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August 18, 2012
Q: (Golfpr3145) - What are your thoughts on how long this coaching staff stays together? Seems as though they work really well together and where are you going to have a better stable of players to recruit than Texas. Kind of like finding a good bottle of wine that automatically refills every time you pour a glass.
A: Great question and I think you bring up a very important point because I think the chemistry on the staff right now is as good as it has ever been in the Mack Brown era. This collection of coaches is hungry and possesses high career goals for themselves, but they seem to genuinely enjoy working together as a group. The honest answer to your question is that the bottle of wine might run out after this season because Manny Diaz could be on some short lists for a number of head coaching jobs after the season, and I think we're going to see that with a Longhorn bounce back season, names like Major Applewhite and Bo Davis will start to become more high-profile. As long as Mack Brown is in Austin as the head coach, you have to believe that he'll never have a group of coaches together as a full unit for more than two or three years because really good coaches get/want promotions.
Q: (Texus) - Is Dom Espinosa demonstrably bigger and stronger? What are Donald Hawkins' perceived strengths and weaknesses?
How surprised are you that Ashton Dorsey has been passed over by at least two other DTs? Should that be cause for optimism for the position overall or does it speak to Dorsey failing to lift his game?
A: Heading into his sophomore season, Espinosa is simply a different player than he was last season. The fact that he was thrown into the fire last season after not having much time in the weight room really speaks to the shape the line was in at this time last year, but there were times last year when he was overpowered from a physical standpoint because he went into a gun fight with a knife. That's not going to happen this season because he's gained as much strength this off-season as any player in the program. We're talking about a 100-plus pound gain in the bench.
As for Hawkins, he has everything you want from a physical perspective. The only thing he lacks before heading off to the NFL one day is high quality reps and a lot of them. The tool bag is there and now he has a stage to put them on display. He's still raw and rough around the edges, but there's no reason for him to not emerge as one of the better tackles in the Big 12.
Dorsey is underrated by a lot of people in my mind because very few know that he returns this season as the leading TFL-guy in the entire league at his position. Nothing is official on the depth chart right now, so I wouldn't panic, but if he's the No. 3 or No. 4 tackle on this team, it will speak to the quality of players the team has at the position. There's not any chopped liver in Bo Davis' cupboard.
Q: (Msbbo421) - Can you break down the OU o-line after the recent injuries? Do they have the depth to withstand this? Seems like a major turning point in the RRR - Landry does not handle pressure well?
A: The Sooners have taken some hits along the offensive line ? fore sure ? but I still think they have the makings of a pretty good line. That being said, they are not without question marks. The anchor of the group is Gabe Ikard, who has moved back to center (he started three games there in 2011) with the retirement of Ben Habern. I think you can make a case that Ikard is as valuable as any interior linemen in the entire league at this point after his stellar sophomore season.
The problem for the Sooners is that Ikard really represents the only sure thing they have either starting or on the bench. My expectations are that junior Daryl Williams is going to be a very good right tackle for the Sooners, even if his experience is limited to reserve action in nine games and one start against Tulsa in 2011. Also, I think Adam Shead is going to be fine inside at one of the guard spots
The other tackle spot is more of a question mark and there's not a true starter yet, although some believe junior Tyrus Thompson might be ready for the challenge, but he's played in five games as a back-up in his entire career. Likewise, junior Bronson Irwin will begin the season at guard without a career start under his belt.
Overall, I think they'll be a good line and probably still one of the better groups in the Big 12. However, if they suffer any more loses, all bets are off.
Q: (PLK10) - With the 2013 recruiting class currently sitting with one commit on the defensive line and dim prospects to land any of the currently known DT and DE targets, what do you think the staff does between here and signing day to meet their needs for these positions before next February? Are they headed in the direction of the junior college ranks, or are they comfortable with waiting until next year to get what they want? Thanks for your thoughts. I'll hang up and listen.
A: My instincts tell me that the Longhorns want to see how this season plays out a little, so they can get as a true evaluation of some of their young players, while also getting a feel for the true outlook for the numbers on the field for 2013. When you look at the tackle position, they are scheduled to return everyone that suits up this season, which means their top five guys will all be on the field, unless something unforeseen happens. The decisions at the defensive end position could come down to how well Reggie Wilson and Cedric Reed play. It doesn't feel like they are hurting for numbers, but if Jackson Jeffcoat goes pro or someone doesn't step up, they could go the JUCO route. My educated guess is that they stand pat.
Q: (marka1) - You only get one pick and throw the injuries out. Jaxon or Jordan on your team in their sophomore year? I'm taking Jaxon but who do you choose and why.
A: Fact: Jaxon recorded 28 more receptions and 378 more yards as a true freshman than Jordan did in his third-season as a redshirt freshman. Fact: the difference between the freshmen seasons is almost more than the productivity Jordan produced as a fourth-year sophomore (27 receptions for 417 yards). Fact: Jaxon was at times the best quarterback on the 2011 Longhorns. Those are the facts, but you'll never get me to pick against Jordan Shipley.
Q: (ntexascardfan) - Which 2013 prospect, currently not on the radar, do you see doing their best Marcus Johnson impression and earning a Texas offer with outstanding play their senior season?
A: My answer is not changing ?. Houston Bellaire athlete Devin Lauderdale.
Q: (red dog1) - Love the site and especially the football content. Please compare our (Texas) trenches v. our opponents. I think our DL will be a huge strength and think our OL will be a better OL than most too. I'd like to see your comparisons and expected winners in the trench!
