September 11, 2009

The Ticket City Locker Room

Q: (lnghrnfn06) - 1) If Christian Scott is cleared academically do you think he will return to the starting line up immediately OR do you think the coaching staff will punish him and make him sit a couple of games? If you were the coach in that situation, what would you do?

2) I don't really understand the coach's logic in deciding which true freshmen should play. I agree with the decision to play Garrett Gilbert. But to me it seems that guys like Kenny Vacarro, Barrett Matthews, Marcus Davis and Marquise Goodwin could have benefited from a red-shirt year. I know Goodwin showed some flashes on offense in garbage time against ULM but lets be honest here - is he really going to climb his way up the depth chart and see meaningful snaps at WR this year? Do you really think Mack will let a true freshman return kicks or punts full-time? When has he in the past? Hypothetically, let's say Goodwin finishes the year with 11 catches for 140 yards and one TD. Would that be worth more than a red-shirt year? Some of the redshirt decisions in the past haven't made much sense to me. In 2007 alone, James Kirkendoll or Brandon Collins (one of them), Trey Allen and Curtis Brown are guys that should have red-shirted. 2006 was a wasted year for Sergio Kindle as well.

Lastly, thanks for all the hard work that you and the OB staff put in to make Orangeblood's the great site that it is. If it weren't for y'all I would actually have to work during the day!

A: First, I don't think there's any question that Scott will return to the field in a major role if he's reinstated. According to my sources, Scott's situation was a bit of a surprise, and everyone in the program feels like he deserves to be back with the team and the hopes are reasonably high that they'll potentially get him back next week. There's probably a good chance that Blake Gideon remains listed as the starter moving forward because of principles, but it really won't matter because the roles in the secondary have already been defined, assuming that all of the pieces are available.

Second, I think you're probably damned if you and damned if you don't when you play most true freshmen. The Longhorns redshirted Jermichael Finley in 2005 and they ended up getting two seasons out of him before he left for the NFL. I think there are a number of factors in play that make the decisions difficult.

a. The kids want to play. More and more incoming prospects are enrolling in the spring semester before the start of their freshman seasons because they don't want to sit around and redshirt. When you mention guys like Vaccaro, Alex Okafor, Mason Walters and Marcus Davis, you have to understand that those guys aren't like regular true freshmen. They've been in the program for nine months, which means that the eight-month off-season leading up to the season served as an unofficial redshirt year.

b. The Longhorns have a bit of a stigma when it comes to playing younger players and in order for it to not linger as an issue in future years, you've got to play the guys that can contribute. This will stop schools like Oklahoma from successfully sales-pitching recruits like Darius White on the idea that it'll be three years before he'd ever player in Austin.

c. Mack Brown wants to win right now. This point cannot be stated enough. If you believe that he's only going to be coaching at Texas for another season or two, then you can probably buy the all-hands-on-deck theory to the madness.

Overall, some of your points are not lost. The Longhorns absolutely wasted a season for players like Kirkendoll, Collins and Allen. The key for the Longhorns moving forward is to make sure that they don't repeat some of their own history. There's no question in my mind and in the minds of quite a few members of the coaching staff that young guys like Goodwin, Matthews and Vaccaro can have significant impacts on a championship season this year. For instance, Brown let Ramonce Taylor return kicks as a true freshman in some pretty important games, including the Rose Bowl against Michigan, so it's happened before. Don't completely give up hope.

Finally, thanks for the kind words. It's my hope that the coverage we're providing right now is just a sampling of the things that we plan to offer in future years as we continue to grow. My commitment to constantly improving our resources has never been stronger.

Q: (Cgarcia89) - I am sure I was not the only one who jumped out of their seat when D.J. Monroe took it to the house on Saturday. I was also very please to see how well he did at running back. But then I got to thinking about it and now I am a bit worried/puzzled. Here is a kid who was not allowed to be in the spring program due to grades and was all but packed and ready to leave the program all together. He did what he was told, got back in the program and lit it up. Great for him, but what does that say about our running back situation?

We have good backs, not great ones. We have backs that play roles (Cody Johnson is the bruiser, Vondrell McGee is the all-purpose guy when not fumbling, Foswhitt Whittaker is the quick guy (Jeremy Hills and Tre Newton have yet to be determined) and do a job. But we have no one who can go from here to there in a blink of an eye. What does it say about the running backs that we recruit or what they do once they make it on campus when a kid who was all but gone and a converted WR none the less can come in and take Austin by storm like that?

