Wed Jan 25 03:34pm EST
Here we are, exactly one week from National Signing Day, and the road has taken some interesting twists and turns for the Longhorns over the last week.
--- Mario Edwards eliminated Texas from consideration last week and on Monday, after returning home from his LSU visit, he completely shut down the recruiting process and reaffirmed his long-standing commitment to Florida State. This one was fun for Longhorn fans to follow for a while, including Edwards telling some folks during the week of the Under Armour All-American Game that Texas was on top of his list, but Texas always seemed like a longshot.
Credit to the UT staff for getting Edwards on campus and making a very strong impression during his official visit, but if one steps back and looks at this one objectively, there was little chance that Edwards would pull the rug out from under FSU in the 11th hour. Edwards had been committed to Florida State since March, his dad's played there and it was hard to envision a scenario where he'd spurn the Seminoles down the stretch. The Texas coaches (and the current group of 2012 recruits) did a tremendous job of giving the 5-star DE something to think about, but the longstanding ties to FSU were just too much to overcome.
--- What to make of the Dorial Green-Bekcham sweepstakes with one week left? Here's a hint ... it's very similar to last week's update in that even those closest to this one do not know how it will turn out. Ask five different sources and you get five different answers.
Some notes of interest. DGB's visit to Arkansas last weekend is said to have gone well, but it is worth noting that neither of his parents accompanied him on the trip. Arkansas is expected to do an in-home visit with the Beckhams on Thursday (Head Coach Bobby Petrino won't be involved). Missouri is expected to send in a flurry of seven assistant coaches to Hillcrest High School throughout the day on Wednesday. As of this morning, Green-Beckham is still scheduled to take an official visit to Missouri this weekend. His entire family is expected to go with him, which is not at all insignificant.
People we've talked to close to the Missouri side of things feel the Tigers have some serious momentum, and there's some thought that Missouri will consider it an upset if it doesn't land him. That being said, people in Arkansas have also expressed confidence. As we've said all along, I'm not sure anyone would call Texas the leader at this point, but we continue to hear that the Longhorns are in the mix and if Austin was closer to Springfield, Texas would probably be the team to beat.
We've been leaning towards Arkansas winning this sweepstakes, but lately the buzz seems to be tilting toward Missouri. Truth be told, even those closely involved in this one are still wondering how it will turn out and this one will probably have people guessing all the way until his announcement on the morning of February 1.
--- Texas has been in contact with Plano West DE Bryce Cottrell the past couple days, and word we received this afternoon has Cottrell taking an official visit to Texas this weekend. Cottrell gas been committed to Oregon for three months. Talking to people who know him, we've heard nothing but rave reviews about Cottrell's character, and his commitment to the Oregon staff has him torn between the Ducks and the Longhorns before this weekend's visit.
Texas will have its chance to win Cottrell over, and the Horns don't lose out on many of these types of recruitments. With the understanding that we have not had direct communication with Cottrell, we'll give Texas the slight edge in this one.
--- Joining Cottrell in Austin will be Van linebacker Dalton Santos, who confirmed to us on Sunday that Texas had extended a verbal scholarship offer and he'd be taking an official visit to UT this coming weekend.
In talking to Santos on Sunday, he called the offer from UT "a huge honor." He's still committed to Tennessee and although he didn't come out and say it this week, it will be a major upset if the Longhorns don't win out on his commitment. Even people in Tennessee have all but conceded this one is over.
--- The on-again, off-again visit of Pflugerville Hendrickson speedster Daje Johnson is back on the table, with Johnson expected to be the third uncommitted player to take a visit this weekend. Here's what you need to know about Johnson ... he's a kid who has wanted to be at Texas for a while, but he's also been committed to TCU since March of last year so there is a sense of loyalty to the Horned Frog coaches.
One thing Texas will have to battle ... we've heard that TCU has all but guaranteed Johnson that he'll get playing time as a freshman. Texas probably can't (and doesn't) make that same promise but if the UT staff can convince Johnson that he'll have a chance to contribute early, Texas would seem to have the inside track on this one.
--- Random rumor - we're
hearing that a certain 2013 prospect will be given the Garrett Gilbert
treatment (get an official offer and commit the day after National Signing
Day). Stay tuned.
From the OB Mailbag:
If you had to
predict our first 5 commits for the 2013 class who would they be and when do
they go down?
Very good question. You have to know that Texas will come out of the first junior day weekend with more than five commitments, but it's hard to pinpoint which guys will be the first to receiver their offer and pull the trigger.
Shot in the dark, give me Jake Raulerson, Kent Perkins, Darius James, Naashon Hughes and ... throw in A'Shawn Robinson.
The last one's especially tricky because I think Texas is the clear leader for guys like Ricky Seals-Jones, Jake Oliver and Deon Hollins, but I'm not sure any of the three jump at an offer as soon as one's extended.
We'll have a better feel for this one as the Horns' first junior day on February 12 draws near.
As good as Justin Tucker was as a PK, he was below average as a punter. This was detrimental for field position; especially when pinned deep our own side. How can Texas not find anyone on campus that can regularly boot it 40+ yards in the air. This was a definite recruiting failure on the staff's part. What does Mack have planned to fix this? Do we need an open campus tryout ala Mike Leach?
Texas has certainly struggled in the punting department and yes, the Longhorns have lost key yardage in games where field position has been important. The problem with recruiting a punter is that, for whatever reason, it can be extremely difficult to predict how a player will perform when he gets to campus. Texas hasn't exactly hit a home run in that department in years past.
It looks like the Longhorns will go into the 2012 season content to work with the guys on campus. Will Russ is expected to get the first look, but people we've talked to said he has to improve on his consistency if he's going to win the job. He'll hit a bomb on one kick only to come back the next time with a lackluster kick. David Ash has a terrific leg and he can kick the ball out of the stadium in warm-ups, but he's never punted in a college game and the coaches want him to work on getting the ball off quicker.
As you mentioned, there is always the possibility of finding a walk-on to handle the job, and at some point it wouldn't be a horrible idea to look the way of a proven JUCO punter if Texas continues to struggle. The punting and place-kicking game will be one of the most interesting stories to follow in the spring.
Wed Jan 18 03:40pm EST
The back and forth over quarterback recruiting in the 2013 class already has me pulling my hair out. Am I alone?
It seems the Longhorn fan base has already taken sides - team Tyrone Swoopes or team J.T. Barrett - and a full-blown QB controversy has already developed, long before the first offer has even been extended. This situation is already resembling the 2009 debate that had the Texas coaches making what at the time appeared to be a difficult decision between all-everything prospects Garrett Gilbert and Russell Shepard (it turns out, there was no right choice in that debate, as we all now know).
