Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions on what Texas should do after the loss of Blaine Irby, the Horns' running back committee, if Colt McCoy is an NFL QB and more.

Legendary Longhorn QB James Brown (1994-97) answers your Texas football-related questions. Brown led Texas to three consecutive conference titles, including the inaugural Big 12 Conference championship. If you have a question for James, please submit it to, with the subject "Ask James" by 5 p.m., Tuesday. Brown's column will appear Wednesday's during football season.

QUESTION: With the loss of TE Blaine Irby, should Texas rely more on four-and five-wide sets?

BROWN: It seems like that would be the best option. Texas has a lot of good, young receivers waiting to play. It would be better to go to a better receiver than you're fourth tight end. I'm sure they'll find a way to make it work. It seems like it would be easier to throw to an extra receiver, but that can hurt your running game when you don't have a tight end.

QUESTION: How big of a blow will it be losing Irby? What would losing Pat Fitzgerald have meant to you?

BROWN: It would be devastating. Some guys just have a better feel for the game. Colt McCoy has built a rapport with those Number One and Number Two guys that he works with all the time. There's just a talent drop-off when you get to the Third Team guy. The tight end is so critical to pass protection. He protects your backside at times. I'm sure there will be a big drop-off in pass protection, and that hurts the running game, too.

I relied on my tight end a lot. He was the first or second read in a lot of plays because he's the shortest and easiest throw you can make. Pat Fitzgerald was the best tight end I had. He would catch everything. He had 23 or 24 consecutive catches at one point. He would never drop them. He wasn't that fast, but he'd get open, make some moves and get extra yards after the catch.

QUESTION: Texas' running back each varies in style. Did the style of a running back affect your level of play, leadership or the team's game plan?

BROWN: I played with a lot of different types of running backs. We had Ricky (Williams), Priest (Holmes) and Shon (Mitchell) all in the same season. They had different running styles. Shon was a slasher. Ricky wasn't as powerful my first few years at Texas. He was a finesse player who could stiff-arm you and run over you. Priest had good speed, good moves and he was powerful. I just made sure I handed the ball to them in the right place, and they did the rest after that. The passing game was a little different. They all had different catching styles. I had to be more aware of who could catch what kind of ball because running backs aren't made to be receivers; they run the ball. They all catch a little different. That's where I had to watch myself and always know who I was throwing to.

QUESTION: Colt McCoy appears to be in a zone right now. What is the best way for a quarterback to maintain that?

BROWN: I think Colt will stay in the zone all year. It has to do with the preparation that you have prior to the start of the season that gets you into the zone, to make plays and play consistently well. I didn't think Colt had a bad season last year. I've always liked Colt. I've always liked his intensity and the way he runs the ball.

QUESTION: Could McCoy play in the NFL?

BROWN: I do. It just depends because there are some guys in the NFL who are there not because of their talent but because of whom they know. He is a coach's son and they usually grade out well when it comes to NFL scouts. He's done well in college and he completes his passes. It would just take an NFL coach believing in him and working him into the system.

QUESTION: How did Hurricane Ike affect you (a Beaumont native) personally? Since you are recruiting the Houston area for Lamar University, how are you keeping track of high school players after the hurricane?

BROWN: The basketball arena at Lamar University had a lot of damage. You can see the bleachers from the outside. A lot of trees are down and a lot of metal structures are down. Everywhere I drive you see a lot of debris and a lot of telephone poles leaning over and wires in the street. Anything that was standing, it seems, was blown over. I thought Beaumont looked worse after (Hurricane) Rita. This storm (Ike) had so much water. The storm was so big that it dumped so much rain that everything flooded. We still had some high winds and some people still don't have electricity. We just got our lights back on the other day.

We were in the beginning stages of recruiting when the storm hit. We were about to have our first full week of recruiting. School just opened back today, so we're not back in the swing of things. Our car dealer had 20 cars stolen during the hurricane, so they're scrambling with our car deal with them so we can get out and recruit. The hurricane just threw us for a loop. We'll catch up, but it will be at least two more weeks before we can get on the road. We're just now making contact with coaches and trying to find the guys that we want to go over, but the phone lines are down. So, there is no recruiting going on right now…other than with the guys we'd already made contact with.


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James Brown (1994-96) guided Texas to three straight conference championships, including the final Southwest Conference and inaugural Big 12 titles. Brown ranks No. 2 all-time at UT in career passing yards (7,638) and third all-time with 58 touchdown passes.

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