A: Honestly, I'm not sure that Monroe's progress to start the season has anything to do with the lack of development of the other players. After all, we're talking about a kid that was one of the state's top 10 prospects coming out of high school two years ago. Academics aside, this is a talent that the Longhorns want to get on the field in whatever capacity they can because his speed is simply on a different level from just about every player in college football. The problem for the staff initially was trying to figure out where to put him. After giving him a shot at wide receiver, they made the decision to move him back to his most natural offensive position, despite some of the downside that comes with his size limitations

Of course, the running back situation is fluid right now because McGee simply has not proven that he can take the starting job and hold onto it (no pun intended). The running back position is one of the few unanswered questions in the program and the Longhorns are hoping Monroe can give them some additional big-play firepower, but I don't believe in an automatic correlation between Monroe's first-game emergence and the problems at running back position exists.

That being said, you bring up a good point about the stable of backs in the program. They are pretty average all things considered and outside of McGee (and Monroe), none of the guys that the Longhorns have landed in the last four recruiting cycles were thought to be true difference makers in recruiting and none have been able to surprise. I also don't know twat the Longhorns are looking for in the recruitment of their running backs because there's not much consistency in terms of style or skill sets. When we asked Major Applewhite this week about the types of running backs that they are interested in going after in recruiting, he simply stated that the Longhorns want to find the best possible player and that they would adjust the offense to a player's strengths accordingly.

Frankly, it is what it is and I expect that the running game might end up being a point of debate until the running back position gets an infusion of better talent or some of the guys on campus that seem to be stuck in neutral start to shift their gears into drive. For now the strength of the program on the offensive side of the ball is in the quarterbacks, receivers and pass-protection among the offensive linemen.

Q: (6369700509) - 1. I never thought Marquise Goodwin would risk a shot at the Olympics for football...has he ever answered that question? i.e. Which sport is his true love? Is he going to have any durability issues at his current weight? And wouldn't gaining weight potentially impact his track performance?

2. I know you are a Bill Simmons fan. Would you feel uncomfortable stealing his column gimmick of using quotes from a movie for your season preview? I think we'd all enjoy a 35-40k word column using The Hangover. For example you can use the quote from Phil: "leave a message, or don't-but do me a favor, don't text me. It's gay." That's a great intro to discuss how Sergio got his wake-up call and is completely focused and stepping up as a team leader and how the cotton bowl is going to need a Caterpillar backhoe loader on hand in case Bradford gets driven too deep into the turf, etc.

A: First, I wouldn't worry a ton about Goodwin gaining a ton of weight in the off-season because he'll be turning his attention to track when the football season ends. The good news is that he's already a pretty solidly-built kid, who might only weigh a 170 pounds, but he's a 170 pounds of compact muscle, which is a little surprising because he's doesn't play or look like a track guy. I think everyone is taking a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to his long-term future, but he's committed to playing both sports and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Also, don't ever think I'm above stealing someone else's terrific ideas. Hell, the Ten Thoughts From the Weekend is a clear rip off of Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback. However, it should be noted that since I invited the concept of the War Room back in 1999 and every single website in existence has not only stolen the concept, some haven't even bothered to give it a different name. Others have copied the release date and use similar styles in reporting the info that we've used over the years. I consider it a compliment, which is really just another way of me justifying my own theft of other's good ideas.

Q: (mshvll) - It was confirmed this week that Jordan Hicks will be visiting Texas for the Colorado game, and he will be visiting Ohio State for the USC game. In your opinion, do you feel like this puts Texas at any sort of disadvantage? If Texas slaughters CU, would that appeal more to him than a game down to the wire? Do you think Texas will benefit more from hosting him for the CU game so he can have more 1-on-1 time, or would it have been better to have him around a lot of the other recruits?

A: I'm sure the atmosphere in Columbus this week is going to be special, which certainly gives the Buckeyes an potential advantage, but there's nothing Texas can really do about that. The important thing for Texas will be maximizing the 48 hours that they will have with Hicks when he does make the trip to Austin. If the Longhorns are going to win him in the end, his visit to Columbus won't matter. It's been over 15 months since his last trip to Austin when he was overwhelmed, but that's the challenge they'll have in a few weeks. They need to overwhelm him with the entire presentation and I'm guessing the game atmosphere will be a small piece of the equation.