Here's where we stand as of Wednesday. Swoopes, a five-star prospect, will be in Austin on February 12 for a Longhorn junior day. Barrett has been in communication with the Texas staff but has not locked down a junior day invitation. Not yet.
Everyone has an opinion on how this one should be handled by the Texas coaches, and that's part of what makes recruiting fun. But people need to let go of the idea that there is some concrete right or wrong answer. And at some point, you just have to have faith that the Texas coaches have a good handle on what they're doing here and they'll make the right choice.
Fans, and even reporters like those of us at Orangebloods.com, have our opinions, but most people are formulating their thoughts off a handful of highlight clips they've watched or evaluations from random folks who may have watched one game from either prospect.
I promise, the Texas coaches know more about this than you. Or me. Or just about anyone else. They've poured over film. They've spent hours talking to the prospect, their families, their coaches, their opponents' coaches. They've spent time with both players at a Longhorn football camp over the summer, where UT offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin had a chance to work out both players side by side (Swoopes actually stayed for a three-day camp).
It's fun to project. It's fun to have an opinion. But it's also important to remember that the Texas coaches have a lot more experience, a lot more resources than do anyone else, and the success of their livelihood largely depends on them making proper evaluations. It can certainly be argued that the decision to put so much stock in the Gilbert selection in 2009 set the foundation for the program's struggles the past two years, but that decision came under a different staff. Harsin has shown he can develop quarterbacks and Major Applewhite's work as a talent evaluator is exceptional (including at the QB position, his bread and butter).
There's an argument to be made that Barrett could be the "safe" choice of the two because many feel he'd jump at a UT offer if one was presented. Whatever happens, Texas needs a home run at the QB position (which could very well still come from David Ash or one of the incoming freshmen), and if the UT coaches feel Swoopes is that type of player, fans should try to get behind the decision and have faith that they're making the right call.
Only one thins is for certain ... if the wrong call is made, the coaches will surely hear about it.
Some news (and thoughts) on the nation's top prospect, Springfield Hillcrest WR Dorial Green-Beckham ...
Rumors continue to fly and the speculation is really all over the map. Some feel it's down to Texas and Arkansas. Others have Arkansas and OU in the lead. Missouri is said to be making a late push. There's even been talk this week that Green-Beckham has settled on a decision (Arkansas), meaning Texas is out of the mix.
DGB and his camp continue to play things extremely close to the vest. Here's what we feel comfortable with after making some calls this week.
Coaches from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri are expected to be in Springfield on Wednesday. Texas assistant coach Darrell Wyatt will make his way in for a visit later this week, and Texas head coach Mack Brown is expected to make an in-home visit sometime next week.
Green-Beckham is expected to take an official visit to Arkansas on Saturday and Sunday. Missouri is a strong possibility for a visit the weekend of January 27. A commitment announcement is set for signing day, February 1.
No school has been officially eliminated, we're told. Green-Beckham and his family have kept the lines of communication open with the coaches who have invested countless hours recruiting Dorial. Dorial's father, John Beckham, is also his head coach at Hillcrest. Mr. Beckham is not one to play games and waste the time of the coaches involved. If a school had been eliminated, the thought among everyone is that the coaches of that program would have been given a heads up so they're not wasting their time getting back and forth to Springfield.
The gut feel ... this one's still open. There does seem to be a feel that Arkansas could be ahead of the pack at this stage, but with key in-home visits still on the table, nothing is set in stone.
From the OB Mailbag:
What happened with Bo Wallace? Why the major interest then all the sudden nothing. I think we should have brought him in to up the competition if nothing else.
From what I've been told, the interest was more on the part of Wallace than it was on Texas. If you remember, when word first broke that Wallace had talked with UT offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, Wallace was told he and Harsin would talk again later that week to discuss the final details of a possible visit.
I've heard through the grapevine that it was actually Wallace that initiated the contact with Texas. The UT staff met after Wallace and Harsin's initial conversation and after weighing its options, which include David Ash, Case McCoy (whose return was being questioned by some at the time of the Wallace news) and incoming freshmen Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet, the Texas coaches decided to move forward with the guys on campus.
Fans' expectations of Ash were a little unrealistic in 2011, but the coaches have confidence he'll make steady progress beginning this spring. That also played a part in the decision.
What are our chances with Torshiro Davis. I hear he knows Texas is the right decision because they want him to play linebacker and an inside source very close to him tells him Texas is the right choice. What's our chances he changes and comes to Texas?
You're partly correct. People very close to Davis feel his future is brightest as a pass-rushing defensive end, where he can pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. Those beliefs were solidified in their eyes when Davis played linebacker at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Of his three finalists (Texas, Alabama and LSU), only the Longhorns are recruiting him as a defensive end.
Davis is from Shreveport and he's been committed to LSU for more than 11 months. Anyone who has followed recruiting understands that LSU just doesn't miss out on these types of recruits very often. That being said, some people who have a tremendous influence on Davis have informed him repeatedly that they feel Texas is his best option due to the defensive end situation and his longstanding relationship with UT assistant coach Bo Davis.
There was a time when Davis was really listening, we've been told. In fact, we hear he told people privately in the past that UT was his leader but he wanted to keep that quiet in order to minimize the pressure from the local LSU fans. A surprise commitment to Texas has been discusses behind closed doors, but it wasn't going to happen until National Signing Day so people wouldn't have time to harass him about his decision. However, as signing day draws closer, those thoughts have seemed to fade and Davis is again strongly in LSU's corner.
"People don't understand the pressure he's under," a person close to him said. "If he went to Texas, he'd be worried about his family staying in Shreveport. That just wouldn't go over well (with people in the area) and it's something he's starting to think about."
Wed Nov 16 05:07pm EST
I believe Mack Brown, but ...
who has paid any attention to Mack Brown's press conferences over the years
knows that Mack's not always the most forthcoming coach in America when it
comes to injuries. It's been that way for years, but Mack's taken things to new
heights in 2011 when seemingly every injured player
"It's just a flesh
wound" is described as being available for play.
A lot of fans were upset with Mack (and Orangebloods, and insiders, and anyone else who had an opinion) last week when Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown were scratched just prior to the kick-off with Missouri. It got so bad that Mack actually addressed the subject at the very top of his Monday press conference in his opening statements, before he was even asked.
