Posted September 4th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Can Dan Buckner be a weapon as a flex tight end?

Can Dan Buckner be a weapon as a flex tight end?

Texas won’t need career defining games from the likes of [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] or [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] in order to win Saturday’s game. But for some of the players on the roster the first game of the 2009 season is more important. In the season’s first game there are several new names and veterans to keep an eye on who could play critical roles throughout the 2009 season.

1. [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] – The junior is getting the opening day start for the second year in a row. An injury early in the season made the Longview natives sophomore season less than spectacular. The Longhorns don’t want McCoy to lead the team in rushing again, and McGee appears to be the top candidate to handle the load. A big game Saturday makes him the clear first team running back. A subpar game keeps Texas’ number one question unanswered.

2. [tag]Dan Buckner[/tag] – This might shock many, but if Buckner shows up big on Saturday the tight end concerns may be on the way to being over. The sophomore isn’t a true tight end, but if he can control the middle of the field as a receiver he gives the Longhorn offense a wrinkle many didn’t believe they’d have in 2009. If Buckner can just hold his own as a blocker, Texas’ offense becomes multiple, and the running game will flourish.

3. [tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag] – Robinson we’ll get his shot at becoming an impact player this Saturday. In limited action Robinson has shown the ability to make plays. In the spring, Robinson showed the ability to play the pass as well as the run. He also can blitz. If Robinson can play smart, and hold his own against the run, I think he becomes the clear starter at the strong side linebacker position. His ability against the pass will keep him out there in nickel packages alongside [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag].

4. [tag]Emmanuel Acho[/tag] – Really, Robinson and Acho could switch positions on this list. One of them, if not both, needs to step up and prove in a real game situation that they are ready for big time college football. Maybe the opponent on Saturday won’t allow a concrete answer, but a good showing will at least calm the nerves of the Texas faithful. Acho is as intelligent as they come, and has above average pass rushing abilities. What keeps him behind Robinson in my mind is his lack of big play ability. If he proves me wrong, Acho won’t leave the starting lineup for years to come

5. [tag]Kheeston Randall[/tag] – We all know what [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] can do when he is healthy. Not many around the program are as sure about the other defensive tackles. [tag]Ben Alexander[/tag] will get some snaps, but he doesn’t offer the athleticism that Randall does. The sophomore was heralded coming in, and it is time to prove why. Texas won’t face many teams that are going to ram it down their throat, but an up the middle pass rush is the best way to disrupt timing quarterbacks like Sam Bradford and Taylor Potts. The Longhorns need another three technique to step up, and if it isn’t Randall the next person in line is a true freshman.

6. [tag]Christian Scott[/tag] – I truly believe Will Muschamp wants [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] to play the slot when the Longhorns are in the nickel defense. With Thomas at the slot Texas doesn’t give up anything in the run game, and it allows the Thomas to blitz. The only way this can happen is if another safety steps up. Scott has the more raw ability than anyone in the secondary except Aaron Williams. He has played so well that he might replace [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] in the starting lineup even when they’re not in nickel. The knock on Scott is his work habits and attention to detail. If he proves to be a smart player, Scott has the chance to emerge as one of the best players on the team.

7. [tag]John Chiles[/tag] – This is a huge game for Chiles in my opinion. How much, or how little, the former quarterback sees the field will illustrate the overall plans the Texas coaching staff has for him this year. There is little doubt Chiles is one of the most explosive players on the roster with the ball in his hands. But he has to be behind his teammates in route running ability. The fact he was a quarterback will help him with mid route adjustments and identifying coverage. But the Longhorns are loaded at wide receiver, so Chiles is going to have to do something special to earn more snaps.

8. [tag]Tray Allen[/tag] – The word is the big man may play both ways this Saturday. I’m not sure if that means the experiment at defensive tackle is going better or worse than expected. But if Allen does go both ways, a good showing at one or the other could determine his future on the 40 Acres. If he struggles on both lines, Allen may end up being the biggest bust in Mack Brown’s Texas history.

9. [tag]Garrett Gilbert[/tag] – I almost put [tag]Sherrod Harris[/tag] here instead but I’m not sure he even sees the field. I am positive that true freshman Gilbert will see the field though. Texas has too many eggs in his basket not to throw him out there early in the season to see if he can handle it. A good game Saturday more than secures Gilbert the role of backup quarterback. Struggles on Saturday will lead to concerns about Texas’ lack of quality depth behind [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag]. Like it or not, Texas is one freak play away from having a potential national championship season riding on the arm of a true freshman. If he can’t handle it against Louisiana Monroe, when will he?

10. [tag]Charlie Tanner[/tag] – The clock is ticking for Tanner. And the man waiting for the time to run out is [tag]David Snow[/tag]. Frankly, Snow is too good to not be on the field. On paper, Tanner is the weak link on Texas’ offensive line. It may be a waste of time debating starters along the offensive line because of Texas’ desire to rotate the group, but the fact that Tanner is above Snow on the depth chart does raise eye brows. If Tanner slips up too much he may even lose snaps to true freshman Mason Walters.

11. The kickers – It has not been announced yet who will be the kicker for Texas. Both [tag]Ryan Bailey[/tag] and [tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag] have performed well. Word is [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag] has also performed well when given the opportunity. Right now it appears to be a game time decision, but logic suggests both kickers will get work in what most would assume will be a one sided affair Saturday. It may not be who does anything spectacular that secures the job; it may very well be the first kicker that misses will lose the job. If one misses a kick or two, and the other goes perfect, the starting kicker will be decided. If they both struggle, or both go perfect, next week’s starter will be another game time decision.

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Vondrell McGee gets the opening week start, is he the answer at running back?

Vondrell McGee gets the opening week start, is he the answer at running back?

So we know what we know about this year’s team (channeling my inner Aflac commercial). Texas has a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, experience at every position excluding tight end and Will Muschamp is a deity. We got it.

But what don’t we know? Even with the high expectations, there are some unanswered questions that could grow into concerns as the season moves forward.

1. Will a running back step up?

The same question was raised prior to last season. The question went unanswered all season, and Texas still was one second away from playing for a national title. Heading into the offseason, and into spring practice, the word was Cody Johnson had stepped up and was ready for 20+ carries a game.

