Defensive tackle Derek Johnson is a big dude. Can he play? (Image: MBTF)

Defensive tackle Derek Johnson is a big dude. Can he play as good as he looks? (Image: MBTF)

After nearly two whole months without Texas football, Friday was finally the first day of Spring practice. No tidbits yet (practices are closed to the public) but the official site does have a short video to watch and a nice photo gallery as well.

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Posted September 5th, 2009 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football, Live

Follow along below or with @40AcresSports on Twitter for live updates on the Texas vs. Louisiana-Monroe game tonight at 6pm…

(continue to read full live blog …)

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Watch practice highlights from yesterday’s second practice courtesy of MBTF at CBS College Sports.

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Watch practice highlights from today’s practice courtesy of MBTF over on CBS College Sports.

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QB Colt McCoy passes to RB Fozzy Whittaker on the first day of practice. (Statesman.com)

QB Colt McCoy passes to RB Fozzy Whittaker on the first day of practice. (Statesman.com)

Tell your family you love them and you’ll see them in January; Texas Longhorns football season is finally here. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] and the rest of his Longhorn teammates took to the practice field early this morning to officially kickoff the 2009 season.

The team split into to two groups allowing the coaches more time with the younger players only in the afternoon. Coach [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] is a big fan of the split practices, “It was fun to watch the young guys live a dream of playing at Texas in their first practice tonight. I love the split practices. Everyone gets more reps and we’re only out there for an hour an 15 min. Got a great look at young ones tonight.” The team will do another split practice Monday before coming together as a full squad.

Check out photos and more links from the Horns’ first day of practice:

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Posted July 14th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Will Keenan Robison blow up at linebacker in 2009?

Will Keenan Robison blow up at linebacker in 2009?

Football has become a 24/7, 365 days a year sport. We talk about football in the fall. We watch the spring games in April. And we even follow recruiting with the fervor of a Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

But the one aspect of college football that is overlooked is the work done in the summer with 7-on-7 workouts. Vince Young and the 2005 Championship team proved that chemistry and timing built in the summer can propel a team to the top. After a near perfect season in 2008 Colt McCoy and the Texas football team are looking to duplicate the blue print of the last team to make it to the Rose Bowl and win.

The similarities of this year’s team to the 2005 squad are alarming and are sure to be talked about like McCoy and Jordan Shipley’s fishing plans.

Not all aspects of the game can be worked on over the summer without pads, but plenty can be accomplished. Even with more answers than questions lingering to enter this season there is room for improvement. And here are five questions that could be answered over the summer?

1. What will be the base offensive formation?

The lack of a viable tight end may force Greg Davis’ hand when it comes to “go to” formations. In the biggest games of the year, and when Texas needed to move the ball, they abandoned the tight end set for a four wide receiver spread. With McCoy’s accuracy and the depth at the receiver position having a tight end on the field may be a detriment to the team.

From a skill stand point there is no question the fourth receiver will be more talented than any healthy tight end on the roster, unless we assume DJ Grant can emerge as a catcher and a blocker in his first year at the position. Frankly, it would be unfair to ask that of Grant so the question becomes – is it more important to disguise your play calls by being multiple on offense with a tight end or is the talent difference so great that putting a tight end on the field is holding the team back?

I don’t know the answer, maybe Davis and McCoy don’t either, but a huge summer by the receivers combined with no progress from the tight ends might equal a wide open spread attack for the majority of the snaps.

2. Can Garrett Gilbert handle being the backup quarterback right away?

Anyone who has seen or followed the career of the incoming freshman from Lake Travis knows that all signs point to a successful career at Texas and beyond. But all the skill, and smarts, in the world don’t necessarily spell success as a true freshman. In a perfect world Gilbert will only see the field in controlled situations. The plan is to bring him along slowly at the end of games that Texas has in the bag.

The problem is Texas cannot be comfortable with Sherrod Harris as the primary backup. The coaches and the players love Harris but he has never shown he could carry the team if needed. And with the junior recovering from surgery Gilbert has the chance to secure the backup spot if he can prove he has what it takes on the field, in his head, and in the huddle.

Like it or not Texas is one freak play away from starting a quarterback with no experience. With Chiles at receiver the only real hope is Gilbert. There is no doubt the pressure and expectations will not be fair or realistic for the prodigy, but he should have never expected them to be. This is Texas; he’ll learn that soon enough.

3. Who will be the running back?

Realistically this could be a question that isn’t answered at all this season. Mack Brown and Major Applewhite have proven they’ll mix backs in and out as much as they deem necessary. And while they’ll do it again this year, one has to think the staff wants a “go to” guy. A lot of the inconsistencies last year can be attributed to the lack of familiarity with the backs and the offensive line. The running game can be about timing as much as anything and UT had none last year.

It is true that the full running game cannot be featured without pads, but Applewhite has shown he values pass protection and ball security over big play ability. Vondrell McGee, maybe the most complete runner in the backfield, learned this lesson the hard way when he was benched for the entire Fiesta Bowl.

McGee may be the best runner, but it is Foswhitt Whittaker that can excel in 7-on-7 drills because of his ability to catch the ball and run in space. If he can stay healthy and prove he is willing to block Whittaker may finally break out this season.

The other option is freshman Chris Whaley. All reports have the physical freak as being impressive. The coaching staff has all but said he’ll get his shot to compete, so if he can pick up the small things this summer he’ll have a huge chance this fall.

4. Who will start as the third linebacker?

Roddrick Muckelroy and Jared Norton have starting jobs locked up in the 4-3 alignment, but with Sergio moving to defensive end one of the outside linebacker spots are open. The two candidates for the position are Keenan Robinson Emmanuel Acho. Both can rush the passer and both can make plays.

