Here are my thoughts after watching the Longhorns at the Spring Game under Coach Strong, Clint Eastwood style.
The defense as expected was the shining star after the first drive by the offense resulted in an early touchdown. The defense line led by Caleb Bluiett (8 tackles & 2 sacks) ran roughshod over the offense line. The real test is to see if this group can excel against better offenses.
The defense backs had its share of interceptions lead by Mykkele Thompson who returned one back for a score. The QB play did not give much of an indication if this group will be up to task, but they gained a measure of confidence in the way they played.
Malcolm Brown and Jalen Overstreet showed promise in their running styles (Thunder & Lightning) in the way they attacked the defense. It was good to see these two step up as the passing game will start with a big question mark.
I liked that Coach Strong put the offense and defense on opposite sides of the field. It gave the fans the experience that one group was going against the other in a game. Charlie Strong strode across both ends of the field during the game to watch the coaches and the players actions.
We knew that the QB play would be the most scrutinized position on the field. It was evident that Tyrone Swoopes needs more time to develop as a passer. The athleticism is evident but the decision making and the timing of his release leaves room for doubt. If the incoming Max Wittek and Jerrod Heard can take the reins, it might be better to have Swoopes be the tight end that would remind us of Jermichael Finley. I will trust this coaching staff that they will put the kids in a position where they will succeed.
The offense line needs to come together quickly. There were some key absences on the line, but the boys in the trenches need to step up. The moving pocket allowed the line some success, but ultimately these road graders need to help this stable of running backs.
The audio coming from the Godzillatron was horrible. The timing and the placement of the music was bad. The big video board will be replaced because the company that created this monster is no longer around to feed the beast or get replacement parts. I hope the Athletic Department revamps the way they use this tool for the upcoming season.
The practice uniforms that the kids are wearing are hideous. I am going to the give the coaching staff a break because they have been preoccupied with establishing their culture and attitude with the team. I have been an advocate of providing the players an alternate game day jersey that will energize the players and help with new recruits.
As Clint said in the famous movie, “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig.” Will the Longhorns have the loaded gun on the field or will they be the team digging?
Former Texas DT Andre Jones was found dead Friday morning in an El Paso hotel room. Jones was 24.
Jones was kicked off the team before playing a down for the Horns after he was arrested along with Robert Joseph for an aggravated robbery charge.
Get more details on Jones’ death in the El Paso Times’ story.
Texas Football head coach Charlie Strong speaks with the media about the 2014 signing class:
Per Horns247, former USC quarterback Max Wittek could be transferring to Texas and eligible to play this year.
“The Trojan signal caller plans to graduate this spring and has been actively looking for a landing spot to finish up the remaining two years of his collegiate career. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, that spot for Wittek is most likely going to be Texas.”
Talk about huge news for the most important position on the field and a position where the Longhorns are in desperate need of ANY depth. Wittek wasn’t great in limited opportunities as USC’s quarterback, but as a prep signal caller Rivals had him as a top 3 QB in the country and a 4-star recruit.
Running list of all letters of intent from future Longhorns as they come in today.
19 LOIs Confirmed (10:51am)
DL Jake McMillon
WR Lorenzo Joe
QB Jerrod Heard
WR Roderick Bernard
WR Armanti Foreman
RB D’Onta Foreman
RB Donald Catalon
CB Jermaine Roberts
S Jason Hall
LB Edwin Freeman
WR Garrett Gray
LB Cameron Hampton
DT Chris Nelson
OL Elijah Rodriguez
WR Dorian Leonard
DE Derick Roberson
S John Bonney
OL Terrell Cuney
RB Kevin Shorter
OT Alex Anderson
LB Andrew Beck
TE Blake Whiteley
There’s been much hubbub the last several days as Texas fans reacted to the rumors that Texas coach Mack Brown told commitments visiting during the football banquet weekend that he was forced out that they should “look around”.
Mack responded to those reports via Twitter:
Some of you have asked about my visit w/recruits & their families after I stepped down. Let me assure you it was all positive towards Texas! Our new AD Steve Patterson was there with me and I told the entire group that Texas would hire a great coach, it is a wonderful place and they absolutely should still come.
The initial reports started based on comments from Houston Lamar safety John Bonney who today backed up Brown’s version of events. Bonney said that Brown told recruits that they should come to Texas if they committed to Texas, but if they committed just to play for him that “I certainly encourage you to look elsewhere because I won’t be your coach.”
Overall it sounds like Brown was honest with the kids and did not encourage them to look around but simply stated the obvious that the situation had changed and the players should be thoughtful with their decisions. That’s exactly the kind of honesty and respect with high school recruits that got so many 4 and 5-star recruits to sign with Texas over the previous 16 years.
