Archive for July, 2011

Texas Football 2011 Preseason Position by Position: Cornerback

Posted by    |    July 31st, 2011 at 5:30 am

We wrap up our look at the defense at a position where we have the most question marks: cornerback.

If you haven’t read Longhorn Scott’s post on Diaz’s defense, do it now. What we’re going to ask of our cornerbacks is slightly different from before and some of the characteristics that we used to almost singularly value (can we put this guy on an island with minimal responsibility and expectation of help?) will be blended with other considerations (understanding team coverage concepts, reliable tackling on underneath routes, pattern recognition). The Diaz defense is like a basketball defense where you have to trust that your teammates will switch and hedge correctly – it’s not about you vs. receiver so much as team coverage vs. their routes.

The good news is that we have nine guys vying for two jobs (or three, if you include the nickel) and most of them are talented athletes, several with NFL potential. The bad news is that we have almost no experience, youngsters in the secondary don’t mature in a predictable ways (remember when Michael Huff, Curtis Brown, Stanley Richard, and Cedric Griffin were fan whipping boys?) and they’re going to be playing in new schemes in a league where they’ll be facing the likes of Fuller, Broyles, Blackmon, Stills, and Moe. Not to mention an early baptism under fire against BYU.

Let’s break up the corners into depth chart knowns: (more…)

Texas Football 2011 Preseason Position by Position: Safety

Posted by    |    July 29th, 2011 at 4:27 am

Safety is the inverse of our DE position – lots of experience, less upside on raw talent.

The minimum I want from a solid safety is the ability to create turnovers (whether interceptions or forced fumbles), to not give up anything cheap over the top, and sound tackling underneath and in run support. What they bring beyond those traits are gravy.

Sticking strictly from our current roster designations, here are our four safeties:

Blake Gideon
Kenny Vaccaro
Christian Scott
Nolan Brewster

Blake Gideon has started 39 games for the University of Texas. He’s arguably the most experienced player in college football when you calculate not only total starts, but consider the stakes of some of the games he’s participated in. Blake is always a source of internet debate, but his year he has a chance to reprise the crucial role he played as a true freshman in 2008 when he held together a young secondary that improved markedly over the course of the year. In 2011, Gideon will be surrounded by youth and inexperience, particularly at CB, all learning a new system that is not without complexity against a schedule that will throw the kitchen sink at them. Gideon has a real chance to be a stabilizing force for us. (more…)

Texas Football 2011 Preseason Position By Position: Linebacker

Posted by    |    July 27th, 2011 at 4:28 am

Finally: depth, talent, certainty. And potentially the best LB unit we’ve had in twenty five years.

Of course, that’s a relative statement, roughly tantamount to saying toughest guy at Baylor….

“Parker wears cut off Chinos and smokes clove cigarettes on his Vespa! I hope he doesn’t TP my dorm!”

Let’s break these guys down.


Emmanuel Acho
Keenan Robinson
Jordan Hicks
Aaron Benson
Tevin Jackson
Chet Moss
Demarco Cobbs
Kendall Thompson
Steve Edmond
Patrick Nkwopara

Disclaimer: if you want to understand the upside and deficits of Acho and Robinson and what that means to our defense, really take the time to watch the two OU scouting videos. Scouting videos ARE NOT highlight videos. Don’t watch it with some bullshit Rivals highlight reel mindset. Players win some, lose some. It’s instructive. (more…)

Defending Rick Barnes

Posted by    |    July 24th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

In the last two seasons, with six NBA players and five future first-round picks at Texas, Rick Barnes’ Longhorns have won one NCAA Tournament game. This dramatic mismatch between talent and production has only increased doubts about Barnes’ coaching philosophy and how he constructs a roster.

Few have forgotten his infamous quote from last year, when he said he’d rather send players to the NBA than win a national championship. But while his answer raised eyebrows in Austin, he was being presented with a false choice. On-court success helps players make the pros, and having pro players fuels on-court success.

While many point to Butler’s success as the antithesis to the “Rick Barnes Model”, two runs through the Tournament shouldn’t be the ultimate factor in judging a program’s long-term viability. In a one-game scenario, no matter the tactics or personnel, anything can happen. If the ball doesn’t bounce right into Matt Howard’s hands in the end of the Bulldogs first-round game against Old Dominion, they’re a one-year wonder. (more…)

Free Agent Feeding Frenzy, Part 4 – Team Needs (NFC South and NFC West)

Posted by    |    July 22nd, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Continuing our look at teams’ likeliest free agent needs, let’s take a look at the balance of the NFC.  As before, I’ll lay out my thoughts on the top three needs for each team – for the purposes of this discussion I’m assuming that all restricted and exclusive-rights free agents will be re-signed by their current team and all unrestricted free agents are fair game, so if a guy leaving would create a top-three need at that position for a team then that position will be one of those listed.

As a bit of context, I’ll introduce each team with their 2010 record and some key stats denoting last year’s offensive and defensive efficiency, as well as their current ‘committed against the cap’ figure from ESPN.com.  For reference, it looks like the 2011 cap figure will be $120 million, with a $3 million exemption per team for an effective cap of $123 million.  As far as I know, signing bonus pro-rations and such will function as they did under the old CBA.  UPDATE:  A lot of cap elements appear to still be up in the air, and there could be some additional provisions to help keep high-priced veterans from becoming cap casualties. (more…)