November 27, 2012

Almost no chance Longhorns and Ags meet in Cotton

1. The chances are slim and nearly none that Texas will meet Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

I talked to several officials today and here's the most likely scenario for the top teams in the Big 12 and SEC.

If Alabama beats Georgia as expected in the SEC title game, it's almost a done deal that Texas A&M goes to the Capital One Bowl. LSU would go to the Cotton Bowl and Georgia would go to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.

If Texas wins or loses against Kansas State, the Longhorns are headed to the Cotton Bowl so long as Oklahoma beats TCU or Kent State doesn't jump into the No. 16 BCS ranking - securing an automatic BCS berth.

UCLA is just ahead of Kent State and could fall if it gets beat by Stanford again this week in the Pac-12 title game.

If Oklahoma falls into the Cotton (either by losing to TCU or getting bumped from the BCS by Kent State), Texas would go to the Alamo Bowl.

I'm told, there's virtually no scenario in which Texas could fall to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (formerly the Insight Bowl).

If Georgia pulls the upset of Alabama in the SEC title game, and Alabama falls out of the top four in the BCS rankings, the Crimson Tide could fall into the Cotton Bowl and drop LSU to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.

All arrows point to Texas A&M in the Capital One Bowl.

MY TAKE: Texas-LSU or Texas-Alabama in the Cotton would be great for television ratings. Depending on how Texas looks on Saturday (against K-State) it could either be a great opportunity for Texas to pull off a season-ending upset or a chance to suffer humiliation heading into the off-season.

2. A few Texas players made available to the media on Tuesday night said practice was full of intensity.

At times this season, that Tuesday practice has been a decent barometer of the team's mindset going into a game.

Jaxon Shipley, Desmond Jackson and Carrington Byndom said the team was focused and physical on Tuesday.

MY TAKE: Show me, don't tell me at this point.

3. Coaches say they'd like to get the ball more to RB Malcolm Brown this week, but there don't appear to be any promises.

Brown had 10 carries for 31 yards in garbage time of a 33-7 victory over Iowa State. Brown had no carries in last week's loss to TCU.

"We'd like to (get him the ball more)," Mack Brown said. "We didn't run it much the other night. Johnathan Gray touched it 15 times in the running game and I think Joe Bergeron touched it twice, and Malcolm didn't.

"It wasn't a running game night. Wish it would have been. But when you're not balanced against a running defense holding people to 98 yards on the ground and when you're inept throwing it - we dropped five or six passes.

"So it took away our ability to run it late. Then, when we got in trouble late, we put Case (McCoy) in and tried to go no-huddle. It worked. It got us in the end zone and gave us a chance to win the game. Defense was playing great, and then we threw the interception."

Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was asked about Malcolm Brown's touches (or lack of them) at running back.

"Guys get dinged and other guys step up," Harsin said. "Jonathan (Gray) stepped up. Joe (Bergeron) stepped up. We used Daje (Johnson) in there.

"And so you're game plan, as the season goes on, just starts to form itself with those guys in it. And now all of a sudden, when one of your players comes back (from injury), you've got to get them back in the mix.

"You've got to look at what were we doing before? Where does he fit? It's nothing against Malcolm. It's just getting him back in a rhythm.

"It's also, as the week goes on, his preparation and how he looks. And on Thursday going, 'OK, here's what we need to do. He looks great. He's running the ball well. He's making good decisions in practice. Let's make sure he gets in on these packages.'

"Or we give him that second or third series, and we'll decide that on Thursdays. But Jonathan (Gray) and Joe (Bergeron) keep playing at a high level and doing a nice job.

"We've got to get Malcolm back in the mix, but you don't want to spread it too thin to where nobody is getting enough reps as the game goes on to get into a rhythm."

MY TAKE: Brown needs to make the most of any opportunity at this point. After missing three games last year, Brown has missed five games this year due to injury (ankle). Gray and Bergeron are producing, and Harsin can't even find carries for Daje Johnson or D.J. Monroe.

This is the wrong team to be a running back with an injury with that many aircraft on the runway.

4. Speaking of D.J. Monroe. Since he's the school's all-time leader in yards per carry (7.3 ypc) and hasn't even carried the ball the last two games (and also didn't get a single carry against West Virginia or Oklahoma despite scoring a touchdown in the first four games of the season).

I had to ask Bryan Harsin one final time where the senior who gave up track in the spring to try and lead the Longhorns this season has disappeared?

"As the way the offense has evolved throughout the season and Mike (Davis) and Ship (Jaxon Shipley) and Daje (Johnson) and Jonathan (Gray) and Joe (Bergeron) and the tight ends got involved," Harsin said.

"You've got one ball out there. There are plays in the game each week that D.J. is involved with. Whether we get around to them in certain situations is the issue.

"We have them in there all the time. We look at the defense and decide whether we think it's going to be good or not. It's nothing against D.J.

"He does everything we ask him to do. I hope this week we'll go back and study some things and get him back in the mix and get him going, because he's productive.

"Sometimes we look at what we're going to do with the football and who we're going to spread it to and how we're going to do it."

MY TAKE: Huh? Oh nevermind.

5. Quandre Diggs said he would be surprised if senior DE Alex Okafor didn't play against Kansas State despite an ankle injury that has Okafor listed as questionable on this week's injury report.

"I'd be very surprised if Oak (Okafor) doesn't play," Diggs said. "He's such a big leader for us and such a big-time player. He knows we need him. I feel like he'll be out there."

Diggs said he's seeing rapid improvement from LB Tevin Jackson, who is now listed as the starter at strongside linebacker with Demarco Cobbs (knee) out for the rest of the season.

"Tevin is going to be a great player for us," Diggs said. "He was out of football a couple of years ago, and it took a bit for him to get settled in. But he plays with a lot of intensity. He plays angry."

Diggs also said he sent a congratulatory text to former Texas kicker Justin Tucker, who kicked the game-winning field goal for the Ravens against the San Diego Chargers, who feature Diggs' brother and former Longhorn Quentin Jammer at cornerback.

"I told J-Tuck, 'Good job. But you can't be doing that against my brother,'" Diggs laughed.

MY TAKE: This team desperately needs Okafor on the field Saturday. Desmond Jackson also said Tuesday he thinks Okafor will play Saturday.

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