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August 31, 2012
The TicketCity Locker Room
Note from Ticket City: OB subscribers can save $25 this week on orders of $150 or more with discount code OB1225
Q: (weenhorn) - When Texas primarily offered on Junior Days in February, it was usually obvious that a second round of offers would be made around the second Junior Day. With the earlier offers now to some of the 2014 recruits, when do you see another series of offers going out? Who appear at this time to be some of the more likely candidates for those offers?
A: I think one of the things that people lost sight of when worrying about the changing dynamics of making those early batch of 2014 offers is that there's less urgency to act than there was before. In my mind, the Texas staff can now work the state without fear and if all goes well, there might not need to be another series of offers for the rest of the class. Instead, the coaches can simply continue to evaluate the class and when they come across players that warrant offers, they won't be shackled in the way they handle the recruitment by meaningless and arbitrary starting points for offers. If there is a need to have another series of offers, the first Junior Day of the year is probably a good place to start. It'll be interesting to see if the starting point for that event is changed with other schools hosting events earlier and earlier.
As far as forecasting the next batch of offers, it's tough to say because there are currently so many open offers on the market. We're talking about more than two dozen offers that are spread out all over the place at different positions. The smart money is that the staff will address some of the nationally elite players like offensive lineman Braden Smith of Kansas, who was offered this week. By and large, they've addressed the difference makers inside the state of Texas.
Q: (SAW22286) - I hear a ton about offense and defense naturally, but what kind of impact could our special teams have this year? Given our still young and unproven offense and salty defense, I wouldn't be surprised to see a game or two where special teams could be the difference. I thought our return game showed some potential last year.
A: I think the Longhorns have a chance to have the best special teams in the Big 12 and that's not a statement I would have considered making in the spring. However, the addition of Alex King in the punting game, true freshman Nick Jordan and eventually Anthony Fera as a place-kicker really gave this team a boost in those areas, and we know the return game has a chance to have some dynamic pieces. With the level of athletes and skill on the roster, this area should be a strength for the program in 2012.
Q: (Prosperity) - Ketch, please, please, shed some light on the TE coaching position. What exactly is the issue here? TE has been an albatross on the offense since J-Mike left in 07 & Irby was damn near crippled in 08. Who's responsible?
A: It's been much discussed, but there are many factors that have led to the unsettled nature of the position for the last half-decade. If it were just one thing, the Longhorns would have likely addressed the issue, but there are multiple layers to this discussion.
1. Injuries. This is an important piece of the conversation because the best player the Longhorns have recruited at tight end in the last half-decade is Blaine Irby and he was on his way to a sensational career before injuries essentially ended his abilities as we once knew them. This conversation would look different if he had been a multi-year standout for the program.
2. Selection in recruiting. Frankly, you don't even want to see the list of names, but I'm going to give them to you. Since 2006-10, the Longhorns have recruited Greg Smith, Britt Mitchell, Ian Harris, Ahmard Howard, Irby, Trey Graham and Barrett Matthews at the position and that doesn't include the big receivers that the Longhorns targeted with the idea that they might develop into an H-back type weapon. In a five-year window of recruiting, the Longhorns signed one prospect that was rated as four stars or higher by Rivals.com and that one player ended up being really good, but also really injured.
3. Development of players. None of those guys ever really developed into anything, not even by accident.
4. The lack of development at the position inside the state of Texas is another issue. Where are the tight ends? They aren't in-state and that's a problem for a program that relies so heavily on in-state recruiting.
5. The coaching at the position hasn't lifted that group up.
If you're talking about placement of blame, I think the buck stops with Mack Brown because he's the guy that took Bruce Chambers out of the role he was probably most comfortable with and put him at a position
as a tight ends coach at which he hasn't yet proven he can succeed at a high level. I'm not saying that he can't, I'm saying that we don't know because it hasn't happened yet. From talking to sources in the program, I think this is a big year for Chambers because we aren't the only ones privy to the facts listed above and I get the sense that there are expectations that things have to get better at the position … period. I've been told Mack wants results.
Q: (MortgageHorn) - With all the rule changes each year do you ever think they will go back to defensive pass Interference being a "spot" penalty and not the maximum 15 yards? If it's the end of the game and I get beat on a long-pass there is no incentive for me not to interfere as I'd rather take the 15 yard penalty and make the offense line-up and have to try again than give up a possible TD or set up for a game-winning field goal. This penalty is just too advantageous to the defense especially at the end of a game.
A: These things always take more time than they should, but eventually I think this is a rule that will follow the path of the pro game. That being said, I have not heard a major push for this particular rule change.
Q: (BattleshipTexas) - If the Penn State WR named Brown had transferred to Texas instead of OU, would he start here? Play a lot? How good is he really?
A: It's really hard to say because I don't know enough about Brown to be an expert on his talent level, but my guess is that he'd be the No. 4 receiver behind returning players Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin. He would have been given every opportunity to emerge as a more important option over the course of the season. I can't wait to see what he brings to the OU offense.
