Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Well, the Men’s Basketball team was clearly not up to the task this year. Suspension, stamina, resilience, and any other critical words you can come up with would fit this team. The prism that people use to look at this program is based on 14 years of Tournament visits with a few Elite Eights and one trip to the Final Four. What the fans should be looking at is a broken mirror that has the Horns in a 7 year lock of bad basketball dating back to our highest point.
That high point for the Texas program was the 2007-2008 season where the team was led by DJ Augustin, A.J. Abrams and Damion James who put up the most wins during the Rick Barnes era (31 wins). A trip to the Elite Eight plus the last time this program could claim a share of the Big 12 title were just a few of the highlights for this program. Ironically, the Kevin Durant led team a year before put up only 25 wins and lost in the second round. The Horns just finished the 5th year of this broken mirror curse. Since that high mark, Texas has gone 47-37 in conference play and the low moment for the program was missing out on the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time in the Barnes tenure.
Many fans have a looking glass that tells them a Big 12 championship and a deep run in the Tournament is coming closer with this group of talented players. Unfortunately, this is a rear view mirror approach on what it used to be around here. The biggest reflection needs to be taken by Rick Barnes to see if he has the stomach to continue fighting like another coach on the 40 acres. Barnes has created some great moments and recruited some unbelievable talent that went on to the NBA.
Now players are looking to transfer or getting fed up with Barnes’ coaching style. But just like another 15 year veteran coach at UT, the head man needs to realize that his legacy is set, and he needs to ask if himself if he has any more left in the tank.
But the biggest problem with the Texas Basketball program is who is looking at the mirror right now. The fans and I include myself in this assessment are the ones that broke the mirror. We do not demand more from our basketball coaches and players like other fan bases. We are quick to move on to spring football which allows the team to feel complacent and second class. When you start hearing coaches pleading for noise and asking for students to come make the Erwin Center a festive atmosphere, you know you have a much deeper problem than just a need for some more wins. Do you think ESPN will ever have a College Game Day visit at a UT basketball game? I know that people say that the product needs to be better in order for fans to show up. That logic works on professional teams where the athletes get paid. (Insert joke here on college athletics) Attendance at men’s home games continue to slip. Four years ago the average home attendance at the Drum was 14,629…and now the Hum Drum posted a 10,945 average attendance for the 2012-2013 season. The Frank Erwin Center (seats 16,374) with all the bells and whistles still does not configure the student section to get the most excitement generated at the games and the alumni show up late as always. The seating arrangement needs to be changed or make late arrivals have to sit up in the balcony until halftime and somehow get students charged up to attend games. I have even seen an article or two saying that this Texas job is one of the top 5 jobs in college basketball. We as fans have a long way to go to even come close to that type of ranking for the fan base. We need to be the ones to generate the change or pressure in order for the players and coaches to reflect our passions and demands.
The eerily similar path that the two head coaches on the two most high profile teams at UT are working with a lame duck athletic director makes for interesting fonder but does not help fans see any hope for change. Maybe the curse of the broken mirror will be done in less than 2 years. By that time DeLoss Dodds should be riding off into the sunset and a coaching change might be in order for us to change the culture and attitude about our program.
Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter @40AcresSports or follow me @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!
Looking for something else this afternoon and stumbled on this month-old Grantland article with some extremely complimentary comments from Suns’ coach Alvin Gentry on former Longhorn PJ Tucker:
P.J. Tucker has come out of nowhere this year, stolen Michael Beasley’s minutes, and played really good defense. What is his single best defensive skill?
That sounds like some classic coach-speak.
Yeah, it’s just determination. He decides he’s going to guard his man, and that he’s not going to let him score. I do think defense is one of those things where it’s 75 percent effort and 25 percent skill.
Oh yeah. He just brings it every night, against every single person that he plays against. Even the last two games, he’s guarded Paul Pierce and Monta Ellis, and Monta Ellis went 5-of-19, and Paul Pierce went 3-of-10. That’s two pretty good efforts from a guy no one heard of last year. [Note: Gentry nailed these shooting numbers exactly, without checking.]
