November 6, 2008

Ketch's Inside the Locker Room Report

Q: (unclejemimah) - Hey Ketch, after such a stunning and disappointing loss there are bound to be questions as to what could have been done to prevent it and probably myriad answers so I'll just ask 1.

Why in the world did Greg Davis re-implement the 2 tight end formation for the Tech game and not stick with the 4-wide no tight end set that had brought such success against the likes of Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State? It defies logic to go away from something that had been working so well. Any indication as to what caused the change?

My second question is related to the upcoming game against Baylor.

With the breakout performance by Malcolm Williams against Tech and the many eyes that have been opened to the kind of deep threat that he IS, not that he can be, just how do you expect to see him utilized against the Bears? Will he continue to get more opportunities or will we be frustrated by his lack of involvement in the offensive game plan. I would be pretty dumbfounded if the staff didn't get the ball thrown in his direction several times after the performance he churned out last week.


A: Davis has said that the plan going into the game was to attack the Tech perimeter, especially in the passing game, which meant that he wanted to get Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley matched up outside. The combination of that decision and the feeling that they needed to establish a bit of a downhill running attack led the team to shift away from the offensive scheme that had really worked wonders for Davis and Co. since the end of the Colorado game.

I'm with you in thinking that the Longhorns completely abandoned the offensive identity that had led them to the No.1 ranking in the first place. I'm not sure why the staff felt like they couldn't impose their will on Tech when they had in their three previous match-ups with top 11 teams. It's not the nicest thing to say, but the personnel that is left at the tight end position right now for the Longhorns is not strong. It's a combination of players that have been part-time role players and back-up offensive linemen, and to rely so strongly on their play, while taking skilled playmakers like Williams off of the field in order to get them on it, led the Longhorns into some very dicey on-field match-ups.

Add in Cosby's injury and the inability of the offensive line to perform at an effective level, and you've got an offense that was lost and inadequate for most of the game.

As for Williams, it's amazing what getting a few opportunities can create. With Cosby expected to miss this week's game, I would expect Williams to have a heavy role in the game-plan because someone is going to need to pick up the slack and after last week it would certainly appear that Williams is comfortable in that role. If there's a silver lining to Cosby's current injury, it's that Williams has finally been given the chance to showcase his immense athleticism and playmaking skills. Everyone should cross their fingers that the staff will go out of its way to take advantage of his talent on a weekly basis from here on out.

Q: (mjeffus) - If Will Muschamp leaves to accept a HC position, how will that affect our recruiting for next year? In reading comments from potential recruits/commits on the "D" side of the ball, over and over he is mentioned as a driving force in these young men's decisions to come to Texas. Your thoughts.

A: It's really hard to say, but my guess is that it might not impact it much at all. If there's one thing that Mack Brown has made clear to recruits, it's that he's going to go out and replace quality with quality whenever the occasion asks for it. I think the days of hiring from within on the defensive side of the ball are over, which means Brown likely already has a short list of potential replacements because he has to know he'll need to use it in the next year or two. Overall, I think you're overestimating the impact that Muschamp has had on this current 2009 class. Almost all of the kids that committed early are guys that were already Longhorn leans before Muschamp arrived and if you look at the commitment list, I'm not sure you can find a big-time guy on the defensive side of the ball that Texas wouldn't have gotten without him. It might be a different deal if Muschamp had been allowed to really spread his wings nationally, but that hasn't happened, which does limit any potential fallback that might have otherwise come with his potential departure. I think his presence in the program in recruiting will be felt more in the 2010 class, if he stays, because that's the group of players he's been spending most of his time on since he's been here.

Q: (university■) - Been here for years and never had a locker room question so I deciding to start today. What are your opinions on whether or not Muschamp leaves after this year? If he indeed decides to leave, which program would he be most tempted to accept an offer and how will he do as a head coach? Lastly, give me your short list of possible Def. Coordinator. that could replace him.

A: There's no question that he's likely going to receive some interviews and there's a chance that he could leave. That being said, I've heard that he's not going to take a job for the sake of taking a head coaching job and most people expect him to be very selective. He's not leaving for Kansas State. The key for Muschamp getting his dream job is finding an athletic director at a big-time school that's willing to jump on a young guy with no head coaching experience. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is. Most athletic directors only get one chance to get it right and if you go after a guy that doesn't have a track record, you're putting your own backside on the line. If we look at Tennessee, the guy that takes the job has a huge challenge of replacing that school's own version of Mack Brown. Phil Fulmer might have left a lot to be desired on the field, but he was a great recruiter, he was great with the alums and he did all of the little things that can make a coach beloved by a large portion of the school's base. It's not that Muschamp can't or won't get a big-time job, but the chances are somewhat slimmer than most people might expect.

As for a short list of guys that might look attractive as possible replacements, here's who jumps out to me, although some of these guys might be regarded as very unlikely:

John Chavis (Tennessee), Bud Foster (Virginia Tech), Jim Heacock (Ohio State) and Willie Martinez (Georgia).