The way Mack described it, both Bergeron and Brown were limited in practice during the week but the thought was that both would make enough improvements to make them available on Saturday, even if it was on a limited basis. The team's final workout of each gameweek is on Thursday, so there is a bit of guesswork on the part of the trainers in the 48 hours leading up to kick-off, Mack said. On Saturday morning, both Brown and Bergeron tried to run in pre-game and it was decided by the trainers that neither had made enough improvement late in the week to give it a go. "We're not going to put a young man on the field that has a chance to get hurt worse," Mack said.
That explanation, of course, wasn't accepted by many and Mack was described as being, shall we say, disingenuous. Not sure I get that. The coaches, Longhorn players and others close to the freshman backs thought they would play but nothing was ever set in stone. It didn't turn out the way most thought it would, and I fail to see where that's any fault of Mack's (unless, you want to question why Bergeron was in late in the first place against Texas Tech when he aggravated his hamstring).
Texas does try to issue some sort of injury report late in the week, mostly detailing guys that are known to be out. The next step, Mack said (only somewhat tongue in cheek), is to not release any information ... none ... as some other programs choose to do (like this week's opponent, Kansas State).
The best choice is a philosophy similar to the NFL, where players are listed as out, doubtful, questionable or probable. In the case of Brown and Bergeron, call them what they are ... gametime decisions.
I understand the need to keep opponents guessing in regards to personnel and especially scheme. But would it really have helped Missouri one bit last week had it known that Brown/Bergeron's availability wouldn't be known until right before kickoff? The obvious answer there is no. If you want to keep secrets about special packages, trick plays or secret personnel weapons, that's one thing, but the midweek vagaries on injury reports haven't helped anyone steal a win for a long time.
I don't doubt that Mack and the coaches didn't fully know until Saturday morning that Brown and Bergeron wouldn't be available. I talked to enough people during the week that said the same thing - they thought Brown would "probably" be on the field. I get that. But if you don't know, just say you don't know and quit trying to keep everyone guessing in what comes across as a feeble attempt to get a leg up on the opponent.
While I'm at it, why is UT seemingly the only school in the country that doesn't allow access to summer camps, unsanctioned off-season 7-on-7 workouts and the like? I'll save that rant for another day.
SOME EARLY THOUGHTS ON KANSAS STATE
Someone please explain to me the logic of Texas being a 9 1/2 point favorite over a very good Kansas State team. This is a K-State team that seems to be playing better football than Texas, it has historically dominated the Longhorns and Texas' injury situation is still very much up in the air. The Longhorns have the advantage of playing at home on senior night in what should be an emotionally charged atmosphere, but this one seems like a toss-up at best.
We'll begin to really break down the match-ups on Thursday and maybe we'll discover some weaknesses there that tip the scales in UT's favor, but the guess right now is that if the Longhorns are going to have to win, they're going to have to do it with a dominating defensive performance. Texas hasn't exactly been able to come up with that kind of showing against Kansas State's physical style of play in the past, so Manny Diaz's troops will really have to be on top of their game.
I'm going to assume Jaxon Shipley's probably out. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are the wildcards. If either or both of those two are available, this game's close to a coinflip in my opinion. If the freshmen backs can't go, it's going to be hard to pick against KSU.
CAN'T WAIT TO SEE WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Saturday's UT career-ending injury to senior running back Fozzy Whittaker really hit home with those inside the program. Mack Brown opened his weekly press conference on Monday by talking about what Whittaker has meant to this year's team and the UT program as a whole. Just about every Longhorn player this week spoke of overcoming Whittaker's loss, including some emotional moments from Blake Gideon.
Whittaker's been dealt a lot of bad hands over the course of his UT career, but he's always been a guy that's kept a positive outlook and he was no different this week after suffering a severe knee injury against Missouri.
I had the pleasure of talking to Whittaker's mother, Gloria, this summer for a story I wrote that gave some insight into Whittaker's strength and character. Having watched Fozzy during his time in Austin and knowing he has such an incredible support network of family and friends, I have no doubts that Whittaker will bounce back and leave his mark in one way or another.
Good luck to one of the true good guys on his latest challenge.
AND NOW FROM THE LIGHTER SIDE
Those Russians sure get hands-on with their news ...
Wed Oct 26 06:02pm EDT
Six games into the season, there really have been no surprises for the Longhorns. Texas has defeated four mediocre to poor teams that it was better than on paper, and the Longhorns have stumbled twice to two opponents who are simply better football teams right now.
Saturday night will be more of the same with Texas picking up an easy win over one of the country's worst football teams in Kansas. After that, things get a little more dicey.
If the first half of the season went according to plan, the second half of 2011 will be a real opportunity for the Texas coaches to earn their money. Mack Brown said this week that he's expected all year that this team would have a big "learning curve" due to the new coaches and the youth at key positions. Now it's time to see if the Horns can live up to those expectations and make significant strides down the stretch.
At this point of the 2010 season, the Longhorns held the same 4-2 record they do this year. We all know what happened after that, with a demoralizing home loss to Iowa State sending the team into a tailspin from which it would never recover. It's inconceivable to think that the same thing could happen this year in week 7 (yes, Kansas is that bad), but what about in the weeks after that? How will Texas respond if it stumbles at home to Texas Tech next week (and beyond ... the schedule doesn't get much easier)?
This team seems to have a mental toughness and focus that last year's club lacked, that's the good news. On the flipside, I'm still not sure the 2011 Longhorns have enough talent at key positions to be consistently good enough down the stretch to string together several wins. A win against Kansas is a given, and a couple beyond that seems reasonable. But if Texas is going to make significant strides in the second half of the season, Mack better be right about that learning curve.
The season's halfway over and it's gone according to plan. At this point, you can throw all future prognostications out the window because this season could make dramatic swings from week to week.
Should be a fun ride over the next six weeks.
Sidenote ... I've heard a lot of people say that they felt Texas Tech would be an easy win for the Longhorns until they saw what Tech did to Oklahoma in Norman last week.
My question ... what Tech team were those people watching that seemed to indicate an automatic win for Texas? The Red Raiders are averaging 43.4 ppg this year (37 ppg in their two losses). This is clearly a team that's going to put points on the board when it visits Austin next weekend, and the Texas offense hasn't exactly shown that it can consistently light up the scoreboard.
Texas should be able to hold Tech below its scoring average and the Horns should have push for 30 points against a suspect Red Raider defense, but that game is no way a cakewalk for Texas. Never was.
SOME EARLY THOUGHTS ON KANSAS
I understand the need for Texas to stay focused from week to week, so it comes as no surprise that Mack Brown was making Kansas out to be the Green Bay Packers in his Monday meeting with the press.
Mack has to give each opponent its due and pile heaps of praise on even the worst team on the schedule. I don't.
