O’ Canada

If anyone is frustrated with football, then you really need to check out what’s cookin’ at the Erwin Center. The Texas basketball team is really looking good after two games this week. I know it’s early but something just feels different about this team. Player roles are more  clearly defined and it seems head coach Rick Barnes has finally figured out the rotation.

That rotation includes two of the best freshman in the country, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. If you watched the telecast last night you were reminded over and over again that both these players hail from Canada. Before playing together at Findlay Prep they both played for a grassroots Canada AAU team. You can read all about the two here.

Speaking of Canada, the newest Longhorn hoops recruit Myck Kabongo is also, you guessed it, CANADIAN! By no means am I looking past this year, because I think UT is going to be very good, but just thought everyone would want to see the basketball team still has great things to come, eh.

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Pre-gaming with Schmidtty: UT @ K State

Well there is good news, and then there is a TON of bad news. The good news is I don’t think you have to worry about the Longhorns going into any game overconfident for the rest of the year. The bad news is … well where do we start? The offensive line is terrible and they just lost their most consistent starter, Michael Huey. The running game is non-existent, and it’s time everyone realized that this early in his career, Garret Gilbert can’t carry this offense. Despite what others may say, the defense is solid however it is susceptible to an explosive play or a dumb penalty that extends drives. A very popular word around Austin is frustrated, and as the Longhorns now go into “preparing for 2011″ mode there are some things for UT fans to look forward to.

Texas v Baylor

The Texas defense had a valiant goal-line stand, but just couldn't get the job done against Baylor. -AAS Photo

The two biggest problems for the Longhorns are converting trips to the red zone into touchdowns (only 15 of 36 this season) and creating turnovers on defense. Yes, the muffed punt returns are a major issue but the best you can do in that situation is try someone new, which Brown said they are going to do. The coaches understand where this team is falling short

“We have got to start forcing turnovers with our defense,” said Brown. “We say it every week, but it’s hard to do. You can’t just wave a wand, you gotta knock ‘em loose.”

As the Longhorns players and coaches have done, I too have also stopped underestimating UT’s opponents. Kansas State was regarded as a top contender for the Big 12 North in the pre-season, mainly because of one guy, running back Daniel Thomas. Thomas is currently seventh in the country in rushing yards (only four yards shy of 1,000 for the season) and has double-digit rushing touchdowns (10). The game plan against the Wildcats should be fairly simple, stop the run, so I’m not as worried about the Longhorns this week as I will be against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Kansas State isn’t going to try and trick you, they will just do what they do best and dare you to try and stop them. I take at least a little bit of solace that prior to the UCLA game, Texas was one, if not the top, rushing defense in the country.

I say the game plan is simple, but to be honest, stopping Thomas and crew will not be as easy as putting eight men in the box. Here is a little video proof of what K State and Thomas can do …

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJufx93R5VE]

And just so I don’t get a reputation for only posting highlights of the other teams, here is a good Longhorn moment from the Baylor game that I hope everyone will enjoy …

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Pre-gaming with Schmidtty: UT vs. Iowa St.

It would be easy to go into a game with Iowa State a little overconfident, especially after going into Big Red nation and dominating T-Magic and the Black Shirts. But with the season the Longhorns have had thus far, no game can be taken for granted.

If you listen to Mack Brown talk about his team, you get the sense that is exactly the message they are preaching.

Longhorns bottle up T-Magic

Texas already bottled up one dual-threat QB this month. Why should we think Austen Arnaud will do any better? - AA-S Photo

“We’ve shown that we can come back after a poor performance,” said Brown. “Now we’ve gotta show that we can be mature enough to start where we are now and move forward after a good performance.

“We’ve also gotta put ourselves in a position where we start the season over.”

The season has started over for the Longhorns (4-2, 2-1 in Big 12). After a tough couple of weekends, the Longhorns still only have one conference loss. That loss happens to be to division leading Oklahoma, but this is not a position Texas hasn’t been in before. The Sooners would need two conference losses for Texas to be the South rep at the Big 12 title game, but OU still has difficult matchups at NO. 11 Missouri, at Texas A&M and at NO. 14 Oklahoma State left on their schedule. Texas has a favorable second half schedule with five of their remaining six games being at home.

But before we look ahead, let’s see what the Cyclones bring to the table. The last two head coaches have been former Auburn defensive coordinators, current head coach Paul Rhoads and Gene Chizik before him. They play a four-man front on defense and even though they only blitz about 13 percent of the time, they move their players around to create confusion. So even though Garrett Gilbert might have plenty of time to throw, he might get baited into making bad decisions.

