From the Stands
By Trey McLean
Co-op Game Day
As I’m cruising around the internet, I found something posted on Orangebloods.com that could be as profound as anything that has recently happened to the Texas Longhorn football team. The post is titled “Mack: I’m Done Pouting” and it is a link to a story from the Ft. Worth Star Telegram’s Jimmy Burch. You can find the article online, but the gist of it is this: Mack Brown held on to the National Championship loss to Alabama far longer than he ever admitted and not only did it affect his own decisions and attitude, but infected the team and created a “it shoulda been us…” vibe in the locker room. He said that he had “entitlement” issues himself and that holding on to the negative from a 13-1 season was “…stupid” and that mindset bled off into the team in the off-season and no one did the required work to prepare for the season, himself included. He said his team arrived out of shape in the fall and that the team mindset was not very good, including his own. This is a pretty stunning revelation to me for a few reasons.
First of all, I think the word “pouting” is incorrect. I don’t think Mack Brown was walking around his house, muttering to himself about why what happened happened, cursing and kicking things and generally being miserable to be around. I did enough of that for all of us. I think a better word would be “emotional.” He was angry and he read too much into the loss and spent far too long analyzing it. He decided that Texas lost that game because there was no power running game. He wanted what Alabama had, which was a dominating offensive line and running game, and agonized over what might have been had Texas had that power running game when Colt McCoy went down. He thought that Texas lost to Tech for the same reason in 2008 and even convinced himself that if Texas had that running game in 2006 when McCoy went down at K-State they win both of those last two games and get a shot at defending their National Title. The last one is a bit of a stretch, but that’s what over analyzing something in an emotional state will do to you. So Texas announced they were going to install that power running game. With the coaching staff, the talent and the experience, it should work. Right? Right? They said all the right things last spring. In that Star-Telegram article Mack Brown said “…because we’re Texas and we’d won so much, we’re just going to win… “and that’s exactly what happened. The Horns were going to be fine because they were Texas. Mack Brown did ESPN commercials, spent time on the media circuit and worked the NFL draft. Looking back you could say he was sort of just going through the motions, talking the talk but not walking the walk. The team did the same, and we all saw how that ended in 2010. In retrospect it’s easy to see all of that now and Mack Brown said as much in the article, finishing his thought about Texas winning because we are Texas with a blunt statement: “… you can’t think that.”
So he went about changing it, as has been well documented. But the missing piece has always been Mack Brown himself. There are plenty of people, especially the unbiased in the media, who thought the coaching turnover was all well and good, but unless the big man changed as well, nothing would be different. New coaches would be popular with the fans, but if the same man is calling the shots the same way then what would change?
And that’s the big take away from this article. Mack Brown not only admitted that he more or less took his team and their success for granted last spring and was a part of the problem last fall, but he vowed that he was done being part of problem. Time will tell if that holds true, but the first step is admitting you have a problem, which most college coaches would never do.
If Mack follows his words with actions, look out. LOOK OUT.
This week we will talk about the 2011 recruits that will line up on the offensive side of the ball. Next week will hit the defensive recruits and some more basketball.
The Class of 2011- The Offense
Even with the loss of Whathisname headed to the SEC, Texas got just about everything they wanted in this class. They got their quarterback, their running back, their wide out, their tight end and a slew of linemen and athletes. So who plays and who sits? I think the door is wide open for several of these guys to see the field asap. Let’s see who it might be.
As I said last week, Ash is already on campus and going through the off-season and will go through spring practice. Ordinarily you would assume a freshman quarterback has no chance to compete with an incumbent upperclassman starter and two older backups, but when the incumbent upperclassman starter and two older backups produced the first losing season in 13 years and most of the offensive staff was let go as a result, you can’t put anything in concrete. All four quarterbacks are learning a new system and the two backups have as much game experience as David Ash. Like I said, the door is open.
In high school David Ash was dynamite, throwing for 3,417 yards, 41 touchdowns while completing 61.3% of his passes. He did that in 11 games. He isn’t a true running threat, but he will move around in the pocket enough to buy some time and find a receiver open. He is what I call a slider, meaning rather than tuck it and run when the pressure comes he will slide to safety and find a guy downfield or throw it away. He has all the tools to be the starter for the Texas Longhorns.
I think Ash redshirts for a few reasons. First, the staff needs to create some separation in the quarterback ranks with underclassmen Connor Wood and Case McCoy on the roster. Second, with that tall, lanky frame he could spend the next year in the weight room and show up next spring at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and compete for playing time. But who knows? Maybe he goes all Matt Barkley on us and gets in the mix right now.
6-foot-1, 215 pounds
Mesquite (North Mesquite)
Don’t read too much into the star ranking assigned to Bergeron because in all likelihood he will not be playing running back as you know it. Bergeron was brought to Texas as the top fullback in the state of Texas and the goal is for him to Will Matthews to Malcolm Brown’s Cedric Benson. While Headache was a terrific fullback for the Horns, Bergeron has some skills that will get the ball in his hands as well. I mentioned last week that he could be the next Ivan Williams, but he’s more physical like Will Matthews. He’s Ivan Matthews. I know, I went too far. Anyway, Bergeron is going to open holes for the tailbacks in a variety of ways. He might line up at h-back, or in the slot, and come in motion to be the lead blocker. He might line up in the traditional tailback spot. He might line up in a spot we don’t know about yet. Brian Harsin and Major Applewhite have to be excited about the possibilities and potential of Bergeron. At 215 pounds he has plenty of room to grow and become a sledgehammer in the backfield. With sub 4.5 speed he has the wheels to be a running threat in the backfield that defenses must account for. His 19 touchdowns as senior make him an ideal goal line back and he has good hands to be a receiving threat and outlet option for the quarterback.