That was four months ago. The week of the game, it appears the team is exactly where they were one year ago. Vondrell McGee will get the first look, Fozzy Whittaker is showing flashes of talent when he isn’t hanging out with the training staff and Cody Johnson is great in short yardage but not in shape enough to handle the load.

The loan difference is new comer Chris Whaley. The true freshman was given every opportunity to take the starting spot, but his weight and the adjustment to big time D-1 football is proving tough.

Texas may not have to run the ball to be successful, but Mack Brown sure wants to. If this team can establish a run game in Lubbock who knows what would have happened. McGee has the talent to be the lead back. The question is will Greg Davis stick with him consistently enough for him to prove it. I’m not sure Davis, or Brown, know the answer.

2. Can Texas play without a tight end?

If a team is going to have a string of tough injuries, it might as well all happen at one position. Especially at a position that last year’s group proved they didn’t need for the majority of snaps. But the loss of Blaine Irby, DJ Grant, etc., etc. may give Texas no choice but to play without a tight end.

Despite the success of last season’s offense, the Longhorns need to be able to line up with a tight end in passing and rushing situations. Without the option teams will know what kind of play is coming by the personnel that are on the field. Texas is too good for most teams on its schedule to compete either way, but in the big games the Longhorns need the flexibility. Especially with an offensive line that has proven to be road graders in the run game.

Dan Buckner has stepped up. And Greg Smith is still around to block and deflect balls to the other team. But neither is an all around tight end that can block and stretch the defense. The Longhorns offense works best with a pass catching tight end, so Buckner is the odds on favorite to win the job. But he has never had to block at this level, and it hasn’t been proven he can stay healthy while taking on defensive ends and linebackers on a play to play basis.

Texas will field a good offense either way, but without the threat of a tight end they simply can’t be one of the best two teams in the country.

3. Is the lack of depth at defensive tackle a real concern?

For most teams in the country this would be an easy yes, but in the Big 12 I’m not so sure. And how bad can the depth really be when you’re Texas? Most fans, and coaches, around the country would kill for Lamarr Houston, Ben Alexander and a couple of big time recruits to enter the season at defensive tackle.

Texas has been spoiled at the position over the last decade. It seems like every year Texas has two or three big guys in the middle that are sure fire NFL guys. The difference this year is the fans aren’t aware of the other two yet. Meet Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell. These two young guys have the talent, and Randall has the years in the program to make a splash. Howell isn’t ready to compete every down, but he can help out in spots. That is four guys right there that can give you snaps, and one of them is an all-conference caliber player in a conference where maybe two teams try to run up the middle on a consistent basis.

If that is the biggest question mark for the defense, Big 12 coaches are in trouble.

4. Are Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho ready?

Roddrick Muckelroy won’t leave the field. Jared Norton is a senior, and will anchor the middle, but what about the other outside linebacker spot? And maybe more importantly, who will play in nickel packages?

The answer to both questions is either Robinson or Acho. It may be both. The two sophomores are battling for the starting spot with Robinson slightly out in front. Robinson is an aggressive player with the athleticism to play the pass as well as anyone in the linebacking unit. That strength may make him the starter because of the types of offenses Texas faces on a consistent basis. Acho is a smart player with the ability to blitz. Sounds like a Muschamp guy to me.

Norton has struggled on passing downs. He has also struggled with injuries this preseason. If one, or both, of these guys step up when the real games begin the Longhorns will be in excellent shape.

5. Can Texas replace the leadership of Brian Orakpo, Quan Cosby and Roy Miller?

Yes, Texas has Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley on offense, but what about defense? Sergio Kindle is the best defensive lineman, but he is admittedly not the public speaking type. Muckelroy leads the linebacking unit, but he does it quietly. And the guys in the secondary are finally comfortable with the layout of the campus.

So who is the guy? Muschamp says Lamarr Houston and Earl Thomas. I think Houston emerges this season as one of the best players in the conference. And I think Thomas plays so well the chatter of leaving early starts, well early. And both of those predictions are based on Muschamp’s perceived leadership out of the two.

It is hard to be a great player without being a great leader. It is not impossible, but I think it is hard. Houston has the ability when he is healthy. Thomas has improved a ton from last year to right now. The talent is there, if the leadership competes with what the Longhorns have on the offensive side of the ball then the comparisons to the 2005 championship team may be fair. If no one steps up, Texas will drop a game they shouldn’t.

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Posted August 29th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Brandon Collins is expected to step up and give Colt McCoy plenty of WR options.

Brandon Collins is expected to step up and give Colt McCoy plenty of WR options.

Maybe for the first time since 2005, the University of Texas has a legit shot at a national championship heading into the season. Sure last year was special, but at this time in 2008 the Longhorn fan base was not thinking championship rings.

It is all different one year later. In this two part series we look at the five things we know and the five things we don’t about this year’s team.

1. Colt McCoy is a bad ass.

There is no way around it. If McCoy leads this team to the national championship, and maybe picks up a Heisman trophy along the way, he will go down as the best, and most loved, quarterback in the history of the program.

McCoy has done everything a coach could want from a leader. And all reports have him playing at an elite level after a dedicated summer. Vince Young rallied Texas’ last national championship team with summer 7-on-7, McCoy did the same. Now it is time to prove it on the field. And there is little doubt that will happen as long as Colt stays healthy.

2. McCoy has targets to throw the ball to.

Sure, Quan Cosby is gone, but Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll and Brandon Collins may be better than the “Big 3” of Roy Williams, Sloan Thomas and BJ Johnson. And we haven’t even mentioned Jordan Shipley.

Kirkendoll is going off this year. He will replace Cosby as the safety valve on third down situations when Shipley is demanding double teams. Williams showed his big play ability against Missouri and Texas Tech last year. The knock on the sophomore is his consistency, but when the lights come on, he has done nothing but impress. He looks the part on the field, and defensive coordinators have to account for his speed on the outside. Cosby was great, but he didn’t demand a safety to play over the top. Williams can force defenses to keep a man deep to protect against the fly pattern. That will open more holes for the running game, and open up more room for Shipley,

3. Texas will pressure the quarterback.

Apparently, Will Muschamp has taken off the gloves. In year two under the feisty defensive coordinator all bets are off. Muschamp has his players flying around the ball and blitzing on every down. Gone is Brian Orakpo, but Sergio Kindle is now a defensive end/linebacker/freak of nature. Add an underrated Sam Acho, a seemingly healthy Eddie Jones and an emerging superstar in true freshman Alex Okafor and talent on the edge is not a problem.

