A FEW LITTLE FOOTBALL TEAM NUGGETS
So here’s what I’m hearing …
The team is living in the players’ lounge at Moncrief. Chemistry is high.
TE Blake Whiteley (knee) and WR Ty Templin (knee) probably going to miss some or all of camp.
Heard a funny story about Vince Young ripping into Tyrone Swoopes for not organizing traditional 7-on-7 this summer.
The reason Texas hasn’t been doing 7-on-7 this summer is because the coaches told players instead to focus on more 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 type drill work of position group-v-position group (DB v WR or QB and WR v DB, etc)
But make no mistake Texas hasn’t been doing 7-on-7 this summer.
VY got after Swoopes, telling him, “That’s how we won the 2005 national championship - all those summer, 7-on-7 workouts!”
The reason the coaches didn’t want players doing a bunch of 7-on-7 is because there are so many young players - some of whom just arrived (WR Devin Duvernay, etc) - in a new offense that coaches didn’t want bad habits forming.
TRYING TO RUN IT DOWN YOUR THROAT
Continue to hear the running back room is probably the best on the team in terms of lead by example leadership.
Junior RB D’Onta Foreman, who averaged 7.2 yards per carry last season, always had to compete for a job while a RB at Texas City.
He’s in his element, pushing Chris Warren III, who admits he hasn’t always been the best practice player.
Meanwhile, no one outworks RB Kirk Johnson, and freshman RB Kyle Porter is a total grinder as well.
And the good news about the G-Force Offense is, when run effectively, it creates between 550 and 600 carries. When it’s run really, really effectively, it can create 700-plus carries in a season (Baylor had 714 rushing attempts last year).
Here’s a look at the run game of Sterlin Gilbert’s offense each of the past three years:
2015 … Tulsa … 591 attempts … 2264 yds … 3.8 ypc .. 37.2 ppg
D’Angelo Brewer … 162 att … 837 yds … 5.2 ypc … 6 TD
Zack Langer ……… 201 att … 777 yds … 3.9 ypc … 18 TD
Ramadi Warren …… 71 att … 475 yds … 6.7 ypc … 6 TD
James Flanders …… 21 att ….. 87 yds … 4.1 ypc … 0 TD
2014 … Bowling Green … 556 att … 2422 … 4.4 ypc … 30 ppg
Travis Greene …. 180 att …. 949 yds … 5.3 ypc … 12 TD
Fred Coppet …… 141 att …. 764 yds … 5.4 ypc …. 6 TD
Andre Givens ….. 101 att …. 495 yds … 4.7 ypc …. 8 TD
James Knapke ….. 66 att …. 150 yds … 2.3 ypc …..2 TD
2013 … Bowling Green … 579 att … 2707 …. 4.7 ypc … 34.8 pp
Travis Greene …. 279 att …. 1,594 yds …. 5.7 ypc …11 TD
Andre Givens …… 45 att …… 255 yds …. 5.7 ypc … 3 TD
Fred Coppet …….. 46 att …… 214 yds …. 4.7 ypc … 0 TD
William Houston …49 att …… 211 yds ….. 4.3 ypc … 11 TD
None of those backs, I would argue, are of the caliber of Foreman, Warren, K. Johnson and K. Porter.
I fully expect both Foreman and Warren to split 300-plus carries with a high likelihood that both run for 1,000 yards while Johnson and Porter split 200-plus carries.
Plenty of carries to go around for four talented backs.
WHICH COORDINATOR HAS THE MOST TO PROVE?
TAYLOR ESTES … OC Sterlin Gilbert
There's no denying the fact that the Longhorns offense has struggled for more years than Texas fans want to remember.
But with the fresh faces on the offensive staff and a scheme that is more suitable to the talent on the roster, Texas is finally in a position to potentially show progress on the offensive side of the ball.
And it all begins with Sterlin Gilbert.
Charlie Strong's hiring of Gilbert was perceived as a positive move for the Longhorns.
Although he is young and his amount of play-calling experience is debatable, Gilbert comes from the Art Briles style of offense and has proven his scheme can be effective at the college level.
Many high schools throughout the state run a similar style of offense, which means the learning curve for young Longhorns appears to be much smoother.
However, that does not necessarily mean the offense is going to automatically click and be an entirely different unit in Game 1 against Notre Dame.
There's a very good possibility the offense will hit speed bumps along the way. While the learning curve may be smoother, one of Gilbert's biggest obstacles boils down to experience.
Texas will have to rely on many inexperienced players to run this offense, including the possibility of starting a true freshman quarterback and true freshman center.
