April 23, 2011

The Ticket City Locker Room

Q: (Newfroid) - Can you please update us on the status of the coaches who left the UT football season after the 2010 season. I'm particularly interested in Greg Davis.

A: Obviously, Will Muschamp and Bobby Kennedy just finished up their first set of spring workouts, at Florida and Colorado, respectively. From what I've heard, Mike Tolleson and Mac McWhorter are both enjoying the quiet life as newly retired ex-coaches. Both are still in Austin. As for Davis, all has been quiet from on his front for the last few months, but there have been rumors that he's close to purchasing a piece of land in North Texas and that he's content (at least for the moment) with not coaching.

Q: (Golfpr3145) - With all of the hype about the Big 12 making the TV deal with Fox, the bottom line is that there isn't 12 teams in the conference any more. Do you think that the Big 12 will remain status quo or do you think they will try to get back to 12 teams in order to have a conference championship game? Also have you heard any "rumors" about the conditioning attitude of and the other DL guys? I hope this change has given the guys new incentive.

A: I think we're currently in the calm before a really big storm, but I don't expect conditions of change to occur for a few years. There's also not much movement occurring towards adding two teams to the conference because the schools involved do not want to be in a position of having to split TV revenue 12 ways, rather than 10. Unless the new Big 12 feels like the lack of a championship game prevents them from competing for national championships in future seasons, I think we're going to see the league stick with 10 teams for as long as there is a league.

As far as Bible is concerned, he has some serious work in front of him if he wants to reach the potential we once saw in him several years ago. Frankly, I'm surprised that Bible is having these conditioning issues because he's the kind of kid that just seemed to "get it" in recruiting and it just goes to show you how much of a crapshoot evaluations can be, especially when it comes to guys with size. I've talked with a lot of people in the program that openly wonder if he can pull it off. That being said, I've haven't heard any other complaints about the work from the defensive line in the off-season.

Q: (randoke) - I have a question about the Longhorn network. Is there any difference between a road and home game? Say the baseball team is playing at KU, can the Longhorn Network show the game and do they have to negotiate/pay KU? Is it different for home/road games? If OU and/or the Big 12 form a network, who has rights to games?

A: In a conversation that I had with the new VP of programming for the Longhorn Network last week, he mentioned that they plan on showing a ton of baseball and non-revenue action. The details of home or away don't seem to be a concern. He indicated that most of the baseball season would be televised.

Q: (III John 2) - Is UT waiting to gauge DGB's decision before offering Sanders? Or what else would they be waiting on offering [db]Kendall Sanders?

A: More than anything, I think the Longhorns staff is simply showing a lot of discipline and reluctance of issuing new offers in light of the 16 commitments they currently have in the commitment cupboard, their remaining needs and the scholarship limit they seem to be self-imposing.

Forget about the wide receiver position for a moment because I consider Dorial Beckham-Green to be on an island by himself. He has an offer for all-time because Darrell Wyatt desperately wants to make a run at him and because he's that good, not because the Longhorns have a numbers need for another receiver. We know Texas appears willing to take at least three more offensive tackles in this class with open offers to two in-state Texas and several top national prospects. We know Texas wants at least one more cornerback in this class. We know that they also appear to be looking for at least another defensive lineman, maybe two if it were the right guys. Well, that's going to put them in the 20-21 range and Mack has mentioned that he would like to have room for a late-bloomer or two.

So, the numbers are tight, even if it doesn't appear to be with the naked eye. I would actually counter that Sanders' recruitment is more like Quandre Diggs' than anyone else. No Texas coach is more deliberate in his evaluations than Duane Akina and no coach is more sensitive to having one of the players poached from the offense after signing day after he was slotted as a recruit for defense (See Ramonce Taylor and D.J. Monroe). Texas was late to the party with an offer to Diggs because Akina was hesitant to use his last offer on a guy that Mack might have wanted to sneak a peek at on offense. So, here we are again and we've got a recruit that's more athlete than pure cornerback. Texas is crowded at receiver and Wyatt does want to save a spot for DBG, so there's not currently an open spot, unless Mack wants to bend his numbers (like he did in 2011 for Diggs), which he hasn't showed an appetite for just yet, or unless Akina decides he's definitely the guy he wants for his last slot.

The fact that Sanders is committed to another school (Oklahoma State) is just another layer to the discussion. As I said with Diggs last year, the Longhorns have a player in the discussion that wants to be a Longhorn in his heart, so the coaches own some leverage and they know it. Give this situation another month to marinate and we might just see some changes.

