Bowl gives Texas a chance to build on momentum
Special Contributor to SportsDayDFW.com
And just like that, Texas Longhorns’ season of redemption is just about over.
At first glance, it seems that the 2011 Longhorns of 2011 merely swapped regular-season records with those of 2010, going from a miserable 5-7 to a tolerable (given the circumstances) 7-5.
A date with Cal in the Holiday Bowl gives the team a good shot at an eighth win and momentum heading into next season, when Texas really should start making its way back up the national rankings.
The extra bowl practices won’t hurt, either, considering how young of a team Texas is.
“We have 15 days in the spring, and then we don’t really see them again until August,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “You can do conditioning drills and things like that, but you can only play football during the season.
“What you have with a bowl preparation is you will take the first week and a half or so and just work on Texas playing Texas.”
In those 15 practices, the Longhorns will try and build off of what they built this season — a strong defense and a running game with a lot of potential, providing the key players stay healthy.
They’d also be wise to open the quarterback job back up, just so Case McCoy and David Ash continue to develop. To be honest, neither did enough this season to prove that the job is solely theirs.
BIG 12 Q&A
Q: What’s your early take on Texas’ bowl matchup? Will the Longhorns walk away with a W?
A: I think it played out well for the Longhorns. California isn’t particularly great at any one thing and, though the Bears nearly topped Stanford, they also lost badly to UCLA — a team Texas routed. Cal only beat lowly Colorado by three in overtime. Texas should win.
Q: What’s your early take on Texas A&M’s bowl matchup?
A: I think the senior-laden A&M squad will be playing for pride on New Year’s Eve against an underwhelming Northwestern team. If the Aggies play up to their talent level, the game should be a blowout. However, that hasn’t been the case all season long, so anything can happen.
Q: With no bowl game preparation this month, will the Red Raiders be able to devote more resources toward recruiting and see benefits in that area?
A: A major part of my job as a Lubbock-based Texas Tech sports writer is keeping up with what players Texas Tech is talking to, what the recruits think about the Red Raiders and keeping track of who’s jumping on board and then reporting it on RedRaiderSports.com.
Quite frankly, I can’t keep up.
The Red Raiders coaching staff hit the recruiting trail very hard right after the season ended. Defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow actually skipped the flight back from Arlington to Lubbock after the Baylor loss because it was more cost-effective for him to stay in Dallas overnight to catch a flight to California for recruiting.
The Texas Tech coaching staff has moved across the country this week looking for the final pieces of what already looks like a promising 2012 recruiting class. Somewhat surprising because of what head coach Tommy Tuberville said about wanting to recruit fewer junior college players earlier this season, the coaching staff has reached out to a lot of junior college players for quick fixes on defense.
It has become apparent that if the Red Raiders are going to make any noise in 2012 they’ll need to add some players who are beyond the first-year level mentally and physically.
But high school players are getting a lot of attention as well. It’s not just about recruiting new talent but also hanging on to the talent you already have committed to you by maintaining relationships with recruits.
One of Tuberville’s biggest strengths is his passion for recruiting and a desire to have strong recruiters on his coaching staff.
Expect the 2012 recruiting class to be a strong one and for the players in it to make early impacts.