My Thoughts on Bill Little's Travelin' Meat Circus

With Tech not on the tube, I had the opportunity to DVR the Texas game and do a little scouting of the enemy. I didn’t really focus too much on schemes and playcalling, but merely wanted to see the talent the 2008 Longhorns were rolling out. I only picked up at the start of the 2nd quarter and watched until the end of the 3rd, but here’s what I saw regarding your players:

Quarterback

Colt McCoy is playing as well as any QB I’ve seen this year. Put him in Mizzou’s offense, and he could do everything Chase Daniel does, except McCoy’s a better runner. I know from experience that you’re playing with fire by making your QB win ball games for you, but it appears to be extremely effective with McCoy’s current level of play.

Running Back

I know how it happens at Texas Tech, but I can’t figure out how the University of Texas gets to draft their recruits every year and the best thing they can roll out at TB from this state is Vondrell McGee. The guy didn’t impress me in the 2nd half after Charles went down against Tech last year, and I don’t think he’s gotten any better. I counted 4 plays in the 2nd quarter where your OL blew Rice 5 yards off the ball and nobody touched McGee for 3 yards and that’s exactly as far as he got on each carry. Sure enough, at halftime, he had 8 carries for 28 yards even though your OL was dominating. McGee just doesn’t make anyone miss and doesn’t have that extra gear to turn technically perfect form tackles into arm tackles. Cody Johnson is a better option, but he’s damn sure not going to juke anyone or run by them. At a minimum, he’ll push the pile forward. Chris Ogbayannaannana is the same guy he’s been for the past three years. A good receiver out of the backfield. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see any of the highly-touted Fozzy Whitaker. He’ll start the day he gets back, and you’ll need him against OU.

Wide Receiver

I hear Texas fans moaning about have Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby as your first two options, but you could do a lot worse. Every time I see them play, all they do is get open and catch the football. Plus, a healthy Shipley looks like he can run a little. Most of all, these two guys seem to be on the same page with McCoy. Sometimes you’re better off rolling with Carlos Francis and Wes Welker than Jarrett Hicks and Joel Filani, even though they don’t look as good on paper. I like that Collins kid, too. Bad luck for Irby, you hate to see that happen.

Offensive Line

Outside of McCoy, this is the most entertaining unit to watch on the Texas offense. It’s an interesting melting pot of talent and randomness. At guards, you’ve got two guys that will play 10 years in the NFL with Dockery and Huey. At tackles, you’ve got two Marlon Winn’s. At center, you’ve got the biggest 8th grader from Covington Middle School. When the ball is snapped, it results in a delicate waltz of blowing DL off the ball, mental confusion on stunts and blitzes, and comical efforts at attempts to pull and block LBs in space. The guards will get you past every team save for Oklahoma and possibly Missouri, but overall your running game will be much like your backfield, which is utilitarian. When these guys all get synched up together, they’re a pretty good run blocking unit. Ulatoski and Hix are solid when they know exactly who to block and go do it. However, concentration errors result in blown assignments when confronted with movement as well as the occasional offense of not opening up far enough when facing speed rushers. Or opening up too far. Marlon Winn is better in pass protection, while Uley and Hix are the superior run blockers, which makes sense given the nature of trade for their respective offenses. I would give Burnette a few more snaps at center simply to determine, if he’s a better option. Hall just doesn’t have the mobility of the other guys you roll with, and at times your zone blocking resembles Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville on the flanks and more like Pickett’s division at Gettysburg in the middle. When Hall gets help from Dockery or Huey, it works pretty well.

Defensive Tackle

If you weren’t a fan of moving Lamarr Houston to DT, then you should be by now. Even when facing double teams, he plays with his pad level low enough to hold the point of attack. That, coupled with his quickness and ability to penetrate, gives him the potential to become the next Lex Steele of Big 12 DL. Roy Miller is still a stud as well. These guys will make your LBs look much better than they are throughout the season. Aaron Lewis also mixes in nice with these two guys.

Defensive End

Brian Orakpo is the same guy he always is. He’s definitely not a liability, but a guy with more tools than Tim Taylor, should dominate a team like Rice. Except he doesn’t, really. There wasn’t really much that impressed me out of Henry Melton or Eddie Jones, but I do think Sam Acho is the 3rd best DE on your team. I’ll get to the 2nd in a minute. Overall, they’ll be solid against the run, but you shouldn’t have to bring 6 guys to get pressure on Rice.

Linebackers

When Muckelroy figures out where the ball is going, he gets there in a hurry and possesses the demeanor required to wreck shit up. I like him, and I can’t believe the depth chart I’m looking at lists the guy as a senior. Where the hell has he been? It seems like he just signed the other day. In the spell I watched, Muschamp rolled with mostly a nickel and dime look, and the only other two guys I got a look at, were Norton and Kindle. It appeared Muschamp had one LB dropping into zone coverage at the snap and anther playing the run or blitzing, since your DTs were having their way with guys who will be operating on their ACLs in ten years. That, or Norton, has poor recognition skills and doesn’t play downhill enough to be great at the position. He’s fast and can hit, so he’s neither a weakness or a strength. Serviceable is a good word. I have no idea why Kindle is playing LB. First of all, I saw him play in high school and he’s the best tailback on your team. Secondly, it’s a waste of time to re-wire a guy with that much physical ability and pent-up aggression into figuring out where he needs to be in zone coverage. He’s the best pass rusher on your team whether standing up or playing with his hand on the ground. Kindle is subject to using that aggression in getting too far upfield, which would result in many pantsings by Chase Daniel on zone read plays, but with those DTs and his ability to get to the QB, the rewards would seem to outweigh the risk. He’s too good of a talent not to have on the field at all times in some capacity. Shit, give him the ball. I know he can run through arm tackles.

Secondary

As everyone probably knows by now, I’m not a big fan of Cover 2. It doesn’t really seem that simple to me, and the reason it works in the pros, is because players are paid to learn it, and if you don’t, you go operate a ferris wheel. At the college level, and especially Texas, it would seem much easier to take a souped up athlete like Chykie Brown and tell him that every receiver who lines up in front of him, should be wearing him as a shirt for 4-5 seconds until Sergio Kindle finishes consuming the carcass of whatever QB is dropping back in the pocket each week. However, some of these guys tend to get over coached at complicated schemes given they'll only be a contributor for 2 or 3 years in most cases. Hell, most safeties in the NFL aren’t ready to contribute in that amount of time with a Cover 2 scheme, and only then, do they still have some growing pains on the field. But, what do I know. The talented, young corners and safeties look like exactly that. Talented. Young. Inexperienced. Confusion abounds in the timing of switches, and teams should be able to exploit this given the lack of pass rush when not blitzing. We’ll see, but that’s what I saw in 2 quarters of play against Rice.

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