Q: (lsampson) ? Now that you are rich AND FAMOUS!..., ;0) seriously, are there any plans in your future to do television as well as radio?
Which underclass offensive lineman do you see coming on as the season progresses?
We had a Ketchum running for sheriff in the elections that just ended in the Waxahachie Area. Are you secretly holding down 2 jobs at once?
A: I don't think it's stretch all to think that there will eventually be Orangebloods TV programing or some kind. I bet it happens within the next five years.
If you look at the offensive side of the ball, I think every guy on the two-deep qualifies as someone that could really improve over the stretch of the entire season because there is so much young on that side of the ball.
Finally, I can't wait to tell Chad Hastings that a Ketchum might be running the law in his hometown soon.
Q: (BriConMaz) - Both UT and A&M have made major plays for publicity and finances recently: UT with the LHN and A&M with the SEC move. I don't think either of these was primarily motivated by recruiting, but both are likely to have a significant impact. Question: over the next 5-10 years, which move will more positively influence recruits and how much impact will it have? Thanks..
A: This is a question without an answer right now because it's impossible to know whether the Aggies can truly siege on this opportunity that has been given to them. Moving to the SEC can truly become a game-changer from them, but their window for reaching it might be somewhat slim and if they start losing in a prolific manner, I'm not sure that a lot of the shine will remain in a way that will interest elite recruits. Meanwhile, we can only guess at what the operation of the LHN Death Star means in our galaxy when some planets start getting blown to pieces. Today's U-verse/AT&T news was the equivalent of the destruction of Alderaan.
Q: (JR1051) - How good are the two new additions to the Big XII, West Virginia and TCU? What are their strengths and weaknesses, and how do we match up to them?.
A: I'm of the opinion that the arrival of both programs enhance the produce on the field, even if both have limitations as national programs. As it relates to 2012, West Virginia is easily the more ready of the two to compete with the Big 12 because of the amount of key returning players they have on the two-deep. Their offensive skill positions are elite and possibly the best in the conference which gives them a chance to beat anyone on any given day. The problem they are going to have is that their defense is a major question mark, as most of the talent groups on the defensive side of the ball rank among the bottom half of the Big 12. Expect high scoring shootouts. TCU also has a bevy of skill position players, but they'll be really young on defense and on both front lines. They might take some lumps this season.
Q: (Sweet Al) - What is your impression of Brian Harsin as coordinator in regards to being aggressive with play calling? I truly believe we did not even get a sliver of a taste of what he is capable of last year due to the severe lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball and it being his first year at a big time school. I guess I really want to know will he go after OU's throat or sit back and call plays scared like Greg Davis did against OU? What should we expect from him this year?
A: I'm saving all judgments on Harsin until we see what happens this season. Last year should serve as foreplay for what his offense is capable of with better, more experienced players throughout the line-up.
Q: (treefitty) - Which coaches just can't wait until Saturday night? Which ones are honestly wondering (uncomfortably) how they'll feel Sunday a.m.? I can't help but think Chambers and Searles have their hearts in their throats..
A: All of them. This is a team chomping at the bit to get on the field. Of course, I'd guess the offensive coaches are a little antsier than their defensive counterparts.
Q: (TeXaSalsa) - (1) We have heard a lot of glowing reports from various people about certain players. But it's been quiet regarding a few. Please give your opinion on the following inferences whether they are true or false:
a. With all the talk about Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray doing very well, Joe Bergeron has struggled a little and has been passed as the starter. This is coming off the heels of a dominant spring.
b. MJ McFarland is a long ways from being an impact player. The fact that he can't land on the two deep with these players at TE speaks volumes
. Sheroid Evans/Josh Turner/LeRoy Scott have been passed by Duke Thomas and are at a critical time where they could be buried on the depth chart if they don't raise their play
d. Sedrick Flowers is still not ready for primetime. Neither is Dom Espinosa.
e. Marcus Johnson faded after a hot start. Kendall Sanders is the true freshmen WR that will likely play the most early on.
(2) When do you think Fera comes back from injury this season if you had to guess?
(3) Is Reggie Wilson or Cedric Reed the first DE off the bench? Is Wilson going to make any substantial impact on the 40 acres?
A: 1. Let's get to it.
a. False. Joe Bergeron hasn't struggled at all from anyone that I've spoken with. He'll get plenty of work on Saturday and I don't get the sense that ANYONE is disappointed in his play.
b. Fact. He's not there yet.
c. False. Duke Turner is the No.3 corner, but all of those other players are still young and have very bright futures, especially Evans and Turner.
d. Sell. Espinosa is going to be much-improved. Flowers is trying to get there.
e. Sell. Johnson was injured and was held back a little, but he's right there in the mix and will play tomorrow. Sanders is surging, but Johnson is right there.
2. My guess is we don't see Fera until late September.
3. Both players will see reps at defensive end and I think their play in the first month of the season will determine what happens with the top two back-up ends, but I still have high hopes for Wilson as a player.