Also, Texas has linebackers and secondary personnel to blitz. Emmanuel Acho, Keenan Robinson and Jared Norton have received rave reviews for the blitzing ability. And last year, we saw the ability of Earl Thomas and Aaron Williams coming off the edge.

4. The secondary has transformed from the biggest question mark in 2008 to the strength of the defense in 2009.

The combination of Thomas, Williams, Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown, Deon Beasley, Blake Gideon and Christian Scott is almost laughable. For the first time in the Mack Brown era, a defensive unit has a chance to be dominating. Sure, Texas has had dominate players, and even dominate units, but with Muschamp leading the way, the Longhorns may field their best defense sine the 1980’s.

Texas has all but abandoned the 4-3 as its base defense. Texas runs the nickel because of the offenses in the Big 12. Thomas’ ability in coverage allows Muschamp to bring in Scott to play safety when Thomas lines up against the slot. The depth at cornerback allows Muschamp to bring in Brown or Beasley to keep Thomas at safety if the defense needs more speed on the field.

Bottom line – this group is nasty, fast and experienced. Muschamp can do whatever he wants with the front seven, I mean six, because he knows he has a safety net in the back. Not good for the rest of the conference.

5. Texas will have the advantage on special teams in virtually every game.

I know, I know, it is just special teams and that isn’t as sexy of a topic as scoring touchdowns or creating snot bubbles. But the third aspect of football should not be overlooked. Where would the program have gone if Dusty Mangum misses the field goal against Michigan in the first Rose Bowl? Do we win a championship the next year? Who knows? Do we beat OU last year if Shipley doesn’t take a kick to the house?

Texas has two reliable field goal kickers, a two legged punter and return guys growing out of their ears. Add to that the most prolific punt block team in the last decade and opponents have no time to relax.

At least one game a year comes down to special teams play. In 2009, that is to Texas’ advantage.

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Posted July 14th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Will Keenan Robison blow up at linebacker in 2009?

Will Keenan Robison blow up at linebacker in 2009?

Football has become a 24/7, 365 days a year sport. We talk about football in the fall. We watch the spring games in April. And we even follow recruiting with the fervor of a Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

But the one aspect of college football that is overlooked is the work done in the summer with 7-on-7 workouts. Vince Young and the 2005 Championship team proved that chemistry and timing built in the summer can propel a team to the top. After a near perfect season in 2008 Colt McCoy and the Texas football team are looking to duplicate the blue print of the last team to make it to the Rose Bowl and win.

The similarities of this year’s team to the 2005 squad are alarming and are sure to be talked about like McCoy and Jordan Shipley’s fishing plans.

Not all aspects of the game can be worked on over the summer without pads, but plenty can be accomplished. Even with more answers than questions lingering to enter this season there is room for improvement. And here are five questions that could be answered over the summer?

1. What will be the base offensive formation?

The lack of a viable tight end may force Greg Davis’ hand when it comes to “go to” formations. In the biggest games of the year, and when Texas needed to move the ball, they abandoned the tight end set for a four wide receiver spread. With McCoy’s accuracy and the depth at the receiver position having a tight end on the field may be a detriment to the team.

From a skill stand point there is no question the fourth receiver will be more talented than any healthy tight end on the roster, unless we assume DJ Grant can emerge as a catcher and a blocker in his first year at the position. Frankly, it would be unfair to ask that of Grant so the question becomes – is it more important to disguise your play calls by being multiple on offense with a tight end or is the talent difference so great that putting a tight end on the field is holding the team back?

I don’t know the answer, maybe Davis and McCoy don’t either, but a huge summer by the receivers combined with no progress from the tight ends might equal a wide open spread attack for the majority of the snaps.

2. Can Garrett Gilbert handle being the backup quarterback right away?

Anyone who has seen or followed the career of the incoming freshman from Lake Travis knows that all signs point to a successful career at Texas and beyond. But all the skill, and smarts, in the world don’t necessarily spell success as a true freshman. In a perfect world Gilbert will only see the field in controlled situations. The plan is to bring him along slowly at the end of games that Texas has in the bag.

The problem is Texas cannot be comfortable with Sherrod Harris as the primary backup. The coaches and the players love Harris but he has never shown he could carry the team if needed. And with the junior recovering from surgery Gilbert has the chance to secure the backup spot if he can prove he has what it takes on the field, in his head, and in the huddle.

Like it or not Texas is one freak play away from starting a quarterback with no experience. With Chiles at receiver the only real hope is Gilbert. There is no doubt the pressure and expectations will not be fair or realistic for the prodigy, but he should have never expected them to be. This is Texas; he’ll learn that soon enough.

3. Who will be the running back?

Realistically this could be a question that isn’t answered at all this season. Mack Brown and Major Applewhite have proven they’ll mix backs in and out as much as they deem necessary. And while they’ll do it again this year, one has to think the staff wants a “go to” guy. A lot of the inconsistencies last year can be attributed to the lack of familiarity with the backs and the offensive line. The running game can be about timing as much as anything and UT had none last year.

It is true that the full running game cannot be featured without pads, but Applewhite has shown he values pass protection and ball security over big play ability. Vondrell McGee, maybe the most complete runner in the backfield, learned this lesson the hard way when he was benched for the entire Fiesta Bowl.

McGee may be the best runner, but it is Foswhitt Whittaker that can excel in 7-on-7 drills because of his ability to catch the ball and run in space. If he can stay healthy and prove he is willing to block Whittaker may finally break out this season.

The other option is freshman Chris Whaley. All reports have the physical freak as being impressive. The coaching staff has all but said he’ll get his shot to compete, so if he can pick up the small things this summer he’ll have a huge chance this fall.

