April 28, 2009

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (boblianes■) - 1. We're all excited about Garrett Gilbert, Connor Wood, and the new (Case) McCoy. Please compare the new QB's with current or past QB's. I'm interested in arm strength, accuracy, ability to avoid a sack, QB IQ (ability to lead the team and avoid mental errors) and finally any intangibles you consider significant.

2. I think we haven't been able to sign a 5 star RB because we are a pass first offense and the top tier RB's want to be featured in the offense rather than a second option. I also think that the line is not as good at run blocking because we are a pass first offense. I'd bet they don't get the reps for running plays that they do for passing plays. I'm not sure how the Horns can solve this image problem but I think they really need to pursue more 5 star talents out of state without loosing any emphasis with the in state candidates. Comments?

A: Let's start at the top and I think it's a good question.

Gilbert - I think he's at the top of any category with current or former Longhorn prospects when you're talking about accuracy, ability to make plays, football IQ and the intangibles. I'm not sure that he has the same kind of arm strength that Chris Simms or Chance Mock had when they arrived as freshmen, but he's got better arm strength than Colt McCoy had before he arrived. As for his ability to avoid a sack, he's a good athlete, but not quite as fluid as McCoy or Vince Young. That being said, Gilbert can move around and he has a very good feel for when/how to buy time with his feet.

Wood -There's no question that he has the physical tools that probably rank with just about anyone that the Longhorns have recruited. He can flat out throw the football and he's a very good athlete/player with a high football IQ. The thing you'd like to see more from Wood is how he competes against better athletes under the lights in 11-on-11 action. From a skill set, he reminds me a little of Chance Mock.

McCoy - He's not too different from his younger brother because he doesn't have the elite arm strength or physical tools. His top asset is his football IQ, work ethic and intangibles. The coaches are hoping that his body can develop in college like Colt's was able to. If that happens, it'll all come together for him. At least, that's the plan.

As for your second question, I still think it's an issue of the selections by the staff more than it is an issue with the offensive scheme. They could have had a five-star back last year if they had offered Christian Michael and all it would have taken was an offer, so I don't think guys are running from Greg Davis' offense. His offense has been too running back friendly for too many years for that to happen in my opinion. When you go back and look at the running back recruiting in 2007-09, the staff made very quick decisions about the guys that they wanted and there was really not much of a national search that would provide more than one or two options. The talent issues at position, or at least the perceived talent issue there, is a byproduct of their own decisions in recruiting, at least in my mind.

Q: (Hookemcol) - It appears that OU often turns to Junior College recruiting when they have a position need. With the lack of experience at DT, have the Longhorns looked at the Junior College ranks as a source to fill this void?

A: No, Mack Brown is not a guy that believes in recruiting JUCO players and outside of a few guys early in his career, he has completely stayed away from the JUCO ranks. Most of his hand-line approach to junior college players centers around the fact that most don't have the academic backgrounds to have success at a school like UT.

Q: (jonusn44) - How much satisfaction do you take in the fact that Mack seemed a bit giddy with all of your research? After his statement about the 32 of the 36 still in the league situation it seemed as if it sparked his stance in his reply to the soft label.

Second, do things like that improve your relations with Coach?

Third, you had a picture of Mack and Stoops at the end of a game doing their congratulations and Mack's expression seems a bit annoyed. Is their relationship weak, or are they BFF's? I suspect I know the answer but I'd like to hear your thoughts. JMO it appears as if Mack is looking at bob and thinking "I'll shake your hand and I'll pat your shoulder, but from this stance I can also throw you to the ground and beat your little ass."

A: First of all, I'm not sure that any of Mack's comments had anything to do with the study that I ran last week. Really, the numbers that he gave weren't anything I produced and didn't take a lot of research to provide. I don't really have any knowledge as to whether he's seen our story or not, but I'd guess that he has. I really haven't given much consideration to how he might feel about it because that's not what my motive was for doing the research.

As for it how it impacts our relationship with the program, I'm sure it won't change things much. Mack and I have always had a pretty good working relationship, even when he's been really steamed over something I've done over the years, but our relationship is one that has a clear divider and it always has. Some college team sites like Orangebloods have much more access to the program than we do, but it's always been like that. Overall, it's a solid relationship and I'm not complaining.

Finally, I don't think Mack and Stoops have much of a relationship. I don't know that there's a lot of ill-will, but they seem to have kept their distance from each other over the years. Mack will often speak fondly of a few coaches in the Big 12, but he's never done that with Stoops, although he's always very respectful. The same is true of Stoops. I had dinner with a former Stoops assistant a few years ago in East Texas and he told me that Stoops and the OU staff really respected the Texas program and that was before they started losing games on a consistent basis.

Q: (Eray7758) - I downloaded the spring game like a true fan. Can you give me some hope with the run game? What do you think will be Antwan Cobbs' presence in the offense because I noticed they had him listed as a difference maker?

Second, could you shed some light on how the staff evaluates recruits? How do they describe prospect A is better than prospect B or visa versa....for example what leads to the staff to offer Chris Jones over Deandrew White..... or any other similar prospects that clearly both and extremely talented but what leads the staff to offer one prospect over another?

A: There were times last year when the running game was fine and obviously there were times when the productivity and consistency wasn't where you wanted to be. I think all positive hope is probably leaning on the side of an improving offensive line that returns five starters to the starting line-up, with a lot of those players being considered future NFL prospects. If those guys start to come into their own as a group, the running game will be better.

