July 15, 2008

Inside the Locker Room

Q: (mcalk2) - We know a lot of work goes in over the summer without the direct supervision of the coaches, specifically 7 on 7. How much does the opinion of the leaders on the team (Colt on offense, Sr.'s on defense) impact the coaching staff with regards to younger players, or maybe players who has improved greatly, receiving playing time. Obviously, what they showed in the spring if they've been here, and what they show in pads in the fall will be the biggest determiner. Just wondering if our guys have the pull VY used to have, when he said before 2005 that Limas and Pittman would be players. He was right.

A: There are definitely some residuals that came out of the seven-on-seven practices, but they are often pretty subtle. You are exactly right in that there's a lot of carry-over to the spring and the bottom line in regards to playing time is always going to come down to what happens between the chalk lines when the pads are on.

However, I think there's definitely some communication (although not always constant) between the coaches and leaders in the locker room about the participation levels in the summer and about who is making progress in the workouts. I think the first part of that equation might be the most important aspect of this. If there are guys not actively participating seven-on-seven workouts, the only way for the coaches to learn of the participation patterns is through the communication with the leaders.

For instance, if there are two players competing for a playing spot and one is working significantly harder than the other, I think that can have an impact on the way the coaches treat that particular situation.

The thing you have to keep in mind with both Pittman and Sweed is there was a definite carry-over from those workouts to the start of August drills. If a guy like Malcolm Williams is going to emerge as a starter (and he's currently running with the first-team guys in seven-on seven's), he's going to need to have that same kind of carry-over.

Q: (cgarcia89) - After the news of Antoine Hicks not making the grade to get into UT and hints that D.J. Monroe may not make it either I would like it if you could help me explain Mack's recruiting. Not to bring this up again but Jermie Calhoun LOVED UT, from every interview I read the kid bled burnt orange up until the day UT said no thank you. Mack said that the issue here was not getting him on campus but keeping him on campus academically. Fine, then why do take flyers on very talented players like Hicks and DJ who can't even get in the door and not Calhoun who can/will at OU? All 3 are talented, all three with academic issues, why 2 of the 3 and not all 3?

With the possibility of Monroe not making it as well, what will UT do with the 2 additional schollies? Do they go after Dre Kirkpatrick and Devon Kennard more aggressively now that they have room for both? Do they offer Emory Blake a full ride instead of just a grey shirt? Do they try and persuade Russell Shepard again? Will they sit back and see who pops up during the season and pursue them? Or do they save them for next year where it sounds like every big name talent in the state lists UT as their first choice?

Any more hints you want to drop on us about the surprise coming in August that you posted a while back? Is this the free SI for a year if up upgrade? Is it the rumors about the new intro for football? Or is it something else? If you don't want to tell us yet that is fine, but at least dispel some of the rumors. Back to the SI thing, what if you already do the one time payment a year for OB and can't upgrade anymore, where is our 1 free year?


A: First, I can't really answer your first question. It looks very shaky on the surface that Texas has turned away a couple of big-time prospects, whom most expect to qualify, to academics and then you find out a little later that not all of their own prospects are fully qualified. I don't know how Texas turns down Darryl Stonum and takes in Hicks, considering the circumstances. The Calhoun story is another head-scratcher and perhaps it simply came down to them preferring Tre Newton and Jeremy Hills at running back. Again, it's hard to answer because there are definite inconsistencies in the process. I do think it's important to note that Monroe is expected to qualify, but that's not the same as saying that he is qualified.

As for your second question, I'm not sure that the opening of a scholarship or two is going to change the way the coaches view the current 2009 recruiting class. Let's go through the season and see what else happens with the depth chart because of injuries and transfers. At this time I think the staff is content with what they are doing and continuing work with the 2010 class. This class definitely needs an impact linebacker from somewhere (in-state of not), but I'm not sure the staff is worried about the numbers at defensive back after the last three classes. If this current crop of young wide receivers doesn't start to step up, we might see the staff remove the gray-shirt option for Blake and simply offer him unconditionally.

Finally, I can't give out any more hints because I don't want the surprise to be ruined, but it will change the way you view your subscription. You're going to be asking yourself, "How are we getting all of this for $9.95." As for your questions about the S.I. offer, all I can tell you is that it was geared towards getting new annual sign-ups and I'm disappointed that it didn't reward those that were already loyal subscribers. Here's hoping the surprise in August makes the S.I. thing sound like not such a big deal. I'm doing this for you guys.

Q: (DeepEddyHorn) - How many scholarships are left in the 09 class?

Which recruits (any recruit in-state or out of state) would you recommend Texas offer and pursue for the remainder of the 09 class? (taking into account team needs, talent level of various recruits, perceived interest level of various recruits) Would you wait with a schollie or two for late bloomers?