Q: (BurtHorn) - How realistic am I being, thinking that Texas will surprise a lot of people even with the new transition on both sides of the ball? The talk of new coaches all around has been spent. How soon will we see the difference these coaches can make, show on the field on Saturdays? Finally, does Bennie Wylie run out with the team instead of Mad Dog?

A: There's no question that Texas will have an element of surprise to their game this season that we haven't seen in years, but some of that is mitigated by inexperience, a lack of depth and questions up-front on both sides of the ball. It's one of the reasons why I believe Texas is a year away from having a Longhorn that ranks among the nation's elite once again.

I'm intrigued by your last question and I haven't really thought much about it. It has to be Wylie.

Q: (Mighty Texas) - Does Harsin have enough stroke to pick the QB even if it is not Garrett Gilbert?

A: I think everyone overestimates the cozy position that Gilbert currently finds himself in. Harsin arrives in Austin with a clean slate and aspirations to prove his Boise State success wasn't a mirage. Meanwhile, Major Applewhite played a huge role in the recruitments of Connor Wood and David Ash… a HUGE role… so those are "his guys" if all things are equal. Hell, the recruitment of Wood might be the most important of his career because I think it's the one recruitment that proved to him that he could land anyone. In a sense, it allowed for his success as a recruiter this past week to occur. Meanwhile, Mack Brown has proven that he'll pull the plug on anyone after a 5-7 season and who better symbolizes the failure of last year more than the quarterback who fell so short of expectations?

If Gilbert wins the starting job, it's because he's the best guy on the team and he might need to be that player by a sizeable margin because I get the sense there's more hunger for change for the sake of change than there is a hunger for continuation for the sake of continuation.

Still, at the root of your question is Harsin and whether he has the juice to make the right call, whatever it is. The answer is yes from what I've been told, without question. The offense is his show at the end of the day.

Q: (dropshot_7) - I'm glad to know that Demarco Cobbs has seemingly found his home, but in your opinion, what made the coaches decide to move him instead of Christian Scott, who also seems like a good fit for that position switch?

How will Manny Diaz's defense stack up against the spread offenses in the Big 12? It's difficult to attack that kind of offense because the ball is usually out of the QBs hand very quickly. Will his transition to this conference be seamless, or will he have to adjust the way he game-plans?

In your opinion, how many OL do we need to take in this class in order to fix the depth issues going forward? We've gotten into a bad cycle of playing our OL as true freshmen out of necessity. Fortunately (?), Mason Walters suffered an injury early in his freshmen season, so he should qualify for a medical hardship. But how would you fix the problem? Is it a one year fix?

Should we view the spring game as an indicator for next season, or can we expect improvement to be made over the summer and fall workouts?

A: Lots of questions, but good questions, so nice work.

First, Cobbs arrived as a raw athlete with more experience on the offensive side of the ball, while Scott was more of a true safety, even if his physical skill set hasn't allowed for him to make a big impact thus far. Versatility has always been Cobb's top asset as a recruit, along with his athleticism, which has made for a pretty easy adjustment to the linebacker position.

Second, everyone that follows college football is watching with extreme interest at Diaz's defense and how it fares against the Wild-West collection of spread offenses in the Big 12. His track record is somewhat limited, but we know what he wants to be, which is extremely fast and aggressive. There's a sense that this could be a defense that creates a lot of turnovers and big plays, but is also prone to giving up big plays. It's guess-work right now.

Third, the success of the offensive line recruiting in 2011-12 could determine the results of the final Mack Brown chapter at Texas. The 2009 OL class has underachieved greatly thus far and there were only two recruits taken in the 2010 OL class. That's going to put a ton of pressure on the 2011-12 groups to not just be very good, but great. The staff can't afford for there to many misses (regardless of reasons) or it's going to be very difficult to make the kind of turnaround that will lead Texas back to national prominence in the next few years. If all of that sounds a little overly dramatic, it's only because the continuation of failure at this position on numerous levels directly undermined the previous success Mack enjoyed from 2004-09 and played a huge role in what happened during a 5-7 season. With all of that in the back of my mind, I'd take as many prospects as I need to get it right and ensure quality up and down the depth chart. If it's five, then so be it. If it's six, so be it. If it's seven, so be it. This is one area when Mack needs to act on the side of over-aggression.

Finally, whatever this team is going to be in 2011 will be forged this summer in private workouts. The spring was the equivalent of earning a learner's permit.
Q: (Jordan Bishop) - I wanted to get your thoughts on this new staff as recruiters. Do the new additions like Searels, Wyatt, and Davis mean Texas will look to go after the high 4 and 5 star out of state recruits more so than in the past or is it just the transition period that we are going after guys like A. Peat, T. Davis, N. Agholor?

