Enemy Intelligence

Instead of the usual matchups, we decided to ask Bobby Bragg, Co-Publisher of Burnt Orange Beat, what makes the Texas Longhorns tick.

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 injuries.

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 the ordinary.

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 school history.

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 position.

KF: What might surprise the average Jayhawk fan about Texas?

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 in Lubbock?

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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