Posted September 26th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

The Texas defense will try to swarm Trevor Vittatoe and the UTEP offense.

The Texas defense will try to swarm Trevor Vittatoe and the UTEP offense.

A week after a tough Big 12 matchup against [tag]Texas Tech[/tag], the Texas Longhorns play one more non-conference game against the UTEP Miners before getting into the meat of their schedule. The Miners are 1-2 to start the season while the Horns are 3-0 and ranked #2 in the country.

Here are a few UTEP players to keep an eye on during Saturday’s game…

Trevor Vittatoe, QB #10

2009 Stats: 54.9% comp pct, 602 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

The senior quarterback from Euless Trinity has put together back-to-back 3,000 yards seasons out in El Paso. Last year he was both prolific and efficient finishing the year with 33 TD passes against only 9 interceptions. In last year’s matchup against the Horns, Vittatoe threw for 267 yards and 1 TD in the loss. He’s still trying to get in a rhythm in 2009, and [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] and his Texas defense will look to make sure that doesn’t happen until next week.

Jeff Moturi, WR #6

2009 Stats: 12 receptions, 106 yards, 0 TDs

Like Vittatoe, senior wideout Jeff Moturi is a good player that is struggling early this season. He caught over 50 balls in each of the last two seasons and has 22 career touchdown catches. Moturi had 5 catches for 59 yards last year against Texas but he’s still looking for his first TD of the 2009 season. UTEP spreads the ball around between Moturi, Kris Adams, and several other backs and receivers so the entire Texas secondary won’t be able to focus just on one player.

Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, S #23

Stats: 42 tackles, 2 FF

Cromartie-Smith actually plays as a linebacker/safety hybrid that UTEP calls the “Miner” position. He’s allowed to run all over the field an make plays, sometimes in coverage and sometimes going after the quarterback. He’s a playmaker who has forced two fumbles and his 42 tackles on the season are up with the nation’s leaders.

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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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Benbrookhorn has updated his great Texas football roster breakdown for the 2009 season. Every position is broken down by class and it includes the incoming 2012 seniors and even the 2013 targets. Useful.

Go check it out.

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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 January 3rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

The NFL is now littered with former Texas players from the [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] era. It seems like every game involves a Longhorn in the starting lineup. The biggest impacts appear to be on both lines and in the secondary while linebacker is without a doubt the weakest position. Injuries affected a few of the players 2008 season, but the program should be proud of what these guys are accomplishing.

[tag]Justin Blalock[/tag] – The Atlanta Falcon’s made the playoffs behind a great running game and solid quarterback play. The unsung unit on the team was the offensive line. Blalock has cemented himself as a starter on an upcoming team by starting all 16 games after playing in 14 last season. At Texas, Blalock played tackle, but in the NFL he has been able to slide back to his natural position of tackle. Blalock was even able to score a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

[tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] – The forgotten member of the 2005 secondary has become a solid nickel corner in the NFL for the 49ers. Brown played in 15 games and started in one. He recorded 30 tackles and two interceptions.

[tag]Cedric Benson[/tag] – The beginning of the season didn’t appear good for Benson. After being cut by the Bears it appeared no one would request his services. The Cincinnati Bengals fell apart and came calling four games into the season. Benson started 10 games, gained over 700 yards, and scored two touchdowns on the ground. He also added 20 receptions. “EL Ced” finished with two huge games; making the chance he is offered a longer deal by the Bengals a real possibility.

[tag]Tim Crowder[/tag] – Crowder struggled with injuries and the depth chart all season. He played in six games, starting zero, and recording one tackle on the whole year.

[tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] – Charles had a rookie season that has to be seen as a success. Charles sits behind Larry Johnson on the depth chart, but made plays when given the opportunity. The speedster averaged 5.3 yards per carry and added 27 receptions. His only touchdown of the season came on a reception. If Johnson isn’t retained by the Chiefs, Charles may get a look as an every down back.

[tag]Leonard Davis[/tag] – The offensive line for the Cowboys underachieved this season. Davis will go to another Pro Bowl but o-line selections are based on reputation more times than not. It was not all Davis’ fault but he did not perform at the level he did the previous year.