Q: (Bullittx) - Since we may be a little biased towards our own staff, which Big 12 staff is the best in the Conference at:

1. Getting the most out of their players
2. Prep for game
3. Management the day of the game.

A: Let's take Texas out of the equation for the sake of debate because I think a strong case can be made that the Texas staff currently leads the way in all three categories.

Oklahoma's staff certainly ranks high on the list in three categories, but if I was forced to pick someone in all three categories, I'll go with the following:

1. Getting the most out of their players - Mark Mangino/Kansas and Bill Snyder/KSU
2. Game prep - Mangino and Art Briles
3. Game day management - Bob Stoops

Q: (3xhorn) - D.J. Monroe reminds me of Eric Metcalf, who had plenty of carries per game, and he clearly has elite level skills that none of the other backs have. Given Mack's focus on and desire for "explosive" plays, why the reluctance to make Monroe the featured back?

A: I think it's pretty simple. The Longhorns want to limit the number of times a 165-pound redshirt freshman, who has very limited experience in pass protection, stands as the last man between a defender and their most important player (Colt McCoy). I don't think there's any question that Monroe will have an increased role within the offense if he continues to emerge as a legitimate playmaker, but a full-time role this season is unrealistic. McCoy's health is simply too important to take those kinds of risks on a regular basis.

Q: (Bevo Scott) - Jordan Shipley continues to amaze me more and more every time I watch him. What is his true height, weight, and 40 time? What are your NFL scouting friends saying about the pros and cons of drafting him? What round do they foresee him going if his senior season is similar to his junior?

Can you please give me the same for Sergio and Colt?

Lastly, I am fairly new to the board and I see that November 30th, 2008 was the day that the record number of people were on OB. What was so special about that day…was that the day that the BCS rankings came out and we found out that Oklahoma would be representing the South in the Big 12 championship? If so, I can only imagine the meltdown…

A: I called an NFL scouting buddy of mine on Thursday night and he told me that Kindle and McCoy both have low first round grades at the moment, and while there's a bit of a wait-and-see attitude on Kindle, there's a buzz about McCoy right now. The more NFL people see of McCoy, the more they seem to like and the Drew Brees comparisons are not hurting him.

As for Shipley, he's right at the 6-0, 190-pound mark that the Longhorns officially list him at. My guess is that he probably will time in the low 4.5's next February at the combine.

He'll certainly have a few issues that he'll have to combat. First, he'll be 24 in December, which is a little older than most NFL teams like to see their higher picks. Second, his injury history will generate concerns. The bottom line is that he's a great college player that will need to blow NFL scouts away in the pre-draft workouts if he wants to go in the early rounds. If his testing numbers are above-average and he puts together a historic season this year, he'll have a chance to send his stock into orbit.

Q: (McCombsWad) - Over the last three or so years, Texas has seemingly had a stranglehold on in-state OL recruiting. The staff has been able to take not only the top guy on their board, but the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th guys too. It's hard to argue that the recruiting has been as good or consistent over the last few years at any other position.

Fast-forward to this year's recruiting efforts. Texas is so stacked at OL and is enjoying such a wealth of numbers that you speculated that the staff was not going bother in 2010 with the position. Lo and behold, the machine gets cranked up again and Texas takes pretty much who they want. Where am I going with this?

Well, let's take a look at OU's woes and Bradford's injury. The situation along their OL is miserable and I'm starting to draw a connection between Texas' OL recruiting and OU's delicious schadenfreude. Here's the question: can you draw a direct link between the see-saw effect of Texas' outstanding OL recruiting and OU's current OL catastrophe? Even further, can we speculate that this might have been a strategic effort to choke off the competition (as evidenced by their ability to take OL's when they don't seemingly need them) or is that taking things too far?

A: I don't think the Longhorns coaching staff is Machiavellian to the point that they make decisions in recruiting based on the purpose of cutting Oklahoma in half at the knees. Still, there's little question that when the Longhorns sweep the board in offensive line recruiting, it leaves the Sooners in the position of having a smaller pool of top players from the state of Texas to choose from and their hit-rate has to be nearly flawless or they'll not have the kind of talent and depth to match the other areas in the program.

If you take a look at their last five offensive line classes, here's what they've brought in:

2005: This was a big offensive line class for the Sooners, as they brought in six prospects (three four-stars) that included Duke Robinson and Jon Cooper. However, there were others like Ben Barresi, Brandon Braxton, Brandon Keith and Jesse White that washed out over time. Not a single member of the offensive line class was from the state of Texas and none remain in the two-deep today.