With all the eyes locked on Malcolm Brown in 2011, do you think he comes in with a little too much responsibility placed on him as a true freshman?

A: When Mack went out and made huge changes to his staff, he brought in a lot of guys like Searels, Wyatt and Davis that have a very vested interest in their reputations as national recruiters remaining intact. It looks like Mack is giving those three some latitude this spring, but it remains to be seen whether it has any kind of an impact on the actual class that Texas signs in February. There's a huge possibility that all of these out of state names are just big piece of fool's gold.

As for Brown, there's certainly a real risk of overloading him mentally. With no other difference makers at the position on campus, the team needs him to be very, very good. Of course, that's too much responsibility for an 18-year old, but that's the reality of the situation.

Q: (Choice cuts) - After now having a few months of workouts with BW, what are you hearing and seeing regarding the players physical development. Any buzz about some of the guys that need it most - OL and DL?

A: It's not the answer you want, but it's the truth. It's just too soon. The real work awaits this summer and that's when great teams are built. All of the buzz is strong and positive, but I'm not going to go out on any limbs with this stuff. The proof won't be in the tight t-shirts, but in the ability to kick some ass on the field.

Q: (UTArlington1) - 1. Given the national exposure of our new coaches. No names, but how about probabilities of losing coaches in the next few years. i.e. 80% chance we will lose 1 coach after 1 year, 50% one more after second year

2. Probability of beating OU and probability of beating A&M

A: If Texas gets back to national prominence, you can take it to the bank with 100% probability that the new coaches will get new and bigger opportunities within their profession. If Texas doesn't get back to national prominence, you can take it to the bank with 100% certainty that the new coaches will get…. ahem… new opportunities. I think there's a 95% chance that this group remains together beyond one full season. All bets are off right now beyond 2012.

If we're talking percentages for the OU and A&M games, I'd put Texas at about a 3-to-1 underdog in both games, probably a seven-point dog in both games.

Q: (beagleme) - How about an update on all of our active OOS recruits, along with your best guess as to likelihood of a visit and, if it doesn't break your crystal ball, a commit.

A: I had the exact same question last week, so here's a slightly updated and adjusted version of the topic:

WR - Dorial Beckham-Green - The Longhorns are hoping to get the five-star receiver in Austin for a visit this summer and the remains a real possibility. The chances of anything beyond that occurring are murky. Odds of a visit: 50% and climbing. Odds of a commitment: 10% and climbing

OL - Vadal Alexander - The Longhorns have already extended an offer to the 6-6, 310-pound tackle from Buford, Georgia, but he's going to be a tough pull from SEC country. Odds of a visit: 15% and climbing. Odds of a commitment: 4%

OL - D.J. Humphries - Yet another big-time out of state lineman that Stacy Searels has officially offered, but again, it's tough to say if the Longhorns will have a fighting chance. His early top three in order are Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. Odds of a visit: 15% Odds of a commitment: 4%

OL - Andrus Peat - The Longhorns are making a strong push and they could get an official visit, but this is probably going to be an uphill battle with every team fighting an Aaron Green-type of recruitment with his brother already in Lincoln. Odds of a visit: 40% and climbing. Odds of a commitment: 10%

OL - John Theus - Searels went by Theus' school this week and the kid has an open offer, but he's a long-shot. Texas probably has a snowball's chance in hell of pulling that kid away from UGA with his brother currently on campus. Odds of a visit: 3% Odds of a commitment: 0.7 %
DT - Eddie Goldman - It's been pretty quiet on his recruiting front, but Goldman looks like a likely SEC signee. Odds of a visit: 15% Odds of a commitment: 4%

DT - Quay Evans - The Longhorns have shown some interest, as Davis went by his high school this week, but Evans' recruitment is tough to get a handle on at the moment because he's not doing any interviews. Odds of a visit: Unknown. Odds of a commitment: Unknown

DE - Torshiro Davis - Bo Davis is making a huge push for Davis and the LSU commitment is as soft as they get, having scheduled a camp appearance in Austin for June 5th. Odds of a visit: 80% and climbing. Odds of a commitment: 20% and climbing

Ath - Nelson Agholor - Yet another kid that has an offer from the Longhorns, but he's given no indication that the Longhorns are a serious option compared to the SEC powers and Florida schools that own the region. Duane Akina is scheduled to visit his school in early May. Odds of a visit: 10% and climbing. Odds of a commitment: 4%

Q: (ptrain37) - Do you think that Texas will evaluate/re-evaluate recruits (DB) Bralon Addison and/or CB Justin Thomas?