[tag]Phil Dawson[/tag] – Dawson was once again a lone bright spot for the Cleveland Browns franchise. He went 30/36 with a long of 56. He was perfect on extra point, but the 18 attempts magnify the struggles of the Browns offense.

[tag]Derrick Dockery[/tag] – Dockery is one of the higher paid linemen in the league, but is never as dominant as his salary would warrant.

[tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] – Finley had a hard time getting started this season. He ended up playing in 14 games while starting one of them. The rookie finished with 6 receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown on the season.

[tag]Cedric Griffin[/tag] – Griffin has turned into a solid starting cornerback for the Vikings. He gets a lot of action playing opposite of Pro-Bowler Antoine Winfield but holds his own pretty well. Griffin plays with excellent enthusiasm and competitiveness which makes him an eager corner in run support. He played in all 16 games for the second straight season and recorded 91 tackles and a pick.

[tag]Mike Griffin[/tag] – Michael Griffin had the type of year that have made many hail him as the best defensive back to come out of the 2005 group. Griffin is a Pro-Bowl alternate after recording seven interceptions and a sack on the year. He is quickly becoming one of the best safeties in the league. His play has allowed the Titan defense to become one of the best in the league. Griffin also returns kicks for the #1 seeded Titans.

[tag]Ahmard Hall[/tag] – The former Marine has established himself as one of the last true fullbacks in the game. The Tennessee running game is one of the best in the league behind the duo of Chris Johnson and Lendale White. The two split carries with mirrored success, and the one constant is the presence of Hall. He has also become a weapon in the flat out of the backfield, recording two touchdown receptions this year.

[tag]Casey Hampton[/tag] – Hampton had a tough season as he struggled to get on the field with health and conditioning problems. When Hampton can play he remains the best 3-4 nose tackle in the game. He recorded one sack in 13 games that he was rarely able to make it all the way through.

[tag]Michael Huff[/tag] – The Thorpe award winner hasn’t lived up to his draft status so far in his career, but it is still early. Huff lost his starting job and didn’t record a sack, interception, or forced fumble on the year.

[tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] – Jammer had another great year in San Diego. He is one of the most physical corners in the league and continually gets matched up with the opposing team’s biggest and best receiver. Jammer recorded 88 tackles, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles for the playoff bound Chargers. It has been amazing to watch the turnaround of Jammer’s play after struggling for the first few years in the NFL. The pressure of being a high pick has subsided and Jammer’s play has risen.

[tag]Derrick Johnson[/tag] – DJ has moved inside and performed well for the Chiefs. The knock on the former Texas star coming out was his unwillingness to take on blocks, and after a few years as a pro the criticism still exist. When playing in space he excels, but at the point of attack he has remained a liability. Johnson has been up and down, but has shown flashes of potential. He ended the year with 85 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, and four forced fumbles. If/when the light turns on for DJ the sky is the limit.

[tag]Frank Okam[/tag] – Okam may have earned himself a roster spot for next year with his play down the stretch. He lacks the motor and intensity most coaches want out of an interior defensive lineman, but he has the tools to become a solid player in the league if he ever turns it on.

[tag]Cory Redding[/tag] – I feel bad for Cory Redding. I feel bad for any player, coach, trainer, and journalist (except Rob Parker) in Detroit. Redding was the heart and soul of their defense (if that is possible), and if he ever gets out of Detroit he may have a chance to make some noise. Until then, he’ll be rich in Detroit. He got three sacks on the year.

[tag]Brian Robison[/tag] – Robison plays behind Jerod Allen so his snaps are limited. When he is on the field he shows up and makes plays. He managed 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 15 games.

[tag]Shaun Rogers[/tag] – Shaun Rogers is the most disruptive interior lineman in football today. The guy is just huge and unstoppable when his motor is turned on. He took over games at points this season in spite of double and triple teams. Rogers will be in the Pro-Bowl again after turning in 76 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He has Hall of Fame type talent when it is all clicking for Rogers.

[tag]Aaron Ross[/tag] – He may not be the best athlete in his marriage, but the Thorpe award winner has become a better than average cornerback in a tough place to play. Ross started in every game he played, 15, and grabbed 3 interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown. Ross has the ability to be a shutdown corner as his technique and confidence continue to grow.

