June 22, 2011

The Ticket City Locker Room

Q: (principal) - Do you think there is a level playing field for who the starting QB could be? Any update that is factual about any QB considering a transfer?

A: Yes, I think there's a very real and very fair quarterback competition taking place and I'm of the opinion that there's very one important factor that everyone needs to remember in this discussion - the coaches are looking for a true blue alpha dog that will TAKE the job, run with and make this football team his. Oh, Mack Brown will spend a lot of time trying to deflect the pressure from this group, but every man in the program understands that the program is in neutral until this position is settled.

As of this moment, Garrett Gilbert is out in front and is by far and away the favorite to start the first game of the season. Part of that has to do with the fact that he had a solid spring, has more experience and simply outplayed the primary competition in Case McCoy and Connor Wood. That's not to say that he was the second coming of John Elway in March, but he was solid, and much more so than McCoy/Wood over the course of an entire month.

Still, the coaches want and are demanding more of Gilbert and unlike last season, if the light doesn't flicker on very early in the season, I fully expect the Gong Show to be in play by week three. If one of the other three scholarship quarterbacks find their alpha dog mojo and couples it with improved play, all bets could be off, even as it relates to the first game.

Two final notes on the discussion:

1. I don't expect a transfer this summer unless one of the three non-true freshmen clearly feels like he's so far behind the others in terms of talent, leadership and alpha male-ness that he has to bail right away. With all three players seemingly believing that they have a chance to win the starting job this year, a transfer this summer seems unlikely.

2. The wildcard in this entire discussion is David Ash, the guy that many in the program believe is the future at the position, although a red-shirt year is still desired and an emergence this season is still unlikely. He's looked very good this summer and I would advise guys like Wood/McCoy to pay just as much attention to who's behind them than the guy who is in front of them. Ash is winning the early summer buzz-fest,

Q: (Capseyes) - Would a potential receiving corps consisting of Mike Davis, Darius White, Jaxon Shipley, Desean Hales, M.J. McFarland, Thomas Johnson and others be the best group in UT history?

Are there enough balls to go around given that the 40 acres is about to have the talents of some dull colors named Malcolm Brown & Johnathan Gray?

Do you think with those receivers and backs, Bryan Harsin (assuming he's still there) and Major Applewhite call more running plays or passing plays and by what percentages??

A: There's no question that the talent both on campus and soon-to-be-arriving in the 2011/2012 recruiting classes is as strong and deep as Mack Brown has ever had in his tenure at Texas. When the 2010 recruiting class of receivers featuring Davis, White, Chris Jones, John Harris and Darius Terrell signed, we talked at the time about it representing as deep of a collective pool of talent at the position that Mack had put together since at least 2000 when he signed the Big 3. Of course, the difference is that they've followed that up in 2011 and 2012 with extremely strong receiver classes, featuring potential star players to supplement that class. In my mind the Longhorns have three or four guys on campus with serious star upside and several more on the way. Talent simply isn't an issue and if they develop as expected, the hyperbole could turn into reality.

As for the discussion involving the number of carries for Brown and Gary, haven't we reached a point in both the college and pro games where an understanding that the need for one quality back exists? The Adrian Peterson's of the world are far and few between, and most young backs with NFL aspirations seem to understand that from a long-term standpoint, getting 15-20 touches per game is better for their long-term viability. The two players should complement each other beautifully and if it turns out that one of the two is so damn good that he has to get a disproportionate amount of the carries… well… that's not a bad problem to have and every player in the program runs the risk of being the next Chance Mock - a talented guy that had the misfortune of having Vince Young arrive right behind him.

Finally, I'm not going to speculate on the future of this offense until I can see it with my own eyes against opposition in other colors. Yes, I expect the Longhorns to become much more balanced in their offensive efforts, but let's not put the cart in front of the horse just yet.

Q: (thecurto1977) - I'd be really interested in you breaking down A&M's last two recruiting classes. Strengths, weaknesses, and the guys the Longhorns wish they'd gotten. How well are the Aggies set up for the next few years?