4. Who will start as the third linebacker?

Roddrick Muckelroy and Jared Norton have starting jobs locked up in the 4-3 alignment, but with Sergio moving to defensive end one of the outside linebacker spots are open. The two candidates for the position are Keenan Robinson Emmanuel Acho. Both can rush the passer and both can make plays.

The skill that may separate them, and determine who plays more, will likely who can play in pass coverage the best. This is where 7-on-7 comes into play. With the Big 12 becoming football version of the Blue Angels air show finding linebackers that can stop the run and cover the pass is invaluable. In his short time on campus Robinson has shown the ability to play the pass and that’ what puts him at the top of the depth chart at strong side linebacker.

Texas will play with five defensive backs a lot this season, and that means only two linebackers on the field. Norton, who is a prototypical middle linebacker in the 4-3, has struggled in the nickel formation so if Robinson plays well enough he may be alongside Muckelroy when teams are spread out.

5. Is the work ethic there?

For the first time in a long time Texas overachieved last season. It had more to do with expectations, but the Longhorns had a workman like feel that wasn’t the norm in the last decade. Will Muschamp has gotten a lot of credit for the attitude change, but more credit needs to go to the players and especially the leaders on the team. More than talent, UT lost some big time leaders in Quan Cosby, Roy Miller, and Brian Orakpo.

Those guys kept the young guys in check in practice, off the field, and in the locker room. Texas still has established leaders in Colt McCoy and Sergio Kindle and new leaders are stepping up like Earl Thomas. But until the team faces some adversity no one will know if the team has the backbone they showed in games against Oklahoma and Ohio State last year.

The 2005 team established that ethic in the summer with many players pointing out that they had worked too hard in June and July to let anyone beat them. If this year’s team comes out of the summer with the same feeling another special year could be on the horizon.

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The Texas baseball team holds the Big 12 Tourney trophy. (TexasSports.com)

The Texas baseball team holds the Big 12 Tourney trophy. (TexasSports.com)

The Memorial Day weekend got even better on Monday when ESPN announced that The University of Texas baseball team will be the number 1 seed in the upcoming 64 team College Baseball Tournament. The Longhorns will be joined by Texas State, Army, and Boston College in their opening regional bracket. The likely match-up in the super regional is TCU. If not TCU, it could be Texas A&M.

The number 1 seed ensures Texas won’t have to leave Austin to play a baseball game unless they make it to the College World Series in Omaha. A trip I’m sure they’d be eager to make.

Texas got the weekend started by winning three straight games in Oklahoma City to capture the Big 12 tournament championship. The team got off to a bumpy start in the tournament with an opening game loss to Baylor. But wins over [tag]Kansas[/tag] and [tag]Kansas State[/tag] followed by a championship game win over Pool B winner [tag]Missouri[/tag] gave Texas their fourth tournament championship. The Longhorns win the tournament for the second straight year.

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Posted May 20th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Baseball, Feature

The Texas Longhorn baseball team wrapped up the 2009 regular season with a double header sweep over an overpowered Alabama A&M squad. Head Coach [tag]Augie Garrido[/tag] used the late season matchup to get his staff ready for the upcoming Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

The Longhorns will enter the conference tournament as the number #1 seed. Texas will face #8 seed [tag]Baylor[/tag] on Wednesday at 12:30, [tag]Kansas[/tag] on Thursday at 3:00, and [tag]Kansas State[/tag] on Friday at 12:30.  The finals take place the following day between the top teams in each pool. [tag]Oklahoma[/tag] and A&M are the favorites in pool B.

Despite an occasional dry spell at the plate this year’s Longhorn team has performed better than any team since the championship squads. Texas sports the best pitching staff in college baseball, and in post season play pitching depth is as important as point guards in March Madness. Garrido’s group still has question marks behind the plate, but the lineup has shown the ability to score runs if they can get on a roll early.

Texas has all but locked up a top 8 national seed. The granting of a top 8 seed would guarantee the Longhorns wouldn’t have to leave Austin until the College World Series, if they were good enough and lucky enough, to make it.

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Posted May 3rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Baseball, Feature

Travis Tucker hit a grand slam Saturday against Baylor.

Travis Tucker hit a grand slam Saturday against Baylor. (Image: Statesman.com)

The Texas baseball team took a huge step towards a Big 12 title over the weekend by sweeping [tag]Baylor[/tag] in a three game home split series. That is now two sweeps of top conference foes in the last three series, the first came two weekends ago against [tag]Oklahoma[/tag]. The Longhorns needed a big weekend following a 0-2-1 series at home against [tag]Kansas State[/tag].

Texas has relied on pitching for much of the season but in the first two games the Longhorn offense exploded for double digit run totals thanks in large part to horrible defense by Baylor.

Augie Garrido’s group hosted game one on Friday in Austin in a matchup between [tag]Chance Ruffin[/tag] and Kendal Volz that aired on ESPNU. Volz, the closer for last year’s USA national team and a likely first round pick, struggled early with his control and Longhorn hitters took advantage. [tag]Kevin Lusson[/tag], playing at DH and on fire, came through with an RBI in the first inning. UT added another run on a Volz wild pitch to take a 2-0 lead after one.

The Longhorns added two more in the second, and following a Baylor run in the top of the third, added a fifth run in the third.

Up 5-1 with Ruffin cruising Texas looked to put the game away early but Baylor added two in the top of the fifth and one more in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 5-4.

The Bears had the momentum, and Volz had settled down by getting ahead of Texas hitters, but the Baylor defense couldn’t stay out of their own way. They committed seven total errors on the night, one of which was on Volz himself.

Texas scratched across four runs in the seventh and three runs in the eight to stretch the lead to 12-4 with closer [tag]Austin Wood[/tag] on the mound. Wood pitched three total innings, a decision that was puzzling with an eight run lead and two more games left in the weekend, allowing no runs.

On Saturday the series moved to Waco. And it wasn’t a good day to be a pitcher. The two teams, both known for solid pitching, allowed a total 30 runs on 25 hits in the nine inning slug fest. It was the Longhorns once again that jumped on the Bears early with 10 runs in the first three innings.