2006: The very next year the Sooners signed a seven-man offensive line class (four four-star prospects were included) and just like the previous season, there were a couple of hits (three-star Trent Williams and four-star Brandon Walker), while the rest of the class was pretty much terrible. Only Williams and new starting right tackle Cory Brandon are in the current two-deep. For the record, both players are from the state of Texas.

2007: The Sooner signed five prospects and only four-star JUCO transfer Phil Loadholt ever contributed to the program. Of the linemen in this class, only four-star Jason Hannon was from the state of Texas.

2008: The three-man offensive line class was headlined by Texas prospects Stephen Good and Ben Habern, both of whom are listed as starters this week after not initially being listed in those roles for the first game.

2009: The Sooners signed a four-man class, including Josh Aladenoye from North Mesquite, but none of the four were ranked higher than three stars.

Overall, the Sooners created their own mess along the offensive line. The 2005-07 classes should represent the fifth-, fourth- and third-year players in their program, but of the 18 prospects that Oklahoma signed during those three years, only two players remain in the program.

Let that sink in for a moment. Two of the 18 currently remain. Meanwhile, the Sooners have only recruited seven prospects in the two most recent classes, which means the numbers in the program are off and the quality depth is young, inexperienced and possibly not very good. If you want to know how 265-pound tight ends get moved to starting center overnight, the Sooners have provided the blueprint. Texas hasn't choked Oklahoma out in the offensive line recruiting as much as Oklahoma has evaluated the position in such a terrible manner and left their program with such a gaping hole that words can't fully describe the situation. Wait, I just thought of one… Chernobyl.

Q: (AzleHornsFan) - 1) Lots of talk about four or five of the running backs after last weekend. Is it a safe assumption that Chris Whaley[/db[ is a redshirt now?

2) Seems to be a lot of talk about [db]Deon Beasley and Christian Scott and their importance to the defense. While some people have threaded this on the boards I prefer a more 'knowledgeable' analysis of how much Texas will miss these two, and how is the depth at their respective positions?

A: Although he could be headed for a redshirt year, let's not write Whaley off just yet. If the likes of McGee, Cody Johnson and Fozzy Whittaker don't start picking up the pace, I wouldn't be shocked to see Mack Brown give Whaley a chance.

Second, of the two defensive backs missing action due to academic reasons, only Scott registers as an impact player on this year's team. Beasley is the team's fourth corner and while he certainly provides important depth, he's not a starting figure in either the nickel or dime packages. His importance to the team would come into play if the Longhorns suffer an injury or two at cornerback. Instead of having a fourth-year senior with lots of starting experience to depend on, the Longhorns will be turning to true freshmen in a pinch.

Scott is supremely important to the team's success in my mind and of the three players currently in academic limo, he's the most important. His presence on the field allows for the Longhorns to have a couple of different nickel packages for Will Muschamp to use based on the situation in the game, but the "Big Nickel" is on the shelf until Scott returns. For the moment, the team's most physically imposing safety is missing.

Q: (Hookem83) - While it is still quite some time away, I think one of the more interesting stories heading into next year's NFL draft will be QB's available. I was hoping you could answer a few questions as it relates to this topic.

I know much still uncertain about Sam Bradford. But right now, do you think he enters next year's draft?

Assuming Bradford goes pro, where do you think he, Colt, Snead, and Tebow will go in the draft? Who do you think will have the best pro career? Who do you think will have the worst pro career?

Finally, what is your USC/Ohio State prediction?

A: In my mind it's too early to know what will happen with Bradford. Despite the claims of the Sooners coaching staff that he'll return in two-to-four weeks, I'm hearing that there's still some real uncertainty about his role this season moving forward. After talking with a former NFL scout this week about the matter, he seemed to believe that Bradford would have to come back this season if he wants to enter the 2010 Draft because there are still some questions that scouts need to see answered on the field this year.

At the moment, the draft stock of the three quarterbacks probably ranks like this: 1) Bradford 2) McCoy and 3) Tebow. That being said, McCoy is closing the gap on Bradford and this season's injury could completely unsettle his seemingly rock solid position as the top guy in the draft.

Finally, I'm not really confident about this pick and if I was a betting man, my money would be on the Trojans because Peter Carroll has never lost to a Big 10 team while he's been at USC and his ATS numbers are ridiculous. But, something tells me that Ohio State is better than they looked last week and the defensive looks they'll give Matt Barkley will be too overwhelming for the Trojans to survive. I'm taking the Buckeyes in a 19-16 game .

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