A: Just a couple. One is reserved for Jamarkus McFarland and if they happen to land a Dre Kirkpatrick or someone of that magnitude, then there will always be room, but at this point it's not about numbers because the staff is working under the impression that the remaining room left in the class is as precious as the air the breathe and it's going to be reserved for special situations.

Q: (SmilinJack): Have you heard anything on how Aaron Lewis is doing in summer workouts? As of the spring game, it seemed clear that the coaches wanted him to play tackle this year, even if only as a situational pass rusher.

A: I'll be honest when I tell you I haven't had a single person mention Lewis this summer, but that's not a huge surprise when you consider that he plays a position that mostly works out in obscurity, while everyone has their eyes on the skilled players on both sides of the ball.

Lewis has been a good player for his first three years, but by being solid and not truly outstanding, he's finding himself in a very tough battle for playing time at defensive end and there's going to be a very talented player from a group that includes Lewis, Sam Acho, Henry Melton and Eddie Jones that doesn't even make the two-deep this year. I think the lack of proven players at defensive tackle and Lewis' ability to provide some snaps there, even if it's simply as a rusher on obvious passing downs, makes him an obvious candidate to spin down inside quite a bit this season. It might not be the move he'd prefer to make, but it might be the best way for him to consistently get on the field this year.

Q: (MCB0703) - There have been numerous postings about Trent Richardson, his desire to AT LEAST visit Texas, and the staff not making an attempt to bring him in. Did the staff promise to take only 1 RB for this class? Based on your information, is this interest in Texas legitimate or is Richardson looking for a visit only?

Regarding Chris Whaley…I understand his talent is unique and he has the physical tools to play early. However, right now, he's 6'3", 220 lbs…WHAT IF he gets to be 6'4" or 6'5", 230 lbs before he gets to Austin? IMO, that's too big for RB, but Whaley has enough natural physical talent to become a great OLB…IF he grows out of the position, this recruiting class has a chance for zero RB's when they could have a made a run @ Wood, Brown, Richardson, or Michael…all natural RB's with tremendous upside. Do you think Mack & his staff will AT LEAST try for any (hopefully Richardson) over the next few months? Do they have the scholarships available?

Regarding Blake…can you provide details of a grayshirt? Can the player work out with the team? At least go to school? Based on the information I've read, it seems as though a walk-on has more ability to spend time with the team than a grayshirt? Also, based on the latest information about Blake, it seems that UT is his top choice (reading between the lines) and he would commit if offered…is it possible that he could walk-on & then be given a scholarship after 1 or 2 years? Similar to the Ryan Bailey situation?


A: First, I think Richardson really likes Texas, but the Longhorns have been very content with their decision to simply take Whaley and call it a day at running back. This is a deep year art running back in-state and the Longhorns clearly want just one. I also think you make some great points about the potential of Whaley outgrowing the position, but the Longhorns must feel good about who they have on campus and they must really like the position they currently have with 2010 superstar Lache Seastrunk because I don't believe there is any interest at all right now in adding at that position, at least according to our best sources.

Q: (Texaspride0929) - My question is our recruiting class is really good right now and we have a good chance of landing J-Mac...Do you think this is one of our best recruiting classes of this decade?

A: Yes, this is a really good class, but it might not yet be a great class. I'd rate the 2002 and 2007 classes as the best that the school has had in the last decade. I also think the Longhorns have a great shot at McFarland, especially with the mom seemingly firm in their corner. The number one rule in recruiting is simple - go with the mom.

Q: (echeese): Your radio show touted 5 truths and 5 myths about TEXAS, care to share for those of us unable to listen?

A: Top 5 myths about Texas football in 2008:

1. John Chiles is the answer to everything that ails the Texas offense.
2. The Texas offensive line is a team weakness.
3. The tight end and fullback positions are key components of the offense
4. Sergio Kindle is the best NFL prospect on the defense
5. The Longhorns won't be strong at running back without Jamaal Charles.

Top 5 truths about Texas football in 2008:

1. Texas has a lack of proven difference makers at running back, wide receiver and tight end.
2. Malcolm Williams is the most important player on this year's Texas offense.
3. Will Muschamp has the talent on hand to put together a dominant defense.
4. The defensive end position is loaded and should be the defense's biggest strength.
5. Youth at safety is the single biggest concern facing this team heading into the season.


Q: (Archie Holmes): What do you think our ratio of running-to-passing plays will be this year? How often do you expect us to be in a base (4-3-4) defense this year?

A: I expect if the Longhorns are going to have a base defense this year, it might the 4-2-5 (nickel) and not the 4-3 or the 3-4, although the Longhorns plan to be multiple and will give a lot of different looks up-front. If you talk to any player, they'll tell you that this defense spent more time in the nickel this spring than any other alignment and as the team prepares for the season in seven-on-seven workouts, they are doing so almost exclusively in that set, which is different than in the past when they mixed in a combination of coverage packages that included all three linebackers on the field at once.


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