Posted November 24th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Fire the cannon. Make some noise with Big Bertha. They should have let [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] light the tower orange as well. Watch the postgame celebration and relish the special group of seniors that played their last game at DKR Saturday night:

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Posted November 14th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football, Live

Follow along live with 40 Acres Sports on Twitter and below for our thoughts and analysis during today’s Texas game versus [tag]Baylor[/tag] on FSN. We’ll be live right around kickoff so join us to discuss the game bright and early at 11:00am Saturday.

Feel free to leave comments and questions using the live tool, but not all comments will be published. Read below for more notes on comments and how the live blog will work. Hook ’em!

(continue to read full live blog …)

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

The Longhorns enter this year’s [tag]Fiesta Bowl[/tag] as the favorites. Texas wants to prove a point and make a case for a split National against a team with great name recognition. Many are overlooking [tag]Ohio State[/tag] and the third ranked Longhorns are going to need more than [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] and [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] to finish the season with a victory and a likely number two ranking.

[tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag]

The sophomore from Longview has looked quicker and more explosive as the season has worn on. The feeling is that McGee has finally been healthy. With [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] back in the lineup the onus is not all on McGee to produce in the run game. It has appeared that he does not relish the number one role. That is not necessarily a bad thing, not all backs are made to be work horses. McGee will come into the game and run hard. With Ohio State having to use linebackers in pass coverage expect the Longhorns to use the pass to set up the run. As the game goes on Texas should look to use the run game in similar fashion to their game against [tag]Oklahoma[/tag]. McGee has shown a nose for the endzone and we’ll look to add one Monday night.

[tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag]

Texas will face the best cornerback in the nation when they face the Buckeyes’ Malcolm Jenkins. The Thorpe award winner will likely matchup with [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] for most of the night and the coaching staff is sure to focus on taking [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] away. This will force Texas to use another option, and with none being available at tight end, it will have to come from one of the extra receivers. Ohio State is physical in the secondary and out of all of the Longhorn receivers Williams possesses the best skill set to offset any advantage the Buckeye corners may have against [tag]Brandon Collins[/tag] and [tag]James Kirkendoll[/tag]. Williams has shown the ability to get deep; I believe Texas will try to take a shot early in the game.

[tag]Ben Alexander[/tag]

Alexander isn’t going to start, and he may not even play a ton of snaps. But this may be the best chance for Alexander to show his stuff heading into a crucial offseason for his career. The big nose tackle is a prototypical off center one gap tackle. The offenses that Texas faces in the Big 12 limit his effectiveness because of a lack of lateral speed. For the first time maybe all season, Texas is going to face a team that will show a heavy dose of downhill running. Texas’ two other tackles not named [tag]Roy Miller[/tag] are former defensive ends. Will Muschamp will need the size of Alexander on obvious running downs throughout the game. If Alexander can take up blocks and hold his gap it will help the Longhorn linebackers control Ohio State’s ground game.

[tag]Jared Norton[/tag]

Much like Alexander, Norton finds himself a duck out of water when he faces the offenses in the Big 12. Norton excels playing downhill at his middle linebacker position and may in fact be the best NFL prospect of the group. Unfortunately for Norton, in the Big 12 a linebacker needs to play well laterally and in space. Norton to this point has had a hard time in both of those categories. Enter Ohio State and Beanie Wells. This will be a game Norton can thrive in. [tag]Rashad Bobino[/tag] will likely get the start as the senior, but if Ohio State has success running the ball early, and maybe even if they don’t, Norton will become a factor in the game. The junior will be a sure starter next year and we’ve seen how a good bowl game can propel a player into a great offseason.

[tag]Blake Gideon[/tag]

A lot of people think the true freshman from Leander’s job is in jeopardy this offseason. Most still view Gideon as an overachieving two star recruit who is playing because of his brains and intangibles. The talk heading into the spring will depend a lot on how Gideon plays in this game. If he comes out and plays a good game and makes a play or two the talk will quiet, but if he struggles or [tag]Christian Scott[/tag] makes a huge play one of the major offseason hot topics will be the status of Gideon’s job. The word is the only thing holding Scott back is his work on the practice room and in the film room, if the light turns on in year three on campus the super athletic Scott will be in line for many more snaps in 2009. If he isn’t a transfer could be possible.