Personally, I think Gilbert has arguably one of the toughest jobs and the most to prove this season. Expectations are high for his offense and with UT faithful's patience dwindling by the day.
If his offense succeeds, it could be the turning point for Texas football and will hush the critics claiming Charlie Strong is on the hot seat.
If it fails ... Well, that's a topic for another day.
CHIP BROWN … DC Vance Bedford
In 2013, Vance Bedford presided over the No. 1 defense in college football for a 12-1 Louisville team that gave up just 12.2 points per game.
That scoring defense total would’ve been even lower if Louisville hadn’t given up a 28-7 third-quarter lead in a 38-35 loss to QB Blake Bortles and Central Florida - UL’s only loss that season.
In 2014, with Malcom Brown at DT, Jordan Hicks at LB and Quandre Diggs at nickel, Bedford’s defense gave up 23.8 points per game.
That defense often locked teams down for a half before giving out in the second half when it would get no help from the offense (BYU and Baylor games come to mind immediately, even though third-quarter scoring under Strong has been an epidemic).
Last year, with a defensive line most thought would be the strongest and deepest position on the team, the Texas defense took a huge step back.
The Longhorns’ D gave up 30.3 points per game, 219 yards per game rushing and couldn’t get off the field on third down.
In a 1-4 start, the Texas defense allowed opponents to convert third down 52.6 percent of the time (33 percent or less is considered acceptable). Iowa State converted 15 of 24 third downs (62.5 percent) in a 24-0 shutout of the Horns.
In a season-ending, 23-17 win at Baylor, the Texas D, missing starters Hassan Ridgeway, Malik Jefferson and Dylan Haines, gave up 395 rushing yards, prompting the father of Texas RB Chris Warren III - former NFL Pro Bowl RB Chris Warren Jr. - to tweet during the second half that Bedford “should be fired on the spot.” (Warren Jr. later deleted the tweet and apologized.)
That was all last year. But none of the decisions that led to last year’s results can be repeated. Young players and inexperience can’t be excuses. New coaching chemistry can’t be an excuse (last year Brick Haley replaced Chris Rumph … this year, Clay Jennings is replacing Chris Vaughn).
There can be no excuses. And that’s why Bedford is the coordinator with the most to prove in 2016.
LATEST ON B12 EXPANSION EXPLORATION
I think Texas could live with the addition of two, all-sports members.
Other schools in the league who don’t have the third-tier revenue of the Longhorns would like the addition of four new members - even if two are football-only members.
I had a long conversation with a source close to UT’s situation who said Texas is in a “win-across-the-board” position.
“Texas was going to be blamed if the Big 12 didn’t expand,” the source said. “So, why not agree to explore expansion, knowing there would be a push for Houston.
“If Texas could help Houston get in, then, McRaven’s land deal in Houston goes through. And it undoubtedly goes through - even if Houston doesn’t have the votes to get into the Big 12.
“That land deal is worth more than $1 billion to Houston with all that’s planned for it.
“So Texas is now in the position of being able to take in all the information and vote its conscience.”
My sources indicate this will probably drag into September. The Big 12 Board of Directors’ next scheduled meeting is in October.
A FEW MORE THOUGHTS FROM BASEBALL COACH DAVID PIERCE
* Pierce has spoken to quite a few Texas players 1-on-1 already.
“Kids understand the tradition and history of what Texas has been,” Pierce said.
“And the kids are putting pressure on themselves to get there. We just need to relax em. We have talent.”
* Pierce will call every pitch Texas throws in games this season, adding that it builds trust between coach and pitcher.
“We give the pitcher the right to shake off a call,” Pierce said. “I know we have some good arms. They just need to get comfortable.”
* Pierce requires all of his pitchers to learn to throw a changeup.
“There’s two guys who have the win-loss next to their name after every game - the starting pitcher and me,” Pierce said.
“So for something that critical, how could I entrust that role to someone else?”
* He’s not afraid to sign quality over quantity.
“I have no problem giving a little more scholarship to one, rather than low-balling a couple others,” Pierce said.
* Pierce said he asked Travis Jones if he would consider swinging at a 3-0 pitch?
Travis said: "I don't know."
DP said: "You think you could?"
TJ said: "I don't know."
"Here's this 6-5, 200 pound kid. We just need to free him up," Pierce said. "He needs to have the freedom and confidence to rip one in that spot.
"Augie's won more than anyone else. We just do it differently. We're more SEC than West Coast. But if someone is giving us the drag bunt we'll take it. We want to be able to score in multiple ways - depending on our opponent and matchups.
"We'll know our guys well enough to know what they can do in certain situations and not ask them to do things they aren't equipped to do."