Kansas is an atrocious football team. After winning its first two games of the season (including a 45-42 squeaker over Northern Illinois), the Jayhawks have dropped five straight. In those losses, the Jayhawks have given up a whopping 287 points (57.4 ppg). The Jayhawks are dead last out of 120 FBS teams in scoring defense, a full three points worse than the team in front of them.
Terrible. Simply put, this will be one of the worst teams to play in Austin in a long time.
Not only will Texas win, this game should be the perfect antidote for a Longhorn offense that's still trying to carve out its niche. The quarterbacks should have success throwing the ball. Texas should be able to stretch its legs and throw the ball downfield against a horrible Kansas pass defense. Malcolm Brown and the other UT backs should be able to approach season highs in yardage totals.
The Jayhawks rank in the bottom two of all teams in college football in passing defense, rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense. If Texas even remotely struggles in this one or has problems in the red zone, it won't be a good sign looking down the road. This one should be over by halftime.
A LITTLE BIT OF RECRUITING TALK
Lots of discussion when UT 5-star wide receiver commitment Cayleb Jones (@Cayleb_JonesTx4) tweeted that he'd be taking a visit to Auburn. No surprise there.
Some thoughts on this week's developments ...
When I talked to Jones' father this week, he seemed generally surprised that there was even discussion that his son would switch his commitment. Mr. Jones was pretty clear that his son is locked in for Texas and has no intentions of switching his commitment.
The pending trip to Auburn was described as a chance for Jones to go visit his cousin, Auburn WR Emory Blake. The plan was to visit Blake in Baton Rouge last week during Auburn's trip to play LSU, but the family was unable to work that trip out.
When I talked to Mr. Jones on Tuesday, the family had not yet discussed Cayleb's possible Auburn visit with the UT coaches. As Mr. Jones put it, Texas is secure with their place in Cayleb's recruitment and he viewed it as such a non-issue it wasn't a topic that needed to be addressed. If Texas had an issue, Mr. Jones said, the UT coaches have a good enough relationship with the Jones family that they could pick up the phone and talk it out.
One has to assume that Texas would strongly prefer that Cayleb does not take the visit, so it will be interesting to see if anything changes. Texas certainly feels comfortable that it will hold onto Jones' commitment, as it should. And Jones wanting to take advantage of a rare opportunity to spend some time with his cousin, with whom he's very close, makes sense. That being said, if you're Texas, even if there's only a 1 percent chance that the trip could cause Jones to have second thoughts on his commitment, that's not a chance you want to take.
As of right now, I fully expect Jones to sign with the Longhorns in February. I feel pretty confident saying that. But the issue with another visit is that anything can happen when a kid spends a couple days on another campus. Will Auburn make a strong enough impression to give Jones reason for second thoughts? Jones could have the most innocent of intentions on his way out to Auburn, but who's to say something won't blow him away while he's on campus? Not likely, but not impossible either.
Jones has grown up a fan of the Longhorns. He lives in the shadows of the Forty Acres. He's been one of UT's most active recruiters. He's already developed a close bond with several Longhorn commitments and current team members. There are a lot of factors weighing heavily in UT's favor and while I still fully expect Jones to stick with Texas, any time a kid is taking an official visit to another program, and I don't care who it is, it's something to watch.
Speaking of visits, Brenham head coach Glenn West was very clear in telling us on Wednesday morning that star DT Malcom Brown was solid in his commitment to Texas and not looking at other options.
Like Jones, look for Brown to play his college ball in Austin. But don't think for a second that other colleges, namely OU and Texas A&M, won't be on Brown like sharks drawn to blood in the water. I doubt it will be enough, especially if Brenham LB Tim Cole sticks with UT as expected. But fans might want to prepare for rumors on this one to pop up over the next few months.
Of note, a person I trust told me Brown was recently asked if he was serious about some of the talk of visiting OU. Brown, always a man of few words, replied with a simple "no."
Gotta love recruiting.
VINCE YOUNG IS SUPERMAN
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO A CHARLIE'S ANGEL, AND A TEXAN ...
Native Houstonian and Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith turns 64 today.
Wed Oct 12 01:49pm EDT
Texas returns home from a disappointing and demoralizing loss to Oklahoma, falling 55-17 in a game that really wasn't even as close as the final score indicates.
So many questions from that game, but two stand out above all. Can the Longhorns bounce back in a hurry with a potent Oklahoma State team heading to Austin this weekend? And, is this Longhorn team similar to last year's squad that struggled to a 5-7 record, or is Texas' solid 4-1 record a more accurate reflection? We'll know the answers to both questions at halftime of this week's game.
Why halftime? Because to me, it's all about how the team starts. If the Horns come out and are competitive through the first 30 minutes, last week's blowout can be considered a bit of an anomaly. OU is clearly the superior team, but are the Sooners really five touchdowns better than Texas, or did the Horns simply hand over too many gifts? On the surface, one would assume the latter with OU scoring three defensive TDs (although to be fair, Texas scored one of its two TDs on special teams), but I'm still not completely sure what to make of the 2011 Longhorns. With so much youth on the roster, and with last year's 5-7 mark still fresh in my mind, I'm not yet willing to stick my neck out and say this team is ready to compete with the upper-echelon of the Big 12. Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. The first 30 minutes of the Oklahoma State game will provide answers.
A few thoughts that have been running through my mind this week ...
--- I'm not sure I like hearing so many players (or coaches) saying that Saturday's loss largely boiled down to correctable mistakes. Emmanuel Acho went as far as saying in watching the film it felt like a one-score loss rather than a 38-point drubbing.
I don't necessarily disagree that some mistakes are pretty easily correctable (particularly the turnovers), but those are the EXACT same words we heard last year as the losses continued to pile up. Each week the team seemed to always mention that it was a missed block here, a bad read by the QB there, a dropped pass, a blown defensive assignment away from turning the corner. Longhorn fans need to hope the UT coaches and players aren't using the same "correctable mistakes" line next week.
--- Oklahoma blew up just about every trick play Texas attempted last week before the play had a chance to develop. Part of that was OU being able to pin its ears back and owning the line of scrimmage, but Bryan Harsin may have to dig a little deeper into his bag of tricks as teams continue to find a blueprint for defending the Texas offense and the young QBs. It'll be interesting to see what Harsin/Major Applewhite have ready for Oklahoma State.
--- Loved hearing Harsin describe Fozzy Whittaker as one of the best leaders he's ever coached. Whittaker's a young man who does things right on the field and off and it's good to see him get some recognition both on the field and off.
