To see my take on the Jayhawks for the Burnt Orange Beat, click here.
KEVIN FLAHERTY: What’s the injury
situation for the Texas side, especially with Brian Orakpo?
BOBBY BRAGG: Texas is notoriously tight lipped on
Brian Orakpo was cleared for practice yesterday, so I am expecting him
to play. The biggest news on the injury front is that starting center
Chris Hall sprained his knee in Wednesday’s practice and is
out for the Kansas game. True freshman David Snow will replace him.
Snow has looked very impressive in his limited snaps this season.
Starting left tackle Adam Ulatoski left the Baylor game with an
undisclosed elbow injury and did not return. There has been
no word on his playing status yet this week. They will
release their injury report on Friday. Sophomore Tray Allen
would fill in there if Ulatoski cannot play. One of our defensive
backs, Chykie Brown has been slowed by a high ankle sprain for several
games. DT Lamar Houston, who left the Baylor game, is expected to play.
Everybody is dinged at this time of year, but nothing else is out of
KF: What has been the key to quarterback Colt McCoy’s improvement this year?
BB: Without a doubt, Colt’s improvement
has been limiting his turnovers this season. Last year, McCoy had 18
interceptions. Through ten games this year, he has reduced that number
to just seven. Colt’s efficiency in the red zone this year
has been off the charts too, and most people have not given him the
credit he deserves for that.
KF: What would you consider to be Texas's strengths?
BB: The offense has to be the strength of this team.
Colt McCoy is playing at a very high level. The offensive line has been
good to great all year with the exception of the first half against
Texas Tech. In Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, Texas has two players
with over 800 receiving yards in the same season for the first time in
KF: What about weaknesses?
BB: Texas has had trouble covering kick-offs all
year which is surprising given the depth of athletes on the team. They
are giving up 24.4 yards per kickoff return including several big ones
at critical junctures in games. Additionally, since Blaine Irby’s season-ending knee injury in the third game of the
year, Texas has not gotten much production out of the tight end
KF: What might surprise the average Jayhawk fan
BB: Big, physical inside receivers and tight ends
have created match-up problems for the young safeties at Texas.
Jermaine Gresham had 5 catches for 90 yards and one touchdown. Chase Coffman had 12 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Pettigrew had eight catches for 83 yards. I could see Coach Mangino
doing a lot of things with his formations to get Dezmon Briscoe on the
safeties. That may not surprise the average Jayhawk fan but it is a
point to keep an eye on.
KF: How well did they rebound from that tough loss
BB: Texas fired out to a 14-0 lead against Baylor
the next week, and then put away the game with a 31 point unanswered
stretch, so Texas has rebounded fine. As strange as it sounds, all of
the team goals are still ahead of them, if they keep winning.
KF: How has new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp
added to the Longhorn defense?
BB: Will Muschamp’s addition to the
coaching staff cannot be undersold. He has provided a fire
and intensity on the defensive side of the ball. He has also added
wrinkles that have helped some players have great years like Sergio Kindle and Brian Orakpo. It also freed up Coach Duane Akina to focus on
the young defensive secondary and the kick block game. On the offensive
side, I think Major Applewhite’s addition has not been given
the credit that it deserves as well.
KF: You hear all the time how Big 12 players from
Texas get amped up to play against the school that they believe shunned
them through recruiting. Do the Texas players seem to get fired up in
the same manner?
BB: I agree that Big 12 players from the state of
Texas seem to get amped up to face the Longhorns. That stems from the
fact that so many Texas kids play throughout the Big 12. I do not think
the type of emotion goes in the opposite direction.
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