Q: (EnmuQB3) - In the past the coaches have not trusted freshmen (on the offensive side of the ball) enough for them to have an impact until an injury or a loss. An example would be that Ced Benson did not play until after OU. Fozzy has been injured but could have helped early vs. TTU, especially seeing as they said CO was nursing an ankle since Mizzou. Malcolm Williams broke out because Quan was on the sideline with a back injury. Is it that the coaches are loyal to the upper classmen? Are the freshmen not practicing well leading up to the games? Do they just need 9 games into a season to develop or learn the playbook? We will be forced to use the younger guys this week vs. Baylor and I think you will see some great things from those guys. Also, when you need more "explosives" it would benefit to have Desean Hales, D.J. Grant or D.J. Monroe at least stretching the field for the underneath stuff to open up. What do you think?

A: Let's not forget that this Texas team was undefeated and rolling on offense before last week, so let's give Greg Davis some credit. I think it's probably a combination of things if you're trying to figure out why it took an injury for Williams to have a breakout performance. The combination of Jordan Shipley/Quan Cosby has been the focal point of the passing game and it had been very successful for the first eight games of the season. I think the young guys have been a little inconsistent (we saw seven dropped passes last week) and they've probably lacked some true opportunities through this season, but that's going to happen once you get into the season full-swing. Texas has been trying to win games more than they are trying to take time to develop all of their young players and I think everyone should respect that. Had the team lost to Oklahoma, but Mack Brown mentioned after the game that at least the offense was able to get Williams, Brandon Collins and James Kirkendoll some quality opportunities as a plus in the aftermath of the game, there would have been riots in the streets. I think you have to chalk some of this into the "Not everything you want to accomplish during the course of a season gets done" category.

Q: (UT82) - 1)During Mack's tenure, how many games during the second half of a season have the Horns either lost to a team they shouldn't have, or appeared completely unprepared for requiring an almost miraculous comeback (think Ok State, think Major A, think Big 12 Championship-Colorado, etc)? My point is: what we witnessed last Saturday, we have already seen numerous times. Two years ago we lost to Kansas State, only to appear unprepared for A&M. (Yes, I know Colt got hurt, but the record is what it is.) Are we going to lose one of these last three, and then see Mack get mad and kick ass for a while?? When will our coaches recognize the trend and take steps to address it. When you consider the number of years involved, the only common denominator are the coaches, particularly Mack, GD and McWhorter.

2) I am convinced that the defenses in the Big 12 are not that bad, but the QB's are very good and the league wants more offense and encourages offensive holding that resembles the WWF. The only person making more tackles than Brian Orakpo is usually the person blocking him. It is too obvious to ignore. Is it deliberate?

3)Scheduling. How does it work in the Big 12? I don't mean the rotation of opponents, but how do they decide to give us the gauntlet we just had, while OU seems to get a well-timed week off or well-timed easy game?


A: I can tell you are a bit frustrated, but probably no more frustrated than USC fans after they lost to Oregon State or Florida fans after they lost to Ole Miss. Parity is such in college football right now that if you have a bad night, especially while playing on the road, you can lose to just about anyone if they are receiving good quarterback play and can catch a little fire. I do understand that the Longhorns have had a lot of late-season losses during Mack Brown's tenure and some of them have occurred because the team simply wasn't dialed in, but I don't think that was the case last weekend. I saw a team that was mentally into the game, but they looked tired, beaten up and they just didn't execute well. That's a recipe for losing if I've ever seen one. As for the rest of the season, it's tough to call it as it stands. I think this weekend is going to prove to be a very tough challenge for this team and the game in Lawrence next week has trap city written all over it.

As for your second question, I don't think there's any question that Big 12 officials are not putting an emphasis on calling holding penalties. After watching the Texas/Oklahoma and Texas/Tech game, I'm not sure that the best technique to teach offensive linemen these days isn't MMA-style takedowns. Why not? If nothing is going to be called, let's see how much slack they actually have.

Finally, the schedule rotation in the Big 12 is the same as it has been since the inception of the league. If you're Texas, you get Kansas, Missouri and Colorado twice every four years, and if they all happen to be terrible during that time, you get a little lucky. On the other hand, if you get them when they are good, it's tough luck. Keep in mind that Texas did not have to play either Kansas or Missouri last season when both were very, very good, but it didn't matter as much because the Longhorns were a 9-3 team and not in the national title mix.

Q: (4th&5fromthe8) - How do the circumstances of Buck Burnette's departure affect the chemistry of the team, which we've all heard is at an all time high? What, if anything, are the players saying?

A: When you consider that Mack Brown acted so swiftly in cutting Burnette loose from the program, I don't think it has any impact. It's an unfortunate situation, but it's over and I doubt that there are any long-lasting ramifications. I think it's probably a non-issue to a large degree. It would probably be a different deal if Burnette had been a front-line player and not just a seldom-used back-up.

