Quote of the Day: October 5, 2014

From yesterday during the Baylor-Texas post game, actually.

“I’ll have to be honest with you, my head is still spinning trying to think about it [the Texas defense]. They threw so many looks at us, coverage wise…I couldn’t tell you what they did on consecutive plays.”
— Bryce Petty

Great game by the Longhorn defense. Fix special teams and get even a mediocre game from the offense, and we’re in it to the end.

Quote of the Day: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We have some depth at the D-line but, in the secondary, I may have to put my uniform back on. But I can’t take a step without something about to break. That’s our concern right now. We don’t have the depth that we need. We’re trying to get some young guys to step up right now. I’m telling the guys ‘right now.’ I don’t need scout team defensive guys. I need guys that I can put out there and there won’t be no let-down. I keep telling the entire defense that at The University of Texas, the expectation is ‘greatness’ at every position. Right now, we don’t have that.

Vance Bedford, defensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns, when asked about the game this weekend against the Baylor Bears.

That second sentence if pure gold.

Thoughts on UNT-Texas

Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

A few days into the season, and it’s already been a heck of a roller coaster.

In one of the most dominating defensive performances I’ve ever seen, Texas rolled to a 38-7 victory over the North Texas Mean Green. The Texas defense held UNT to under 100 yards total offense, most of which came in garbage time with the backups playing.

Texas notched four interceptions, with Demarco Cobbs housing one late in the fourth quarter.

And the only points given up by Texas were by the offense, after Texas dropped the snap on their own goal line. The ball was recovered by UNT’s James Jones for a touchdown.

It was what many of us expected going into the season: a fantastic defense coupled with a serviceable offense. Sure, the offense had questions, and scary depth problems, but it looked like it would get the job done.

But then…

Starting center Dominic Espinosa left the game during the third quarter with an ankle injury. Sunday, word leaked that an x-ray had shown a fracture. That’s forty starts gone from the offensive line for an indeterminate time period.

And this morning, Coach Strong dropped the bomb.

David Ash is out for the BYU game this weekend. If the wide rumors of his suffering concussion symptoms after the game are accurate, one really has to wonder if we’ll ever see him play again.

Heck, one wonders whether he should play again.

So, the Tyrone Swoopes era begins at Texas. Reports on Swoopes from practice have been mixed, but not really anything you wouldn’t expect from a true sophomore who had his redshirt wasted without receiving any really meaningful snaps. Thanks for that, Mack.

Strong also said that Desmond Harrison will be back from his suspension this week, but Daje Johnson and Josh Turner will not be.

Joe Wickline is going to have to earn his paycheck this season, by putting a patchwork of an o-line together without it’s most experienced player.

And he’ll do it with a quarterback who may not be able to punish defenses for loading the box. At least Swoopes brings a running threat beyond what Ash offered, even before the concussion problems.

We’re going to learn a lot about this team next weekend. BYU is big and disciplined. They will load up to stop the run, and dare us to make them pay for it.

Our defense should do well against their offense, but it’s critical that the Texas offense not turn the ball over. Hit BYU with a lot of option, protect the ball, control the clock and shorten the game.

What was already going to be an interesting season has gotten much more interesting. In all honesty, I have no idea what to expect.

Why are the Texas Longhorns…

So, I had this great idea for a blog post. Using Google Autocomplete, I’d see what the internet thought about the various Big 12 teams. For instance, I’d search for:

Why are the Oklahoma Sooners
Why are the Baylor Bears

Autocomplete would tell me the number one search for that phrase, and I’d make some nifty infograph out of it. Maybe a map of the region of the autocomplete word or phrase where the school is located.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a really boring idea. In most cases, nothing was suggested.

The internet did wonder why Baylor wore purple uniforms. I assume that’s from their horrible black and gold Fiesta Bowl unis.

The only really good suggestions was for my beloved Texas Longhorns:

why are the texas longhorns not ranked

Yup, that pretty much sums up the last few years in football, basketball and baseball, doesn’t it?

Notes from the Austin Longhorn Club – Larry Porter

With a home game this weekend, the Austin Longhorn Club held their lunch meeting today. Here are my notes.