A: Here are my offensive and defensive line rankings heading into the season:
Offensive line: Returning starters are listed in bold
1. Texas (Donald Hawkins/Trey Hopkins/Dom Espinosa/Mason Walters/Josh Cochran)
2. West Virginia (Quinton Spain/Josh Jenkins/Joe Madson/Jeff Bruan/Pat Edgar)
3. Oklahoma (Lane Johnson/Adam Shead/ Gabe Ikard /Bronson Irwin/ Daryl Williams)
4. Oklahoma State (Michael Bowie/Devin Davis/Jonathan Rush (missed 2011 due to injury)/Evan Epstein/Lane Taylor
5. Baylor (Spencer Drango/Cameron Kaufhold/ Ivory Wade/ Cyril Richardson/Troy Baker)
6. TCU (James Dunbar/John Woolridge/James Fry/Blaize Foltz/Tayo Fabuluje)
7. Texas Tech (LaAdrian Waddle/Beau Carpenter/Deveric Gallington/Le'Raven Clark/Terry McDonald
8. Kansas (Riley Spencer/Gavin Howard/Trevor Marrongelli/Duane Zistnik/Tanner Hawkinson)
9. Kansas State (Cornelius Lucas/Nick Puetz /BJ Finney/Boston Stiverson/Cody Whitehair))
10. Iowa State (Carter Bykowski/Ethan Tuftee/Tom Farniok/Kyle Lichtenberg/Brayden Burris)
Quick thought: I don't see a great line in the bunch, although Texas and West Virginia both have a chance to be very good.
Defensive tackles: Returning starters are listed in bold
1. Texas: Desmond Jackson (10 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks), Brandon Moore, Ashton Dorsey (24 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack), Chris Whaley (5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack) and Malcom Brown
2. Oklahoma: Casey Walker (17 tackles, 3 TFL,1 sack), Jamarkus McFarland (21 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks) Torrea Peterson (3 tackles, 1 TFL) and Chuke Ndulue
3. TCU: David Johnson (28 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks), Chuck Hunter (17 tackles, 2 TFL, 0.5 sacks), Jon Lewis (16 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack) and Ray Burns (7 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack)
4. Oklahoma State: Anthony Rogers (21 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack) ,Calvin Barnett, Davidell Collins (7 tackles, 2 TFL), Christian Littlehead (16 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack) and James Castleman
5. West Virginia: Jorge Wright (38 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks),Shaq Rowell (8 tackles) and Imarje Albury
6. Kansas State: Vai Lutui (34 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack), John Sua (4 tackles), Javonta Boyd (three tackles) and Darryl Blackmon
7. Texas Tech: Kerry Hyder (42 tackles, 5 TFL, 1.5 sacks), Dennell-Wesley (21 tackles, 2 TFL), Chris Perry (10 tackles, 2 TFL) and Delvon Simmons (13 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack)
8. Iowa State: Jake McDonough (35 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks), Cleyon Laing (12 tackles, 0.5 TFL), Walker Woods (5 tackles) and Brandon Jenson (3 tackles)
9. Baylor: Nick Johnson (8 tackles, 1.5 TFL), Kaeron Johnson (5 tackles), Donald Brant and Trevor Clemons-Valdez
10. Kansas: Randall Dent (5 tackles and 1 TFL), Pat Lewandowski (3 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack), Shane Smith (4 tackles), John Williams (4 tackles) and Kevin Young (3 tackles)
Thoughts: The depth and strength that Texas has at defensive tackle is considerably stronger than the other teams in the conference. The loss of Stacey McGee was a big one for the Sooners.
Defensive ends: Returning starters are listed in bold
1. Texas: Alex Okafor (58 tackles, 14 TFL, 7 sacks), Jackson Jeffcoat (71 tackles, 21 TFL, 8 sacks), Reggie Wilson (9 tackles) and Cedric Reed
2. Kansas State: Adam Davis (34 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks), Meshak Williams (28 tackles, 10 TFL, 7 sacks), Ryan Mueller and Laton Dowling
3. TCU: Stanley Maponga (55 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 9 sacks), Ross Forest (32 tackles, 6 TFL, 1.5 sacks), Jon Koontz (16 tackles, 4 TFL) and Clifton Murphy
4. Baylor: Gary Mason (26 tackles, 8 TFL, 2.5 sacks), Terrance Lloyd (36 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks), Tevin Elliott (27 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks) and Chris McAllister (10 tackles, 1.5 TFL)
5. Oklahoma: David King (31 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 TFL), R.J. Washington (16 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 TFL) and Chuka Ndulue
6. Oklahoma State: Cooper Bassett (17 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack), Ryan Robinson (21 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack), Nigel Nicholas (10 TFL, 2 sacks) and Tyler Johnson (29 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack)
7. Texas Tech: Jackson Richards (17 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack), Dartwan Bush (28 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks), Pete Roberson and Branden Jackson
8. Iowa State: Roosevelt Maggitt, David Irving (5 tackles), Willie Scott (34 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack) and Devin Lemke
9. Kansas: Toben Opurum (29 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2 sacks), Keba Agostinho (18 tackles, 1 sack), Ben Goodman and Josh Richardson
10. West Virginia: Will Clarke (34 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks), Tyler Anderson, J.B. Lagerman (4 tackles), Trevor Demko (three tackles) and Kyle Rose
Thoughts: See defensive end. Texas is the clear class of the conference, but Kansas State is a strong No. 2. TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all make up a third tier.
Q: (amahorn) - Pink isn't well, he's back at the hotel, and he wants to know where his fans really stand.
Let's go Ketch, not too much red meat for me sir. Let me know how many games the Horns will win this season.