I think Bergeron sees the field in 2011, but it will probably be on special teams to start. With that size and speed he’s perfect for the kickoff team. I expect him to be in the mix for playing time as fullback immediately because of the skills and physical nature he has.
6-feet, 220 pounds
He’s the real deal. Like I said last week, Brown reminds me of Cedric Benson. Except not the one at Texas, but the more mature Cincinnati Bengals Cedric Benson. Brown is a grown man already at 220 pounds and he loves the contact. He is the classic power back that will punish defenses, wearing them out, and the gash them late in the game. He’s the No.1 rated power back in the nation and I expect him to compete immediately for playing time.
I don’t think he’s going to be the starter in September, but I think he could be in November.
6-foot-6, 278 pounds
I know that every job is open this spring, but I just don’t see any of the offensive linemen coming in this year competing for a job right away. Typically an offensive linemen coming into college needs a year to get stronger and let the game slow down for him. The defensive linemen for Iowa State and Kansas are better than anyone these guys played against in high school, whatever high school that was, and most of the time they just need a year to grow accustomed to it. And with the guys on campus going through the meat grinder with Mr. Wylie, you can expect anyone not here to be significantly behind those that are.
I expect that to be the case for Cochran. I think he’ll spend the next year working at both guard and tackle and see where he settles in. He could get himself into the rotation, but I just think there are too many upperclassmen in front of him.
6-foot-5, 270 pounds
Austin (Lake Travis)
See everything written above and change the name “Josh” to “Taylor.”
6-foot-3, 280 pounds
Galena Park (North Shore)
Now change the name “Taylor” to “Cedric.” With Flowers’ versatility along the line of scrimmage and his ability to play center I could see Flowers being this year’s Trey Hopkins, cracking the two-deep as a true freshman.
6-foot-7, 300 pounds
This is the other lineman coming in this spring that has a chance to play right away; however, he probably is going to be behind because of a knee injury suffered during his senior year. He has the size right now to compete for playing time, but while he’s rehabbing the rest of the unit is working and developing, and while he will do his share of those workouts, until he’s released for full speed he’ll be behind the players that are healthy. It’s a big hill to climb for a guy not even on campus yet. I expect him to redshirt and compete in 2012 for a roster spot.
6-foot-4, 254 pounds
See the names above. Hutchins will need some time to grow into a college offensive lineman, because at 254 pounds he is a little light in the backside to be competing right away. He has great agility and footwork, but needs to add about 30 pounds to see playing time. Expect him to start the process immediately and, depending on how his body handles the weight, compete for pt next spring as a guard at ~280 pounds.
6-foot-5, 236 pounds
El Paso (El Dorado)
With all the bad luck at tight end Texas has had in the last few years, MJ McFarland should watch his step. To say the tight end position was disappointing last year is understatement. It’s like saying my grades freshman year were disappointing. True, but the statement really doesn’t do it justice. Rumors abound that Blaine Irby will be cleared for contact soon (from Kirk Bohls) if he hasn’t already and DJ Grant will be cleared very soon. With the two big names coming off injury and the two returning starters coming off whatever that was last year, the opportunity for McFarland is there. At 6-foot-5, 236 pounds he is the right size to play tight end and as a high school wide receiver that had 982 yards and 10 scores as a senior, he has the playmaking ability to be a threat at the tight end spot that Texas hasn’t seen since that horrific injury to Blaine Irby against Rice in 2008. The only problem is he was a high school wide receiver and must adjust his game inside. Can he do it in one spring? That’s a tall order, but I think he can. I think he takes advantage of the lack of healthy bodies and production on the roster and gets into the mix. The trick is going to be for him to stay there when Irby and Grant get back. I think he will and I can’t wait to see what the possible-Texas-basketball-player will do when matched up with a linebacker.
6-foot-4, 206 pounds
This kid looks like a (on the field) Dan Buckner clone. He is a tremendous athlete that played quarterback in high school and now makes the move outside to wide out, where he played as junior and sophomore. He has 4.5 speed and the frame to grow into a tight end eventually, but I think he starts in the slot. Texas’s biggest problem last year was a lack of playmakers on offense, forcing stalls and punts. I think Onyegbule will join sophomore Darius Terrell in the slot, matching up with linebackers and safeties and using their big bodies and big size to get open over the middle and move the chains. I see Onyegbule playing early as he fights his way onto the depth chart.
I think he’s going to be a name you hear a lot next year.
6-feet, 170 pounds
You know the pedigree and who his dad lived with in college, so I’ll spare you. Jordan Shipley said he thinks Jaxon is better than he was at this point and I’ll agree, if for no other reason than he is healthy. He has college skills at the receiver position and looks like he brother returning kicks. I think Shipley sees the field on the offense before anyone else in this class. He will wear No. 8 and he will look a lot like Jordan, only a bit faster.
I can’t wait to see Texas spread out with Mike Davis, Shipley, Malcolm Williams and one of the big guys in the slot. How do you stop that?
6-foot-1, 168 pounds
San Antonio (John Paul Stevens)
I don’t expect to see Kill get any more than a courtesy look on offense, but with 4.5 speed and 40 rushing touchdowns his senior year, Texas would be silly not see if there is a spark. He had 2,800 yards rushing last year and is a terrific running back. The problem is Texas is stocked with terrific running backs. I see him going outside for a week or so to see how he looks at receiver. My guess he goes back over to the defensive side of the ball, but who knows? Maybe he’s Kwame Cavil.
There you go, the offense of the 2011 recruiting class. Don’t think I’m overlooking the offensive linemen, it’s just hard to project guys at the spot and say a lot of different things about them because they are all in the same boat right now. You know me; the o-line is the most important unit on the field. I really like what Texas has done here and I can’t wait to see what the offensive staff does with these weapons.
We will talk defense next week.
From the Stands