[tag]Bo Scaife[/tag] – Scaife has emerged as a very productive tight end even in the face of losing his quarterback and his team bringing in a big name free agent in Alge Crumpler. There were a few games where Kerry Collins completely forgot about Scaife, but he finished with 58 receptions and two touchdowns. Scaife has also become better as a blocker which allows him to stay on the field in all situations.

[tag]Lyle Sendlein[/tag] – People tend to forget about Sendlein when discussing the better offensive lineman Mack Brown has put into the NFL. Sendein has started every game of the season for a playoff team. Not too bad.

[tag]Chris Simms[/tag] – Simms is the number three quarterback on Tennessee’s roster.

[tag]Kasey Studdard[/tag] – Studdard remains a reserve lineman for the Houston Texans. He hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup.

[tag]Limas Sweed[/tag] – Sweed is listed as the 4th receiver on the Steeler roster. One would think Sweed will contribute more after a full off season.

[tag]David Thomas[/tag] – The Patriots use a lot of tight ends in their offense, so none of them have numbers that are going to blow you away. Despite that Thomas has been able to get on the field a lot so far in his career. He pulled in nine receptions for 93 yards, but was never able to reach the end zone.

[tag]Nathan Vasher[/tag] – Injuries rendered the 2008 season a wasted one for Vasher. He played in eight games, recording one interception, before being placed on injured reserve.

[tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] – The former Heisman trophy winner and league pariah has made his comeback has a productive back in the Miami system. He was one of the many bright spots on a team full of them this year. Williams is able to make plays without being relied on to carry the full load because of the presence of Ronnie Brown. Ricky scored four touchdowns on 659 yards rushing. He may have made his biggest impact as a receiver out of the backfield where he averaged over seven yards a catch on 29 receptions.

[tag]Roy Williams[/tag] – The losing ways of the Lions followed Williams from Detroit to Dallas. Roy was never able to make an impact for the Cowboys for reasons that still remain unclear. He has proven to have the ability which leaves work ethic and injury as the two other reasons for his lack of production. Williams has unfortunately been criticized for both a lack of work ethic and inability to stay healthy in his career. He will need to have a huge year next year to justify the trade and contract Jerry Jones awarded him.

[tag]Selvin Young[/tag] – Young was another Longhorn that struggled with injury. Denver is notorious for alternating backs, and with the addition of injuries Young was never able to stay on the field. When he was healthy he produced so it will be interesting to see what the new coach in Denver decides to do with Selvin.

[tag]Vince Young[/tag] – 2008 was not a good year for VY. The greatest player in Longhorn history lost his job after one game and a knee injury, and never was even given the chance to win it back. It now appears Jeff Fisher made the right choice as Tennessee earned the #1 seed in the AFC. While they did it with defense and running the ball, Collins has done a good job in a Trent Dilfer type role. This season may end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Vince as a professional if he uses the experience in the right way.

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Posted November 18th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Sergio Kindle made like Superman against KU

Sergio Kindle made like Superman against KU

Texas’ defense stepped up big posting a shutout in the first half and only seven points in the whole game. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] played another good game keeping the teams championship hopes as well as his Heisman hopes alive. Texas did what they had to do, but it may not be enough as they do not control their own destiny to either the conference or national title game.