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Posted August 14th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Depth Chart, Football

Position Rating: B-
Starter: Lamarr Houston, Roy Miller
Reserves: Ben Alexander, Aaron Lewis, Michael Wilcoxon, ???

Roy MillerDefensive tackle is one of the most exciting positions on the Texas defense going into 2008 but also the spot where depth is the biggest concern. [tag]Roy Miller[/tag] and [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] are the starters and might be the best pair of interior defenders in the conference. The complete lack of both proven depth and warm bodies behind them could mean big trouble if either of the top two goes down.

Miller saw significant playing time as the third member of the tackle rotation last season and was one of the defense’s most consistent performers. This year the big run-stopping DT out of Killeen will be leaned on to be more of a playmaker while also holding down blockers to allow the defensive ends to get after the quarterback. Next to Miller will be the former defensive end Houston, who might be the player that has Texas fans the most excited. It’s been a long time since the team has had a pass-rushing presence on the interior, but the noise coming from insiders is that Houston is going to be a force on the interior. Both players have incredible upside and could be early round NFL draft picks soon.

Behind the starters things get a lot murkier as both on and off field issues have left the cupboard pretty bare at the position. Andre Jones, Brian Ellis, and Tyrell Higgins were all going to be relied on this season and now all are out of the program. The first player off the bench might be another former defensive end in [tag]Aaron Lewis[/tag] who will probably continue to play both positions. The biggest key to the position will be the development of [tag]Ben Alexander[/tag] and [tag]Michael Wilcoxon[/tag]. The team desparately needs two guys to step up from that second group to be able to spell the starters or else promising true freshmen [tag]Jarvis Humphrey[/tag] and [tag]Kheeston Randall[/tag] better be ready in a hurry.

Update: In surprising news, [tag]Tyrell Higgins[/tag] is back on the roster as a walk-on.

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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
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Posted October 13th, 2007 by Brian
Filed under: Football, Live

Today’s matchup for the Longhorns against [tag]Iowa State[/tag] should be a rout, but there’s been lots of games like that this season and Texas only took care of business against Rice. The Horns need to continue the solid play from last week against Oklahoma and if they can they should be able to come home with a comfortable win.

Follow with me and my random thoughts during the game below:

First Quarter
  • I wonder when FSN Southwest will be in high definition on DirecTV? It looks like the game is being shot in HD and if I had FSNMW I could be watching it in HD. Oh well.
  • Ryan Bailey kicking off, is Hunter Lawrence hurt?
  • Same starting lineup on defense that we’ve seen all year.
  • Texas is only 7th in the Big 12 in punt returns? [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] is solid back there so I don’t really blame him for that number. With Limas Sweed out for the year it might be time to protect Cosby and put one of the young WR/DB’s back there.
  • Long bomb from [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] to [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] on Texas’ first offensive play. McCoy does nice job buying time in a collapsing pocket and finds Shipley wide open. 58-yard touchdown for the Horns.
Texas 7, Iowa State 0
  • FSN’s wonderful coverage continues. They take a TV timeout and miss both the kickoff and the first ISU play after it. Sad.
  • FSN announcers are apparently using an OU roster instead of Texas.
  • On third down play it looks like defensive line slants to the field and [tag]Robert Killebrew[/tag] lets the ISU runner get wide for the first down. Might have been Lamarr Houston’s fault. Terrible defensive fundamentals.
  • I was just going to complain about the lack of pressure from the Texas defense then [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] comes untouched off the end for the sack.
  • Face raped? Yikes. Not sure you should say that on TV. That was a definite face mask but the reason the helmet comes off is that it’s not fitted correctly. Your helmet should never come off that easy. He said face rape again.
  • Is our defense really this poorly coached? We’ve got guys flying inside to avoid blockers on every play. If you’re a defensive end and have a linebacker blitzing to your inside you can’t try to get in the same gap. Ugh.
  • [tag]Derek Lokey[/tag] playing defensive end on that play. He got whipped man on man and gave up a big run.
  • Texas holds on third down and forces a field goal. Field goal is wide right. Break for Texas as Iowa State had put together a very solid drive.
  • Mental mistake by wide receiver covered up Jermichael Finley. FSN announcers are morons.
  • Looks like [tag]Chris Ogbonnaya[/tag] is seeing increased playing time already over Jamaal Charles. If we’re going with the wide open offense that’s a good idea since he’s a better blocker and pass catcher than Charles.
  • Looks like McCoy is growing a sweet mustache. Couple more weeks and that might be thick enough to show up on camera.
  • Ogbonnaya and [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] get the two Texas redzone rushing attempts. Hope Charles can keep his head up, figure out the issue, and earn these attempts back.
  • Not sure that was a well advised throw by McCoy but man did Cosby get up and get that one. No good camera angle but I think that might have come out a little when he hit the ground. Another good scramble to buy time and find a receiver by Colt.
Texas 14, Iowa State 0
  • Hunter Lawrence kicking off on this one. Wonder why it wasn’t him in there on the first one?
  • Young linebackers in there for this series.