The first National Signing Day of the Charlie Strong era is tomorrow. He’s kept most of the class together and hopefully signing a couple defensive tackle recruits to close out the class. Stay tuned to @40acressports and the Texas FanGuide app for updates.
After an official visit this weekend, 2014 offensive tackle Elijah Rodriguez has changed his commitment from the Colorado Buffaloes to the Texas Longhorns. Rodriguez is a three-star prospect from Houston Cy Creek who had been under the radar until a big senior season had schools like Florida State and LSU recently trying to pry him away from Colorado.
Texas offensive line coach Joe Wickline is said to be a big fan of Rodriguez’ toughness and agility in a 6-6, 280 pound frame. Wickline went after Rodriguez when he was at Oklahoma State but struck out. Rodriguez might have continued to stick with his CU commitment but he is a lifetime Longhorn fan whose grandfather played for Texas under Darrell Royal.
Now that Coach Charlie Strong has his staff put together. What changes will Coach Strong implement on the 40 acres? I wonder if the first meeting with his team went something like this:
Coach Strong has shown that he wants to change the culture of this football team. I would like to offer up a few changes for the program. I believe the culture has definitely changed simply by the way that AD Steve Patterson went about hiring his first football coach. Here are my thoughts:
Please get rid of those ugly practice jerseys. This was a lame attempt to give the players some sort of boost with an alternative jersey. Because the practices are on LHN, sew a sponsor patch above the chest on the jersey to help raise even more funds. Paying players soon will be a reality. The University needs to leverage itself in order to bring in more money.
Let all the coaches influence all the kids. The former staff was only allowed to coach their own position players. All the players need to know that everyone including all the coaches are pulling in one direction to achieve the team’s goals. Coach Strong said the goals are simple: Graduate, Championships and Manhood in that order.
It is time to surprise the players with alternative uniforms for special games. This past year the coaching staff was going to honor the ’63 championship team by wearing the player’s number on the helmet for a game. The captains of the team were desperate to have something new so they voted to leave it on all year. The players want something different and incoming high school recruits are considering uniforms when they look at all of their scholarship offers. I know the old guard will hate this, but the fans are not playing one down on the field. Here are the best and worst offerings because change for the sake of change with regards to uniforms will not due. Give the players something that they can be proud to show off to the fans and their families.
Please change the festivities of Senior Day. Watching the head coach congratulate the players on the Godzillatron as they maneuver around the masses to find their family in the end zone is frustrating. Have the kids run to mid field in front of the entire fan base and meet them at the 50 yard line. The parents can be standing along the sidelines for everyone to see. High schools do a better job than the University to honor those that have stayed all four years. Make the event special in order for players to have one more thing to consider before leaving early for the draft.
Do not be that coach that says I need to look at the game film in order to answer the media’s questions. Use that time to answer the question bluntly so that the team sees you as a no-nonsense leader. Do not give the microphone to the assistant coaches as a CEO would and lose the opportunity to make a point. You are the face of the program and use this time to send a message and challenge your players.
We all know that the big money donors are important to a football program. You do not have to be a politician with all the old big money donors because you can never satisfy all of them. Shake their hands for a photo and give them a signed football to give to their kids. You do not need to hire one of them to be your lawyer. We all know that if the coaches are obligated to the kids and the players are focused on playing for their teammates and their coaching staff then the University and the big time donors will see the results they want on the field.
I am not advocating getting rid of all the traditions of the past. The University of Texas has a tremendous legacy that every coach, player and fan needs to respect and protect. But changes are sweeping across every college football program and we do not need to be left behind. A culture of toughness has already been set forth by Coach Strong. Let’s give the coach and his staff the support they need amid all of these changes and enjoy the journey.
Longhorn fans got great news Saturday night as Texas Head Athletic Trainer Kenny Boyd announced that quarterback David Ash was cleared to train and practice with the team:
Update on QB David Ash: Head Athletic Trainer for Football Kenny Boyd confirmed Ash is clear for offseason training.
— Longhorn_FB (@Longhorn_FB) January 19, 2014
Ash is anticipated to be available for full participation in spring practices.
— Longhorn_FB (@Longhorn_FB) January 19, 2014
Ash has been out due to concussion symptoms since September 21 against Kansas State. He and freshman Tyrone Swoopes are the only two scholarship QBs Texas has so getting Ash back is huge news. Obviously it’s also great news for Ash as he can finally get back playing football. Hopefully for the sake of his career and his life after football he can stay healthy from here on out.
Watch coach Charlie Strong as he introduces his newly completed Texas coaching staff and answers questions about he’s going to run things:
Love listening to Coach Strong doing the Q&A sessions. His passion and football IQ are clear and contagious. Kids are going to love playing for this guy.
See an overview on the new coaches here if you want to find out who these guys are.