  1. [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] – It just makes sense to have a defensive player at the top of the big board. When the game was in doubt the defense was suffocating. On three straight drives in the first half [tag]Kansas[/tag] turned the ball over twice on downs and fumbled. The reason for the success was the pressure on quarterback Todd Reesing. Sergio Kindle led the way off the edge with [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] limited in what he could do. Kindle managed a sack and a half but put pressure on Kansas all game.
  2. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] – McCoy just continues to perform at a level that none could have predicted. Most onlookers have probably waited for the Heisman candidate to come back to earth, but McCoy has done no such thing. He played good in the passing game, especially considering the conditions, and provided yards on the ground when the running backs struggled to do so. McCoy has been invaluable to this team. He controls everything the Longhorn offense does. He finished 24 of 34 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. McCoy added 83 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
  3. [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] – For all of the pub that McCoy and [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] get for being roommates and child hood friends, it is Cosby that makes the Longhorn passing offense go. When Cosby went down in the Tech game it was obvious that the passing game struggled to find a new identity. Cosby puts Texas in consistent second and third and shorts and is the guy that stretches the field. He scored a touchdown in the second half while grabbing six balls for 70 yards.
  4. [tag]Roy Miller[/tag] – The senior defensive tackle is going to be the hardest Longhorn to replace next year. Miller has become a monster in the middle with the ability to play the run and the pass. He has become a leader on the team, and seemingly shows up with his “A” game every week. He recorded a half sack early in the game and made it impossible for Kansas to get anything going in the run game. The Texas defense has survived with Brian Orakpo so far, I’m not sure it would without Miller right now.
  5. [tag]Henry Melton[/tag] – Too bad Melton is a senior because he is a year or so away from becoming a dominant defensive end. His athleticism, especially his footwork, allows him to make plays despite being behind in his technique at the position. The former running back gets better every time he steps on the field as he has finally seemed to embrace being a defensive player. He finished with three tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss in the win.
  6. [tag]David Snow[/tag] – It is hard to measure the play of the individual offensive lineman without knowing their assignments. But when a true freshman that has been splitting his time between two different positions steps in to play center on three days notice and you barely think about it the whole game somebody is playing well. Snow had one bad snap, on a short yardage play. It was hard to tell if it was a bad snap, a miscommunication, or if McCoy simply dropped it. With [tag]Chris Hall[/tag] coming back next year it is hard to see where Snow will fit in to the starting lineup. But one thing is for sure, he will get snaps somewhere.
  7. [tag]Eddie Jones[/tag] – The best thing that can come out of an injury to a key player is the emergence of the next star. It may be premature to call Jones a star, but the talent is there and a performance like his against Kansas can give everyone some hope moving forward. The former five star recruit showed his athleticism on a pitch play in the first half. He tracked down the running back in space and forced a fourth down play. His stat sheet doesn’t wow you, only two tackles, one being for a loss, and one quarterback hit. But with Melton and Orakpo being gone next year, it was nice to see Jones make an impact.
  8. [tag]Christian Scott[/tag] – It took one play for Scott to make an impact from his safety position. On the snap after Kansas running back Angus Quigley knocked starter Blake Gideon out of the game Scott came in and violently sent a message back. For the rest of the game Scott was all over the field. [tag]Will Muschamp[/tag] has said Scott possesses the most physical upside of any of the young safeties. Scott is going to have to be more than just a Saturday performer to get consistent snaps however. Muschamp wants hard work in the film room and on the practice field, and if Scott can put that work in Gideon and Earl Thomas may have some competition in the secondary.
  9. [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] – Before the injury in the third quarter Gideon was playing one of his best games all season. He was making plays in the secondary as well as putting pressure on the quarterback in key situations. The true freshman is just a solid football player that puts his nose in any and everything he can. He flies around the field and always appears to be in the right place at the right time. Gideon appeared to suffer a concussion, so it will be interesting to see how cautious the staff is moving forward.
  10. [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] – The Texas game struggled on the day, but Whittaker found a way to contribute in the passing game. In the first half he recorded all his receptions, a total of five for 42 yards. Whittaker is the one back on the roster that can put a defense on their heels and it was important for the red-shirt freshman to show he can block and catch out of the backfield. The staff needs to find better ways to get him the ball on handoffs, but the fact he was able to play as much as he did is a good sign for the Longhorn offense.
  11. [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] – Muckelroy has been Texas’ most consistent linebacker all year long. He leads the team in tackles on the season and finished tied for second on the team against Kansas with six tackles. Kansas’ offense puts more pressure on the corners than the linebackers, but Muckelroy consistently showed up on plays. He swarms to the ball and provides support in both the run game and the middle passing game. The junior’s value, opposed to say a Jared Norton, is that he can play on every down in distance. He is no longer a liability in the passing game.
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Posted November 13th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Texas enters their last road game of the year with a beat up football team. The weather is supposed to be bad with wind and cold weather in the forecast and a number of Longhorn players are banged up. As always players such as Colt McCoy and Roddrick Muckelroy will need to play well for Texas to keep their conference and national championship hopes alive, but some guys under the radar will have to step up to come away with the win.

[tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag]

With the emergence of Chris Ogbonnaya and the comeback of a healthy Foswhitt Whittaker, the sophomore has become a forgotten man in the Longhorn backfield. Ogbonnaya is still suffering through an ankle injury while Whittaker doesn’t have the body to carry an entire games worth of runs. Because of this McGee has found himself still getting carries after a slow start to the season. In fairness to McGee he was banged up as well early in the year but appears to be back close to 100%. Quietly McGee has played extremely well in the last few weeks. On the road, especially in windy and cold conditions, good teams need to be able to get some plays out of the running game. Whittaker will be the main guy, but if McGee can come in and keep the chains moving the Longhorns may be able to wear out an undersized Kansas defense. McGee performs best when he is coming off the bench and with Whittaker and maybe Ogbonnaya in front of him this week McGee is right where he needs to be.

[tag]David Snow[/tag]

Last week many were wondering if the true freshman from Gilmer was beginning to push the older guys at the guard position for some serious playing time. The coaching staff loves Snow’s mean streak and competitive nature. This week starting center Chris Hall went down in practice with a leg injury and with the dismissal of Buck Burnette for racist comments on the internet Snow finds himself the starting center for the first time in his career. Snow should get a challenge in his first start because it is on the road and opposing teams have been found of blitzing Colt McCoy. Snow has played mostly guard on the season, but Mack Brown says he still practices snaps before every practice. Certainly Snow has concentrated more on center for the past week and a half after the dismissal of Burnette. Having the quarterback in the shotgun for the majority of the game should help the young center, but if Texas looks lost in blitz pickup we’ll know the freshman is taking his lumps.

[tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag]

Of course everyone looks for Kindle every game. He has become a dominant force on the Texas defense, and may have done enough over the season to become a hot target in this year’s NFL draft. This week don’t necessarily just watch Kindle’s play, watch where the junior lines up. Kindle is listed as a linebacker, but as the season progresses he has been lined up more and more at defensive end. For the first part of the season he only did this on obvious passing downs, but with Brian Orakpo missing last week’s game Kindle lined up at defensive end almost exclusively. Kindle excels when playing downhill and coming off the edge. He has struggled in space on pass coverage, so Will Muschamp has turned Kindle into Texas’ version of Lawrence Taylor. Orakpo is expected to be back, but it is unlikely he will be at full strength. Look to see the ratio of snaps at defensive end to linebacker for Kindle this week.

[tag]Earl Thomas[/tag]

The red-shirt freshman safety played his best game of his young college career last week against Baylor, a week after being one of the two players that gave up Michael Crabtree’s winning touchdown in Lubbock. It was huge for Thomas to bounce back and he did, showing the mental toughness that Muschamp has been glowing about since spring practice. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the young Texas secondary faces another tough test in the passing game. The young safeties have had their struggles on the season but they have played extremely well for the most part. The best evidence for that was the long pass play the Texas defense gave up on the first play Thomas was out with a minor injury. Ben Wells came in to replace Thomas and got beat deep for the only long passing play Baylor was able to muster against the Longhorns. Thomas was able to come back into the game and continued to play well. He may have been the best player on the field for UT’s defense last week and that kind of play will be huge again for Texas to avoid an upset in Lawrence.

[tag]Ryan Bailey[/tag]/[tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag]

Most fans are hoping this game doesn’t come down to a field goal. Not because they don’t have confidence in the Texas kicking game, but because they feel UT should be able to win big against a struggling Kansas team. The last time Texas went to Lawrence they barely came out with a victory, so a close game is not out of the question. After being the place kicker last year Ryan Bailey lost his job in fall camp to Hunter Lawrence. The change had come without much fanfare because Lawrence was perfect on the season. That changed last week when Lawrence missed both of his field goals. In the end the misses did not matter, but when Texas lined up for their third field goat attempt Ryan Bailey trotted out for the try. Bailey made the kick and the questions about who would be the kicker going forward began before the referees even raised their arms. Bailey didn’t appear to do anything to loss his job, and he has proven he can make big kicks as he did in Nebraska. The coaches said Lawrence didn’t kick the last field goal because he was “sore”. We will know on the first field goal attempt if this was just lip service or not.

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Posted November 7th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Can Sam Acho corral Baylor's Robert Griffin?