(more …)

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Posted August 30th, 2007 by Brian
Filed under: Depth Chart, Football

With the first official depth chart released for the [tag]Arkansas State[/tag] we can officially do our first second guessing of the 2007 season. Let’s complain examine the defensive side of the ball first:

Position Player
Player
Player
DE (Quick) Brian Orakpo
|
Eddie Jones
I think everyone is expecting a big sack total from [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] this season, I’m thinking he could be our breakout defender. I’m excited to see [tag]Eddie Jones[/tag] play, kid is a future star.
Nose Tackle Derek Lokey
or
Roy Miller
|
Ben Alexander
If [tag]Derek Lokey[/tag] doesn’t get hurt, Texas wins the Big 12 and ends up in the Fiesta Bowl last year. A healthy Lokey helps the entire defense.
Tackle Frank Okam
or
Roy Miller
|
Thomas Marshall
There were all-world expectations for [tag]Frank Okam[/tag] when he arrived in Austin and he’s yet to perform at that level. He’s still got a chance to be a high draft pick if he can be healthy and active this year.
DE (Power) Aaron Lewis
|
Lamarr Houston
Maybe the weakest spot on the defensive line but a couple of guys that impressed in limited time last season. [tag]Aaron Lewis[/tag] and [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] are both about a biscuit short of becoming defensive tackles.
Strongside LB Robert Killebrew
|
Dustin Earnest
Any chance [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] comes in and takes this position over after his suspension? [tag]Robert Killebrew[/tag] needs to make more plays.
Middle LB Rashad Bobino
|
Jared Norton
[tag]Rashad Bobino[/tag] is consistent but has trouble getting off blocks, [tag]Jared Norton[/tag] will knock your teeth out but is inexperienced. We’ve got to find the right mix of heady guys and playmakers at linebacker.
Weakside LB Scott Derry
or
Roddrick Muckelroy
|
Keenan Robinson
[tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] was our best linebacker before he tore up his finger against Rice and this season he’s listed as a co-starter. I think Muck ends up being on the field as much as any of the other guys.
Right CB Ryan Palmer
|
Deon Beasley
or
Chykie Brown
Uh oh. Now we’re into the area where fans are making a little noise. [tag]Ryan Palmer[/tag] has the makings of a solid player but he hasn’t performed well when he had opportunities. [tag]Deon Beasley[/tag] has a chance to take the starter’s job if he wants it.
Free Safety Marcus Griffin
or
Drew Kelson
|
Tyrell Gatewood
Everyone knew [tag]Marcus Griffin[/tag] was the starter but I was surprised to see [tag]Drew Kelson[/tag] the number two guy here and not at strong safety. Maybe Kelson plays in likely running situations.
Strong Safety Erick Jackson
or
Ishie Oduegwu
Glad to see [tag]Erick Jackson[/tag] earn himself a chance. Kid has some bad luck but he was has all the measureables and was highly rated coming out of high school. And [tag]Ishie Oduegwu[/tag] is named Ishie, you’ve got to root for him just for that.
Left CB Brandon Foster
|
Curtis Brown
or
Earl Thomas
Even more worrisome than the other corner spot. [tag]Brandon Foster[/tag] is about the same as Palmer but an inch and a half shorter. He’s got two true freshmen behind him so it looks like a experience versus potential battle.

It’s just Arky State so I’m not going to get to worked up over anything on this depth chart. It’s the first game of the year so I think guys who have been here longer are going to have the edge over the young guys who have only been on campus a month. It’ll be interesting to see if the freshmen and sophomores battling for spots can show enough against ASU to see increased time against TCU.

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