A: Thomas is a player that the Longhorns have continued to evaluate and they will likely look at him again next month and then hope he attends their summer camp in June, which is currently the expectation. He's a definite contender for the final cornerback offer. As for Addison, the Longhorns simply never had an interest.

Q: (Dal_Horn) - The first thing that came to my mind when Gray committed was I wanted to know what was going through Harsin's mind. Gray would never had considered Boise St so he has to be kind of blown away with what a major university can do with the name, history, money, facilities, etc because a kid like Gray isn't even going to consider a Boise St no matter how good they are. I just am wondering if he is thinking to himself "this is why I came here." What do you think is going through his head?

A: I thought of Lawrence from the movie Office Space when I read your question. Just switch Major and Harsin in the following conversation…

Peter: This isn't so bad, huh? Makin' bucks, gettin' exercise, workin' outside.
Lawrence: F'ing A.
Peters: [noddings] F'ing A.

Q: (joemiller777) - Ketch, I've been a subscriber now for 3 years, love your product. Ok, my first question is recruiting related. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a guru, but like most, I am completely fascinated with recruiting, player evaluations, and star ratings. Personally, I like to get an idea of a recruits talents and prospects by directly comparing him to a recruit from the same position from a recent class. Having said that, if you were Mack Brown and were limited to selecting one of each of the following recruits coming out of their JR or SR year of high school, tell me who you would select based on talent and prospects to excel in college on a head to head basis.

Jonathan Gray vs. Malcolm Brown
Caleb Jones vs. Jaxon Shipley
Connor Brewer vs. David Ash
Kennedy Estelle vs. Mason Walters
Mario Edwards Jr. vs. Jackson Jeffcoat
Kendall Sanders vs. Sheroid Evans- assuming Sanders as a DB
Malcom Brown vs. Desmond Jackson
Andrus Peat vs. Christian Westerman
Camhron Hughes vs. Garret Greenlea
Trey Williams vs. Aaron Green
Orlando Thomas vs. Mykkele Thompson

If you could briefly explain your selections that would be great.

Second question- If you could select any one recruit over the last 5 years nationwide coming out of JR or SR year, who is your guy?

Third question- assuming you were single- a Phillies series title in 11' or one no-rules date with Kate Upton for one date/night????

A: Good stuff, don't let this be the last time you send in questions.

1. Jonathan Gray vs. Malcolm Brown: Give me Brown today, but it's close and incredibly difficult to call.

2. Caleb Jones vs. Jaxon Shipley: Shipley because nobody raves about him more than his peers.

3. Connor Brewer vs. David Ash: Coin-flipper, but I lean to Ash because of the "it" intangible I think he has.

4. Kennedy Estelle vs. Mason Walters: I'd take Estelle because he's a more natural tackle and is experienced in playing the position.

5. Mario Edwards Jr. vs. Jackson Jeffcoat: If we eliminate the injury concerns with Jeffcoat, I'm not sure he has a peer in terms of natural pass-rush skills.

6. Kendall Sanders vs. Sheroid Evans: Evans has out of this world physical tools, but give me Sanders because his film might be the best I've seen in this state since Lawrence Richardson.

7. Malcom Brown vs. Desmond Jackson: Brown has a little more size, so he gets the nod.

8. Andrus Peat vs. Christian Westerman: Peat fairly easily for me because I think he can play both tackle spots and I've never been sure about that with Westerman.

9. Camhron Hughes vs. Garret Greenlea: Hughes is more athletic, has a higher ceiling and is injury-free. That being said, I expect big things from a healthy Greenlea.

10. Trey Williams vs. Aaron Green: Williams is the better player in my opinion.

11. Orlando Thomas vs. Mykkele Thompson: Thompson because he is slightly bigger, but damn that might have been the toughest call yet.

As for the second question, if I have hindsight at my disposal, I'd probably take Andrew Luck. He's damn near the perfect quarterback prospect from every angle, including the fact that he passed up the chance to be the first pick in the NFL Draft for another year in college.

Finally, I'm going to lean on an experience from the night of November 25th, 2004 to help me decide the issue. I can't specifically talk about the details of the experience on the board because this is a family website and I'm now a happily married man that would like to stay that way, but let's just say that I'm concerned that after about 2 hours with Upton, I'd get bored and find her incredibly annoying. Therefore, if we're talking two hours of interest with Upton or essentially the second title of my lifetime (was too young for the 1980 team) with the Phillies, I'm going to take the World Series title and not look back, motor-boating and the like be damned.

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