Pre-gaming w/Schmidtty: UCLA Edition

A special Pre-gaming with Schmidtty from sunny cloudy and overcast California! The UCLA Bruins started the steep downward spiral of horribleness that was 2010 for the Horns. But the Rose Bowl is like a home away from home for Texas, and revenge is in the air (or is that smog?). If Texas can turn the tables on UCLA, then the program will have come a long way in righting the wrongs of last season. Maybe then I’ll stop referencing 5-7. Can’t wait.

Head Coach (Record): Rick Neuheisel (81-52; 16-23 w/UCLA)

2010 Record: 4-8 (2-7/9th Pac-10)

Returning Starters: 7 Offense / 8 Defense

Player(s) to Watch for UCLA: Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman torched UT last year for 216 rushing yards and two TDs (QB Kevin Prince also ran for 50 yards and a score). Both backs return against a Texas run defense that seemed to improve between weeks 1 and 2 of this season. They each have a per-rush average of 6.5 yards/game or better. Texas will have to stop the pistol offense if they are to better their Rose Bowl record.

Key Matchup: Texas pass-rushers vs. the UCLA quarterbacks. Franklin and Coleman will get their carries, but if whoever starts at quarterback (junior Richard Brehaut or Prince – who suffered a concussion against Houston and is questionable for today’s game) gets off on the Texas defense, then the game might turn just as ugly for the Horns as last year’s contest. Cue the Texas pass rush, which needs to step up after only having one sack last week against BYU. Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat have been all but neutralized in the early going this year, but with a running offense like UCLA they will have plenty of shots to get in the backfield and make some tackles for loss.

Prediction: The Texas defense stepped up big last week against BYU, with a couple second half stops that changed the momentum in that game. They won’t have a home crowd behind them (though there will be a lot of burnt orange in the stands) and with a large freshman class getting their first taste of the Rose Bowl, I have a strong feeling this may be a trap game for Texas. The Horns should win based on talent alone, but will the QB scheme work again like it did last week? My initial feelings are no, and UCLA downs the Horns 17-13 in a defensive struggling offensive affair.

Where to Watch: The game will be on ABC starting at 2:30 PM CT. If you couldn’t make it out to LA, be so loud that the Horns can hear you in Austin. If you are in Pasadena, hit me up and we’ll party when the Horns prove me wrong.

Hook ‘Em!

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Pre-gaming w/Schmidtty: BYU Edition

A bunch of old Cougars are going to be chasing the young Horns on Saturday. To get you up to date on the matchup let’s take a look at what BYU will be bringing to DKR this weekend.

Head Coach (Record): Bronco Mendenhall (57-21)

2010 Record: 7-6 (5-3/3rd MWC) Defeated UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, 52-24

Returning Starters: 10 Offense / 6 Defense

Player to Watch: The conversation starts with quarterback Jake Heaps who started 10 of the Cougars’ 13 games last season as a freshman. He broke every BYU freshman quarterback record and broke or tied two BYU bowl records with his 73.5% completion percentage and four passing touchdowns against UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl. Last week, Heaps threw for 225 yards and a touchdown in a very close victory at Ole Miss.

Key Matchup: Texas Defensive Line vs. BYU Offensive Line. Last week, Texas defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat didn’t have a chance at sacking Rice QB Taylor McHargue with their quick, short passing scheme. This week they shouldn’t have that problem as the Cougars use more deep drop back passing plays. As long as Okafor and Jeffcoat can fight around or through senior offensive tackle Matt Reynolds and the rest of the BYU line, expect Heaps to be scrambling for his life. If not, the QB will test the young corners of Texas.

Prediction: Texas is 0-2 lifetime against BYU but I expect that streak to end. I predict both defenses will show up for this one in a closer-than-it-should-be 23-17 victory for the Horns.

Where to Watch: If you’re watching at home or at the ABT tailgate, the game will be on ESPN2 starting at 6 p.m. If you got tickets to the game, then you better come early, be loud, stay late and always wear your orange.

Hook ‘Em!

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Season Preview: Quarterbacks

2010 in Review: Like pretty much every position on the offense, the quarterbacks had an awful 2010. I shouldn’t really make that plural because only three passes thrown last year did not come from Garrett Gilbert (and two of those were from a running back!). After being unfairly thrown to the wolves in the National Championship game against Alabama, Everyone thought Gilbert actually performed well for someone thrust into that position and were looking forward to 2010 with a whole year of practice as the No. 1 QB under his belt. One 5-7 season later (and don’t forget those 17 interceptions) and people couldn’t get off the Gilbert band wagon fast enough. With longtime Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis resigned fired, Gilbert remains as the lone whipping boy if the Texas offense sputters again this season. That’s a log of pressure, but hey, this is Texas football. You don’t come here to play QB unless you want the brightest lights shining on you.

