Ask Brian Jones

Former Longhorn and NFL linebacker Brian Jones answers your questions.

Q: Hey B.J. Eric Hall was much maligned for his play in the first couple of games, but he seemed to be around the ball a lot against the Owls. Did you see improvement in his play?

B.J.: There was some improvement with containing the option. It was good to see that because against Arkansas, the Razorbacks were able to get outside on the edges of the defense and that's something you can't have. So some improvement there, but still a long way to go, especially considering who's coming up next week (Oklahoma), but it was good to see improvement. You'd rather see that than it going the other way or staying consistent with what we saw in the Arkansas ballgame. [Follow-up question: Was what we saw as improvement from Hall and the defense in general due to the speed, or lack thereof, of the Owls vs. the Hogs?] You can point towards that but I also think it has to do with being more physical at the line of attack. That's the key to holding containment. You have to strike those blockers that are coming out trying to get on the corner and trying to get you turned and get the ball carrier outside of you. You have to strike 'em and hold your ground and hold force if you have it, so you can point towards the speed as a factor in the improvement, but no matter how much speed they have out there, you still have to be pretty physical at the point of attack and I saw a difference there.

Q: If the Horns have an offensive flaw right now, it's the lack of a consistent receiving threat at wide receiver. If you were in Greg Davis' shoes, what would you do to try to improve the situation, or do you think the Horns can get by with a steady dose of Vince and Cedric running and passes to the tight ends?

B.J.: I think against some teams, that's going to be a formidable attack. With tight ends as good as both of those guys -- David Thomas arguably one of the best in the nation right now he's so smooth and fluid -- and then Vince and Cedric, almost any defense will have its hands full with just that but when you go up against top 10 defenses like Oklahoma, you're going to need all the threats you can bring to the party. Although the offensive line is playing extremely well, it's yet to be seen whether or not they're going to be able to handle the front seven or eight for Oklahoma. So, you definitely want to upgrade the production at wide receiver. You want your offense clicking on all cylinders and you want production at that position as well. You can't not try to upgrade the production as you move through the season. When you go into the big games like next weekend you want to have as much ammunition as possible and at some point, those (receivers) have to step up. Other than Tony Jeffery, they are pretty young, but if you've got a scholarship, step up! Ya know, three years ago, (OU's) Mark Clayton was young but he stepped up and thrashed Texas, so you can't point to youth and inexperience all the time. Someone has to step up. That's why you've got those guys on scholarship. I think (the coaches) will continue to try to produce at that position. You have to. You can't forget about one position, especially when you have a spread offense like Texas runs. Everyone has to contribute because you never know when your number is going to be called, especially in a big ballgame like next week. There's going to be some crucial moments where you have to pick up first downs, and you'd like to be able to have confidence to go to your wide receivers.

Q: What's your opinion of the fact that all of UT's defensive coaches are on the sideline with a GA up in the box?

B.J.: It's whatever (the coaches) feel comfortable doing. Tomey and Akina and Robinson have been on the sideline wherever they've been and they like being down there, they like that vantage point. I don't have a problem with that. Basically, what the GA is doing is telling you what personnel is coming into the ballgame. Even if all the defensive coaches were in the box, that's all that GA would be doing, so his job responsibility hasn't changed. It's just a matter of you've got a couple guys who are veterans of the game and they like that perspective, that vantage point of being on the football field. So that doesn't bother me. It's more hands on when they're on the field, and when I played, Leon Fuller was the defensive coordinator and he was on the sideline, and you get that one-on-one interaction you need during the ballgame, especially in the crucial moments. (The coaches are) coaching all the time and you don't have to run kids over to the phone. I'd rather have my defensive coordinator or at least my position coach on the field so you get that one-on-one interaction and they can coach you up right then and there right after something occurs on the field.

Q: If you had to pick one thing right now that most concerns you about this Texas team -- and that you'd like to see worked on substantially in the Baylor game -- what would it be?

B.J.: I want to see more intensity. You're going to have to ratchet it up a number of levels for next week's ballgame, so that's what I want to see. I want to see guys flying around, and big hits. I haven't seen a lot of big hits. Maybe I missed them, but when I watch Oklahoma play it's just amazing how physical that football team is. They are physical on offense, they are physical on defense, and special teams. There are big hits occurring all throughout their ballgames, and we need to see that at UT. And I know Derrick Johnson is flying around making a lot of plays but I want everybody to join in the party. If one of my teammates made a big hit, I wanted to go out there and get a big hit and that's gotta be the mindset, so that's what I'd love to see in this Baylor game. Just more intensity and more physical at the point of attack, put more pressure on the quarterback, that's definitely a key, but if you can just ratchet up that intensity another couple of levels, that would be great.

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Brian Jones played middle linebacker for the Longhorns in 1989 and 1990, leading the team in tackles both seasons and earning all-SWC honors as a senior before an eight-year NFL career with the Colts, Dolphins, Raiders and Saints. He also recently worked as the sideline reporter for the Longhorn Radio Network, host of Longhorn Sports Center and co-host of a popular radio sports talk show in Austin. His 'Ask B.J.' columns appears weekly during football season on InsideTexas.com.


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