Mondays In the Humidor

Consider this the inaugural edition of a new feature we’ll be running at the beginning of every week. If you remember our stuff from last season, a lot of the Big Cigar information came from the locker room in the aftermath of each weekend’s battle. We also get a lot of our information over the weekend when we’re able to meet with our "friends" and talk shop.

So, it makes sense to run this thing at the start of every week after collecting all of the smoke. With that said, we invite you, gentle reader, into our information humidor and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. (Oh and I get this is a Tuesday, but humor a working man here.)

Quarterback Situation
This thing’s as confusing as Javaris Crittenton’s career pathing, unless you’ve been reading what we’ve been writing for the last six months. Back in the Spring we told you that Connor Wood was going to transfer when others out there were saying he’d compete for the starting job. As of today, we hear Connor has elected to transfer. We wish the young man a ton of luck wherever he goes. Hopefully he pulls a G.J. Kinne at CU.

And then there were three...
To give you a little background on the remaining three guys, the report from the Big Cigar hasn't really changed much other than becoming enamored by the upside of David Ash during two-a-days. Garrett Gilbert is the starter on the shortest of leashes, followed by Case McCoy as the direct backup, with David Ash getting two or three series a game with a special package of plays. We still don't think he redshirts.

Big Cigar told us yesterday that the coaches aren’t completely confident in any of the three so all three will be given an opportunity when the lights come on. If Garrett plays like a world beater then Case will bide his time with Ash coming in as a change of pace. If Gilbert falters, Case will get his chance to take the starter’s snaps while Ash will continue to come in to give the defense different looks, to the extent he plays well of course.

One other important note is the politics behind the scene. Two of the QB’s on the roster have fathers who are active in talking to the coaching staff about where they think their sons should fall in the pecking order. Our source tells us that this has grown tiresome and it’s one of the reasons Mack is trying to stay arm’s length from the decision, while putting the onus on Bryan Harsin—which we hear Harsin is fine with, by the way. Bryan Harsin has said all along that the best players will play and that goes for the QB position. As of yesterday, our source said he’d be shocked if two of the three quarterbacks didn’t get snaps against Rice despite what you may be hearing about Ash redshirting.

Realignment Update
We talked to the Big Cigar about the situation here and nothing has happened as of now that has soured him on the information he’s passed along. He reported that the penalty to withdraw for A&M would be between $20-$40 million, and reports are out there now indicating that the number is $28 million and would be paid in withdrawn TV revenue. Check. He reported that the going would get a lot easier for the Aggies once Texas placated Baylor’s litigious appetite with some assurances behind the scenes. All’s quiet on the lawsuit front after some furious bluster earlier in the month from our friends in Waco. Check. The drop dead date for the Aggies to leave without incurring further penalties was September 1st. We hear that’s a check as of yesterday.

So far the report has been eerily accurate despite what you may hear from other sources. The only hole in the information seems to be Notre Dame and BYU joining or affiliating with the conference in some form but don’t be fooled by preliminary reports. BYU and ND are still very much in play.

We’ve heard the only problem for both schools aligning with the Big 12 is the other sports scenarios in the short run. ND is kicking around the idea of coming as a football only affiliate and leaving basketball in the Big East. This creates a problem for the Big 12 because BYU wants to honor its other sport commitment to WCC for the next three years, leaving the Big 12 in lurch as far as hoops goes in the short term because they’ll be one team short. If there’s a Big East implosion, then all of these issues become moot because Texas, UND, and OU will just start picking the like-minded crème de la crème programs around the country, but that won’t happen this year.

In fact, none of this is going to happen overnight so ignore the AD’s and talking heads for now. BYU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Texas are VERY much in this together and have been contingency planning for over a year. Stay tuned.

Long Term Outlook
When Will Muschamp took over as DC back in 2008 he was surprised by how few supremely talented athletes he had at his disposal when compared to what he had in the SEC. Now he did think the Texas kids were better at absorbing and processing information than their SEC counterparts, so he could put more on their plates, but there was a physical talent difference. I chalk it up to the abject failures that were the recruiting classes signed just after the National Championship season and I’m not alone in that thinking. We got complacent - no other way around it.

Fast forward to the 2011 season and we hear similar lamentations from the new coaches with a caveat. Word from our sources is that Harsin, Diaz, Searels, and Wyatt have all made negative comments about the EXPERIENCED talent of this Longhorn squad which is undoubtedly a function of two years of wandering through the talent evaluation wilderness of 2008 and 2009. But here’s the catch. Our Cigars tell us that Harsin, Diaz, and Searels have all made glowing comments about the 2011 class and to an extent the 2010 group.

(We also hear they’re blown away by the talent being stockpiled via the 2012 bunch. In fact, if you combine the current commits with the big game hunts the Horns are still involved with, this could rival any class Mack has signed since he’s been at Texas. You can read more about that on the Cosm.)

Harsin in particular has said that if they can get solid QB play the 2011 Horns will be creating the foundation for an explosive 2012 and run for a Championship in 2013. Stacey Searels, we’re told, likes the 2011 group of OL 1 through 5, which may come as a surprise to most recruiting pundits. Diaz LOVES his young front 7 and thinks the five young kids in the secondary are going to be special.

Mack Brown asks all of his assistants for a three year commitment even though contracts are renewed annually. If you’re on this staff, however, it would do your résumé some good to stay at least three years based on the young talent the Longhorns are amassing.

LHN
Word from El Cohiba Grande is that UVerse is about to drop. They have most of the plans worked out and AT&T should be onboard as a carrier sometime before kickoff on Saturday if ESPN comes off its ridiculously high number. Unfortunately for viewers, it's a game of chicken especially if ESPN doesn't come down a bit.

Season Outlook
I’ll leave you with this positive tidbit. The Big Cigar told us last spring that the staff thinks 8 wins for this bunch would be an accomplishment because they didn’t think they could count on consistent QB play. Here’s an update from the same source when asked about the staff’s thoughts going into Week 1.

“They still don’t know what they have as far as QB play, but manufacturing points with gadgets and scheme, as I told you before, should be a gold mine based on the surrounding offensive personnel. We’re going to run Wildcat—you’ll see the old Urban Meyer TE option, we’ll have wide receivers take direct snaps (freshman/maybe a sophomore) as well as a senior RB take a direct snap and zone read with a frosh RB, Monroe will be a pitch-man sometimes when he’s not jet-sweeping. “

“It’s going to be exciting and fresh. We’re going to have three tights in some looks, have four wides in others, have a power running game and a wide open spread passing attack all in the same game sometimes. You will not be able to pigeon hole us offensively. We’ll use these packages to create offense and take pressure off of the QB position. The most exciting thing is that there is no “book” on us anymore. You can’t go grab a 13 year tendency chart or guess with us on down and distance and field position based on decades of game film. There is no chart. You can’t pop in a tape of Boise and say, “Aha!” We’re not Boise. Our main problem is experience so a lot of kids will play and that goes for all positions.”

What about defense?

“Manny thinks he’s got an SEC type of front 7 and plenty of talent in the secondary. There will be growing pains in the secondary but he’s got just the right personnel to accomplish his stated goals—hit the QB and stop the running game. It’s tougher to do that with a good back 7 and a mediocre front 4. Plus, the secondary will be seasoned come November. He’s excited.”

So do you know if the staff has revised its expectations?

“They think 10 wins is a reasonable number.”

Ah, the over it is! I’m placing my bet now. I hope you enjoyed the first edition of Mondays in the Humidor here on this fine Tuesday just five days away from kickoff. Any thoughts or questions are welcome.

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