First up to speak was Coach David McWilliams, who talked about his remembrances of the 1963 national championship football team. These comments, as always, should be considered paraphrasing.

They told me I only had three minutes, but I don’t know any coach that can finish a speech in three minutes.

1961 was the most talented team I was on. Instead of three yards and a cloud of dust, it was eight yards and a cloud of dust.

Those of us who were sophomores got to play a lot when the seniors went out with a big lead early in the game. By the time we were seniors, we were very experienced.

Coach Royal didn’t want us ready on Tuesday or Wednesday. He wanted us ready on Saturday. And his practices built towards that.

What a great job Mack Brown and our assistant coaches has done pulling this team together.

I had another story I was going to tell, but can’t because the Longhorn Network is filming this.

I’d sure love to know what that story is.

The Oklahoma State game will be a recognition of Veteran’s Day. There is going to be a fly over of B-25s. It’ll take a bit longer for them to fly over than the usual fighters they send our way.

The main speaker for the day was running backs coach Larry Porter.

It has been a wild journey this year. It’s not been easy, but it’s been fun. The fun is due to the team coming together.

But the journey is not complete. There’s more to be accomplished.

I’d like to talk about our defense first. In the last six games, they’ve forced 16 turnovers. This has created great field position and given us momentum. It’s created energy and confidence.

Coach Porter then showed and discussed some clips of defensive big plays.

The other thing going on during this winning streak is the offensive line stepping up and providing great pass protection.

Then Coach showed some more clips.

Another thing that’s been big is finishing in the second half. We’ve faced a lot of adversity as a team.

We’ve continued to believe in each other and fight for each other.

More clips.

Also want to talk about the physical run game in short yardage situations. It’s not always been pretty, but allows us to impose our will on the opponent.

And more clips.

I don’t mean to suggest that the clips and commentary weren’t interesting. They certainly were. My discussion of them, however, probably wouldn’t be.

Coach then opened the floor to questions.

The media, at least, describes us as having three running backs. Will we have three this week? Who will be the third?
Overstreet will play some tailback, as will Daje.

Could you speak to the different characteristics of your running backs.
Mal is a power runner. A downhill guy. Joe has power, but also has some elusiveness.

Jalen, as he grows, has speed, good hands, and pretty good feet. Maybe not as much power, but has toughness.

That was it. They had some trouble getting the highlight film set up, so there wasn’t much Q&A.

I tried to get a question in about how Johnathan Gray was doing after the horrible achilles injury last weekend. They shut it down before I could ask, so I went up to talk to him afterwards.

Coach said that Gray is doing as well as can be expected, and that he spoke to Jonathan’s mom this morning (or he may have said yesterday, I don’t remember). He said that it’s tough, but they’re doing well.

I asked Coach to wish him a speedy and complete recovery and that we wanted him back on the field. Then I let the next guy in line talk to Coach.

The next and final Austin Longhorn Club is next Thursday, as the game is the following Thursday. The speaker is supposed to be Bo Davis, but you will have to catch it on the Longhorn Network. My daughter’s parent-child school lunch for Thanksgiving is that day, and not even the Longhorns could keep me away.

Notes from the Austin Longhorn Club – Stacy Searels

Today’s speaker was offensive line coach Stacy Searels. The attendance at the lunch was down quite a bit, but that may have been because of the area wide flooding.

Before Coach Searels spoke, head women’s basketball coach Karen Aston spoke. She spoke about how their season opens tonight and that team is excited to put on the uniforms and play tonight.

She said that last season was a transition year. We had injuries, but we have a new vibe. We are still a work in progress, but that is exciting to her.

Coach then introduced her staff that was there, that includes Travis Mays. Didn’t realize he was back coaching on campus.

Then, after some words from Bill Little that I didn’t bother to write down, Coach Searels came up to the stage.

Opening line: “Happy Halloween, and this is not a mask.”

The rest of this should be considered paraphrasing.

All our goals are still ahead of us. We’re looking forward to continuing our Big 12 play against Kansas.

