offensive line or at cornerback between now and mid-season. Barring something unforeseen like Mason Walters getting healthy and taking the world by storm, I think you'll see (from left to right) Kyle Hix, Michael Huey, David Snow, Tray Allen and Britt Mitchell go to work together all season. It's possible that a Thomas Ashcraft could push for a starting job this season at guard, but I think the staff would be very disappointed if either of the guards played at a level that would warrant them being replaced. As far as the corners are concerned, the trio of Aaron Williams, Chykie Brown and Curtis Brown will all be treated as starters and there's not a single player behind them that can push them on the depth chart..

Q: (brianut) - How would you feel about this draft for the Cowboys?

Rd. 1 - Maurkice Pouncey - Center/Guard combo from Florida
Rd. 2 - Nate Allen/Morgan Burnett - either of these safeties
Rd. 3 - Jordan Shipley

A: I'm a little leery of Florida players after the collection of data that I put together last year involving drafted players and the NFL, but if you told me we could have the Pouncey, Allen and Shipley trio today, I'd take it in a heartbeat. That would give the franchise three quality football players at positions of need and the value on all three is good. However, you know this isn't how the draft will go. First, Jerry isn't going to sit tight with only six picks in a deep draft. He's going to start trading back and trading back and eventually I'll be screaming for them to just take one of the players still on the board and they won't. Once they eventually select a player, it'll be a guy with fourth-round talent that they've fallen in love with and reached at least a round too high to grab. That's why I'd take the scenario you listed in the blink of an eye.

Q: (Caldonna) - First, are Coaches Brown and Davis moving more to a pro-style offense to try and take some pressure off the tackles? As we saw in the NCG, the tackles were really exposed with a less-mobile quarterback.

Second, what sort of changes do you anticipate seeing to mitigate the pressure on the o-line? Do you think that we'll see more of Greg Smith as a blocking tight-end? Perhaps more three steps drops and quick releases?

Third, what sort of play do we need to get from our left tackle (GG's blind side) to have real success in a pro-style? If a 10 is Erik Williams and a 1 is Tony Mandarich, where do we need to be? A 6? An 8?

Finally, since the ring isn't digging into your finger just yet: Brooke Hogan or Lacey Von Erich?

A: I think the entire coaching staff is in favor of re-directing the offense into another direction because it fits the talent of the entire team and not just the offensive tackles. Yes, the offensive linemen on campus seem better geared towards a little more power football and a little less zone reach-blocking, but there's even more in play here than building an offense that suits the linemen's skill sets. Don't underestimate the concessions that the Longhorn have made as an offense in the last few years by running a lot of the zone-read and other runs out of the shotgun.

When the Longhorns transitioned from Vince Young to Colt McCoy and kept the foundation of the offense pretty much the same, there's some effectiveness in the running game that they lost in the process. Without the fear of a true game-breaker at the quarterback position to keep opposing defenses (especially defensive ends) a little more honest, opponents have cheated to the extent that they almost dared the Longhorns to run the football with McCoy and there have been times when the coaches were reluctant to go in that direction out of deference to McCoy's health need to be on the field.

Last year's Texas offensive line was an average lot at best as it was, so asking them to play with one hand tied behind their back in the running game was simply an unfair request and in transitioning to Gilbert at quarterback, it makes zero sense to pound your head into the wall for another three years. Those are big reasons for the this offense is making the changes that it has made.

As for your second question, yes, I expect to see a lot of Smith on the end of the line at tight end as an extra blocker, although Barrett Matthews is going to be on the field a lot this season as an H-back/end of the line blocker as well.

Third, expect lots of three-step drops in 2010. A lot.

Fourth, I'm still not sure what to expect from Hix, but he was probably a 5 or a 6 last year and now he's moving to a more difficult position that seems like a bit of a stretch after such an uneven 2009 season.

Finally, I don't think there's any question about it - Lacey Von Erich is in a different league than Brooke Hogan. Iron-claw wins over the leg-drop in a big way. BIG way.

Q: (Principal) - #1. How long will it take you to re-evaluate the whole state to select the top 100 high school football players ?

#2. Talk about the rank order you use to select these players.

A: If we're talking about the 2011 class, it's usually a week-long, 10-12 hours per day project. I keep all of my notes from previous evaluations and one of the things I like to do every few months is start from scratch and attempt to re-evaluate all of the players as if I had never seen them previously, which means that I'll write new notes on each guy. Once I'm done, I'll compare the reports and see if there are any inconsistencies or anything that I've written that really adds to the last evaluation of a prospect - good or bad. If there's even a single tier of difference in the ranking, I'll go back and watch the guy again for a third time with the notes from both reports and I'll make a decision on where exactly the grade needs to be positioned.

Of course, the evaluation process is only part of the work that has to be done. The time it takes to write updated or new scouting reports, along with the work in the admin takes as much time as anything else, which is probably the most frustrating part of the process. Because of the detail that I put into the work, it really does become a very tedious project.

Also, as the years have gone on, I've really made some subtle internal changes to the way I actually rank the players and I think really believe that it has helped fine-tune the approach, but I don't discuss the process with anyone. Perhaps it's a little silly because we're talking about rankings (meant to be said like Allen Iverson would practice), but I take pride in the detail of my work and there are a few things I do a little different than most that I would prefer to keep to myself. While there's definitely a hint of nerd in my secrecy, it's true that my desire is to keep the Colonel's 11 secret herbs and spices a secret.

