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.

Share

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.
Share

Posted September 21st, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Football

Blaine IrbyIt was immediately obvious after watching the first replay of Blaine Irby’s gruesome knee injury but it is now official that the sophomore tight end will miss the remainder of the 2008 season. According to a press release from the university Sunday evening Blaine suffered a dislocated right knee and will undergo season ending surgery. He’ll be able to seek a medical redshirt and should have a full three years of eligibility remaining when he (hopefully) returns to the field in 2009.

Read the full press release including quotes from Irby and [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] below:

Longhorn sophomore starting tight end Blaine Irby sustained a dislocated right knee in Texas’ 52-10 victory over [tag]Rice[/tag] on Saturday, will undergo surgery and is out for the rest of the season, UT Head Athletic Trainer for Football Kenny Boyd confirmed on Monday.

“It’s going to be a long journey, and I just have to take it one step at a time,” Irby said. “I know the tight end spot and the offense won’t lose a beat because Peter (Ullman) and Greg (Smith) are there to lead the way. I’m going to be there too, helping out Coach Chambers. I’ll be there as a coach and a teammate and ready to help anybody in any way that they need me. Coach Brown told me that I could use a medical redshirt since this happened so early in the season, which would give me three more years, but that’s down the road. Right now, I just need to focus on being patient, taking it one day at a time, getting healthy and coming back stronger than ever.”

The 6-3, 235-pound Irby started all three games and had 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns on the year. He led the Horns with seven catches for 62 yards and a TD in their 52-10 season-opening victory over Florida Atlantic. Irby also posted nine knockdown blocks in that game. He had a 23-yard catch at UTEP and registered two catches for 10 yards before sustaining the knee injury against Rice. He played in 11 games and registered two catches for 29 yards as a true freshman in 2007.

“We have a great history of tight ends and Blaine was quickly developing into the type of player to follow in those footsteps,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He was getting better every week and making a big impact in our offense. Blaine was very productive for us at a key time since we lost Jermichael (Finley) early to the NFL. As much as we’ll miss him this season, thank goodness he’ll get a redshirt year and have three seasons left when he gets back.”

In addition to Finley leaving school early, Texas also lost sophomore [tag]Josh Marshall[/tag] during preseason drills. He sustained a left scapula injury and remains out indefinitely. Senior [tag]Peter Ullman[/tag] and sophomore [tag]Greg Smith[/tag] both have played this season and will compete for the starting tight end job.

Redshirt freshman Ahmard Howard will move up the depth chart and compete for action after playing primarily on special teams this season. Fellow redshirt freshman [tag]Ian Harris[/tag], who sustained a neck sprain in August, is expected to be cleared to return to practice soon. Offensive tackle [tag]Britt Mitchell[/tag] has been playing tight end in short-yardage and goal-line situations as well.

We wish Blaine good health and determination through his rehab and can’t wait to see him back catching passes again as soon as possible.

Share

Posted June 25th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Football

Update: Download named rosters for NCAA Football 10. (7/23/2009)

NCAA Football 09 is less than a month away, the demo is up on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, and player ratings are starting to make their way on to the Internet. EA Sports released the team top 25 and player ratings for all those teams.

I went through the list and put the players’ real names in where possible. I had trouble with a lot of the true freshmen in the game so if you know who any of the blank names are or if I made any mistakes please let me know in the comments. It really looks like EA did a poor job this year on the roster and depth chart. Hopefully it’s a little more accurate when the game is released.

You can download Excel files of the player ratings at the bottom of this post or check out the overall ratings for the Texas team below:

Real Name Name Year Position Rating
[tag]Buck Burnette[/tag] C #66 Soph(RS) C 78
C #60 Fresh C 72
 
[tag]Deon Beasley[/tag] CB #7 Junior CB 85
[tag]Ryan Palmer[/tag] CB #13 Senior(RS) CB 84
[tag]Curtis Brown[/tag] CB #3 Soph CB 83
[tag]Aaron Williams[/tag] CB #26 Fresh CB 80
[tag]Chykie Brown[/tag] CB #8 Soph(RS) CB 80
[tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] CB #12 Fresh(RS) CB 78
[tag]DJ Monroe[/tag] CB #27 Fresh CB 76
 
[tag]Roy Miller[/tag] DT #99 Senior DT 90
[tag]Jarvis Humphrey[/tag] DT #96 Fresh DT 80
[tag]Brian Ellis[/tag] DT #90 Soph(RS) DT 78
[tag]Ben Alexander[/tag] DT #92 Junior DT 76
[tag]Kheeston Randall[/tag] DT #88 Fresh DT 76
 
[tag]Chris Ogbonnayya[/tag] FB #3 Senior(RS) FB 93
[tag]Cody Johnson[/tag] FB #31 Fresh(RS) FB 72
 
[tag]Ben Wells[/tag] FS #5 Fresh(RS) FS 84
[tag]Christian Scott[/tag] FS #6 Fresh(RS) FS 77
[tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] FS #21 Fresh FS 77
 
[tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] HB #2 Soph(RS) HB 85
[tag]DeSean Hales[/tag] HB #30 Fresh HB 80
[tag]Antwan Cobb[/tag] HB #24 Soph(RS) HB 79
[tag]Fozzy Whittaker[/tag] HB #22 Fresh(RS) HB 78
[tag]Jeremy Hills[/tag] HB #32 Fresh HB 76
[tag]Tre Newton[/tag] HB #23 Fresh HB 73
 
[tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag] K #15 Junior K 82
[tag]Justin Tucker[/tag] K #9 Fresh K 69
 
[tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] LE #33 Junior LE 91
[tag]Aaron Lewis[/tag] LE #95 Senior LE 85
[tag]Henry Melton[/tag] LE #37 Senior LE 80
 
[tag]Charlie Tanner[/tag] LG #52 Junior(RS) LG 86
[tag]Tray Allen[/tag] LG #70 Soph LG 82
[tag]Chris Hall[/tag] LG #71 Junior(RS) LG 81
[tag]Aundre McGaskey[/tag] LG #76 Fresh(RS) LG 74
 
[tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] LOLB #2 Junior LOLB 85
LOLB #16 Fresh LOLB 80
LOLB #57 Fresh LOLB 76
 
[tag]David Snow[/tag] LT #78 Fresh LT 78
[tag]Britt Mitchell[/tag] LT #72 Soph(RS) LT 78
 
[tag]Rashad Bobino[/tag] MLB #44 Senior(RS) MLB 90
[tag]Jared Norton[/tag] MLB #11 Junior MLB 85
 
[tag]Trevor Gerland[/tag] P #17 Junior(RS) P 83
 
[tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] QB #12 Junior(RS) QB 89
[tag]Sherrod Harris[/tag] QB #17 Soph(RS) QB 81
[tag]John Chiles[/tag] QB #7 Soph QB 79
 
[tag]Eddie Jones[/tag] RE #32 Soph(RS) RE 92
[tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] RE #98 Senior(RS) RE 90
[tag]Russell Carter[/tag] RE #97 Fresh(RS) RE 77
 
[tag]Cedric Dockery[/tag] RG #55 Senior(RS) RG 89
[tag]Michael Huey[/tag] RG #63 Soph RG 81
 
[tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] ROLB #38 Junior(RS) ROLB 87
[tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag] ROLB #53 Fresh(RS) ROLB 82
ROLB #4 Fresh ROLB 75
 
[tag]Adam Ulatoski[/tag] RT #74 Junior(RS) RT 85
[tag]Mark Buchanan[/tag] RT #54 Fresh RT 74
 
[tag]Ishie Oduegwu[/tag] SS #19 Junior(RS) SS 88
[tag]Nolan Brewster[/tag] SS #36 Fresh SS 79
 
[tag]Peter Ullman[/tag] TE #86 Senior(RS) TE 81
[tag]Ahmard Howard[/tag] TE #13 Fresh(RS) TE 74
[tag]Blaine Irby[/tag] TE #19 Soph TE 73
 
[tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] WR #6 Senior WR 89
[tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] WR #8 Senior(RS) WR 84
[tag]Montre Webber[/tag] WR #14 Soph(RS) WR 83
[tag]Dan Buckner[/tag] WR #4 Fresh WR 79
[tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] WR #9 Fresh(RS) WR 78
[tag]DJ Grant[/tag] WR #80 Fresh WR 75
[tag]Antoine Hicks[/tag] WR #81 Fresh WR 75
[tag]James Kirkendoll[/tag] WR #87 Soph WR 74
Win NCAA Football 09 from Bevo Sports
Downloads
Share

Posted February 7th, 2007 by Brian
Filed under: Football, Recruiting

We’ll be updating this list as we get news (mostly from Rivals) of which players have officially signed their letters of intent and if everything goes as planned will be the newest Texas Longhorns in August. The first two players to become Longhorns were Ian Harris out of San Antonio and Cody Johnson from Waller. Keep checking back here because we’ll update this list as we hear more names.

Confirmed Signings
Early Enrollees

Update: Just added Blaine Irby and Earl Thomas to the list which leaves only Christian Scott remaining. The stud safety just was the last player to commit to the Horns (just this weekend) and it looks like he’ll be the last one to fax in his letter of intent as well. Hopefully he’s not having any second thoughts. (10:38 am)

Update: Christian Scott’s letter is in and confirmed by both Rivals and Inside Texas (thanks Eric!). That means all 24 recruits, 18 today plus the 6 already on campus, are signed and will officially be Longhorns either this summer or in the fall if their grades are in order. Congrats to the class of 2007 and welcome to the family. (11:58 am)

Share
Texas FanGuide - Texas Longhorns fan app with roster, news, and team schedule

Latest Poll

Who will be the next Texas head coach?

Total Votes: 149

Loading ... Loading ...

Subscribe to the 40 Acres!

Don't miss breaking news or another story from your favorite Longhorns fan site, subscribe to our RSS(?) feed!

Become a fan of the 40 Acres on Facebook