A: Let's just look at these one-by-one and then add it all up together.

The 2010 was loaded up-front on the offensive line and a couple of those players started as true freshman. Outside of the beef in that class on both lines, I thought the entire class lacked difference makers at the skill positions and in the back seven on defense. Outside of those offensive linemen and Nehemiah Hicks (who I thought Texas should have offered), I'm not sure there's much from that group to admire in comparison to what Texas brought in that year.

Last year's class (2011) was an absolute disappointment and there's no way to spin it. With only three low four-star talents in the entire class, it lacked star wattage everywhere, although there are a number of developmental projects in the class that have a chance to emerge as quality players. I could two players (Shayvion Hatten and Brandon Alexander) that move my excitement meter.

If you combine those two classes together, there's not a lot to feel great about outside of the offensive line class and a number of boom or bust lottery ticket like prospects they took chances on out of necessity. Sherman's coaches better be able to develop like mad men with these two groups or a setback will likely occur with back-to-back clunkers.

The 2012 class is much better across the board in my mind. It possesses an elite blend of skill talent on offense, a solid offensive line class and there are even some potential difference makers on the defensive side of the ball. There's no question that it's Sherman's most balanced class and the ability to hit on the second-tier prospects in the state is key.

Q: (Wes2388) - I am sure you will get this one a lot. Who is showing the most leadership in summer workouts? How do they decide what to do about reps between the players in summer workouts?

Second, what is the Rule on working out with Bennie on strength and conditioning during the summer?

Third, what is the Rule about official visit and unofficial visits and who can pay for what? If I read the Auburn info right one of their girls who helps with recruiting gave a recruit a ride from Louisiana to Auburn several times for unofficial visits and probably got paid for it or travel expenses reimbursed at least.

Fourth, which of the defensive backs on the table do you see us signing? Who is your preference and why? I also assume we always will have room for Geno Smith, Landon Collins, or Nelson Agholor..

A: First, I think the leadership thing in the informal workouts is still ongoing. Too much talk and not enough action has taken place recently, which will make me much more comfortable talking about this issue when we're not talking about second-hand info coming from informal workouts. I'm taking a wait and see approach to that level of discussion after what happened last season. As far as the reps as concerned, it just kind of gets sorted out by the players and I've never noticed that there's a ton of conversation about it. The older players generally take the early reps, but the guys know who the starters and true impact players are going to be and they typically get the most reps. If you can get on the field and not screw up, there's more than enough reps for everyone.

Second, the football coaches are not allowed to supervise or interact at all with the players during football activities during the summer. That's not the case with the strength and conditioning staff, as Bennie Wylie and Co. are allowed to continue their daily activities.

Third, the rules on unofficial and official visits are pretty clear. A recruit is allowed five official visits and he can only make one to any given school. Those can take place at pretty much any point during the beginning of his senior season in high school (starting in September when the first major contact period kicks in) through signing day. The school will pay for travel and meals for the prospect and a guest (usually a parent), but in terms of souvenirs and most other extras, the individual prospect is on his own. All other visits made to a school's campus are on the dime of the prospect in every single capacity - from travel to meals to extras, and the schools involved aren't allowed to contribute money, drivers or anything else outside of some driving directions.

Finally, if you held a gun to my head, I'm going to go with San Antonio Brandeis cornerback Colin Blake. His combination of size, athleticism, fluid hips and natural cover skills remind me a little of Aaron Ross and I'm sure Akina sees the same upside. Eventually, the discussion is going to come home to Texas and I think Blake is the guy.