The offense was led by the home runs of [tag]Travis Tucker[/tag], [tag]Brandon Belt[/tag], and [tag]Cameron Rupp[/tag]. [tag]Connor Rowe[/tag] had his second strong game in a row collecting four hits in six at bats on Saturday alone.

[tag]Cole Green[/tag] got the start for Texas and he gave the Horns a very solid seven innings of work. The sophomore gave up five runs, only two were earned, with 10 strikeouts. Texas stretched the lead all the way to 19-5 going into the ninth inning where Baylor made a late push to bring the score closer but it was too little too late.

Texas needed the sweep on Sunday in Baylor to put an exclamation point on the series and that is exactly what they did. Texas teams in the past few years have lacked that killer instinct, hopefully a performance like this weekend’s propels them into the postseason.

[tag]Taylor Jungmann[/tag] got a rare weekend start in place of [tag]Brandon Workman[/tag] as he battles a few injuries and bad outings. And the freshman made a case to make the move permanent with a dominating performance. The former Georgetown star struck out 10 batters in six innings allowing only one run on three hits. Jungmann has the most upside of any pitcher on Texas’ staff and it was a great sign to see him step up in a big moment.

Baylor got a great pitching performance of their own from Willie Kempf, but the Longhorn bats managed to a few more runs than the Bears could match.

Texas’ offense was led by the three hits of leadoff hitter [tag]Michael Torres[/tag] and the huge two run RBI homerun by Rupp, his second of the series.

Wood came in to close out his second game in three days to seal up the series.

The sweep puts Texas to the top of the standings along with A&M and Kansas State. The Longhorns will face A&M at home May 8th-10th in what could become a series to decide the regular season championship and the number one seed in the conference tournament. With a series win against the Aggies the Longhorns would essentially become a lock to be one of the top 8 seeds in the national tournament. That would mean Texas wouldn’t have to play outside of Austin until the College World Series if they were able to advance that far.

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Nolan Brewster runs back an interception of Sherrod Harris.

Nolan Brewster runs back an interception of Sherrod Harris. (MB-TF)

For the returning starters the spring is for retuning and building chemistry with the new faces around on the team. For the new faces and younger guys the spring is about gaining confidence from the coaches and your teammates. The spring game isn’t always about the starters. Players coming off a red-shirt year or three year guys buried on the depth chart can make a statement and jumpstart the summer offseason program. The 2009 Jamboree had the usual faces making plays ([tag]Colt McCoy[/tag]), it had a few missing ([tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag], [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag]), and it had a few emerge. We look at who had the best performances and who may have made a name for themselves in this year’s game.

1. [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag]

The sophomore safety was the best player on the field on Sunday. Thomas had the play of the day when he intercepted Colt McCoy’s pass attempt and then outraced the Heisman candidate to the pylon. The Longhorns played predominately out of the 4-2-5, and it sounds like Earl Thomas is the choice at the nickel spot covering the slot. [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag] is also get a look at the slot, but right now it looks like Will Muschamp would rather bring in Christian Scott at safety than [tag]Curtis Brown[/tag] to corner. The truth of the matter is Muschamp is probably comfortable with either, but having three safeties on the field will help with run support and blitzing. It all depends on the play of Thomas, and if Sunday is a forecast of what is to come, Muschamp will have a lot of options come the fall. Thomas has a chance to be an All-American type player in his sophomore year. He has the talent and the dedication to do it.

2. [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag]

His stats weren’t that great, two catches for five yards. Nobody on offense lit up the stat book on a day that was brutally windy. But when Williams is on the field he has a chance to beat any corner deep. The guy looks the part. He can run, he can jump, he can catch. Colt McCoy has had his struggles in the deep passing game, he missed Williams twice on throws deep down the field on one Williams caught it out of bounds and on the other one he overthrew the open Williams by a few steps. All summer long these two needs to work on connecting down the field because the ability to get deep is one that the Longhorns lacked last season. It is utterly amazing the success UT had on offense last year considering the lack of true running game or deep ball. It makes what Colt did last year that more impressive. Williams can force double teams on the outside with his ability to beat one-on-one coverage. That will allow more room for Shipley, Brandon Collins, and James Kirkendoll. Williams hasn’t been counted on for a whole game yet so his conditioning is still a concern, but his talent is off the charts.

3. [tag]Alex Okafor[/tag]

The kid should be thinking about prom instead he is getting the start for the first group at the University of Texas’ spring game. [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] did the same thing last year and every one dismissed it as just an able body’s thing and it wouldn’t be the case by fall. Well, Blake Gideon started every game last year and it is too early to say if Okafor will have the same honor, but it is clear he will get some snaps. The true freshman from Pflugerville started where Sergio Kindle is likely to be, but when Kindle plays linebacker that position will be open. Eddie Jones will be back in the fall and the coaches like [tag]Russell Carter[/tag], but don’t overlook the freshman. He doesn’t play like a freshman, and I don’t the coaches are going to treat him like one. If he can add some strength and a little weight in the offseason he has a chance to be a real force this year. At the worst he’s a situational pass rusher and a candidate to be a middle guy on kickoffs and punts.

4. [tag]Nolan Brewster[/tag]

The true sophomore is lost in the shuffle in a crowded secondary group, but this spring he has made a case for some real playing time. Brewster made the first big play of the game, an interception off of a bobbled pass thrown by [tag]Sherrod Harris[/tag] to tight-end [tag]Ian Harris[/tag]. Brewster is an instinctive, hardnosed football player that excels at safety and in special teams. With Thomas, Scott, and Blake Gideon all in line for major snaps it is hard to see where Brewster is going to fit in. But with the offenses in the Big 12 and the three safety formation that Muschamp is going to being the fourth safety may be the defensive equivalent of being the fourth receiver for the Longhorn offense. Brewster is one sprained ankle from being a possible starter for a national championship contender. And he has shown so far he is capable of stepping up.

5. [tag]Britt Mitchell[/tag]

It is unlikely that Mitchell has won a starting spot at right tackle in the absence of [tag]Kyle Hix[/tag] because of injury, but the junior may have cemented himself as the third tackle in the rotation. Texas likes to rotate lineman every third series or so in real game action, and with the injury history of both starters Hix and senior [tag]Adam Ulatoski[/tag] having quality depth at tackle is huge, especially to a football team that passes so frequently. The offensive line wasn’t dominating on Sunday, but they were more than solid in the passing game. Mitchell held his own against Sam Acho and Alex Okafor and opened the hole for the first rushing touchdown of the game. Tray Allen has struggled to make an impact at tackle, and some think he should be moved inside, with the emergence of Mitchell over the last half of spring practice has made that move a possibility.