--- Texas still lacks proven playmakers on offense. Whittaker has been terrific in his limited role. D.J. Monroe's lack of touches are still a bit of a head scratcher, although it's hard to dispute Harsin's logic that Saturday's score took Texas out of its offensive plan, which had called for more Monroe. Jaxon Shipley is the only consistent pass catcher. Malcolm Brown is giving it everything he's got but the running lanes have dried up the past two weeks. This offense has much more potential than the 2010 group that was stuck in neutral in just about every game, but it still needs several guys to step up if it hopes to compete in the Big 12.
--- It's beating a dead horse, but Texas has to start getting more pressure on the quarterback. We've heard from week to week (including Rice in the opener) that QBs are doing a great job of getting rid of the ball quickly, but at some point that begins to sound like an excuse. Texas currently ranks 91st nationally in sacks per game. Texas A&M is No. 1. OU No. 3.
Alabama is No. 94 ... hey, maybe those sacks aren't so important after all.
--- I can see both sides of the argument for playing one QB versus rotating in Case McCoy and David Ash. My opinion is that Ash gives the team a better chance in the long-term, but it's not as if McCoy has played his way out of the rotation. Part of my job is to have an opinion ... my opinion is that Bryan Harsin knows way more about this than me and I trust him to make the right call.
SOME EARLY THOUGHTS ON OKLAHOMA STATE
Mack Brown's teams have always been able to bounce back after losses to Oklahoma, even blowouts. But I'm not sure Brown has ever faced a team that will challenge that mark the way Oklahoma State will.
The Cowboys feature an offense that's on par with Oklahoma, if not better. Texas, on the other hand, struggled offensively last week in its first real test of the year.
I do expect the Longhorn offense to bounce back this week and play better than it did against the Sooners, but I'm having a hard time imagining any way that Texas is able to keep up with Brandon Weeden and company. Weeden ranks second nationally in passing yards per game (376) and 12th in passing efficiency. Justin Blackmon comes in averaging 107 receiving yards and more than 9 catches per game. Running back Joseph Randle averages just under 100 yards per game on the ground.
The OSU defense is a paltry 103rd in total defense and pass defense, but those numbers are a bit misleading. Aside from A&M's success in the first half, most of the offensive damage against the Cowboys has come in the second half, when games have been out of hand. In five games, Oklahoma State has given up 33 points in the first half compared to 95 in the second half.
The guess here is that Texas is going to need some help in the way of turnovers or OSU mistakes if there's any chance to pull an upset.
WHO CAN FORGET THIS?
POP QUIZ: WHAT'S WRONG (OR RIGHT) WITH THIS PICTURE?
Wed Sep 28 12:04pm EDT
THE TIDE IS TURNING TOWARDS A&M? UMM, SURE ...
So, A&M is gone. It is finally official, right?
Ho-hum. This week's announcement that the SEC was officially welcoming the Aggies as the conference's 13th member generated some discussion within the state for a few hours, but it was hardly the national headline-maker that A&M fans thought it would be. Sorry Aggies, you're not nearly as relevant outside of the state as you think you are. You're just not. In fact, you're not as relevant within the Lone Star State as you think you are.
With the Aggies' departure, the question immediately shifts to what the future holds for A&M? Can the Aggies hold their own in the most competitive league in top to bottom, and will a jump to the SEC help A&M's recruiting efforts? The answer to question number one will dictate the results of the second question.
Delusional Aggies (that is to say, most of them) seem to think that switching conferences will suddenly make A&M a more attractive option for high school prospects. News flash - it doesn't. We've asked a number of the state's top 2013 prospects if A&M's conference affiliation (or UT's, or OU's, etc) will impact their decision. Only one player, Jake Raulerson, said he'd even given it much thought at all. To a man, at least 15 other top prospects have said conference affiliation will have zero impact on their decision, and a few players actually had no idea that Texas A&M was even leaving.
The A&M fan base wants to believe that playing in the fire-pit that is the SEC will automatically increase its team's exposure, reputation and recruiting success, thus allowing it to actually compete with Texas in battles to sign the state's top talent. It won't.
Recruiting, 99 percent of the time, comes down to consistently winning, playing for a team with a tradition of success and having dynamic coaches who can sit in a living room and sell a family on the virtues of his school. A&M has none of the above. And things are only going to get worse for the Aggies once they start getting their head kicked in on a weekly basis in the SEC.
A&M is coming off a successful 9-4 campaign in 2010. Decent enough, although the team did get stomped by LSU in the bowl game, but far from great. Perhaps it's a result of being so bad for so long, but you'd think A&M was coming off a 2010 national championship run the way the Aggie fans talk. One year of moderate success does not make a shift in the trend of dominance in the Lone Star State, and it's going to take more than one season of slightly better than mediocre to turn the recruiting tides. A&M had high hopes for 2011, but the team could be a few days away from starting the year off at 2-2, with several tough games still on the schedule.
Aggie fans need to take a step back and evaluate things with a shred of reality. Impossible request, I know. Coming off it's best season in the last decade, the Aggies have been unable to capitalize in the 2012 recruiting class. Sure, A&M has recruited some decent talent overall, but Mike Sherman and company have once again been dominated by Mack Brown and the Longhorn staff. And this coming off one of the worst years in the history of Texas Longhorn football. Texas ranks No. 1 in the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings. A&M checks in at No. 6 bolstered by the fact that it's taking a larger class than several other schools that have actually recruited better. A more accurate picture, Texas ranks No. 4 in average star rating of its commitments. A&M is No. 14. Texas has not lost a single head-to-head recruiting battle with A&M this year, and a few of the Aggies' commitments were practically begging for a UT offer before Texas targeted other prospects at their position.
To be fair, A&M is receiving an early boost with some of the top junior players in the state, having already reeled in commitments from blue-chip WR Jamar Gibson and QB Kohl Stewart. But it's going to take a sustained recruiting effort over the long haul to overtake Texas' dominance in the state, and moving to the SEC is going to make that difficult for a team who has been a bottom-feeder in the Big 12 for the last decade and figures to be the same, or worse, in its new conference.
A&M can argue that playing in the SEC is best for its programs and its student athletes, but this move was nothing more than getting out of UT's shadow. If you can't consistently beat 'em, join another conference. Time will tell how the move will work out, but it could very well separate the programs even further and drive A&M below the depths of mediocrity that the football team has enjoyed in recent years.
SOME EARLY THOUGHTS ON IOWA STATE
The Longhorns and the Cyclones both enter this game with perfect 3-0 records. Iowa State has a "big" win over in-state rival Iowa (which has shown itself to be a very average team this year). There's talk of the Cyclones giving Texas problems in Ames, but I'm just not seeing it.