They’ve got a lot of experience on their staff, and some good players, but it’s not about them. It’s about Texas.

Coach then showed some clips and analyzed some of plays for us. Granted, the plays were picked to show us off, but it’s still interesting.

He then talked about how Kansas will go cover 0 and play man to man. We have to run the ball on early downs.

Next, he opened up the floor to questions.

Your right guard reaches over and touches the center. What’s that about?
When you play on the road in the shotgun, it’s hard to hear. It’s a non-verbal cadence. Center keeps his eyes up, and Mason reaches over to tell him when the quarterback is ready.

To what would you attribute how much better the o-line has been the last four games. Will we ever throw a pass to a tight end again.
I’m proud of how the o-line has played. They’ve been very physical the last four games.
Coach Brown says you get rid of bad streaks when one team gets tired of getting their butts kicked.

With Kansas coming in, and their record, how does the defense prepare for what may be a lot of trick and gadget plays?
Charlie Weiss has a vast amount of experience in calling plays. They ran the ball on us effectively last year.
The main ingredient in our victories has been stopping the run.
If we stop the run and get them in long distance, life is better.

Will Tyrone get more snaps?
I’m sure he will, but you need to talk to Major.
We need to have him ready to play. When you’re a freshman, you have the blinders on. But the more you play, the better off you’ll be.

Do you sub on the o-line when they’re tired, or do you have a set rotation.
I have a set rotation of who is going to play if someone gets dinged. We prefer to have continuity on the line. The last few games, five games have played most of the game.
You know who your top five are, and then who your sixth is who can rotate in various places.

Could you tell us how people look on the o-line after the top guys.
I’m excited about the younger guys. Desmond Harrison is going to be a tremendous player for us.
Rami Hammad had shoulder surgery, but he’s a big strong kid.
Darius James is down to about 325, and is very athletic.
Kent Perkins is the one true freshman who has played for us. Has great feet.
I really like how those kids are coming along.
I’m really proud of these seniors, though. I told them before the OU game that they’ll remember this game the rest of their lives.

We really appreciate your support.

More Random Thoughts on the Season so Far

The turnaround the Texas Longhorns have made the last few weeks has been nothing short of remarkable. The team is player faster and stronger, and has the confidence that only comes from knowing what your job is, and that you can get it done.

Most of that credit should go to Greg Robinson. He’s simplified things for the defense, and is putting players where they can succeed. And all the sudden we seem to know how to tackle.

The offense seems to be feeding on this. The o-line has played lights out for the last two games and the rest of the offense is clicking as a result.

This turnaround is also incredibly frustrating. The team we’ve seen the last two games could beat anyone outside the top ten teams in the country easily. They certainly would have been able to beat BYU and Ole Miss by solid margins.

Instead, we were given a team that limped through the first four games with little effort, and less heart. Some of that blame falls on Manny Diaz and his Kabuki theatre defensive schemes, but the ultimate responsibility falls on Mack Brown

He chose to keep Diaz around after fielding the worst defense in Texas’ long history. It was a stick in the eye for the big money donors and the average fans alike.

Mack Brown’s time at Texas is done, and he will be forced to retire after this season, even if he should somehow win out.

Case McCoy is a study in contrasts. He seems to bring heart to the team, but he’s also guilty of partying in San Antonio two nights before a bowl game, and of telling everyone he was leaving the team the year before. That’s not even taking into consideration the reports that he refused to go into the OU game a couple of years ago (a rumor I’ve not been able to verify, but that I feel is likely true).

His passing is also erratic. The first quarter touchdown to Marcus Johnson against TCU was a thing of beauty. Then a bit later (well, a lot later after the weather delay), he hits Mike Davis with a pass off his back foot. If he’d stepped into the throw, it goes for six.

Even later, he makes two incredibly stupid throws that are intercepted, but don’t really hurt us. We got lucky on those.

He’s managed to develop something of a deep ball. Not consistent, but dangerous enough to force defenses to play us honest.

Yet, he’s passes to the flat are absolutely horrible. Did that somehow become the more difficult throw?