Key Returner: Even after all the struggles last season, a supposed “open” quarterback battle and months of practice the depth chart for Rice still reads the same. Gilbert 1, Case McCoy 2. Gilbert has the experience, and that seems to be the biggest reason for Mack’s decision to start him. Doesn’t really instill a whole lot of confidence in me. I probably would have rather heard ‘Gilbert really stepped up as the unquestioned leader of this team’ ‘his passes are on target  and he’s showing a lot of confidence in the pocket’ or ‘he’s limiting his mistakes and his decision-making has vastly improved.’ Nope, he’s getting the nod because he’s done this whole college quarterbacking thing before and the other guys haven’t. Something tells me though that the leash will be short and Mack won’t hesitate to get someone else a little experience.

Player to Watch: This wouldn’t be a true quarterback battle unless we were fawning over the latest recruit that hasn’t sniffed a college field yet. That player this year is David Ash. According to reports from camp, Ash has shown a lot of confidence and leadership as a true freshman. Early reports even had Ash pulling ahead in the four-man race for starting QB, and at the very least it is thought that a special package of plays has been put together featuring the Belton product. One sign of good things for Ash is that Connor Wood has decided to transfer, following in the footsteps of guys like Jevan Snead and G.J. Kinne. If Ash does not see the field as a QB this year, there is still the possibility he may fill in as punter (he’s currently tied on the depth chart for second-string duties). Fake punt anyone?

For the Quarterbacks to be successful, the need to … limit turnovers. I don’t really care who is under center this year. As long as they can stay upright and not throw interceptions, they are alright with me. Not to say that all Texas needs to be successful this year is to have a game manager at QB (a la Trent Dilfer with the Baltimore Ravens), but whoever starts at the very least needs to be able to do that. Expect to see a lot of running plays in the first few games until the quarterback(s) get more comfortable in this new Harsin/Applewhite offense. Like anything else, it’ll take time. Unfortunately for the QB, patience is not a virtue when it comes to Texas football fans.

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Season Preview: Running Backs

2010 in Review: For the third straight year a Texas running back has failed to eclipse 600 yards rushing for the season. Blame it on injuries Blame it on the linemen not opening up holes to run through. Blame it on players not stepping up to become a featured back. Blame it on Mack Brown not being able to recruit a big-time back. Blame it on the coaching in general! Blame it on whatever you want, the fact is the Texas running game hasn’t been good since Jamaal Charles left after his 1,600-yard breakout year in 2007. Each running back had a shot at being a feature back last season including Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker, Tre Newton and D.J. Monroe (all of which are back in 2011 except for Newton who was forced to quit football due to too many concussions).

Key Returner: According to the first depth chart released this week, Johnson will move to fullback while Whittaker gets the first shot at being the featured tailback. If Whittaker can stay healthy, he will play a major role in the Horns bouncing back from last year’s disappointing season. New strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie and Jeff Madden have helped Fozzy put on more weight and muscle to prevent future injury.

[Coach Wylie and Coach Madden] are guys that have been instrumental in helping me maintain my weight, put on more weight initially and then being able to maintain that through fall camp. It’s probably the strongest that I’ve ever been. I also weigh the most that I ever have, and being able to maintain that is helping me be very efficient and [helped] not getting injured.I feel like I give that all to Coach Wylie and Coach Madden.” – Fozzy Whittaker, Texas Running Back

Player to Watch: The obvious choice is true freshman Malcolm Brown, who is currently listed as and either/or backup to Whittaker at tailback. He led Cibolo Steele High School to the 5A-DII football state championship last year, and  is easily the biggest running back recruit to come to the 40 Acres since Cedric Benson. Fans are clamoring for Brown to see the field early, like Benson, and rightfully so after seeing what he did in high school (6,663 rushing yards, 86 rushing TDs and 9.8 yards per carry). If he just rushed for half the yardage that he did in high school, he would rank in the top 4 running backs all-time at Texas (behind Ricky Williams, Benson and Earl Campbell). Just in case anyone wanted to know, the freshman rushing record for yards in a season is 1,053 (set by Benson in 2001).

For the Running Backs to be successful, they need to … find a feature back and stop the streak of dwindling rushing numbers. Since the 2007 season, the team rushing yards and touchdowns have decreased every year (from 2,698 yards and 35 TDs in ’07 to 1,806 yards and 19 TDs last season). If Texas is going to bring back the tradition of producing big-time running backs, they’ve got a promising prospect in Brown and 2012 commit Johnathan Gray who will provide a future 1-2 punch. But the question is 2011, and it remains to be seen if what kind of production Texas will get out of its running backs.

