New ABT Web Feature!

Posts from ABT Blog get pushed out to our Facebook Fan Page (http://facebook.com/allbouttexas) as well as our Twitter page (http://twitter.com/allbouttexas). Enjoy!

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Season Preview: Linebackers

2010 in Review: The Horns’ linebacking corps was one of the few bright spots of this past season. Linebackers Keenan Robinson (113) and Emmanuel Acho (87) led the team in tackles and accounted for six (three interceptions, three fumble recoveries) of the team’s 17 takeaways. Highly-touted freshman Jordan Hicks, who must look like the smartest man on the planet after passing up Ohio State to attend school at the 40 acres, played all 12 games on special teams and logged eight games at linebacker. Jared Norton and Dustin Earnest, who also logged time in as starters, graduated and exhausted their eligibility.

Key Returner: It’s difficult to separate Robinson and Acho because they are so similar and equally as important to the unit. Which is why the key returner will be known as RobCho. If RobCho can stay healthy, the linebacking corps will again be one of the Longhorns’ greatest strengths.

Player to Watch: It would be easy to say Hicks, a five-star recruit coming out of high school with tremendous upside, but one name that has intrigued coaches this fall has been sophomore Demarco Cobbs. The converted safety appeared in all 12 games last season on special teams, including one at defensive back, and recorded five tackles. Not much, but with his speed and coverage abilities he adds a versatile option to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s blitz schemes. Junior Dravannti Johnson could also make an impact with the linebackers, although most of the time will be spent with his hand on the ground terrorizing QB’s at the defensive end position.

For the Linebackers to be successful, they need to … stay healthy. The linebacking unit is deep with talent, but not experience. Other than RobCho, Hicks and Johnson, no other Texas linebacker has logged game time at the position. The Horns will rely heavily on the leadership and experience that RobCho provides. An injury to either one of them would be a devastating blow. Hicks missed time in the spring with a broken bone in his right foot, which required surgery, but he should be healthy by the opener.

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Season Preview: Special Teams

2010 in Review: The Longhorns offense shouldered much of the blame for last year’s debacle, but they weren’t the only facet of Texas’ game that laid an egg. UT’s special teams was anything but special. From 2002-2009, UT had the second-most blocked kicks (46) in the country. Last season? I can’t name one that truly impacted a game. But maybe that’s just me having a bad memory. The Horns did a good job on punt and kickoff coverage, but never had that game-changing play. Good news was that the Horns only allowed one kick all season to be returned for a touchdown, however they did not have one themselves. Just about the only bright spot was kicker/punter Justin Tucker.

Justin Tucker

Senior placekicker Justin Tucker is the most consistent returning special teams player from an abysmal 2010 season. - Austin American-Statesman Photo

Not only was he accurate placekicking – connecting on 85% of his field goal attempts and not missing a PAT all season – but he also pinned opponents deep with his rugby-style punts. Of his 35 punts on the season, 17 of them were downed inside the opponents 20-yard line.

Key Returner: The aforementioned Tucker remains the most consistent performer returning from last year’s squad. The senior will have to do much the same while grooming his successor in redshirt freshman William Russ – the all-district, all-city, all-state performer from Evangel Christian High School in Louisiana.

Player to Watch: It is uncertain who will be returning punts and kickoffs for the Horns this year – there were 11 different players that returned a kick last season – but D.J. Monroe has the most big play potential among those returning from a season ago. He returned a majority of kickoffs last year and sported a 20.5 yard average per return. Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams, both gone now to the NFL, returned all but two punts last year so expect to see a new face there. Monroe or playmakers like Carrington Byndom or Mike Davis could fill in at that spot. Don’t be surprised to see the younger Shipley brother get a chance as well. Jaxon’s older brother Jordan was a special teams stud for the Horns. Like anyone forgot?

For the Special Teams to be successful, they need to … stop dropping kicks. The Longhorns shot themselves in the foot several times in 2010 because of dropped kickoff returns. Having new faces all over the program may be a good thing for Texas special teams. A greater emphasis on special teams performance with the new staff would mean good things for 2011.

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It’s only the beginning

Just got my UT football season tickets in the mail, so I think now it’s official. We can FINALLY put 5-7 behind us and focus on 2011. I’m going to be previewing the Horns leading up to the first game against Rice so everyone has something to read while they pretend to work. So sit back and enjoy the Tour de Redemption.

DKR

Are you ready for some football?

8/18: Special Teams

8/19: Linebackers

8/23: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

8/24: Defensive Line

8/25: Offensive Line

8/26: Defensive Backs

8/30: Running Backs

8/31: Quarterbacks

9/1: Pre-gaming w/Schmidtty: UT vs. Rice

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New Digs

Hey everyone – Check out allbouttexas.com frequently for updates on new sponsors and other information regarding the upcoming season. Also, when creating blog posts, you should be able to just copy and paste youtube URL’s for embedding video (without using the Insert Video button). If you need the ability to embed vimeo videos, let me know. Looking forward to a great football season.

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