October 12, 2007

Ketch's Inside the Locker Room

Q: (Golfpr3145) - I know Mack Brown has taken a lot of criticism in the last couple of months. I really like Mack and think he is good for the program. How much longer do you think he will coach? I think he will lose some of his finer assistants after this year just because of their dispute over who should be on the playing field. Do you think with Dodds retiring, Mack will consider the AD position if offered?

A: Good questions. I think Mack is going to coach as long as he enjoys the craft and the turn of the decade has always been the timeframe I've personally used when trying to project what he might do down the road. Really and truly, I think Sally Brown holds the keys to the car and if there's ever a point when she's ready to start a new chapter in their life, I think Mack will follow. At this point they both seem to be happy and there's nothing on the radar that would suggest that he's considering a departure. The athletic director position is one that I've heard that Deloss Dodds has spoken with him about and it's something to keep an eye on. While I once thought that I'd land on the moon before Mack would ever take the position, I've heard over the last few months that it might not be out of the question. It's definitely something that is being whispered about behind the scenes.

Q: (4th&5FromThe8) - Assuming that Brian Ellis is on his way out of the program, how many from that class have left for one reason or another. Any explanation why?

A: I addressed Ellis in last week's Locker Room, but it's too soon to think that he's on his way out of the program. The word going through the grapevine this summer was that Ellis was right there with a couple of other players that might be in trouble academically. The coaches and others involved in the program have not addressed the situation, but it's likely that the coaches are having Ellis focus on his academics this semester in an effort to solidify his academic standing. In my opinion, Ellis is a key player for the program and could be someone that develops into a starter at defensive tackle in the next few years. With the loss of Andre Jones, the Longhorns can ill-afford to lose a prospect like Ellis. To answer your final question, four of the 25 members from the 2006 recruiting class are no longer in the program.

Q: (The Big Bopper) - Is the absence of Ken Rucker the reason we are not seeing more of a RB rotation than we have been seeing? In the past, I thought we had done a really good job of getting a lot of guys some looks. That just has not happened this year and I just can't imagine that Vondrell McGee feels any love right now, which is, quite frankly, disappointing.

A: It's a good question, but I'm not sure that this has much to do with Rucker's battle with cancer this season. I think has much more to do with the Texas coaching staff wanting Jamaal Charles to step up and be the workhorse running back that they feel the team needs. Mack Brown has had successful running teams that feature primarily one back and he's had some that featured committees, but I think he prefers to have a dominant player at the position. With the offensive line struggling and with a schedule that has proven to be more difficult than most would have projected, Brown and the Texas staff haven't found the consistency that they want in the ground game and there probably hasn't been a comfort zone that would allow them to break in more inexperienced players. I think that's probably been a common theme on the team this year and not exclusive to the running back position.

Q: (ptrain37) - Do you think DB Blake Gideon will get bumped up to a 3 star or even a 4 star by the time his season ends?

Have you heard anything about how RB Cody Johnson is recovering from his shoulder injury? Do think he will be used as a FB/RB or as a primary RB?

A: Yes, I do believe that Gideon is going to get a bump up in the rankings, but he probably won't be a four-star prospect. I think a solid three-star grade is eventually going to be in his future based on his strong performances this season.
As far as Johnson is concerned, he's getting a lot of rest right now because the staff wants him to be completely healthy in 2008. His shoulder injuries are an obvious concern and after having issues there, the staff hasn't wanted to rush him into action. I think the answers about his future position will likely come into focus in bowl workouts and in the spring.
Q: (J. Harmon) - After watching the Kansas secondary blanket the K-State receivers compared to the coverage of our Longhorns, what is your opinion of our Defensive Back talent pool given the fact that none of the younger guys ( I don't consider Beasley young) can break into the line up? What does this say about our future when our first unit cannot cover most good D1 receivers? My memory may be faulty, but when Huff and Ced. Griffin played as freshman, our coverage was no worse than what I'm seeing now.

A: There's been a serious decline in talent as it relates to the starting line-ups from previous years to this year. Period. The Longhorn secondary has featured nothing but terrific NFL prospects for the better part of this decade and a lull in recruiting at the defensive back position has created a transition year of sorts because the Longhorn program is loaded with dynamic secondary talents, but outside of Beasley (who is young whether you consider him to be or not) the staff hasn't gotten any of them significant reps this season. The inability to get those guys snaps this season means that many of these same issues with inexperience will pop up again next season. In order for the Longhorns to get back to a championship level on defense, guys like Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown, Ben Wells and Christian Scott will need to lead the way in the secondary. With four of the top five players in the Texas secondary this year being seniors, next season figures to be one that also has more questions than answers heading into it. At least going into this season the Longhorns had a bunch of older inexperienced guys. They might not have played much, but they had seen a lot from the sidelines. The group that will be counted on next year will be young and inexperienced. It's a wall the Longhorns are seemingly running into with their eyes closed.

Q: (BebopHorn) - As you listen and read the national media, Texas is becoming irrelevant on the national scene and receiving a lot of criticism. Further, there is so much banter on the website regarding what criteria should be used to measure the success of the program (NC, BCS bowl appearances, Big XII championships, bowl record, 10-win seasons, record vs. top 10, record vs. OU/A&M, graduation rates, off-field problems, etc.). What criteria would you use and how would you rate it (Outstanding, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Poor or use any scale you would use)? It appears to me and many of my fellow Horn supporters that we are quickly becoming a bunch of aggies and rationalizing our performance on and off the field.

A: Steve Spurrier has always said that the goal each season is to win the league title and if you can do that, you're going to be in a position to potentially do some exciting things on the national level. The problem for Texas is that they have as many national titles as they d Big 12 titles and that's a serious problem. Frankly, there's no justification for not having more Big 12 titles than the one that the Longhorns won on their way to the national title in 2005. That's only one more than the likes of Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State. It's completely unrealistic to judge every season by a national title or bust mentality because that's an impossible set of standards to reach each year. I think the debate of the off-field stuff is a completely different discussion. Obviously, you want good kids that graduate and represent the program well, but that's not directly correlated to winning often. Overall, the Longhorns have one of the elite programs in college football and there are quite a few areas where the Longhorns would get outstanding grades and some others that would be less than satisfactory. Ten-win seasons and BCS bowl games are great things, but programs like this one get judged by the number of championships they win.

Q: (TheNutzOfKnippa) - My questions are about recruits over the past few years.

Can you first give us some updates on players that are currently still with the team: Ishie Oduegwu, Phillip Payne, Ahmad Howard, Russell Carter, Cody Johnson, Malcolm Williams, Christian Scott?

And do you have any updates to what happened to these players after they left Texas: Jerrell Wilkerson, Michael Houston, Chris Brown, Myron Hardy, Greg Dolan, Bobby Tatum and Kyle Thornton?

I just threw out a lot of names at you, so pick which kids you want to talk about.

A: Several of the current players that you asked about are currently redshirting this season, which means they are limited to scout team work this season. That would include Howard, Carter, Johnson, Williams and Scott. It's too soon to have a definite opinion on any of those players because their first-year workload on the field has been very limited. Oduegwu and Payne are two players that need to play better if they want to have significant roles in the future. In particular, Payne has been passed on the depth chart by true freshmen this fall and that's never a good thing.

As far as the other kids that you asked about, most are missing in action. Tatum is at Abilene Christian and Brown is playing at Sam Houston State. Houston had actually transferred to Washington before getting into off-field troubles that might make it tough for him to play without an officer of the law present at all times. Guys like Wilkerson, Hardy, Dolan and Thornton haven't surfaced at other programs as far as I know.

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