Q: (Texaztom) - Geoff, are you hearing anything along the lines of Jordan Shipley opting for the NFL, even if he is granted a 6th year? Some are saying his fear of exposure to additional injury might be causing him to think about it.

A: I talked to a good source on this matter a couple of weeks ago and I was told that Shipley will return unless he's expected to be selected in the first three rounds. If that were the case, he'd certainly have something to think about, but at this point I have not heard that his pro stock is that high.,

Q: (Stampedingsteer) - We recruit a lot of good talent in our secondary over the years, but we seem not to have anybody that leads the league in interceptions. What do you think it is that lends to our DB's having so few picks most years? I believe Texas Tech has around 15 picks this season, how many do our DB's have and how would you compare the two secondaries - is it something besides just our youth? I saw a Tech defender dive for an interception against Texas A&M, but I do not see the same effort by our men; at least twice I saw Curtis Brown and Earl Thomas each reach out for passes that they barely missed, but Tech completed for big gains (maybe 3rd down conversions). If they would have dove for the ball, we at least knock it down and keep Tech from big gains. Also, Coach Boom said Thomas was going for the pick on the pass to Michael Crabtree - it seems he was being kind as Earl was nowhere close to the ball and seemed to be jogging. At worst he should have been laying a lick on Crabtree as the ball was being caught, making Teck kick a 22-yard field goal at a difficult angle from the far right hash. What is your take on Crabtree touchdown? Lastly about the DB's, is Chykie recovering from injury, in the academic doghouse, both or something else?

A: One of the most frustrating aspects of the defense this season has been the lack of turnovers created. At the moment the Longhorns rank as one of the worst teams in the nation when it comes to forcing turnovers, so it's not just a secondary issue because nobody is really forcing them. I do think the youth in the secondary is an issue there and a lot of that is what comes with having a bunch of young guys that were just trying to survive early in the season. I'm not sure what the answer is and I'm sure the staff feels the same way. They practice stripping the ball and catching interceptions intensely every day, but it has not translated to the field. As for that final play, I'm not sure that anyone has a really good explanation for what happened and we might never have an answer that satisfies your needs. Finally, the situation with Brown is a weird one because we've had a hard time finding a lot of information on the matter, but Chip Brown did have a source earlier this week tell him that the playing time issues are not completely injury-related.

Q: (Radmanmadman) - What is the physical status of the team after the TT game? Are a lot of the guys beat up or are we pretty healthy and ready to go for Baylor? I know Orakpo and Cosby will be sitting, but anyone else not at 100%?

A: This team is beat up physically and mentally after this four-game stretch, and with an early start time this weekend, I question whether they'll be ready to go. I haven't heard of anyone else being forced to sit out this week because of injury, but the team has been more tight-lipped about injuries this season than I can ever remember. When the injury report came out last week, not a single player was listed. However, Cosby was hurt last week and it wasn't mentioned. The same is apparently true with Chykie Brown and Chris Ogbonnaya. I think it's probably time that the school just not put out an injury report because they haven't been very straight-forward about them and I would expect all media outlets that cover the team to start becoming more independent in their tracking of such information.

Q: (Benutex2) - It seems like Jamarcus McFarland has repeatedly stated that, among other things, game day atmosphere might loom large in his decision-making process. Seeing as how he attended OU-Kansas followed by LSU-Georgia (at night):

1) What do you think this reveals, if anything, regarding his views on Texas?

2) Is there any chance or word on whether he will make it back to DKR for the A&M game?


A: I'm not sure it says much about what he thinks about Texas, other than he probably felt like after visiting Texas so many times, he didn't need to see a big-game atmosphere to get a feeling for the school. I don't think it's close to ideal to have him come in this weekend for a morning game that the fan base will likely struggle to get fired up for. The game environment will likely pail in comparison to the places that he's already visited, but the good news is that he's been to games in Austin in the past.

If he makes it back to Austin for the Texas A&M game, I think he likely makes the visit as a Texas commitment. Otherwise, I think he'll shut down the trip-taking until he's ready to make a decision because this process has really been a grind for him.

Q: (Tequilasteve) - Do we have any players on the current roster that could play a role like Ramonce Taylor played for this team during 2005? Is this a role that we are looking to fill (I think it would be an extremely effective added piece to this offense)? How do you see us generating explosive plays in the OU game given our current personnel?

A: The lack of explosive playmakers at the running back position is a definite hole on the roster, but they do have some young redshirting weapons that could give them a little bit of that versatile offensive firepower. As this team moves into the 2009 season, keep an eye on D.J. Monroe and Desean Hales because they both have game-breaking potential.

Q: (MCB0703) - If Tech beats OSU, Oklahoma beats Tech and Texas wins out, who would have the highest BCS ranking?

A: That's probably impossible to answer at this point because we haven't seen the type of collusion in the human polls that we likely will see down the stretch once the second national campaign season starts.


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