I think there's also some hope that Cody Johnson and Chris Whaley are players that can give the running game a boost. Expect both players to get a long look in the fall, especially Johnson, who the staff is very high on. Still, he has to prove that he can be a starting-level player and that he can stay healthy with that kind of consistent workload.

Also, I wouldn't look for Cobbs to be a difference maker, but he could lend some depth to the fullback position.

As for the recruiting questions, each player is graded differently, but there are two important questions that will create a different score for each player considered.

No.1 - Can he handle the academic workload that is going to be presented to him at Texas?

If, no, then there's no reason to even move on to the second point. At least that's Mack Brown's vantage point.

No.2 - Can the player achieve success with his talent as a player at a school like Texas? If so, how much?

If a player has no problems with the academic stuff and the staff believes that he's a difference maker, he's going to get offered if he's an in-state kid nine out of ten times. It's important to remember that things aren't always as cut and dry with these decisions as you might think from the outside world. If you're looking at the recruiting decisions being made, you should almost always assume that an overriding part of each decision is based on which kids the staff believes can handle the social, academic and athletic transitions to the school the best.

Q: (mikhailt) - Hey Ketch, a few questions:

(a) After this season, which home and home is the bigger concern for the Horns: Nebraska or K-State?

(b) Who does Adrian Phillips (5' 11" 190) remind you of? A slower Ramonce (6'0" 187), perhaps?

(c) I'm getting married on the 5th of Sept, any chance (mock) the La-Monroe game is early?

A: First, I'll go with Kansas State because the Longhorns have historically owned the Cornhuskers, while the Wildcats have been spanking Longhorn teams all over the place in every sport.

Second, I think the guy Phillips reminds me the most of is current Baylor sophomore wide receiver Kendall Wright. He could be a standout on either side of the ball and while he might not have the most outright speed, he's an explosive, quick-twitched athlete.

Finally, I think you're going to be missing the opener. I'd guess 6pm start.

Q: (lsampson) - As well as I can recall, going into the 2005 championship season there were questions as to whether or not Limas Sweed would start living up to potential. Limas ended up being a very important receiver that year. Looking at this year, I think the same question can be asked about Malcolm Williams. Can you give us a little insight into what the similarities and differences are in regards to the expectations of Limas going into the '05 season and the expectations of Williams coming into this season?

A: I think the biggest similarity between the two players is that they both needed some time to adjust to the college game and the nuances of the wide receiver position. There's no question that both have great physical tools, but both came in needing a little more molding than some of the other successful big-time receivers that Texas has recruited in the last ten years. The good news for Texas is that Sweed started to show some flashes in 2004 during his redshirt freshman season, just like Williams. If anything, Williams is probably ahead of Sweed in their developments because of his big-play flashes against Missouri and Texas Tech. Not even Sweed flashed that kind of explosive ability in his second year and you can make a case that only Roy Williams has during Mack Brown's tenure at Texas. That being said, everyone is waiting for Malcolm Williams to take the next step as a player and not just be a guy that does things in flashes. The physical ability is present for him to be a star.

Q: (Nbhorn81) - Next season is shaping up to be a special year for the Texas Longhorns. It seems they have all the pieces in place except for defensive line. I didn't realize until the other day that they will have to virtually replace everyone except for Kindle (part time DE) and Houston who played hurt from what I understand most of the season and underperformed IMO. How concerned should I or anyone be? Do you think we will have anybody step up that we may be overlooking?

A: The defensive end position is going to be fine with a rotation of Kindle, Sam Acho, Russell Carter, Alex Okafor and Eddie Jones, as all five of those players have Sunday talent, even if some will be asked to become impact players for the first time.

The depth at defensive tackle isn't as good. Houston and Ben Alexander bring experience, but outside of Kheeston Randall, the rest of the young talent on campus has not delivered at a pace that would allow them to be true impact players this season. The combination of grades, injuries and an arrest really stripped this position to the bone and the Longhorns will need their freshmen class to come in and help with some of the depth.

Q: (justinfreeman3) - If Mack were to retire tomorrow, and Muschamp woke up and decided he'd rather be a gardener than a football coach, and you were forced to pick from the existing Texas staff one person to take Mack's place as Head Coach, who gets the call?

A: If it were a one-season deal, I'd go with Mac McWhorter, who was the interim head coach at Georgia Tech and led them to a win in the 2001 Seattle Bowl before they decided to hire Chan Gailey. Technically, he has the highest winning percentage of any coach in Georgia Tech history. If it was a long-term hire, they'd go with Major Applewhite.

Q: (SouthPaugh) - Rate the difficulty of our games in order. Will Oklahoma State be tougher than any game other than OU? Does A&M in College Station concern you in the slightest? 2. Which defense was better? 2001 or 2005?

A: I think there's a huge dip once you get past the top two. In order, I think you can break the difficulty of the 2009 season like this:

1. vs. Oklahoma in Dallas
2. at Oklahoma State
3. at Baylor
4. vs. Texas Tech
5. vs. Kansas
6. at Texas A&M
7. at Missouri
8. vs. Colorado
9. vs. Central Florida
10. vs. UTEP
11. vs. Wyoming
12. vs. La-Monroe

Finally, give me the 2005 defense. Even with its issues, that group could stop the run. The 2001 was ripped apart when push came to shove in that Big 12 title game and it cost Texas a huge opportunity. Plus, the coaching was better in 2005.

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