6. [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag]

It was pretty clear that [tag]Chykie Brown[/tag] was one of the starting corners. He has a chance to be the best corner in the conference. It was unclear, however, who would get the other spot. Would the coaches give the nod to the older player or the most talented player? Aaron Williams, just a sophomore, was thought of the player with the most upside at the position and it looks like that upside is being realized sooner than later. AJ has manned the starting corner spot all spring and has brought rave reviews for his consistency and talent. The former Round Rock McNeil star will be on the field somewhere, either at corner or at the slot in the nickel formation and even showed some return skills in the Spring Game. Williams is in the mold of Nathan Vasher, Michael Huff, and Aaron Ross. He has a chance to be a star.

7. [tag]James Kirkendoll[/tag]

It seems the former Westwood star is the forgotten man at the wide receiver position. He doesn’t get the same hype as Malcolm Williams, Jordan Shipley, and even [tag]Brandon Collins[/tag]. But Kirkendoll just gets the job done day in and day out. He is a great route runner, he has reliable hands, and he can play on the inside and the outside. The junior also proved he can perform in the big games when he made a few clutch catches late in the Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State. It looks more and more likely that Texas will go to a four wide receiver set for a good amount of snaps because of the problems at the tight end position. That means even more time for Kirkendoll. In the Spring Game he was tied for most catches with three and had a nice 12 yard gain on a reverse.

8. [tag]Ben Alexander[/tag]

The defensive tackle position has to be the most worrisome position on the team. Texas needs someone to step up next to [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] and so far the senior has done a good job. It is now or never for Alexander and he has to realize that. The coaches were thinking of moving Houston, a former defensive end, to the nose tackle position but the emergence of Alexander has allowed him to stay at his more natural three technique. Muschamp has said he’d like to have at least five defensive ends and five defensive tackles to rotate. Right now it looks like the defensive end rotation will not be a problem if everyone is healthy. Texas has three dependable defensive tackles right now with a few more on the roster and two incoming freshman showing up in the fall. Texas is going to need one of those two if not both to come in and provide depth. Alexander needs to do everything he can to improve his conditioning and quickness to handle the Big 12 offenses. He will never be an every down play against those styles of offense but 40 to 50 snaps a game would be huge for this team.

9. [tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag]

The evolution of the Big 12 offenses has required the linebackers to be just as good in pass coverage as they are at stopping the run. Texas has two reliable and proven linebackers in [tag]Jared Norton[/tag] and [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] (three if you count Sergio Kindle), but Norton is a prototypical linebacker who excels against the run but can look lost at times against the spread offenses. Robinson on the other hand is has the perfect skill set for the Big 12 and Muschamp’s defense. The speed and athleticism he has at linebacker is rare. On Sunday he blanketed tight-ends and running backs. The sophomore can blitz as well. Robinson is a player that could play all three downs in this defense and don’t be surprised if it is Muckelroy and Robinson playing linebacker in the 4-2-5 as the season wears on.

10. [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag]

Not many punters can be considered weapons, but Tucker will be for Texas this year. Last year, he made an impact with his rugby style punts last year, and it looks like he has added another foot to his arsenal. The right footed punter rolled to his left and with his left foot he downed a punt inside the 10 yard line on a rugby punt. He also had a few regular punts that looked good. As a team punting isn’t a good thing, but it is nice to have such a versatile player taking the deep snaps. Besides taking away opposing returners with the rugby style punt, his athleticism combined with his ability to roll both ways will provide huge opportunities for fakes. And with his proficiency with the rugby style Texas can call fake punt options where he can roll one way and if it is open he can run and if it isn’t he can punt at the last minute. It will be huge in close games.

11. [tag]Cody Johnson[/tag]

I know he didn’t play on Sunday, but the play at the running back position proved that Johnson needs to be the guy unless freshman [tag]Chris Whaley[/tag] comes in and impresses. For the first half of the spring Johnson ran with the first team and impressed the coaches enough that [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] and Greg Davis haven mentioned every down back with Johnson’s name. The question on the sophomore bruiser has always been conditioning. The coaching staff has tried to get his weight down, but really the important thing is his body fat. He may not fit perfectly into the current offensive scheme, but Texas has too many negative plays in the run game and Johnson gives you a back that will push the pile forward at the very least. The fact is Texas doesn’t need the run game to be one of the best in the nation; they just need to be able to pick up small chunks of yards when they need to. Johnson being able to stay on the field will be a big part of that.

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Aaron Williams was great on defense and electric with the ball in his hands. (Photo: MB-TF)

Aaron Williams was great on defense and electric with the ball in his hands. (Photo: MB-TF)

The Texas Longhorns gave us the first real look at what next year’s team is going to look like on Sunday for the Spring Game. Of course these games need to be taken with a grain of salt because both sides bring vanilla game plans. [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] didn’t play very much, but the defense dominated for most of the scrimmage. Here are five things we learned from the game.

1. The secondary has grown up.

A few months removed from being the perceived weak link of the defense the Longhorn secondary dominated the offense the whole game. The defense played predominately out of the 4-2-5 and showed very little blitzes but they made plays. Last year the group had troubles creating turnovers but the safeties intercepted two passes, the first by [tag]Nolan Brewster[/tag] against the second team offense. The second interception was the play of day, a pick six by [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] off of [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag]. Thomas was far and away the best player on the field on Sunday. The sophomore was everywhere, he showed off his coverage ability, he was a sure tackler, and show off his speed by running down a kick returner. Texas has four safeties that could start and all of them have at least three years of eligibility left. The corners looked good too. [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag] and [tag]Chykie Brown[/tag] have an opportunity to leave campus as the best duo Texas has had at cornerback. Add [tag]Curtis Brown[/tag] and [tag]Deon Beasley[/tag] and this group is deep and athletic. [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] couldn’t blitz as much as he might have liked last year because of the inexperience in the secondary, but the training wheels will come off this season. And it may just be scary good.

