Five Questions: Texas

We go behind the scenes with HornsDigest.com publisher William Wilkerson to get the lowdown from the Longhorn camp on the West Virginia - Texas game.

1) Was there any expectation in the Texas camp that Tyrone Swoopes could develop so quickly? What has he improved the most on since he jumped into the lineup?

After seeing his performance in the spring game - he threw an INT to a walk-on on his first throw - there were honest questions floating around as to whether or not he should be moved to another position (presumably TE). But QB coach Shawn Watson said he had a solid summer and an even better fall camp. When David Ash got injured everyone was holding their breath because the last they'd seen of him was that awful spring game performance. But he's been better than people thought overall. He's got an NFL caliber arm and can make all the throws. The area he's improved on the most, even though he still has a long way to go, is using his bruising 6-5, 250-pound frame to run people over. He's only really started to do that more that past month.

2) If you were designing a defensive scheme, would you try to take away the pass or the run first from Swoopes and the UT offense?

I'd definitely say the run. if you can stop Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray from being productive and allow your defense to play more men deep in nickel coverage you are going to give Texas a hard time. Also, if you have the ability to blitz this improving but still wet-behind-the-ears offensive line, you are going to make Swoopes uncomfortable. He hasn't been all that good under pressure this season.

3) Texas is rushing the passer very well again this year. Is that primarily a function of the defensive front, or are more rushers from the second level required to get that heat on opposing passers?

A little of both but primarily the pressure that Texas is getting up from with DTs Malcom Brown and Hassan Ridgeway, as well as defensive end Cedric Reed, who isn't have the type of season everyone thought he'd have, but could be turning the corner. Texas' LBs have been extremely good this season too. They could be UT's best unit on defense, so they deserve some of the credit as does defensive back Quandre Diggs, who knocked out Tech's QB Patrick Mahomes last week with a crushing hit on a QB draw.

4) Has the initial negative reaction from a segment of the UT fan base to the hiring of Charlie Strong lessened with the improvement the Horns have shown over the course of the season? If not, is there anything short of Big 12 titles and College Football Playoff appearances that will quiet that noise?

I think the jury is still out for most of the fan base. They like what he's done to clean up the program and weed out the players that don't want to be a part of it. But they also want to see a better product put on the field, and more games won. This program has been mediocre at best over the last five seasons and the fans are getting tired of it. They really don't care who is in charge as long as games are being won. Right now the focus of this team is just getting to a bowl game. They need to win two of the last three to become bowl eligible. If the Longhorns can do that and carry some type of momentum into the off season, I think the fan base would be OK with that in Year 1.

5) The last two games between the teams have been high-scoring affairs. With both defenses showing marked improvement this year, do we see a game in the 20s or low 30s this year?

I think we'll see a game in the mid-to-high 20s. The last thing Texas wants to do is get in a shootout with WVU and its high-powered offense. But the Longhorns are prepared for it if that becomes the case. UT hasn't been very good at home this season and is 0-4 against teams in the Top 25. This is a huge recruiting weekend for UT as well so Charlie Strong will have his bunch ready to play. Whichever team can win the turnover battle wins this one.


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