The Longhorns actually enter this game as 9 point favorites, a bigger betting line than any game on the schedule so far this year except for Rice. Yes, ISU took it to Texas in Austin last year, but this is a different UT team, and more importantly, this is not a very good Cyclones team.
I'm still not completely sure what to make of this year's Longhorns, but they should be more than capable of beating Iowa State on the road. ISU has upgraded its talent in the past few years but it doesn't have the playmakers across the board that will allow it to keep up with Texas for a full four quarters. A two-score win sounds about right with the Longhorns moving to 4-0.
The real measuring stick for Texas, of course, comes in the games following ISU - Oklahoma in Dallas and Oklahoma State in Austin. If Texas can come out of the next three games with only one loss, Longhorn fans will have to feel pretty good about their team's play through the first six weeks. A win over ISU but loses to OU and OSU are certainly possible, and justifiable. A loss this week to the Cyclones could put Texas in a spot for a potential three-game losing streak, and that just can't happen.
Maybe this week's contest is more important than I first realized. Huge game in Ames? Who woulda thunk it?
AND NOW FOR YOUR FAVORITE ... OUR BIRTHDAY WISHES!
Happy 24th birthday to native Houstonian Hilary Duff.
And who can forget this classic shot of Mira Sorvino, who turns 44 today?
Wed Sep 14 04:11pm EDT
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ON UCLA
Without having gone through my detailed breakdown of UCLA (we'll roll that out on Thursday), here are my initial impressions on the Horns' upcoming game.
On the surface, this seems like a very winnable game for Texas. Of course, that's what everyone thought last year, and we all know how that one turned out. Much like this year's situation, UT entered the 2010 UCLA game with some momentum after having picked up a win on the road over Texas Tech. This year, it's a one-point home win over BYU, but Texas should have some confidence heading into Saturday's game.
If the Longhorns fall behind early, the guess here is that Texas has the grit to fight back, as long as it can stay within a touchdown. It fought back from two scores last week, but that was at home against a BYU team that hadn't shown 12 months earlier that it could essentially force Texas to tap out of a lopsided beatdown.
UCLA will test Texas up the middle with its run, and it will do it mostly out of a pistol formation that gave the Longhorns fits last year. I expect Manny Diaz to have his defense ready. If Texas can take away first- and second-down run success by the UCLA offense, this game is over. The Bruins don't have the weapons to consistently pick up third downs against an aggressive, athletic UT defense.
On the other side of the ball, I don't expect anything flashy from Texas with two first-time starters at quarterback. The Longhorns will feature the run and probably won't light up the scoreboard, but Texas should be able to make enough plays to get the win.
Give me Texas in another low scoring game that's decided by about a field goal.
TIME TO SHOW SOME SUPPORT FOR GARRET GILBERT
I’m pulling for Garrett Gilbert to find some way to bounce back. I know, that’s not exactly an objective approach and I won’t let it affect my reporting on the team’s quarterback situation, but let me explain …
I’ve always said that I want to see the student athletes that I cover go on to successful athletic and academic careers, wherever a kid winds up. Be it at Texas, at OU, Texas A&M, USC, Harvard, Wyoming or anywhere in between, my hope is that the recruits and players I cover each year go on to thrive on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The most important thing is that the young men take advantage of their opportunities and use maximize their abilities to better their future.
For Gilbert, who I began covering when he was a recruit during his junior season at Lake Travis, he hit a tremendous road block on Saturday night against BYU. A former 5-star player, Under Armour All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year, Gilbert’s role with the Texas Longhorns is now as a supporting cast member as Case McCoy and David Ash take the reins to the UT offense.
Throughout his career, while fans and media members were throwing darts at him during his times of struggles, Gilbert has always taken the high road. He’s represented Texas and Lake Travis well. On Saturday night, during what was undoubtedly the toughest moment of his athletic playing career, Gilbert was front and center cheering on his replacements, offering words of support and advice on the sidelines and in the locker room.
Think for a moment what kind of maturity that must have taken and what kind of character Gilbert displayed during the lowest of low moments. At a time when most high-profile players would have had their head in their hands sulking or pouting, Gilbert put his team first. How difficult must that have been? Few of us will ever know.
Every kid who has played sports at any level has dreamed of hitting the game-winning shot in the NBA finals, blasting a walk-off grand slam in the World Series, throwing the game-winning TD pass in the Super Bowl. For 99.9 percent of the world, those thoughts are nothing more than a fantasy. For Gilbert, dating back to his days at Lake Travis, the visions of playing in the NFL probably felt incredibly realistic, like it was only a matter of time before his dreams became a reality.
On Saturday night, in front of a stadium full of screaming (and sadly, booing) fans, Gilbert’s dreams might have officially crashed into a million pieces. He had to know standing on the sidelines that there’s a chance that the window on his playing career at Texas had essentially closed, that any thoughts of playing football after college were suddenly unrealistic. He’s not the first kid that’s ever been in that situation and he’s certainly not the last. But Gilbert’s situation is different than most since he seemed like a near lock coming out of high school to go on and do great things as a Longhorn player and beyond.
It’s okay for fans to feel some sort of jubilation or relief that Texas made a change at quarterback. That’s part of the game. But people also need to remember that these are still very young men who are giving everything they can to live up to their lofty dreams, and understand it has to be an incredibly painful experience to see those lifelong dreams shattered in such a public way.
Gilbert handled the situation with much more class than did a large chunk of the Texas fan base, and his actions in the wake of demotion should earn him a ton of respect from those who have been the most critical of him over the past 13 months. It probably won’t happen, and those same fans will be quick to boo once again if he does get back on the field, but Gilbert’s earned my respect regardless of what happens moving forward.
It’s too early to completely write him off, and for Gilbert’s sake, I hope he gets another shot at some point and makes the most of his opportunity. Then, after a successful senior season is completed, I hope Case McCoy goes on to greatness, then David Ash, then Connor Brewer, so on and so on … any civil adult should hope the same for all kids playing college athletics. The next time a player struggles, put yourself in his or her shoes for a minute, show some class and try to be supportive when a young man or woman is facing some adversity.
Rant over. And, if the plea above isn't enough reason to pull for Gilbert, all you have to do is remember that I selected him in our pre-season OB fantasy draft (thankfully, I also took Case McCoy with a late-round selection).
RESOLUTION ON THE WAY?
Raise your hand if you're like me and just want this conference realignment stuff to finish up so you can quit reading the revolving door of possibilities for Texas and every other school that's caught in the middle of this mess? We have actual football games we should be discussing, but the conversations on the message boards have been dominated by what appears to be the inevitable changing landscape of college conferences.
