August 23, 2007

Ketch's Inside the Locker Room Report

Q: (ElPasoMD) - Make me feel better about the Limas Sweed situation. What should I think?

A: I really don't know what to tell you if I'm being completely honest. The official position on the injury from the school is that there's nothing to really talk about and that Sweed will be ready to go for the season-opener. That very well could happen based on what I've heard, but I do feel strongly that there's more to this story than currently meets the eye. Sweed is about as team-oriented as any guy in the program and I think he'll make every effort to play for his teammates. If there's a way, Sweed will be on the field next Saturday. Just know that he's not going to be 100%.

Q: (texas8891) - Texas has had a lengthy history of outstanding place-kickers and punters. While it doesn't sound really cool, Texas could be Kicker U with Feller, Allegre, Goodson, Erxeleben, Teltschik, Ward, Dawson, Bradley, to name a few. Yet, the last kicker to make the NFL was Phil Dawson, a recruit under the John Mackovic era. What has happened to the great kicker at Texas? We have recruited some high profile kickers out of high school, but none of them seem to pan out at Texas. Is it a lack of talent, coaching or both? Also, what is the status of Hunter Lawrence? I thought he would be next great Texas kicker, but that hasn't happened thus far. Is he going to break out soon or be a bust?"

A: Mack Brown prides himself on his special teams units and he absolutely should, but there's no question that kicker seems to be the one position that he can't seem to hit a home run with. Forget about making the NFL, the Longhorns haven't had an all-conference kicker or anyone that resembles one for quite a while, although Dusty Mangum has something on his resume that quite a few of those others can't claim. I've talked to some people that know quite a bit the position and I've been told that one of the things the staff might have done early in his tenure is have the kickers take too many reps. Even Mack has said that they've made a point to not over-kick their guys during camp this year. The thing is, I sure as heck don't have the answers either. I know Texas has and continues to recruit players that everyone thinks are great kicking prospects and they just haven't panned out. It seems like they are taking the right guys, but it's not working out. Perhaps if they haven't revaluated what they are doing, they should. As for Lawrence, he's competing in camp, but he's likely behind walk-on Ryan Bailey, which means barring an injury he's going to have a limited role on this team this year. There's no other way to say it, that's a disappointment.

Q: (DafDill) - Last year lacked any sort of productivity in terms of explosive plays by our running backs. By my count, in 293 carries, Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles combined for only 15 rushes of 15+ yards (one a fumble). Of those, only two were for 30+ yards (JC 46; SY 30) and two for touchsowns (18,20).

In hindsight and after reviewing tapes, has there been any discussion from the coaching staff about the reason for these pedestrian results (opponents' focus on Texas' run game, blocking scheme, lack of designed down field blocking, inability to break tackles) and if there is a plan to correct this?

A: In conversations that I've had with the staff, they really feel as if it was a combination of a lot of different factors. There's no question that there was going to be an adjustment period as the Longhorns made the transition from the Vince Young-led offense to the Colt McCoy-led offense, especially when you consider that the coaches didn't know it was going to be McCoy's show for the long haul until October. Regardless, the staff went with the offensive scheme that won them a national championship and it's taken some time to get away from. Expect to see a lot less zone-read this year. Also, the injury to Cedric Dockery cannot be underestimated in my opinion. When the Longhorns were forced to move Justin Blalock inside, it left them weaker on the perimeter of the line, as Tony Hills didn't play at the level that was expected of him and Adam Ulatoski was just a young kid that wasn't as strong at the point of attack, as he's become this season and will become in the future with continued growth in the strength department. There's even been some talk from the staff that the wide receivers didn't hold their blocks as well as they did in 2005. It really wasn't any one thing.

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