But Strong and the coaching staff conducted a Senior Dinner Monday night in the Texas Club on the east side of DKR. Every senior was presented their framed jersey.
The fifth-year seniors on this team all have compelling stories:
* LB Jordan Hicks, who overcame season-ending groin and Achilles injuries to finally live up to his 5-star status out of high school in Ohio ...
* C Dom Espinosa, a grinding presence in the middle of the offensive line with 40 starts at center ...
* LB Demarco Cobbs, who battled injuries but stuck with it and graduated with a degree in business ...
* TE Greg Daniels, who battled injuries but stuck it out and graduated with a degree in business ...
* And, finally, inspirational long snapper Nate Boyer, a Green Beret who continues to serve the United States on missions to Afghanistan and elsewhere in the summers as a part of our reserve military.
This year's senior class, made up primarily of the 2011 recruiting class, envisioned a lot more success than they had. It was a class Strong actually apologized to recently for having to be the one to go through so much change:RB Malcolm Brown CB Quandre Diggs DE Ced Reed LB Steve Edmond QB David Ash WR Jaxon Shipley S Mykkele Thompson S Josh Turner LB Kendall Thompson S Leroy Scott LB/FB Chet Moss WR Miles Onyegbule OT Josh Cochran RB Joe Bergeron
Some members of the 2011 class redshirted and will return for their final year of eligibility in 2015: DT Desmond Jackson, CB Sheroid Evans, OL Taylor Doyle, OG Sed Flowers, TE M.J. McFarland, OT Marcus Hutchins.
Some members of the 2011 class didn't make it to the end: LB Kendall Thompson (concussions), S Leroy Scott (dismissed), FB Chet Moss (dismissed), RB Joe Bergeron (dismissed), OT Josh Cochran (shoulder injury), WR/QB Miles Onyegbule (graduated early).
RB Malcolm Brown may have summed it up best Monday night:
"We definitely came in and have been through a whole lot. This senior class has been through a lot of ups and downs throughout my whole career. Coach Strong coming in our senior year was definitely a coaching change for us. It was definitely something special to be part of - something that will probably go down in history for this program. I'm just really honored to be a part of it."
HOGS AIN'T NO JOKE - SO MAKE EM THROW
Who can run the ball more effectively next Monday night? And if that gets shut down, who can throw it more effectively next Monday night, when Texas faces Arkansas in the AdvoCare100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston?
The more you can make Arkansas QB Brandon Allen throw the ball, the more you're chances of winning increase.Allen has thrown the ball 30 times or more in five games this season and lost every game:
* In 45-21 loss at Auburn - Allen was 18 of 31 passing for 175 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
* In a 14-13 loss to Alabama - Allen was 21 of 40 passing for 246 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
* In a 45-28 loss to Georgia - Allen was 28 of 45 passing for 296 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
* In a 17-10 loss at Mississippi State - Allen was 22 of 43 passing for 238 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
* In a 21-14 loss at Missouri - Allen was 13 of 30 passing for 133 yards, 2 TD, 0 INTTOTALS:
54 percent completion rate, 7 TDs, 5 INTs in those losses.
In games in which Allen has thrown less than 30 times, Arkansas is 6-1 and Allen has thrown 10 TDs with 0 INTs.BOTTOM LINE:
Texas' run defense has got to be stout against the Razorbacks' bruising running backs Jonathan Williams (188 carries, 1,085 yards, 5.8 ypc, 11 TDs) and Alex Collins (187 carries, 1,024 yards, 5.5 ypc, 12 TDs)
"This is what we've been waiting for all year," Brown said. "A team that just runs it downhill right at us."
After giving up a bunch of yards on the ground in the first five games of the season - mostly in the second half, after UT's offense or special teams failed to provide any assistance - Texas has been good-but-not-great against the run the last seven games. Here's a look:
SOMEBODY STOP THESE GUYS
* Oklahoma, 30-103 yards (3.4 ypc) rushing ... L 31-26
* Iowa State, 38-179 (4.7 ypc) ... W 48-45
* at Kansas State, 40-143 (3.6 ypc) ... L 23-0
* at Texas Tech, 32-156 (4.9 ypc) ... W 34-13
* West Virginia, 41-200 (4.9 ypc) ... W 33-16
* at Oklahoma State, 23-34 (1.5 ypc) ... W 28-7
* TCU, 31-135 (4.4 ypc) ... L 48-10TOTALS:
In that 7-game stretch, Texas has given up 235 carries for 950 yards (4.0 ypc) an average of 34 carries for 135.7 ypg ...Arkansas averages 220.3 yards per game on the ground with a 5.2 ypc average.
If UT's run defense is locked in, take the under (46 points).
Arkansas opened as a 5-point favorite, and the line has moved to Razorbacks by 6.
Forget the line and take the under. This has the feel of a 21-17 game ... or less.
Senior G/F Jonathan Holmes
, the Longhorns' leading scorer (12.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) has had to sit with early foul trouble in three of UT's last four games, including a 63-51 loss at Kentucky as well as Texas' last two wins against Lipscomb and Long Beach State.
"We love how aggressive John is, " Texas hoops coach Rick Barnes said Monday. "But he's got to be smart, because we need him on the floor."
Texas takes on Stanford Tuesday night in Austin at 6 pm on ESPN2.
TEXAS WOMEN OVERCOME ADVERSITY, AGGIES
The No. 3-ranked Texas women were without freshman sensation Ariel Atkins (10.6 ppg), who rolled her ankle in practice and had to sit for Sunday's Big 12/SEC Challenge against Texas A&M in Little Rock.
But the Longhorns overcame an 11-point, second-half deficit in a 67-65 victory over the Aggies triggered by an Empress Davenport, game-winning layup with 4 seconds left.
That was a big-time win without a go-to player. In fact, it was UT's third win against a Top 5 opponent this season (No. 1 Stanford, No. 4 Tennessee and No. 4 Texas A&M).
Karen Aston is now 2-0 against the Aggies. Texas did have 6-7 F Imani McGee-Stafford back from a leg injury. But Stafford played only 6 minutes in the win as she builds back her stamina.
This team is worth watching.
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*****Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights
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