1. Chip asked Tyrone Swoopes if they had added a lot to the offense since last season. His response: "I wouldn't say so." Swoopes said that players just have a better understanding of what they are doing and are moving a lot faster while doing it.
* This is something we've been hinting at throughout fall camp. And I believe this was a concern many of you had. From what I've been told it's been a lot of dump downs to RBs, quick 1 or 2-yard stop routes by the WRs. Not what you all probably envisioned. We'll see if it works. If it doesn't I think we can all agree that Shawn Watson will start to feel some serious heat.
2. Swoopes said he wasn't surprised when he found out that he was starting. Said that he found out earlier today along with the rest of the team. Swoopes also said the he didn't necessarily feel like the game has slowed down for him going into Year 2 but that his reaction to things is much faster. "I know where everybody will be.
3. Something that stood out to me is that Texas won't go through it's usual Friday walk through at an away stadium this week. They will get to South Bend on Friday but won't have the opportunity to step on the field for the first time until 1 p.m. This could create a bit of an issue just because it won't give the players, especially the younger ones, much time to soak things in before they have to get mentally prepared for kickoff. I asked Dylan Haines about this and he just said that comes with the territory of playing at UT. He'll share many of the same nerves as the freshmen and that if you can't get mentally prepared to play in this game then you probably shouldn't be at UT.
4. Dylan Haines, like the rest of the players that came through today, said that Swoopes is just a different player this year both in the huddle and in the locker room.
"Last year he made so many not smart throws, overthrows, throws into coverage. He was just thrown in there and was trying to make things happen. You look at him this year and he is so much smarter. He isn't making bad throws. When he sees something the shouldn't throw he goes to his next read, he goes to his check-down. I think he is so much improved as a quarterback. Jerrod as well. I thought he should some bright spots last year but just wasn't ready to play."
Johnathan Gray: "Tyrone has done a great job from last year to this year. He has grown tremendously. He is getting guys in and out the huddle. He's putting guys in right places and he is also being a big leader for us telling us we have to lean on him and he'll do whatever it takes to get the job done."
5. Haines said that the plan for Malik Zaire is to not let him out of the pocket, to limit his deep ball attempts and to let him attempt to short-throw them down the field.
6. Tyrone Swoopes said that Trevone Boykin came up to him after the Texas/TCU game last season and told him to "Keep playing, keep growing. I was in the same spot." Swoopes said he took that to heart and has kept that in the back of his mind even to today. He was thankful for Boykin saying that to him. Meant a lot.
7. At least publicly there seems to be little to no concern with the fact that UT will start two true freshmen - Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe - at Notre Dame. Every one of the players seemed to believe that these two were going to be able to handle the situation and not get overwhelmed by the atmosphere, and be able to focus on the task at hand.
Johnathan Gray: "Watching these guys how they have grown since they've been here, they are ready. They are hungry, nasty and mean. As a runner you love that out of your linemen. They are showing signs of maturity everyday. I'm excited to see what this line can do this year."
How much better will this line be this year? Gray: "A lot better. Last year we didn't have a lot of chemistry on the line. They were young last year. This year they are still young but they have more chemistry, a lot more maturity. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done."
8. Gray said the last time he returned a kickoff in a game was junior year in high school. He said that as a senior he wants to lead and should be able to play on special teams. Placing a bigger emphasis on special teams this season.
9. I, like the rest of you, were surprised to see Poona Ford listed above Hassan Ridgeway at DT. When I asked Strong about that he mentioned that it had to do with Ridgeway missing some time to start fall camp. He also said that the defensive line was so deep it doesn't really matter who starts. They are all going to play.
10. How about there being an "or" listed between Daje Johnson and Ryan Newsome at the H-WR behind Marcus Johnson. Strong reiterated today that Daje was having a great fall. But I have heard that Newsome has really come on the last two weeks and that his speed has really opened some eyes. I wouldn't necessarily count this as a knock on Daje but more so as encouraging news on Newsome. I thought he might get left out of the equation a bit but that doesn't appear like it will be the case.
11. Found it quite odd that Tyrone Swoopes said he hasn't had any 1-on-1 time with Vince Young. Of course, if you read our board, you'll know that Chip has reported that Kai Locksley has reached out to VY on his own. I think that says something about each player, that one [a true freshmen] would reach out to VY while the other [the starting QB] hasn't. That's not a knock on Swoopes. Just shows a difference in personalities. That is something I do admire about Swoopes. He is who he is, whether it drives you crazy or you love his laid-back persona. He is himself.
12. Odds and ends you might find entertaining:
On his way out, Strong looked over to see some players sitting at a table. "Poona's up here? What the hell is Poona doing up here? He's too shy."
Apparently there are two head coaches at Texas... Charlie and Chuck. Johnathan Gray: "You don't want to see Chuck. He'll drive you to the ground."
Tank Jackson arrived in a suite. Said he will wear a suit to every press conference this season, kind of resembling his business like approach to this season. Says he has 8 suits in rotation. Strong to Tank: "Why you trying to out-dress everybody?"
Strong: Adversity is going to hit us. How we bounce back depends on how mature we are."
Strong on Armanti Foreman: "I don't think he knows how fast he is."
13. Strong does not seem concerned with the fact that 5 true freshmen will be starting at ND. "Doesn't concern me." That's what they signed up for.
14. So you think Pat Moorer might take it easy on you when you come back from an injury, huh? Tank said the very next day after he was cleared from two surgeries on his foot Moorer made him run 1.5 miles.
15. This has to be put out there given what happened last season: NO PLAYERS ARE SUSPENDED FOR THE SEASON OPENER. Rejoice!
16. Like last season, Strong said he told his team to not ask the QBs to win the game. There should be enough talent around Swoopes/Heard to get the job done without them having to put the team on their back.
17. The Longhorns are relatively healthy heading into ND. Strong said that Dalton Santos was only player that won't play. I did notice that Breckyn Hager was not on depth chart. He was dinged up in practice last week, per Chip.
18. Poona Ford spoke with the media for the first time today. Really shy guy. Said he was more nervous talking to us than he would be on Saturday playing in the game. Wore a beanie today because it made him feel a little more comfortable talking with us. Said Charlie Strong was biggest reason why he came to Texas. Never thought he would be here but that he made the right choice. Loves it in Austin.
19. Tank Jackson said there were times last season when he felt like giving football up. But he then realized that he loved the game and UT's program too much to do that to himself.
20. They have Pluckers for us every Monday during these things... Chip attacks those things with a reckless abandon.