Q: (aakeys) - 1.Judging from the available film on Texas's two remaining Offensive Line targets, Matthew Hegarty and Christian Westerman, Hegarty appears to me to be the better player. He seems both more athletic and more effective as a blocker, and he appears to move more fluidly. (In fact, Westerman often appears to move as though he already has pain in one of his knees, something that concerns me). I really think that we only need one more offensive lineman in this class, and I hope it is Hegarty, who has been great at both combines and on the field (all-state the last two years). I know that you have rated Westerman a little higher (as have most people), but do you think it is possible that Hegarty will turn out to be the better player, and that he is the one that winds up at Texas?

2. It has been reported on Rivals recently that George Farmer, the outstanding WR out of Gardena, California, would like to hear more from Texas (for what appear to be substantive reasons, rather than just to accumulate another offer). At least one reporter on Rivals has also suggested that Farmer may turn out to be the number one ranked over-all recruit in the 2011 class when all is said and done, and he certainly appears destined to be in the top ten. Farmer is 6-2, runs a 4.38 forty, and appears on film to be a textbook number-one receiver--probably akin to Kyle Prater last year--and he also looks like an outstanding cornerback. Is Texas recruiting Farmer, and, if not, why not? (I know we got some good ones last year, but Farmer looks to me to be too good to pass up). Also, Ladarius Brown looks like the best receiver in Texas to me. Will our staff make any attempt to get him? If not, why not? Finally, with similar players like M.J. McFarland (2011 recruit), Greg Timmons and D.J. Grant already on the roster, do you think it was necessary to add a Miles Onyegbule this year instead of a true number-one, game-breaking receiver like Farmer, Brown or even Trey Metoyer?

A: First, sure it's possible that Hegarty could end up being the better player when it's all said and done. We're talking about two of the elite line prospects in the entire nation and any number of unknowns could come into the equation that could propel and derail either. Mason Walters is as good of a line prospect as you'll ever see, but you can't put a price on health. As you mentioned, I have Westerman ranked higher and there are several reasons for it, primarily the strength and physicality that I think he brings to the table as a player. Also, if you had to force me to choose the guy Texas has the best chance of landing, it's probably Westerman. Never discount the fact that his family had a chance to sit down at the Oasis on a nice afternoon, have a relaxing time and soak up some of the beauty of the town. In talking with Westerman's dad right after the visit, it was clear that everyone that was along for the ride on that trip, including Westerman's girlfriend, had a great time.

You rammed a lot of material into your second thesis of a question, so let's just try to work through everything that you're asking about. Let's start with Farmer and try to have an honest conversation about Texas' approach to recruiting out of state. First, he's not at a true position of need and the numbers just don't warrant any more attention. However, if Farmer is so interested in Texas that he would make the effort to fly out to Austin on his own dime and check the school out, I'm sure the staff would have some interest. If they felt like they weren't simply one out of many, but one of a few he was genuinely interested in, they would certainly have even more interest. Outside of that, Texas just isn't going to deviate much from their current plan and it's going to take more than a recruit dropping Texas' name in an interview to change that.

As far as LaDarius Brown is concerned, I've heard a lot of question marks about him over the last few months and some of them are legitimate. While Brown is a terrific leaper and possesses outstanding ball skills, he's not much of a route-runner and some are worried that he's a little too stiff in the hips. There's no question in the minds of the Texas coaches that Jaxon Shipley and Onyegbule are better wide receiver prospects than Brown. Are they better raw athletes? No, but they are more developed and probably don't possess the same basements. Most feel like Brown is a better defensive prospect, but again, his hips and ability to play in coverage is a bit of a question. If you're looking for one final reason for the offers to the pair that did receive offers, I'm sure there's also a feeling that they better fit the profile of the athlete that they want in the program.

Let's move on to the Onyegbule offer, which you apparently have an issue with. Let's just keep the discussion to Onyegbule vs. Metoyer if you don't mind because Farmer is pie-in-the-sky stuff and Brown wasn't really under consideration for one of the receiver spots in my mind. When the Texas staff viewed the two players on the same field last summer, Onyegbule tested better in every way - he was bigger, stronger, faster and performed better in one-on-one's and other receiver testing. Plus, the kid loves Texas. Both are big-time receiver prospects, but Texas has always coveted Onyegbule more and don't let the fact that he plays in an offense that doesn't exactly showcase him fool you. If we're talking about ceilings, there's not another receiver in-state receiver in the 2011 class that touches Onyegbule, who I think is much more fluid and explosive than a guy like Dan Buckner.

Q: (Conwell86) - If Georgia were to come calling after next season do you think Will Muschamp takes the job? I know it's hard to predict this but the real question is if Will were to take the job do you think Mack Brown would prolong his head coaching career at Texas?

A: Unless he's going to be given the keys to the Longhorn car in the next year or two and he definitely knows that without any uncertainty, my gut feeling is that he'd take the job. In my little pea-brain I just can't see Muschamp turning down job offer after job offer, year after year, with no assurance that Mack is going to step down before he's 45.

Flame away.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!