When did you have an idea he might help you guys this much? Did you realize by the end of camp, or were you still wary of playing a pretty unknown guy in real games?
I saw it in training camp, but really first in the summer. The toughness he brought to our Summer League team, we thought, We may have something here. Our basketball operations guys did a great job finding a guy like him over in Europe. He’s one of those guys every coach would love to coach.
Tucker’s road to NBA success has been a long, winding one so it’s great as a Texas fan to see him having a good season and getting recognized for it.
Big things are coming for Texas in 2013: Especially for Junior quarterback David Ash. I’m not calling for an improvement over his sophomore campaign. I’m calling for a transformative season. A season in which each and every one of us has to applaud and give credit where it is due. A season that will require Ash to be mentioned in the same conversation as (gasp!) Layne, Street, Applewhite, Young, and the McCoy (the good one, not the amateur film maker).
Yes. You’re correct — you just read that.
Colt McCoy left Texas as the winningest college quarterback of all time. His junior and senior seasons were two of the best ever by a Texas passer. Check out McCoy’s stats for a reminder of just how great he was in his career and his two Heisman finalist seasons:
Here’s where I feel Ash will be for the upcoming season. Yes, his predicted passing total of 4,014 yards surpasses McCoy’s best year of 3,859 yards (2008). The 36 touchdown prediction also surpasses McCoy’s best year of 34 (2008). This is where I get crazy, the point where if you had yet to question my sanity-you begin to. I think Ash out rushes McCoy’s best year as well. I should be on medication and a strong dose of it, correct? Ash will come away with a grand total of 780 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. That total surpasses McCoy’s best season on the ground (561 yards in 2008), but falls short in the number of touchdowns (11, in 2008). It also surpasses the best single-season passing yardage and touchdown totals of Vince Young in 2004 (3036 yards/26 touchdowns), Chris Simms in 2002 (3357 yards/ 21 touchdowns), and Major Applewhite in 1999 (3357 yards/21 touchdowns).
Check out my predictions for each game in 2013:
This would be a monumental season for Ash and the Longhorns. An 11-1 record places them at the top of the heap come play-off time and poised to fight it out for a national championship. Quarterbacks over time have shown the most growth between their sophomore and junior seasons. It will be interesting to see how well Ash performs when he has an Offensive Coordinator that will make it imperative to get the ball to his best play makers in areas where they can maximize their abilities. No more multiple shifts and personnel groupings.
Yes, I am pumping sunshine. Bask in it. Soak it in.
I can’t wait to see the first time the Longhorns come out 4 wide with Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Daje Johnson, and Cayleb Jones and either Jonathan Gray or Malcolm Brown in the backfield.
How do you cover that?
Whose the poor linebacker tasked with keeping up with Johnson or Gray/Brown?
Feel free to let me know just how crazy you think I am in the comments below. I’m sure many of you will have something witty to say. I will be more than happy to eat crow if I’m off base and rest assured I will say “I told you so!” if given the opportunity.
Here’s to hoping I get to do that a minimum of 12 times next year.
Welcome to the 40 Acres Montrel Meander. Meander, a 6’3″, 180 pound WR/S from Palo Duro High School in Amarillo became the fifteenth 2013 commitment after a last minute official visit to Austin. Meander had long been committed to Washington State, but flipped this weekend in favor of the good guys.
Meander is an athlete. He can play either safety or wide receiver. As a spread wide receiver he shows excellent straight line speed and could be the deep threat this offense so desperately needs-especially with the departure of the drastically-under used Marquise Goodwin. His route running is raw, but he shows great separation at the line of scrimmage and a willingness to go across the middle and make a tough catch.
As a safety, Meander showed really good instincts and takes good angles when tackling. He shows the ability to cover sideline to sideline, sheds blocks well, and wraps up-all of which are sorely needed in the Texas secondary.
Meander’s number one weapon however, is his speed. The young man can fly. Track speed doesn’t always transfer to football speed, but in this case it does. He has documented track times of 21.55 seconds in the 200 meters, 10.9 in the 100 meters, as well as a 4.46 second 40 yard dash and boasts a 21’3.5″ long jump.