The Cyclones have a three-year starting quarterback in Austen Arnaud (1,060 passing yards, 8 TDs, 7 INTs) and a feature senior running back in Alexander Robinson (488 rushing yards, 5 TDs). Expect to see a lot of zone read, counters and draws with this duo. Arnaud is a dual-threat guy, but the Longhorns have already shown what they can do against running QBs (see Taylor Martinez).

This should be an easy win for the Horns, but to be honest nothing has looked easy this year. Just keep in mind, Iowa State can beat Nebraska too.

Player of the Game Awards vs. Nebraska

Offensive POTG:

Garrett Gilbert (62 passing yards, 71 rushing yards, 0 turnovers)

Found his legs after rushing for only 14 yards in the first five games.

Most Productive OL:

Michael Huey (0 sacks allowed)

Did not allow a sack of Gilbert and helped running game gain 209 yards on the ground.

Big Offensive Hit:

Cody Johnson (11 carries, 73 yards)

Had 53 fourth quarter rushing yards including a 24 yard run on 2nd and 8 to extend the game-ending drive.

Defensive POTG:

Kheeston Randall (4 tackles, 2 QB hits)

Held Taylor Martinez to 21 yards rushing.

Hard Hat Winner:

Blake Gideon (4 tackles, 1 pass break up)

Gideon always lays the wood, this week was no different.

Special Teams POTG:

Malcolm Williams, Justin Tucker (2 touchbacks on kickoffs, 2 punts grounded inside the 20, and 2-2 on FGs)

Other than a pooch punt that was returned for a touchdown, a very strong day for special teams.

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Texas Recruiting Update

Yesterday, the nation’s top tight end prospect Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6’5”, 265lbs) committed to play his college ball at the University of Washington.  The Horns were widely considered to be the front runner during the majority of his recruitment leading up to his unofficial visit to Austin the first week of August.  While hardly anyone can deny his abilities as a tight end, many people (including Texas) believe that, after a year or so in a collegiate weight training program, he will undoubtedly mature into a tackle.  The prospect of moving permanently to OL at Texas is believed to be a contributing factor behind the UW commitment.

The Horns now turn their attention to 5-star Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown (6’0″, 210lbs), the #1 ranked running back recruit in the nation according to Rivals.  Long considered the #1 target in the Horns’ already stellar recruiting class, Brown has narrowed his choices down to Alabama and Texas, with Texas being considered the leader by multiple recruiting sources. Brown performed so well at last month’s FBU Top Gun camp that he jumped from #10 to #8 in the Rivals 100 this week.  There is a chance that Brown will announce his school choice before Cibolo-Steele begins its season on August 28th.

The recruitment of Brown has seemingly decreased the chances of Texas reeling in 4-star Madison High School running back Aaron Green (5’11”, 191 lbs).  Green has received a lot of attention from Nebraska, where his older brother plays.  Green and Brown have stated publicly they are interested in playing together at Texas, which could potentially add a “Thunder and Lightening” dimension to Texas’ mediocre running game of late.

Also moving up in the rankings this week was Brownwood receiver Jaxon Shipley (6’0”, 170lbs).  The younger brother of standout Jordan Shipley performed exceptionally well at the Top Gun camp last month and moved up from #183 to #61 this week.  Many scouts consider Shipley to be underrated, referring to him as “the most polished a receiver you’ll find in the 2011 class, the most college-ready right now.” At the Grid Iron Kings 7-on-7 tournament, Shipley proved to be a dominating force who was hard to stop.

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Be Wary of the Horns When…

When trying to hold a fourth-quarter lead: Mack Brown

Mack Brown has been Captain Comeback in 12 seasons as Texas’ coach. The Longhorns have averaged two second-half comebacks per season under Brown, including 13 fourth-quarter comebacks. They stunned defending BCS national champion USC with a last-minute rally in the 2006 Rose Bowl and had the mother of all comebacks against Oklahoma State in ’04 (down 35-7 in second quarter) and again in ’07 (trailed 35-14 at start of fourth quarter). In fact, the Horns have recorded the six largest comeback victories in school history under Brown’s watch.

When playing offense on third down: Texas

Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp loves to bring heat on third down, and the Longhorns led the country in third-down defense last season. The Longhorns’ opponents converted only 53 of 200 (26.5 percent) third-down plays. In fact, the Longhorns sacked opposing quarterbacks 19 times on third down last season.

Basically what this tells me as a Longhorn fanatic is that we are never out of a game, no matter how bad things might look and that our defense is stout as hell.

This was taken from an article published on ESPN.com

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview10/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=5460788

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