2. The tight end position is on life support.

It is true that this program has been spoiled at the tight end position in recent memory. It didn’t look like that was going to change with the emergence of [tag]Blaine Irby[/tag]. A horrific injury to Irby, a few injuries to the back ups, and a few misses in recruiting later and we’re left with the current situation. [tag]Ian Harris[/tag] bobbled a ball to cause the first interception of the game and [tag]Greg Smith[/tag] almost did the same later on. Right now it looks like Texas may have to use the four or five receiver set as their base offense this year when they really want to move the ball. Mack Brown is hesitant to abandon the run, but having a tight end on the field is becoming a liability. Irby is nowhere close to be being back, and there is no guarantee he will ever be the same if or when does get back. Maybe if [tag]DJ Grant[/tag] gets healthy or one of the two incoming freshman come in ready to contribute the position has a chance. But as we stand right now Greg Davis really needs to think about using the offense he used in the second half against Oklahoma for the majority of the snaps. Luckily Texas has the receivers to play that set with no problem. In fact keeping one of them on the sideline in favor of the current tight end on the roster is a form of football dyslexia.

3. [tag]Cody Johnson[/tag] needs to be in shape

Both [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] and [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] found the endzone on Sunday, and each showed a few flashes of their potential with the ball in their hands. But Texas averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry. Before his hamstring injury in the second half of the spring coaches and insiders had been raving about Johnson’s progress both running the ball and dedicating himself to being in shape. The knock on Johnson has always been his weight, but right now the coaching staff has decided to worry more about his body fat. Johnson is going to be counted on as the every down back if he can prove he can handle it. Right now Whittaker offers the team the skills needed in a third down back as long as he can prove he’ll block blitzing linebackers. Where that leads McGee is anybody’s guess, but with a good summer and fall practice it couldn’t be a total shock to see him get the opening day start. The variable in the whole situation is incoming freshman [tag]Chris Whaley[/tag]. The big back from Madisonville just participated in the 100M at the Texas Relays and by all accounts the young man is an athletic specimen. The staff was so high on him as a running back, many experts project him to outgrow the position that they chose not to recruit another one. If he reports in shape and ready to take the punishment he will be given every opportunity to win the job. If all else fails the Texas offense may look like something from Lubbock. Is that a bad thing? I can’t decide.

4. Colt McCoy will have plenty of targets.

Texas’ leading returning receiver, and Colt McCoy’s roommate and fishing buddy if you haven’t heard, [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] didn’t participate in spring practices to recover from injury the Longhorns fielded maybe the best trio of receivers ever at Texas. None of the wide outs are on the level of Roy Williams, but collectively this group may be better than the BJ Johnson and Sloan Thomas group. They weren’t as highly recruited but [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag], [tag]Brandon Collins[/tag], and [tag]James Kirkendoll[/tag] all bring something different to the field and they work great in this offense. The quarterbacks struggled with the wind, and the secondary had seen all the patterns every day in practice, but it was obvious how much big play potential will be on the field at all times. Kirkendoll showed off his speed on a reverse, Collins works the middle beautifully and led the team in yards, and Williams can get deep whenever he wants. McCoy’s bugaboo has been the deep ball and twice he nearly missed huge plays on the outside deep down the field with Williams. One was completed but the ball was too far outside to be kept in bounds and the other was thrown a little too far in front of the streaking Williams. The sophomore just looks the part out there in his number 9 uniform. Williams, fellow receiver [tag]Dan Buckner[/tag], and Aaron Williams just jump out at you from a pure athletic stand point when you look at their physique. Watching this group work has to put a smile on the Longhorn nation’s faces because they will be on campus for a few more years. That’s not even taking into account Buckner, [tag]John Chiles[/tag], and the red-shirt freshman on campus. With the questions at tight end and in the running game the receiver becomes the most important position besides quarterback for this offense.

5. Texas football is in good hands.

Mack Brown has been the best thing that has happened to this program, and maybe to the University as a whole from an athletic standpoint, than anybody since Darrell K. Royal. With as good as Brown has been, head coach to be Will Muschamp has injected an energy into this program that needed a little jumpstart following the departure of Vince Young and the rest of the 2002 recruiting class. With one hire, and Brown deserves credit for making it and then realizing he couldn’t lose his personal energizer bunny on Red Bull, the stigma of Texas being soft or unmotivated was erased for the present future. Just a few years ago these Spring Jamborees were offensive exhibitions. Remember when the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown every year? That won’t happen anymore. Muschamp has made everything competitive. He has given the defense pride, and more importantly, thanks to Brown he has given them stability. A stability that the offense has had the luxury of since Brown and Greg Davis arrived on campus. For the first time in a decade the defense is going to have a steady hand leading the way. With Muschamp the hand might not be steady, it may be pumping up and down, but I’ll take it.

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Posted April 3rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football, Spring Football

Receiver Malcolm Williams may be the most important offensive player in 2009. (MB-TF.com)

Receiver Malcolm Williams may be the most important offensive player in 2009. (MB-TF.com)

The spring game comes around Sunday just in time to help with detoxing off of football season. After Sunday football junkies only have the draft and Mel Kiper’s hair to look forward to. We all know the familiar faces: [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag], [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag], etc. But what about the guys who didn’t play as much last year but will be counted on in 2009? Here is a list of guys you need to watch in the spring game.