Check out some of Meander’s highlight video:
Will he be a tool for Major Applewhite or for Manny Diaz? He could help either side. My bet is that he ends up at wide receiver at least for the time being.
The Texas offense will be better in the next season due to the departure of offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and his manic, almost bi-polar play selection. Major Applewhite remains Co-Offensive Coordinator, but will now share the role with wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt. What will make 2013 better than 2012 is that Major Applewhite will be doing what he should have been doing for the last two seasons: calling plays and coaching quarterbacks.
The Alamo Bowl is a small sampling to draw conclusions from, however, it showed that Applewhite has the ability to maximize the talent on offense. He crafted roles for guys based on their unique skill sets. Absent from the Alamo Bowl was Harsin’s dogged insistence on forcing round pegs into square holes. Applewhite didn’t try to outsmart anyone; no mass substitutions, no multiple shifting at the line of scrimmage, no trickery. The game plan wasn’t perfect, but it showed one key element that seemed absent for much of the past two seasons: the ability to adjust when the original plan wasn’t working.
Simply put, Harsin wasn’t a good fit at Texas. The players didn’t respond to him. They didn’t relate to him. Harsin wasn’t a Texas guy. Major Applewhite is Texas. Every recruit in the Southwest knows the name. Their mothers and fathers remember the Big XII Championship game and the Holiday Bowl. Applewhite has the infamous “It” factor that Harsin lacked.
Please don’t get me wrong… I don’t think the 2013 season will be all sunshine and rainbows, but we will see a more cohesive team. We will see more discipline. We will see more accountability. We will see more heart. The old saying, “Attitude reflects leadership” certainly applies here. I don’t see this next iteration of Longhorn football cowering to Oklahoma or self-destructing against West Virginia.
I heard Trent Dilfer last week discussing the Harbaugh brothers and he said, “they get the most from the least and the best from the best.” This immediately made me think of Applewhite’s Alamo Bowl press conference quote when asked about the differences between his offense and Harsin’s. He replied, “…I’ve always felt like even as a player this game is about players, put [the ball] in the best guys’ hands and let them make plays. I think sometimes we over think it a little bit as coaches, so I’m excited to watch these guys go play.”
I’m excited to watch these guys go play as well.
Watch this video below and it will give you a taste of what the players think of Applewhite:
Aggies are wanting to call themselves DBU now? Pretty funny and typical Aggie. Check it out about 4:30 into this video:
Based on what exactly? Their whopping three un-/barely drafted players riding the pine? To put it in perspective Texas, the real DBU, has that same number if you only count guys with the last name Brown. And Chykie and Tarell are both playing in the Super Bowl this weekend.
Silly Aggies. You can change conference but you can’t stop being yourselves. I guess the next Aggie video will probably claim they should be called “The U.”
[Update: Hammad did in fact commit to Texas. See ESPN's story. - Brian]
The Longhorns are looking to continue stockpiling big bodies after Monday’s commitment by Desmond Harrison. Coach Stacy Searels is believed to be closing in on yet another top notch offensive line prospect: Irving High School Tackle, Rami Hammad. Hammad’s measurable are impressive: 6’5″ and 320 pounds. Hammad is ranked by Rivals as the 172nd prospect nationally, 28th at his position, and 78th overall in the state of Texas. Hammad took an official visit to the 40 Acres this past weekend that lead to him to end his his nearly three month commitment to Baylor.
Hammad now lists a top four of Texas, TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma and is set to announce at 5:00 PM today. It is believed that Texas is clearly the team to beat for Hammad due to how quickly he backed out of his verbal commitment to Baylor after the weekend visit to Austin.
A quick film study of shows Hammad to be an aggressive and nasty blocker. He will sustain blocks 10-15 yards downfield on running plays and has a strong base in passing sets. He’s not nearly the physical specimen that Desmond Harrison is, but it’s easy to see that he has a mean streak and isn’t afraid to mix it up.