The skill that may separate them, and determine who plays more, will likely who can play in pass coverage the best. This is where 7-on-7 comes into play. With the Big 12 becoming football version of the Blue Angels air show finding linebackers that can stop the run and cover the pass is invaluable. In his short time on campus Robinson has shown the ability to play the pass and that’ what puts him at the top of the depth chart at strong side linebacker.

Texas will play with five defensive backs a lot this season, and that means only two linebackers on the field. Norton, who is a prototypical middle linebacker in the 4-3, has struggled in the nickel formation so if Robinson plays well enough he may be alongside Muckelroy when teams are spread out.

5. Is the work ethic there?

For the first time in a long time Texas overachieved last season. It had more to do with expectations, but the Longhorns had a workman like feel that wasn’t the norm in the last decade. Will Muschamp has gotten a lot of credit for the attitude change, but more credit needs to go to the players and especially the leaders on the team. More than talent, UT lost some big time leaders in Quan Cosby, Roy Miller, and Brian Orakpo.

Those guys kept the young guys in check in practice, off the field, and in the locker room. Texas still has established leaders in Colt McCoy and Sergio Kindle and new leaders are stepping up like Earl Thomas. But until the team faces some adversity no one will know if the team has the backbone they showed in games against Oklahoma and Ohio State last year.

The 2005 team established that ethic in the summer with many players pointing out that they had worked too hard in June and July to let anyone beat them. If this year’s team comes out of the summer with the same feeling another special year could be on the horizon.

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Posted July 29th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Feature, Football

Colt McCoy

Position Rating: B
Starter: Colt McCoy
Reserves: John Chiles, Sherrod Harris

The quarterback position is one of the strongest in the Big 12 and despite throwing 18 interceptions last season Texas starting quarterback [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] is in the top tier in the conference. With an improved offensive line and another season of experience under his belt the 2008 season should be a good one for McCoy. Simply cutting down on his turnovers will be huge but I’m expecting even bigger things this season.

Behind McCoy there are two huge question marks which bring down the position’s overall grade. The general consensus is that true sophomore [tag]John Chiles[/tag] is the number two with junior [tag]Sherrod Harris[/tag] slotted behind him. Chiles spent all of last season as the team’s backup quarterback but saw little time at the position and had few opportunities to use his arm. He didn’t throw the ball well in the Orange/White spring scrimmage possibly leaving the door open for Harris to take over as the primary backup.

One interesting scenario that could play out is that Chiles is 2a and Harris is 2b. Chiles might actually see more time on the field this season as a receiver and running quarterback in special packages, but if (God forbid) McCoy were to go down with an injury Harris would take over as the every down QB. Either way Texas fans should be rooting hard for a healthy season for McCoy.

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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 June 21st, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Depth Chart, Football, Quick Hits

John Chiles to double as QB-WR? Rumors are Harris will be 2nd string but Chiles will get his hands on the ball often.

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Posted March 29th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Football, Live, Spring Football

The last scrimmage/practice of the spring is about to get underway on Fox Sports Southwest. The Orange-White Game is most fans’ first look at a lot of players and it’s always interesting to see who is playing where. We won’t see much (if any) new scheme or plays, but it’s football and gosh darnit I like it. The most important thing in this type of event is always that nobody gets seriously injured.

I’ll be posting my live thoughts and opinions below.

First Quarter

Nice to see we tackled more this spring, much more so that we did more full contact drills than in a scrimmage like this.

Here’s the spring roster off the official site. Definitely going to be needed today.

[tag]Tray Allen[/tag] gets the start today at left tackle with [tag]Adam Ulatoski[/tag] out.

I thought [tag]Brandon Collins[/tag] had dropped that pass but on the replay cornerback [tag]Deon Beasley[/tag] made a nice diving play to break it up. Collins probably needs to use his body better though to prevent the defender from being able to do that so easily.

I don’t know about that interference penalty on Beasley. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] threw a nice pass but put it over [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag]’s wrong shoulder. He had the position and Colt should have been able to put it in a more catchable position.

Not a good job on the [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] reverse by [tag]Henry Melton[/tag]. As the backside defensive end his responsibilities are RCC (reverse, counter, or cutback) and while he held his spot for a moment he started to pursue too quickly. Not a good job by the corner/safety over there either, the moment they saw Shipley going back the other way they should have been screaming at the top of their lungs.

[tag]Ishie Oduegwu[/tag] is in street clothes on the sideline, I didn’t realize he was hurt. I assume that’s why true freshman [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] got the start at safety for Team Tradition. Okay that’s the last time I’ll mention these lame team names.

[tag]John Chiles[/tag] and [tag]Fozzy Whittaker[/tag] screwed up the hand-off on their first play of the day. Zone read and Chiles tried to change his mind and keep it but they put in on the turf.

On his first pass attempt Chiles makes a decent throw to Collins but he looked like he was tripled covered. The pocket was still holding so I think John could have waited another tick, bought himself some time, and looked for a more open receiver.

Nice run by [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] ended with him delivering a blow to [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag]. Good play though by Thomas to hold on despite the big hit and make the tackle.

I hope we’re not planning on playing freshman kicker [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag]. We’ve already got [tag]Ryan Bailey[/tag] and [tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag] and I want one of them to win the kicking job this year so we can afford to redshirt Tucker.

[tag]Russell Carter[/tag] sure looks like a football player. Big old sucker. Nice play by him bringing down Whitaker.

(more …)

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