Q: (Cali-Horn) - 1. Longhorn Network counter recruiting - what strategies are being contemplated or are being employed by our rivals to counter or diminish the relevance of the Longhorn Network? I believe it's a huge, huge recruiting advantage for Texas. Thus, I simply can't believe that rivals around the country that we recruit against don't have some position on it and therefore have something to say about it to prospects. Also, does failure on the football field (given the bigger stage provided by the Longhorn Network) actually work in our rivals favor? i.e. bigger stage = bigger failure?2. Longhorn Network part

2: Pressure & Expectations - after coming off what we can argue is one of our worst all around performances for the Big 3 UT sports (football, basketball, baseball) in quite some time what kind of pressure and expectations to perform are there on the following groups?:

a. The Texas coaches (specifically Mack, Barnes and Augie)

b. The Athletics Administration (specifically Deloss)

c. The Players

d. ESPN and ESPN's advertisers

A: First, I don't think we've seen the counter moves yet from the competition, outside of schools like Oklahoma and Texas A&M remarking that they plan on trying to secure similar deals. I'm not sure what they can say right now because it is a huge recruiting tool and it pretty much speaks for itself. There's currently nothing else like it. I'm still staggered by its existence.

I think your second set of points is the biggest topic of discussion that's been danced around since the inception of the idea. What happens when Texas isn't elite? How does ESPN report it? What does the extra extreme spotlight in a testy situation do to impact future decisions and expectations? I'm fascinated by whatever the results turn out to be, but it's too soon to guess, I suppose. The hunch here is that every single group you mentioned is going to feel a ton of pressure and they'll be different types of pressures, but there will certainly be pressure. There's so much potential upside, but I'm not sure that the downside isn't just as extreme.

Q: (dropshot_7) - Ketch, there has been some discussion on the OOS recruiting that we're now seeing from the Texas staff. Do you feel like it's a waste of time and money to pursue the headliners from SEC country? If you were making the decision, would you throw your name in the hat of the top prospects from the southern region, as opposed to heading west? In my opinion, we could make some real headway out west with USC being down, and UCLA struggling. There's no longer the big dog that cherry picks. I believe the west coast (and Arizona and Colorado) kids are ripe for the picking. I understand that our new coaching staff has built-in ties to SEC country, and that helps, but I believe that in the end, it's a tough road to hoe to get a kid out of the deep south.

In your opinion, what's different about Case McCoy when you compare him to his older brother? Do you think he's a "gamer," similar to his older bro? It seems that being a coach's kid, he's got a head start on picking up the new offense, similar to Blake Gideon when he arrived at the same time as Will Muschamp. Do you feel like that will factor in? (I'm convinced that the decision on the starting QB will come down to the mental aspects of each QB, as opposed to the physical attributes. Harsin has proven he can direct a lethal offense with a below-average arm in Kellen Moore...also a coach's kid)

A: I absolutely believe that the Longhorns should actively recruit the West Coast much more so than they have under Mack Brown because they've enjoyed so much more success historically out there than just about anywhere else. Also, as you pointed out, it's an area that would appear ripe for the picking. Very ripe. Considering the amount time Texas has to tinker with out of state recruiting, I think the risk vs. reward of spending time out of state is worth it because you never know when that hoard work is going to produce the next Ricky Williams or Bryant Westbrook. Limitations are for schools with limitations.

As for the comparisons between Colt and Case, it simply comes down to physical tools. Whatever you thought of Colt as a high school prospect, he was simply further ahead of Case in terms of athleticism and outright physical ability. Case has the goods in terms of leadership and intangibles, but he hasn't yet proven that he can play at a high level. It's that simple.

Q: (ptrain37) - What do you think Texas record would be next season if Case McCoy wins the starting job?

Over/Under-20 TDs passing if McCoy wins the job.

Over/Under-5 TDs Jaxon Shipley next season for Texas

Over/Under- 2 Texas DBs that get 5 interceptions or more next season.....and guesses on which DBs grab them?

A: Gosh, I can't forecast this season with any of the quarterbacks at this point, but I'll throw 7-5 out there just for the sake of giving you an answer.

Over/Under-20 TDs passing if McCoy wins the job

Give me the under.

Over/Under-5 TDs Jaxon Shipley next season for Texas

Give me the under.

Over/Under- 2 Texas DBs that get 5 int.'s or more next season.....and guesses on which DBs grab them?

Give me the under, again.

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