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August 23, 2008

The winners and not-so-winners from training camp

One week from today, the real New Year's in 2008 will be celebrated. College football stadiums will open, cheerleaders in chaps will cheer and hearts will pound like the marching band with the world's biggest drum.

Magically, you'll forget you could have bought a new, north end luxury suite for the price of filling up your gas tank this year.

Vince Young (cue the angels singing) will help christen the new DKR the way Judge Smails christened his schooner in Caddyshack. The Longhorns have to make sure Florida Atlantic's Rusty Smith, Howard Schnellenberger and 18 returning Owl starters don't play the role of Al Czervic's powerboat Seafood.

The atmosphere will be so electrified, you'll swear the $12 bottled water tastes like it's only $10. Vondrell McGee and Foswhitt Whittaker will start making their case as the greatest tandem tailbacks at UT since Priest Holmes and Shon Mitchell. Yes, Colt McCoy still looks younger than a Chinese gymnast, but he has been working on a newfound maturity in the pocket.

This year, there should actually be a pocket thanks to an improved offensive line.

On defense, once the secondary puts down the Similac, a bunch of freshmen safeties will try to stare down the likes of Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Graham Harrell.

Seven days people. Let that marinate. Lamarr Houston a.k.a "I'll relocate QBs to Houston"; Brian Orakpo a.k.a. "I will Rak you" (OK, maybe not); and Sergio Kindle a.k.a "QBs are my prey" Kindle; will attempt to recreate a pass rush not seen on the 40 Acres since Tony Brackens was dismantling Texas Tech punters and John Mackovic's noggin.

ESPN's Joe Shad says Texas is the most overrated team in the Big 12. Will Muschamp says he wants Texas to be the most overachieving team in the Big 12. Who will be right?

Mack Brown told Mel Kiper Jr. 2009 is probably the year for some magic to happen. But who can wait until then?

One week from today, we'll all be outside, sweating like Whitney Houston for America's real favorite pastime. So go grab your flask, foam finger and fire-grilled grub and find a parking spot to start the tailgate. It's only seven days away.

Until then, let's wrap up training camp …

ON FIRE: Colt McCoy, Lamarr Houston, Earl Thomas

These guys never seemed to have a bad day in camp. Not a bad thing considering they are playing three of the most critical positions on this year's team.

SOMEBODY LIGHT A FIRE: Tray Allen, Montre Webber, Trevor Gerland

No time like the present to start your college career.

WILLIAMS WHO HIT THE WALL: Malcolm Williams

Maybe the weekend off will be just what he needs to come back fresh and ready to rock.

WILLIAMS WHO CLEARED THE WALL: Aaron Williams

Big, fast and physical. Williams will make it easier for Mack Brown to live up to his pledge to get young talent on the field.

HARD HAT AWARDS: Christian Scott, Blake Gideon

Both moved ahead of the competition at safety because they will sacrifice their body to knock you out.

APPLYING PRESSURE: Sam Acho

There's a reason his first play in college was a sack.

TRICKERATION: The Q Package

The Q and more trick plays could mean Holiday Bowl entertainment year round.

CONFIDENCE TRANSPLANT: Coach Boom

He has got players believing anything is possible.

THE FRECKLE FACTOR: The Major

His edge and emphasis on the running backs getting more involved in the passing game could help Texas overcome a lack of depth at receiver.

FIVE REASONS TO BE CONCERNED

1. Young safeties - One bite on a Rusty Smith look-off, and it could be six points for the Hooters from FAU.

2. Still searching for a third receiver - Do the candidates realize Limas Sweed is now trying to hide food from Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh?

3. How will Texas run the ball? - Texas didn't figure out its ground game until Week 9 last year - and that was with Jamaal Charles in the backfield.

4. The schedule - Nine bowl teams from 2007 and 11 returning starters at quarterback.

5. Did we mention the young safeties?

FIVE REASONS TO BE EXCITED:

1. A new-look pass rush - Will Muschamp has spent hours awake at night trying to get this part of the defense jump-started.

2. Linebackers are dialed in - Last year's linebackers coach is gone. Jared Norton slimmed down. Rod Muckelroy beefed up. Sergio Kindle is healthy. Rashad Bobino can bench 450. Will Muschamp is now their coach. Enough said.

3. Depth on the offensive line - All the Musical-Guard-Tackle-Center played last year should pay off in experience and Colt McCoy being upright.

4. Depth at cornerback - Ryan Palmer has had an outstanding camp, and Chykie Brown and Aaron Williams will keep a fire lit under Deon Beasley.

5. Expanded DKR - There's a whole bunch of new concrete to reverberate more sound. Texas and Ohio State are the two biggest athletic department budgets in Division I. Now Mack Brown wants Texas to have the same kind of noisy home field advantage Ohio State gets every week in the Horseshoe.

Would love to stick around, but my 5-year-old just ran off with my bleacher seat cushion and eye black.


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