Can Sam Acho corral Baylor's Robert Griffin?

The way players perform after a breakout or a disappointing game says a lot about them. With a few players out because of injury and the heartbreak of last week there are going to be some younger Longhorns that must step up for this team against Baylor. Most years the [tag]Baylor[/tag] game is considered a gimmie, but this Baylor team, led by new coach Art Briles and freshman quarterback Robert Griffin, is capable of giving the Longhorns everything they can handle. These five players need to step up for this program to have success this week and beyond.

[tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag]

Finally after weeks of hearing that Fozzy was ready to play the coaching staff let the speed red-shirt freshman get some meaningful snaps. Once he was in the game Fozzy showed what many onlookers had been looking for from him. He averaged seven yards on only six carries in the second half of last week’s loss. Before those gains the Longhorn offense could do nothing on the ground. Whittaker’s speed and elusiveness allows him to make positive plays even when the blocking isn’t perfect. That is just what this team needs because the offensive line play has been far from perfect. Whittaker is a smaller back that has already struggled to stay healthy, so don’t expect him to get over 20 carries. Expect him to get 10 touches or so out of the backfield and a few touches on shovel passes and screens. Fozzy can be the playmaker this backfield needs for the next few years if the staff shows confidence in his ability to carry the load.

[tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag]

Williams had his breakout game last week. He is another freshman with loads of upside. All year long Texas has been searching for a receiving threat to go along with [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] and [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag]. It took an injury to Cosby to allow Williams the opportunity to showcase his ability in a real game, but now that he has the hope is that he can continue to make a difference. Young players have the tendency to be inconsistent from one game to the next, so if Williams can back up last week’s effort with another solid performance the Longhorn offense may become that much better. Greg Davis’ offense has been reluctant to go deep throughout the year, but in the Missouri game and then last week, Williams has shown he is the type of player that can go up and get the ball. The more confidence Davis, and more importantly [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], show in the young receiver the better this offense will be.

[tag]David Snow[/tag]

Texas Tech’s defensive line whipped up on UT’s offensive line for most of the night. Tech was able to get pressure on McCoy and shut down any thought for a consistent running game. Older guys like [tag]Cedric Dockery[/tag] and [tag]Charlie Tanner[/tag] are getting more and more of their snaps taken away by the younger guys. One of those younger guys is true freshman David Snow. Snow will start on the line somewhere next year. Offensive line coach Mac McWorther loves his mean streak. He has compared him to a bigger and more athletic [tag]Kasey Studdard[/tag]. No higher compliment can be made in my book. With the offensive line woes it wouldn’t be completely out of the question to see Snow get a start of Dockery by the time the year ends. The one thing that may keep Dockery’s job safe is the hole left at backup center because of the departure of [tag]Buck Burnette[/tag]. Snow will be the primary backup to starter [tag]Chris Hall[/tag] and the snaps he will have to dedicate to center at practice may keep him off the field at guard as a starter. Don’t be surprised to see next year’s potential starting lineup on the field at the same time with Michael Huey and Snow replacing Tanner and Dockery at guard.

[tag]Sam Acho[/tag]

It appears to be certain that starting defensive end [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] is going to miss the Baylor game because of the leg injury he suffered last week. His primary backup has been sophomore Sam Acho. Early in the year, and certainly during preseason camp, Acho impressed the coaching staff with his endless motor and nose for the football. Keeping containment while applying pressure will be crucial in this game because of the type of player Baylor’s quarterback is. Next year the Longhorns lose both defensive ends and it looks like Acho will definitely be one of the replacements. Just like Cosby’s injury allows guys like Malcolm Williams and Dan Buckner an opportunity to showcase their future ability, Orakpo’s injury gives a chance to emerging players such as Acho and [tag]Eddie Jones[/tag]. If Acho and Jones can gain confidence with Orakpo out of the lineup it will do wonders for this defense as it heads into the off season.