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No more guessing: UT releases first depth chart

Mack Brown and Horns released the first depth chart for the game against Rice on September 3rd. Upon first glance, there are a few moves that should excite fans. Of course, first off we have to mention that the quarterback situation remains unchanged from 2010. The “four-way QB battle” has ended exactly like last season with Garrett Gilbert as starter and Case McCoy as his backup. With the depth chart comes the news that third/fourth-string QB Connor Wood is going to transfer to Colorado. With David Ash and verbal commit Connor Brewer in-waiting, you can’t blame Wood for wanting to find a place he could get on the field sooner rather than later. True freshman Jaxon Shipley will start as the H receiver and be the first in line to return punts. Mason Walters will remain at right guard, where he started all 12 games last season, while sophomore Trey Hopkins takes over at right tackle. Calvin Howell wins the battle starting battle at defensive tackle and Angleton High School alumni Quandre Diggs and D.J. Monroe will return kickoffs.

2011 Depth Chart: vs. Rice

OFFENSE
Position No. Player | No. Player | No. Player
Wide Receiver (H) 8 Jaxon Shipley | 81 Miles Onyegbule
Wide Receiver (Z) 9 John Harris OR 4 Darius White
Tight End (Y) 87 Dominique Jones | 18 D.J. Grant |
|
89
85
Barrett Matthews
Ahmard Howard
Right Tackle 75 Trey Hopkins | 70 Paden Kelley
Right Guard 72 Mason Walters | 79 Thomas Ashcraft OR 66 Sedrick Flowers
Center 55 Dominic Espinosa | 73 Garrett Porter
Left Guard 78 David Snow | 77 Luke Poehlmann
Left Tackle 56 Tray Allen | 68 Josh Cochran
Wide Receiver (X) 1 Mike Davis | 3 DeSean Hales OR 16 Bryant Jackson
Quarterback 7 Garrett Gilbert | 6 Case McCoy |
OR
14
5
David Ash
Connor Wood
Tailback 2 Fozzy Whittaker | 24 Joe Bergeron OR
|
28
26
Malcolm Brown
D.J. Monroe
Fullback 11 Cody Johnson | 41 Jamison Berryhill
H-Back 19 Blaine Irby | 15 Darius Terrell
Place-Kicker 19 Justin Tucker | 31 Ben Pruitt

DEFENSE
Position No. Player | No. Player | No. Player
Buck 44 Jackson Jeffcoat | 9 Dravannti Johnson OR 88 Cedric Reed
Tackle (Nose) 91 Kheeston Randall | 99 Desmond Jackson | 95 Greg Daniels
Tackle 90 Calvin Howell | 85 Ashton Dorsey OR 96 Chris Whaley
Strong End 80 Alex Okafor | 92 Reggie Wilson
Strongside LB 3 Jordan Hicks | 15 Demarco Cobbs | 11 Tevin Jackson
Middle LB 1 Keenan Robinson | 33 Steve Edmond
Weakside LB 18 Emmanuel Acho | 5 Aaron Benson | 35 Kendall Thompson
Right CB 17 Adrian Phillips OR 28 Quandre Diggs |
OR
2
31
A.J. White
Leroy Scott
Free Safety 4 Kenny Vaccaro | 26 Mykkele Thompson OR 29 Sheroid Evans
Strong Safety 21 Blake Gideon | 7 Nolan Brewster
Left CB 2 Carrington Byndom OR 17 Adrian Phillips | 25 Josh Turner
Nickel 4 Kenny Vaccaro | 17 Adrian Phillips
Punter 19 Justin Tucker | 14 William Russ OR 14 David Ash

SPECIAL TEAMS
Position No. Player | No. Player | No. Player
Punt Returns 8 Jaxon Shipley | 28 Quandre Diggs | 1 Mike Davis
Kickoff Returns 26 D.J. Monroe | 28 Malcolm Brown | 4 Darius White
28 Quandre Diggs | 8 Jaxon Shipley | 2 Fozzy Whittaker
Kickoffs 19 Justin Tucker | 14 William Russ | 31 Ben Pruitt
Holder 86 Cade McCrary | 14 William Russ | 8 Jaxon Shipley
Snapper (PAT/FG) 48 Alex Zumberge | 49 Trey Wier | 78 David Snow
Snapper (Punts) 48 Alex Zumberge | 49 Trey Wier | 21 Blake Gideon
Gunners 26 Mykkele Thompson | 16 Bryant Jackson

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