  1. [tag]Christian Scott[/tag] – The Longhorn defense played the majority of the snaps last year with five defensive backs on the field. Last year, Will Muschamp used two safeties and three cornerbacks in the nickel defense. This year Muschamp is trying to use Earl Thomas’ cover skills to get three safeties on the field in the 4-2-5. Having three safeties on the field will help in run support and with blitzes. Most feel Scott is just too good to not have on the field, but if mental mistakes and inconsistency rear their ugly head Muschamp will have no choice but to bring a Curtis Brown or Deon Beasley off the bench. I think it is safe to assume Thomas can handle the slot, so it will be up to Scott to make the formation work.
  2. [tag]Ben Alexander[/tag] – The defensive line was hit hard in departures this offseason. Guys like Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller, and Aaron Lewis are working out for pro scouts. The only guy up front with significant experience on the defensive line is Lamarr Houston. Alexander is entering his senior season and he knows it is his time to shine. If not now, when? By all accounts the big guy has lost some weight and added some quickness. The coaches had moved Houston, a former defensive end, to the nose tackle position to start the spring, but with the emergence of Alexander, who is a more natural one technique, Houston can move back to his more familiar three technique.
  3. [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] – Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’m holding out hope McGee lives up to the hype he had coming in. People forget McGee had a great freshman year as the short yardage and goal line guy. He showed great explosion in the Tech game that year when he was in for a hobbled Jamaal Charles. Flash forward to now and the Longview native is entering his junior year after not even getting a snap in the bowl game. This spring is huge for McGee. Cody Johnson had been emerging as the starter before he went down with a hamstring injury and Foswhitt Whittaker is injured again. That leaves McGee and two second year guys who haven’t been counted on yet. McGee was hurt at the beginning of the season, but he had begun to emerge before the Fiesta Bowl fiasco. If he can get his burst back, he may get his job back.
  4. [tag]Sam Acho[/tag] – Quietly Acho has cemented himself as the starter at the strong end position this spring. The junior has a nose for the ball and has shown he can get to the quarterback as well. Eddie Jones may get a look on that side when he recovers from his injury, but he’ll likely play at the quick end when Kindle is playing outside linebacker. Acho is a smart and hard working player who wasn’t overly hyped coming into the program, but has made plays ever since he showed up. The concern with Acho is at the point of attack. Texas received great play from Henry Melton at the power end last year, and Acho going to have to step up to prevent any drop off.
  5. [tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag] – I love me some Keenan Robinson. His skill set is perfect for Muschamp’s defense and the type of offenses used in the Big 12. Robinson can play all three downs as an outside linebacker in the 4-3 and as a middle guy in Texas’4-2-5. With his speed the sophomore would appear to be a great blitzer as well. Kindle will play some outside linebacker so in certain formations Robinson will likely be on the bench, but he is setting himself up to be an impact player for this defense. We will begin to see how he is used Sunday.
  6. [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] – The only thing missing in Texas’ aerial attack last year was the deep threat. Quarterback Colt McCoy’s strength is the intermediate passes and for the most part that is where Texas will concentrate, but a guy like Williams has to be given at least two opportunities a game to make a big play down the field whether he is covered or not. The sophomore has proven he can beat people deep, just look at the offense when Williams replaced Quan Cosby in the Texas Tech game. Greg Davis dialed up one fly pattern for Williams in the Fiesta Bowl and he beat Thorpe Award winner Malcolm Jenkins. Colt McCoy didn’t get the ball out there, but hopefully it had to do with not having the timing McCoy has with Jordan Shipley or Cosby. With an offseason without Cosby or Shipley Williams and McCoy should be on the verge of building a great report. Williams can get deep on anybody and a few shots down the field in the spring game would be a good sign.
  7. [tag]Ahmard Howard[/tag] – Someone needs to step up at tight end, and Howard needs to be that guy. Blaine Irby most likely needs another offseason to get ready and DJ Grant hurt his ankle. That leaves Ian Harris who has a history of stingers, Greg Smith who is a converted offensive lineman, and Howard. Neither Smith nor Howard is going to strike fear in defenses as a receiver but Howard at least gives Greg Davis that option. With Smith on the field last year Texas declare they were running the ball or using max protection. Howard will allow Texas to be more flexible. With the talent at the wide receiver position Texas will go to a four or five wide if no one will step up. Mack Brown wants to focus on running the ball, but he may have to abandon it all together if no one steps up at tight end.
  8. [tag]Britt Mitchell[/tag] – Starting right tackle Kyle Hix is missing the second half of spring to get healthy. In his place Mitchell has been impressive. Tray Allen has been Texas’ third tackle, but he is being cross trained at guard this spring. That leaves Mitchell in line to be the third tackle and the possible starter at right tackle when Adam Ulatoski leaves (Hix will likely move to the left side). Mitchell has been playing with the ones and will do so on Sunday. He faces some of the best past rushers in the nation every day in practice and has held his own. The junior has flown under the radar in terms of hype, but if he can have a solid spring game he’ll set himself up to contribute next year to a possible national championship team.
  9. [tag]Alex Okafor[/tag] – Mack Brown hasn’t always been eager to give true freshman real playing time, but nobody can stop talking about the talent of the Pflugerville native. The guy is tearing up practice at a time he should be worrying about Prom. His first step is probably faster than everyone on the roster not named Sergio Kindle. A defense can never have too many pass rushers, especially in the Big 12. It is unlikely Okafor will redshirt so expect a good number of snaps if he keeps this up.
  10. [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag] – Chykie Brown is a near lock to man one corner back position. The other spot will be manned by Aaron Williams, Deon Beasley, or Curtis Brown. Right now it looks like Williams is in line to be the starter. He is the youngest of the group, but the sophomore probably has the most physical upside. The former McNeil star is also a solid tackler and a smart football player. If the Earl Thomas in the slot experiment doesn’t work, Williams will likely move to the slot. That would leave Beasley or Brown to battle it out for the other corner spot. My money is on Curtis Brown in that one. Where Aaron Williams plays seems to be more of an appropriate question than if Aaron Williams plays so watch out for him on the slot or on the edge. A secondary of Thomas, Blake Gideon, Scott, Chykie Brown, and Williams would be mighty salty to say the least.
  11. [tag]Antwan Cobb[/tag] – The fullback position has been practically erased from Davis’ offense in the last few years. And while some see it as scheme it really has to do with not having any bodies for the position. People are quick to forget what Ahmad Hall did for this offense in 2005. Many of the Longhorns running woes can be attributed to not having a dependable lead blocker at full back. Cobb’s strength is probably catching the ball out of the back field, but when he is healthy he is more than a capable and willing lead blocker. Texas has said they want to take more snaps under center, and with a fullback who can catch out of the backfield on the field Texas would have options they haven’t had in a few years. It will be telling how many snaps Cobb gets in the spring game.
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