[tag]Blake Gideon[/tag]

The true freshman from Leander has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Not only has he come in to a program that many felt he couldn’t compete at and held his own, he has found himself as the starter for a top 5 team in the nation at safety for every game of the year. Gideon by no means lost the game last week with his drop of a potential game winning interception on Tech’s last possession, but with a young guy who is such a competitor it is likely he walked off the field believing he did. From everything we have seen of Gideon it would appear he would bounce back and use the adversity to get better. The worry is that he’ll play like a deer in the headlights for the rest of the year trying in vein to not make another key mistake. Secondary players must have a short memory, a lesson Gideon will have to learn early in his college career. As a coach’s son and a classic overachiever there is no reason to believe he won’t. Look for him early to see if he can make a play to restore some much needed confidence.

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Posted November 5th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Malcolm Williams had a breakout game in the loss

Malcolm Williams had a breakout game in the loss

It wasn’t the greatest game for the Longhorns individually. In the heartbreaking loss to [tag]Texas Tech[/tag] only Malcolm Williams had the kind of night you brag about to your friends. Most weeks it is a struggle to settle on the top 11 players, but this week it was a struggle to simply find 11 players to put on the big board.

  1. [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] – All year Texas’ offense has searched for a legitimate deep threat out of their third receiver. Many around the program felt that the guy would be red-shirt freshman Malcolm Williams because of his size and speed. Saturday Texas found their deep threat, but it took Quan Cosby getting hurt to do it. Williams had without question his best game as a college player finishing with 182 yards on four catches including two touchdowns.
  2. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] – Colt McCoy entered the Tech game as the clear leader for the Heisman trophy, and while Texas lost and McCoy didn’t play his best game he still led his team to a potential comeback. McCoy finished the game 20 of 34 for 294 yards and two touchdown passes. McCoy’s struggles came in large part to his offensive line getting manhandled all night. He was sacked four times.
  3. [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] – It wasn’t a great day for the Texas defense, but Kindle made some plays. Kindle finished with six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. The Texas defensive line failed to get pressure throughout the night giving Tech’s offense all the time it needed to make plays. After Brian Orakpo went down with an injury Kindle was being used almost exclusively at defensive end.
  4. [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] – Down 5-0 in the first quarter Shipley dropped a deep pass that would have given Texas the early lead. After that play Shipley played a pretty good game. He got Texas back in the game with a punt return for a touchdown in the second half. Shipley ended his night with six catches for 45 yards.
  5. [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag] – The Junior linebacker continues to lead Texas in tackling in seemingly every game. Saturday night Muckelroy registered 12 tackles, most coming in the middle of the field. Tech had a little success running the ball, but in the second half Texas’ defense shut out the Red Raiders until their last drive of the game.
  6. [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] – Most people will only remember the last play of the game where the freshmen tried to undercut Harrell’s pass to Crabtree allowing a touchdown pass. What most people won’t remember is that Thomas was playing maybe his best game as a Longhorn before he took that chance at the end of the game. Thomas had ten tackles with two pass breakups on the night.
  7. [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] – Fozzy has been struggling all season to get on the field. Early in the year he suffered through two nagging knee injuries only to see senior Chris Ogbonnaya secure the running back position by the time Fozzy got back healthy. The Texas staff didn’t allow the speedy freshman to make an impact until the second half, but when they did the potential big play ability he brings to the position was clear. On a night where Texas could do nothing on the ground Whittaker averaged seven yards on six carries in limited action.
  8. [tag]Roy Miller[/tag] – When Texas did apply pressure it seemed the big man in the middle was the one applying it. Miller went down with an injury during the game but was able to get back on the field. Miller has been the most consistent player on the d-line this year. He finished the game with five tackles and one of UT’s two sacks.
  9. [tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag] – You know it is bad when a kicker made an impact in a loss. Lawrence continues to be the model of consistency going two for two on the game. Lawrence has been perfect on the season even though he entered it without being expected to get the job.
  10. [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag] – The true freshman doesn’t get the chance to play as much as the other corners, but he continues to stand out every time he is on the field. Williams is quickly becoming a playmaker on special teams recording another blocked punt against Tech. He recovered a fumble, had two pass breakups, and made a great play on a screen pass during the game.
  11. [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag] – Two kickers on one list? I know, I know, but try to find someone who made more of an impact than Tucker. The rugby style kicks he utilized on Saturday night ended up working extremely well for Texas as they averaged over 50 yards. Tucker also continues to get his kickoffs consistently into the end zone.
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