It was fun for a while, but let it end already. I'm not sure how my man Chip Brown, who has been out in front of this ever-evolving story for more than a year, keeps up (don't miss his latest, which has Texas possibly looking in a new direction).
Let's wrap it up already. Send the Aggies packing to the SEC to be even bigger also-rans than they've been in the Big 12, but let's make sure to keep the Texas-OU rivalry alive, even if the two programs are in different conferences moving forward (which is looking more and more likely).
A lot can change in the next week, but the good news is that there are some rumblings that we could be closing in on the end of yet another unpredictable chapter of college realignment. Let's hope so.
Wed Sep 07 05:15pm EDT
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE BYU GAME ...
We'll roll our sleeves up and get into our predictions later in the week, but I'll go ahead and throw it out right now that I expect Texas to win this game. First off, it's at home, which should account for something (if you throw out the 2010 season, as every Longhorn fan wishes he or she could do). Second, I'm just not sure BYU is that good.
Sure, the Cougars come in 1-0 and picked up a decent win on the road against Ole Miss, but this is a team that really struggled in the opener, coming back from a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to steal a 14-13 win. The BYU offense and highly-touted QB Todd Heaps scored all of one touchdown in the game (a TD grab by former Longhorn commitment Ross Apo).
My problem ... I still have no idea what to make of this 2011 Longhorn team. Will Texas resemble the dismal first-half showing it rolled out against Rice, or will the Horns continue the momentum they established in the second half of last week's game? Everyone has an opinion on that question, but the truth is, not even those within the UT program can definitively say how Texas will respond this week.
The first half of the BYU game, in my opinion, will be very telling and could give an accurate picture of how the rest of the Horns' 2011 season could play out. Think about this ...
Does Garrett Gilbert come out and continue where he left off in the third and fourth quarters against Rice, or is it more inconsistency? One would think Gilbert gained some confidence with the way he finished the season opener, and being relaxed should help him correct some of the inaccuracies he suffered in the opener. If not, and if Gilbert struggles early, it may already be time to admit that he's going to have to scratch and claw his way to success from game to game.
Can true freshman running back Malcolm Brown continue the strong work he showed in the third and fourth quarters against Rice? No doubt about it, Brown gave the UT ground game some extra bounce - he ran hard, the OL seemed to block better and the yards just seemed to come easier. Did the linemen suddenly get a shot of adrenaline when Brown entered the game? Is Brown that good that he made the OL look better? Or was Rice simply wearing down in the second half? Assuming Brown gets in the game much earlier this week, the first half will be telling.
Can the Texas defensive front correct some of the errors it made last week and slow down BYU's aggressive ground game against a starting offensive line that averages more than 306 pounds? Rice was able to grind out some yards between the tackles, and BYU is much more physical than are the Owls. UT's run defense up the middle was an Achilles Heel last year. It seems like every week, the players and coaches were saying they were a step here, an assignment there, from getting things corrected. We heard the same things this week. Longhorn fans better hope the adjustments actually happen this year. My gut says Manny Diaz gets things on track.
The betting line opened at Texas -4.5 and has jumped to Texas -7. Over/under at 48. Midweek guess says the under and though the Horns win, they don't cover the 7.
A FEW RECRUITING NOTES TO CHEW ON
--- One of the country's top 2013 talents, Jake Raulerson, visited Texas and Texas A&M last week. He gave both stops very positive reviews, but seemed really impressed with the crowd at the Aggies' win over SMU.
Should UT fans read too much into that? Not yet.
The guess here is that Raulerson could still come down to Texas and Florida, assuming both programs turn in strong 2011 seasons. If either team was to struggle, that could certainly impact things, but we were told by someone close to the situation over the summer that the Horns and Gators had the clear inside track.
Keep an eye on where Raulerson's twin brother, Josh Raulerson, winds up. If he lands at a school in the Central Texas area, Texas' chances increase dramatically.
--- Orangebloods.com first reported in last week's War Room that the state's top player for the 2013 class, Whitewright QB Tyrone Swoopes, would be visiting Austin for the BYU game.
Long way to go on this one, but this visit will be key for the Longhorns to really impress Swoopes, and perhaps more importantly, his family.
Swoopes took in a pre-season practice at TCU last month and people close to the Horned Frog program feel they're the team to beat at this point, especially after Swoopes sometimes used words like "we" and "us" in describing the TCU program. This one's far from over though and the guess here is that Texas makes a very strong impression on Saturday night.
--- What to make of the nation's top overall prospect for the 2012 class, Springfield Hillcrest WR Dorial Green-Beckham? Hard to say because Green-Beckham rarely talks about the recruiting process.
Before DGB's summer visit to Texas, there was some talk from people who would know that Texas was an afterthought and DGB was all but locked in to OU, with Missouri having an outside shot. People we've talked to feel things have changed after DGB's mid-June visit and though the Horns still have ground to make up, Texas is very much in the picture.
--- A small handful of Longhorn commitments have mentioned the possibility of taking a visit or two to programs besides Texas, but it's too early to get worried about those comments.
Most, if not all of those players will settle into their commitments after they spend some time on the phone (or face-to-face) with the Texas coaches. The only way I see players like Kennedy Estelle and/or Thomas Johnson stepping foot on another campus is if UT's season goes in the toilet something similar to 2010.
ONE LAST NOTE
I'm a little late to the party with this one, but best of luck to former Longhorn QB Connor Wood on his transfer to Colorado.
In Wood's short time on the Forty Acres, he always handled his business with class and he was always one of my favorite recruits to cover coming out of Second Baptist High School. Hope he goes on to accomplish great things both on the field and in the classroom.
Thu Apr 28 12:29pm EDT
SOME COMMON RECRUITING SENSE
A lot of Texas fans were stressing this week after our report on top offensive line prospect Kennedy Estelle had the big fella keeping his options open and considering at least one more unofficial visit before making a decision.
Estelle and his family had mentioned in previous reports that the Pearland Dawson product would probably visit Auburn or Florida State sometime this spring or summer. With new schools entering the picture daily, Estelle told us this week that he's not zeroed in on only those two schools as possible stops ... he's now considering all interested schools for at least one more unofficial visit (Estelle has visited Texas and SMU this spring).
Hearing that, some fans began with the hand-wringing.
My suggestion? Relax.
Estelle still has Texas, at worst, tied at the top of his very own list. And both his parents are pushing the Longhorns pretty hard. Come on folks, anyone who has followed recruiting for even one year knows that Texas rarely, if ever, loses those types of recruits.