This weekend, we play Kansas. They’ve given us trouble in Lawrence, but we get them at home this year. Should be an easy win, even if the bad team shows up.

Then we get West Virginia in Morgantown. If the game is in Austin, it would be easy for us. Still, we should win, although it’ll probably be ugly.

Okie Lite and Texas Tech are both in Austin, and are both probably coin tosses. Don’t really see how we get by Baylor.

So, most likely outcome is two more losses, Baylor and one of either Okie Lite or Tech, giving us an 8-4 record, and a likely return to the Alamo Bowl.

In theory, we could win out and go to a BCS game. More likely is that we lose to Baylor, win the rest, and head to Cotton.

Or, the wheels could come off, and we end up in the toilet bowl. Just don’t know with this team.

Notes from the Austin Longhorn Club – Duane Akina

The Austin Longhorn Club had their pre-Red River Rivalry lunch today. The speaker was originally scheduled to be Major Applewhite, but he had filled in earlier in the year for Manny Diaz. As a result, Duane Akina spoke today.

As usual, opening statements were made by Bill Little. Remember, this should be considered a paraphrasing, not a direct quotation. The talk will be on the Longhorn Network at some point if you’d like to see the real thing.

Here’s what Bill had to say:

The Texas-Oklahoma series goes in streaks. Always has, always will. The streak ends when the other team gets too tired of it.

Givens: The game creates heroes. A game which creates memories. It is a kaledoscope of tastes, sights and sounds.

It doesn’t matter what the coaches, players or fans think, because it’s a game about passion.

And no one on the Texas staff reflects passion more than Duane Akina.

Coach Akina’s opening statement was along these lines:

If you ever have a self esteem problem, just have Bill introduce you to a crowd.

About last week’s game: It was a wonderful challenge for us, a tough challenge.

The build up to the game, the atmosphere was wonderful.

To overcome a homefield advantage like that, to overcome the adversity we faced, really showed the heart of our team. That feeling of exhaustion and elation at the end reminded me of 2005 at Ohio State.

To deal with the new targeting rules, we coach going after the belt of the ball carriers. If you go after the chest, you can easily slid up into the head, and we don’t want to teach our guys to go for the knees.

Oklahoma is one of the great games in college football. With Mack and Stoops, this game has returned to being a national game. There’s just something different about this game and this opponent. We’re excited about getting on the plane and heading up there.

Coach then opened up the floor to questions. As always, if I mangled something in my notes badly, please let me know in the comments.

On defense, there’s such an emphasis on turnovers and stripping the ball. There also seem to be a lot of missed tackles. How do you coach to go after the ball, but also make the tackle?
We coach that you don’t go after the ball unless it’s being held loosely. We teach that you have to swarm the ball. The first player to the ball has to know where his leverages are. A DB has leverage towards the middle of the field. The mike has leverage outside. Bounce the ball that direction.

The first guy wraps up, then the second or third guy might try to strip the ball.

Run defense has not been a strength of this team. What are the causes of that, and what changes have you made?
The BYU game was the worst on this. Since then, we’ve began to gang up the front on the ball better.

We will take an aggressive approach to the game, but individuals need to win their battles. We’re working hard on rush lanes. We don’t want to let the QB off the hook on third down.

Last year, Vacarro never came off the field. Why do you keep pulling Diggs off the field for 4-3 sets?
Quandre went through surgery late in the summer. Conditioning is an issue, but he’s still averaging 70-80 snaps a game. As his conditioning improves, he’ll play more.

We work to rotate everyone in and out of the game. Have to keep players fresh.

With hurry up offense and special teams, some players are in for more than 100 snaps a game. You have to worry about players getting tired late in the game.

Last year, when Vaccaro was in on every defensive play, including nickel, he wasn’t playing special teams.

What advice to you give your players with regards to reading the local sports page?
Many of them are probably like me and just don’t read them.

There’s time when I thought I was doing a good job coaching, but you look at the tape, and you were more lucky than good. You have to trust the tape, not the numbers.

