Filling the gap

Recruiting:

As Nickel Rover tradition dictates, I went over to the statesman and read Suzanne Haliburton and Kirk Bohls try to answer questions about the recruiting class in a live chat. There really isn't much of value there save for what they can answer due to access to the coaches. If you would rather not read ill-informed questions answered by people with surprisingly little football knowledge the highlights are as follows:

1). Kirk Bohls thinks USC runs a "downhill scheme" and not a zone-blocking scheme. In fact, the quarterback taking snaps under center along with the presence of a fullback doesn't mean the scheme features man-blocking. USC switched to zone-blocking several years ago. That said, I tend to agree that Texas' ability to run zone is poor and should probably be abandoned. It probably won't be, but at least we have a center now.

2). Belmont is insisting that McWhorter is staying.

3). Traylon Shead played at "40%" in the state championship. He was still unstoppable,which is whatayou look for in a high school back.

4). Blaine Irby seems doubtful to ever see the field again which is probably will probably have more impact on the 2010 offense than any of the shiny new receivers coming in.

5). There is some chance that Kyle Hix moves to left tackle, which I can only reiterate would render the 5-wide offense a bad joke against any team with speed around the edge. Unless Hix has some quickness we just haven't seen yet, doubtful.

If you didn't see the Mack Brown press conference it's here. He suggested that one QB would fight for a spot on the depth chart and the other would shirt. I think we all have a similar guess as to who does which. Dominic Espinosa had awesome film where he would pancake his guy on just about every play. Very encouraging, he was getting under nose guards and throwing them down. There's a good chance he cracks the depth chart immediately behind Snow at center and Mack suggested as much.

The moment we've all been waiting for, Scipio Tex HenryJames has his write-up on the class here.

Next year's defensive front will be a big question mark. At defensive end there is a wealth of talent already on campus with even more coming in Wilson and Jeffcoat but defensive tackle is very thin.

At issue is the emergence of a 3-tech. You can teach a guy to take on blockers and maintain the middle. Kheeston Randall became very effective in that role last year. However finding a true DT to blow through the B gap like Lamarr Houston last year is much more difficult. As Bill Parcells popularized with his "planet theory", there is a very limited number of human males who can move around quickly at 300 pounds. This recruiting class seems to have at least one such player in Taylor Bible and it's possible that he'll play immediately in that role. Ashton Dorsey has potential at that spot but most seem to view him as more of a 1-tech who has quickness that can will be put to use in splitting the double team ala Roy Miller.

Returning is Tyrell Higgins, Kheeston Randall, Calvin Howell, Derek Johnson and any recruited DE that has grown into a tackle (like Kriegel, Mims, etc). Since Texas can play more 3 DL with just Randall and 4 ends in a lot of situations I think someone has to really step up to earn the 3-tech spot. The key there is to have a guy who can rush the quarterback and get in the backfield for negative plays. If no one can do that consistently than Muschamp will accomplish it with the 3-4 and line stunts. On the other hand, someone has stepped up at tackle seemingly every year.

Finding guys like Gerald McCoy, Nkamukong Suh, Lamarr Houston, Tommie Harris who can really blow things up and disrupt from that DT position is difficult. However, I think Texas will be right on track with Bible and some of these larger DE projects. Look for 2010 as a year of transition though before the DL has been assembled into a 4-headed monster with unblockable players at every spot.

Meanwhile, beyond projecting the awesome future afforded by the recruiting classes, the experience is further heightened by watching turmoil at rival programs. Someone over at Texags tried to be the voice of calm in the Corey Nelson storm with a typical Aggy sentiment. Our good buddy coloradoag from @SpenceParkSB had a different take.

Over at tortillaretort Dedfischer discusses the Tech defensive recruits and which players will future Raider defenses built around. It's a strong concept he works with, projecting which guys will be the playmakers of the class and I would argue it's easier with a class like Tech's. Try and pick the 4 Longhorn recruits most likely to blow up into defensive stars. Really most of them look like they have the talent to make a big impact someday.

Basketball:

Next opponent Oklahoma has struggled on the road, 1-6 but remains unbeaten at home in 10 games so they should be able to provide some test for Texas. Beat writer Mark Rosner checks in on J'Covan Brown's development here. My favorite quote coming from assistant coach and former 10th man Chris Ogden,

"He's gonna be a great YMCA player when he's 50,"

when discussing Brown's change of direction and other old school moves. If this was the first road test for Texas I would be interested in how they handled it but since this team has proven they can handle play on the road I'm looking for an easy win that demonstrates confidence and some kind of identity for the upcoming Kansas game.

Of course, we'll be watching to check up on personnel groupings, Dexter's regression, and what kind of an impact the Ok. St. game has on Jordan Hamilton and the fate of the other freshman. I believe only good things can happen from allowing Bradley and Hamilton to shoot 10 shots per game while I've seen enough to be very read for this to come at Pittman's expense. Last call for tournament Dexy...

Super Bowl XLIV:

To me the biggest question for the Super Bowl is Dwight Freeney's health. The word is that he tore his ankle ligaments, which just means a bad sprain. As anyone who has had a bad sprain can attest, it's very difficult to move around quickly only two weeks after a sprain. The only time I sprained an ankle seriously I was off my feet for a week and didn't run on it for two more.

Of course I wasn't being paid millions of dollars, receiving top care, and have likely 1/10 of the pain tolerance that Freeney has. His interviews don't give a lot of confidence that he'll be even near 100% on Sunday.

People who criticize the Colts for success limited to the regular season should be reminded that Indianapolis hasn't had their full complement of stars all healthy like this very often. Mathis, Freeney, Saturday, Wayne, Clark and Addai all healthy makes for a loaded Colts team around Peyton. If Freeney were 100% I would have little doubt of a Colts victory, nor I think would anyone who watched what DeMarcus Ware did to the Saints (or even the Vikes D-line for that matter). If he's hobbled I'm less certain.

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