Estelle and his family are very close, and the guess here is that there's a snowball's chance in hell that he leaves the state. I've talked to his mom. She's told me she's a "hook'em fan" and she's not crazy about having to fork over her hard-earned coin for her son to take an out-of-state unofficial visit this spring or summer. Imagine if she was having to shell out the bucks a few times a year in order to see her son. I don't see thathappening.
Estelle is doing his due diligence, as all kids should. He doesn't strike me as the type of kid that's simply looking to drum up suspense or exposure. Let the kid take his time and the smart money has Texas fans celebrating when he does officially announce.
A LITTLE NOTE FROMTHE RUMOR MILL
We at Orangebloods.com hear Longhorn team and recruiting rumors all the time, just about every day. Over the years, we've been able to get a pretty good grasp on what's good info and what is not, and we've certainly learned what sources were the most reliable.
Remember about six weeks ago when we heard that Texas had made a sudden move to the top of DT Malcom Brown's list and A&M had dropped off considerably? Every other media outlet scoffed and less than a week later Brown had committed to Texas. That rumor came from a trusted source.
Got another one for ya (different source, for those who are wondering) ...
We received very few details, but we did hear this week that Texas is evaluating a junior college prospect for the 2012 class. No word yet on a name or a position (defensive line, offensive line or defensive back would be the best guess) but we were told UT may be considering throwing its name into the mix for a prospect from the Southeast.
Wild rumor based on Texas' long-term stance towards recruiting JUCO prospects, but worth filing away.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A SURE THING, BUT ...
As everyone gets ready to settle in for the beginning of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, Longhorn fans are wondering how many former Horns will hear their name called over the course of the weekend, and where UT's top prospects might land.
Am I the only one that thinks someone is going to get asteal with Texas defensive back Aaron Williams and defensive end/linebacker Sam Acho? That's not a knock on the other Horns who will likely be selected, it's just that Williams and Acho seem to be the most likely success stories.
Both players are incredible talents. Both Williams and Acho have a good head on their shoulders and have a terrific support system in their families. Both guys just get it.
The NFL Draft has always irked me with some of the ridiculous criteria on which teams evaluate the thousands of players that are draft eligible. Height, strength and speed are one thing (although those are sometimes overanalyzed as well), but some of the mental and physical drills they put the players through are borderline ridiculous (it was so bad in 2010 that the Miami Dolphins had to apologize to Dez Bryant for questioning whether or not his mother was a prostitute ... really?).
And how much can one really tell in watching guys run and jump around in tights? If you want a true measure of a football player, watch him in pads. Sometimes, you simply have to look at the film and leave it at that. It doesn't always have to be rocket science. Some guys are just good, instinctual football players who have a knack for making plays.
Throw out the combine numbers and the Wonderlic tests ... Williams and Acho are great talents who work hard and just know how to play the game. They'll impact their teams sooner rather than later.
YET ANOTHER BIRTHDAY WISH
We like to use this space to wish certain
hot female celebrities happy birthday, and today just happens to be a day to celebrate one of our favorites.
None other than Jessica Alba turns 30 today. So many pictures from which to choose, it's a shame we have room for only one ...
Tue Apr 19 06:47pm EDT
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011? GOT ME, BUT IT'S TIME TO TAKE AN OBJECTIVE LOOK
"So, how much better are the Longhorns going to be in 2011?"
Everywhere I go, I hear that question. After a disastrous 5-7 campaign in 2010 and a near complete overhaul of the UT coaching staff in the time that Texas is traditionally preparing for a bowl game, Texas surely has to bounce back in 2011. Right?
Surely, the Horns will improve on their record from last year, but let's be honest here ... nobody on this planet knows what to expect from the 2011 version of the Texas Longhorn football team. Not fans, not players, not even the coaches ... and certainly not me.
Yes, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the program as the team puts in new offensive and defensive schemes. But this is a team that still has legitimate questions at just about every position aside from linebacker and defensive end.
I expect improvement from Texas due to new schemes, a new energy and frankly, a better attitude. But there's no way I'm willing to stick my neck out and say the 2011 Longhorns will challenge for a conference title or get back to their double-digit winning ways.
The biggest issue, clearly, is at quarterback. If you really step back and look at that position objectively, it's pretty alarming.
After watching Garrett Gilbert shred defenses in high school, I was in the group that thought he'd jump right in with a stellar college career with few missteps. That idea obviously went out the window with last year's 10 TD, 17 INT performance.
Heading into 2011, am I the only one who keeps expecting the switch to suddenly flip for the former five-star gunslinger? It's like I expect Gilbert to wake up any day now and instantly transform into the all-everything quarterback I thought he'd be coming out of Lake Travis. Is it possible that it just might not happen?
Think about it ... you know the Texas coaches would have loved nothing more than for Gilbert to assert his dominance over the program's other three quarterbacks during UT's spring football season. It didn't happen, and to me, that is the biggest red flag heading into 2011.
The fact is, none of the four UT quarterbacks was able to separate from the pack, and there's no way to take that as a good sign if you're a Longhorn fan. One day it was Gilbert throwing the ball the best. The next it was Connor Wood. Case McCoy showed well in the Orange-White game and true freshman David Ash earned strong reviews for his play. The problem ... none of them were consistently better than any of the others.
The off-season workouts will be key in developing a pecking order heading into pre-season camp, but is it realistic to think that one of the guys is going to clearly outshine the pack? I'm not so sure it is.
Texas can be good in 2011 with decent, but not great, quarterback play. But for this team to make significant strides from last year's struggles, it's going to need one of the quarterbacks to step up and play at a high level. I'm certainly not ready to say it won't happen, but fans also have to be objective in admitting that another mediocre year at QB is a real possibility.
ANOTHER 5-STAR ABOUT TO ADD HIS NAME TO THE LIST?
Aledo running back Johnathan Gray has narrowed his choices down to Texas, TCU and Texas A&M, and he'll announce his final decision on April 22, his birthday.
Gray has played the entire recruiting process close to the vest, but all signs we've seen point in UT's favor, with TCU giving a hard charge and A&M doing enough to keep things interesting.
I've learned over the years to never make a guarantee unless I hear it from the kid himself (Gray's not talking at all), but Friday has the looks of an exciting day for the UT fan base.
One other note to consider ... should Gray choose the Longhorns, don't be at all surprised to see it impact at least one other highly-rated offensive prospect who has yet to commit.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERSTED IN THE UPCOMING REGIONAL TRACK MEETS
FINALLY, SOMETHING TO MAKE UP FOR THE ABOVE VIDEO
Happy birthday to the stunning beauty Ashley Judd, who turns 43 today.