I’m more critical of myself than what anyone else says. I’m not that worried about what someone posts online with a fake name. (Editor’s Note: Nice shot! Wonder who he could be talking about? ;-) )

An NFL announcer who used to play defense in the NFL says that hurry up offense wore him out after 4 or 5 plays. How do you handle that?

Hurry up is changing things. Our conference went to an additional ref to handle it.

If the offense doesn’t substitute, they can play as soon as the ball is placed. A well coached team is running the ball back to the umpire at the line of scrimmage, rather than waiting for the refs to get it there.

Defenses have to get into that mind set. If the offense substitutes, you have to let the defense have time to naturally get on the field.

If you’re hurt as a defensive player, stay down. There’s no benefit to hobbling off the field on your own. You’re going to have to come out of the game anyways.

Talking about your linebackers, with the rearrangement of players, can you talk about their responsibilities?
Greg Robinson has done a good job with them. Manny Diaz is a good friend of mine, and a great coach, but I’ve known Coach Robinson since 1988. He’s very detail oriented and very fundamental.

He’s done a good job cleaning up some keys. You’ll see more improvement over time.

Can you give us a status about how your young guys are improving?
I’m really proud of our young players, and very sad for Sheroid. Iowa State was his best game.

It starts with AP and Carrington. They’re both having great years.

Mykkele is in line with the standards we’ve set. (Editor’s Note: I assume he means the standards of DBU.)

Antwuan Davis has some skills you can’t coach. I can’t teach someone to run like that. Some guys run a 4.3, but play a 4.8. He’s not one of these.

Colbert will be a great player. He’s a track guy like Huff.

I found Couch Akina’s answers to be refreshingly straight forward. Maybe we threw him some softer pitches than went to some of the others, but he didn’t seem to dodge any of them, except perhaps the one about linebacker responsibilities.

I fear DBU may be coming to an end, and Duane Akina will be missed.

Random Thoughts on the Longhorn Season Thus Far


Four games into the season, Texas has beaten one bad team solidly, lost badly to two mediocre teams, and squeeked out a win against another bad team. What does that make the Texas Longhorns?

It makes them a bad team as well, although one with a bit more heart than I thought before yesterday.

The K State game was badly officiated from top to bottom, but the last few minutes were ridiculous. It really got the crowd fired up, however. I haven’t heard DKR-TMS that loud in a while.

Case McCoy did a reasonable job given his limited skills, but K State’s defense is bad. Even mediocre defenses will load the box to stop the run, and dare McCoy to beat them with his arm. That won’t likely end well.

Greg Robinson has done about as well as could be expected. He can’t put his own defense in during the season, so he’s mostly sat the defense in base and gotten then to play sound, fundamental football. That’s a big improvement over what we were seeing with Manny Diaz, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens against the strong offenses coming our way this season.

I don’t see any way Mack Brown survives this season as head coach. I’ve heard from multiple sources that Mack has been given two choices by Bill Powers:

  1. Retire gracefully after the season’s end.
  2. Be forced out.

It seems to me that Mack is making a play that if he wins out, or wins the conference, or some other metric, he can keep his job. I expect that by the by halftime of the OU game, reality will have settled in.

Of the games that are left, the only likely win is Kansas. Oklahoma, OSU, and Baylor look like sure losses, and TCU is a likely loss. Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia are at best toss ups.

So, 5-7 looks like the most likely record, with a small chance of 6-6 and a real chance of 4-8.

Right now, the only big money donor left in Mack’s corner is Joe Jamail. Maybe yesterday built some additional support for Mack, but it’ll evaporate after the next loss.

The ground work for a coaching search is already happening. When the time comes, the first thing we’ll do is make Saban say no. I expect he’ll stay at Alabama.

The next names I’m hearing include Muschamp, Strong, Shaw. I’d be happy with any of these three, but they’ll all be hard gets.

Beyond these four, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus at this time.

We’ll also be looking for a new athletic director, as DeLoss Dodds is expected to retire when the next round of Bev Kearney news comes out. I’m hearing the names Oliver Luck, Jeremy Foley and Tom Jurich. We’ll likely have a new AD in place before the end of the football season.