If you were to describe the perfect offensive lineman, it would sound something like this:
- Around 6’6′ – 6’8″
- Over 300 Pounds
- Athletically built-not sloppy
- Big enough to hold hid ground against the pass rush
- Fast enough to get to the second level on run plays
- Strong enough to pancake a defensive end
All these things can be said about the newest member of the 2013 Longhorn football team, Desmond Harrison. Harrison’s arrival can not come soon enough for a Texas team that desperately needs a dose of nastiness in the offensive line.
The time and effort that offensive line coach Stacy Searels and Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite expended to land Harrison shows just how much of a priority solidifying the tackle position is for 2013. Having Desmond Harrison on campus makes EVERYONE better and here’s why:
- Championship teams are built from the inside out-specifically the offensive line.
- A strong offensive line extends drives: punts become field goals; field goal become touchdowns. More touchdowns leads to more victories. Victories are a good thing. They keep people employed. They keep fan bases happy. They keep stadiums full. They keep bank accounts full.
- Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown have larger holes to run through. Bigger holes mean more rushing yards. High rushing totals allows for play action passing. Ash is a much better quarterback when there is a running game that can put up big numbers.
- David Ash has more time to progress through his reads and has larger throwing lanes. A comfortable David Ash with wide throwing lanes makes Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis better receivers.
- Extended drives leads to a rested defense. If their offense isn’t on the field, that severely restricts the other team’s ability to score points.
Adding Harrison will lead to some changes in the offensive line depth chart. If Harrison is everything he’s expected be, he’s penciled in as the starting left tackle from day one. This will prompt last year’s Juco signee, Donald Hawkins to shift inside to either guard or center. Another possibility at the center position would be Mason Walters. Either would be an upgrade over incumbent Dom Espinosa, who was often over powered by the bull rush and lacked the speed to get to the second level. Not to mention the debacle that was the West Virginia game, but there’s no reason to beat a dead horse here.
Is Harrison a sure fire starting left tackle in the NFL? If I could answer that with any degree of certainty my bank account would look much more attractive than it does now. However, I can saw with a high level of confidence that he has enough God-given athletic ability to have a chance to hold up a jersey at the draft and flash a Hook ‘Em for the cameras.
The question surrounding Desmond Harrison is the same one that has surrounded every other elite prospect that has walked into DKR: Will that talent be developed to its full potential? Will he get stronger? Will he get faster? Will his tendency to play too tall and rely on his freakish athletic ability be corralled and coached into flawless technique paired with unreal athleticism?
I have faith in Stacy Searels, Major Applewhite, and Bennie Wylie. I am supremely confident that Harrison is the real deal and will be an impact player from the first snap of the 2013 season.
Take a look at his film (#68) and see what you think. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Let me know what you think his impact will be and who he reminds you of:
OK. I do not want Coach Davis to drive up to the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center and unpack his things. I do however want us to think of the concepts that Greg Davis learned on the job to help Texas make an impressive run to unprecedented glory on the 40 acres.
We saw how the offense sputtered around in the first half of the Valero Alamo Bowl until something clicked to help propel the Longhorns to a 31-27 win. What clicked? Something that Coach Davis learned when installing the spread offense. You need to have a threat at the quarterback position. Look at what is happening to the teams in the Big XII, A&M, Oregon, Ohio State and even the NFL. Coaches across the country are realizing that you need the quarterback to be a threat to run and throw. College kids want to know that they have a chance to go to the next level. Look at the success that the Redskins and Seahawks in the NFL are having with rookie quarterbacks that can run. You cannot have a QB that is destined to run every play, but you do want one that is mobile in the pocket and can be a “threat” to run to make defenses think.