Does any of the coaching staff survive the turnover? That depends, of course, on who the new head coach is, but I don’t think we’ll see many of them back next year.

The most likely is Darryl Wyatt. His receivers have shown solid development, both in route running and in blocking.

Duane Akina might be offered a spot as DB coach, but there are lots of signs that he’s ready to move on, no matter what happens.

Major Applewhite has been a disappointment thus far. His play calling has been questionable at several points this season, and sending your banged up starting quarterback on designed runs is inexplicable.

Notes from the Austin Longhorn Club – Darrell Wyatt

The attendance was down a bit at today’s Austin Longhorn Club, but not as much as I had expected given the team’s showing (or lack thereof) the last two weeks. The featured speaker was wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt.

Darrell Wyatt

Notable attendees included DeLoss Dodds and Ronnie Brown. I talked to Ronnie briefly afterwards, and he’s really slimmed down since his playing days. He’s working for the Longhorn Foundation now.

After the usual opening festivities (opening prayer, door prizes and the weekly winners of the Neighborhood Longhorns program, we were given a brief talk from one of the compliance officers in the athletic department. I did not catch her name.

She said the big change this year was the addition of new rules regarding Head Coach Control. Apparently, she expects we’ll hear more about this in the coming weeks.

In a nutshell, the head coach is now presumed to be responsible for the actions of all assistant coaches and administrators that report, directly or indirectly, to him or her. In addition, the head coach shall promote an atmosphere of compliance within his/her program and shall monitor the activities of all personnel involved with the program who report, directly or indirectly, to him/her.

In the most egregious cases, a head coach could be suspected for up to an entire season. I, for one, don’t see this happening unless the coach is heading out in any case (i.e. conveniently moves up to the NFL).

Bill Little came up to introduce Coach Wyatt. Before doing so, he let us know that this weekend’s game will include efforts towards cancer awareness. Players will be wearing ribbons that represent a cancer that has touched their lives, and they’ll probably be wearing some pink as well.

Coach Wyatt began with a statement about how excited they are to start conference play against Kansas State game. Clearly, Coach received the talking points that they can still win the conference.

Then, Coach Wyatt showed about five minutes of clips of highlights from the receiving corps. I’m not sure any other position coach could fill that much time with highlights.

Coach then opened up the floor to questions. As always, take this with a grain of salt. It’s not a transcript, although I was typing as fast as I could. The luncheon is supposed to be shown on the Longhorn Network later, so watch it there if you can.

And, if I misstate something too badly, please point it out in the comments.

Will David be able to play? Will we see Tyrone this season?
I cannot comment on injuries. Coach Brown should announce something, maybe today. Tyrone has a strong arm and they’re working to get him ready to play.

(Note: He mentioned Tyrone’s strong arm several times. That may be in comparison to the arm of our quarterback last weekend.)

After what happened to Texas Tech, do you caution the receivers about carrying the ball all the way into the end zone.
Yes, we coach ball security. It’s something we take pride in.

What do you think about the rule that says targeting didn’t occur, but there’s a penalty anyways.
Interesting question. I’m not on the rules committee, but I understand the intent of the rule and am all for protecting the players.

During the Ole Miss game, was there any thought about switching QBs in the second half?
Not during the half time. We had been moving the ball well.

(Note: I don’t know whether he didn’t really hear the question, or didn’t want to say whether they had thought about switching in the second half.)

The Eyes of Texas

We know that you’ve asked the players to be accountable. How do you keep the coaches doing the same thing?
Morale is a big part of this game. Our morale is good in getting ready for Kansas State. Our goal is to win the conference.

We’re excited and looking forward to the challenge.

Are we going to see anything different from Kansas State than what we’ve seen in past years? Can you talk about their starters?
They have a new QB who is more of a drop back passer, but otherwise they should be the same well-coached team.

Our job is to find a way to score points, to limit their scoring of points, and to get an advantage in special teams.

How are we going to stretch the field and loosen up the defense to get our running game going?
We always want to create explosive plays. We’ll take our shots over the top, and we have some playmakers that are great after they catch the ball.