One of Greg Davis’ faults was the thinking that Texas can out talent the opponent no matter the scheme. Bryan Harsin brought the schematic and creative advantages that the UT offense needed. Unfortunately, Coach Harsin fell in love with only certain plays for certain players where the offensive packages were more important than the talent that was out there. The SEC offenses (specifically Bama) which is what Mack Brown wants to emulate with a grind it out running game that does not rely on the quarterback to win the game is no longer viable. Look at how Louisville with its dynamic quarterback put it on Florida in the Sugar Bowl. And who single handily brought down Alabama in their own back yard, but Johnny Football. Look at what Nick Saban said about the no huddle offense before he ran into the Heisman Trophy winner which is predominantly lead by a fast break quarterback.
Greg Davis used the threat of a running quarterback with a wide open passing attack which opened up lanes for the running backs. In case you forgot, we have had individual 1,000 yard rushers while Davis was calling the plays. No Longhorn running back has yet to reach over 780 yards rushing in the past three years under the so called smash mouth running game (OL needs to share in some of the blame). My prediction is that Johnathan Gray will be the next 1,000 yard rusher to join the last back to do that Jamaal Charles. (2007 – 1,619 yds.)
Where can you find these dual threat quarterbacks? Right here in our back yard. Quarterbacks in high school have 7 on 7 tournaments to hone their skill of reading coverages and making quick decisions in the passing game. The best athletes on the field are playing quarterback in Texas. Hell, Texas is the only state in the country that has a dedicated class time assigned to a sport or PE. Dual threat quarterbacks are being used in every type of classification in the sport. Why do you want to recruit a care taker at quarterback when you need something dynamic to keep stronger and faster defenses guessing? We have dual threat quarterbacks on campus and more are coming up through recruiting. David Ash used his legs to jump start the offense in the bowl game and that running helped him open up the passing game.
Major Applewhite may hold the key to the concepts that Coach Davis used while at UT. Coach Applewhite had a great quote after the bowl win when he said that it is not about the X’s and O’s but about the culture of our program and keeping people accountable to be successful. I beg that Coach Brown will let Major carry out his plan on offense. I venture to guess that Major will use this quote from Michael Jordan to the team this offseason, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from the Texas game against the Kansas State.
Pregame WTH Rose?! I guess a purple rose means enchantment. That is what the KSU players gave to their families on senior night. Colin Klein decided to give his first kiss to his wife not his momma. Guess his wife was there all along for him when he decided to start playing football.
1st Quarter (15:00) WTH Head Coach?! Looks like Bryan Harsin was auditioning for a head coaching gig by patrolling the sidelines. The reason given was so he could communicate with his young quarterbacks. It looked like the coaching boxes at the stadium were being torn down with all of the construction cranes. Glad the Big XII stuck around so KSU could renovate.
1st Quarter (11:36) WTH INT?! Nigel Malone was that your attempt to look cool. Coach Snyder may have you deliver the ball to him after your next interception. Crazy turn of events, but the low light is that Case McCoy cannot make those types of mistakes.
2nd Quarter (7:19) WTH Trickery?! Coach Harsin calls them funk plays when he draws up a crazy play. Enjoyed seeing an OL lined up as a receiver and jumping up and down acting like he wants the ball. Great play by Case McCoy finding Jaxon Shipley in the end zone. Wondering if OU fans were giddy at halftime?
3rd Quarter (7:11) WTH Stonestreet?! Way to pimp your co-worker Sofia Vergara to get more love for the KSU brand. Is he their most famous alumni? Nope, Herbert Dimond who invented the snooze alarm takes that award.
4th Quarter (12:28) WTH Oscar?! And the Academy Award goes to Case McCoy for the body slammed that was administered by Ryan Mueller of KSU. Wish the red carpet treatment would have led the Horns to a touchdown.
4th Quarter (9:30) WTH Error?? An apparent field goal would put the Horns down only by 8 points. The usually sure footed Nick Jordan (tongue in cheek) missed on the 40 yard field goal and the wheels came off.
4th Quarter (7:53) WTH Mist?! The mist reported by ESPN Holly Rowe may have been a contributing factor to Quandre Diggs muffing the punt. Whatever was the reason the wheels were now rolling down the hill.
Next up for the Longhorns is a trip to the Alamo Bowl to take on the OSU Beavers on December 29th.
Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest university sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at @40AcresSports or follow me at @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!