Off-Season Gossipy Things: Injuries, Muschamp Two Years Later

I had a couple of conversations with some people with good insight and access into the program and though none of it is particularly earth-shattering stuff, I thought it was worth passing along. No acronyms or names for them - sorry. Mostly about how injuries are handled and some of Muschamp's impressions post-Texas. I rarely pass this kind of stuff on, but thought it was of interest.

Injuries

The Longhorn training/medical staff is quite conservative (in a good way) and they're completely empowered to hold guys out of games if they feel the athlete has an injury that doesn't respond to basic tests (range of motion, manipulation etc), imperils the athlete's ability to protect themselves, or can be meaningfully exacerbated under game stress. Some of the stuff is empirical and requires no player input - you can tell the severity of injury with simple manipulation or tests, but for a lot of injuries, the player self-assessment is key.

That's where it gets interesting. Can they handle pain? What are they willing to do to manage the hurt? Will they shade the truth to get on the field? The coaching staff doesn't interact with injured players about the nature and scope of their injury because Brown doesn't want a pressure environment and Texas administration feels it creates legal/ethical jeopardy. It's between our medical and the athlete. Brown and our position coaches don't question the trainers when they say "X is out, time indeterminate." Possibly to a fault.

The flip side of the coin to OU, obviously.

Consequently, younger Texas players have to be clued in by older players about how to get on the field. Young guys are less able to discern the difference between hurt and injury and if it's hurt, sometimes they need to be able to shade the truth of what they're experiencing to the trainers to get on the field. The perception is that if you tell the trainers the absolute truth about all of your injuries proactively, you're going to be held out, even if you might be able to actually play.

"Once Quan Cosby or Sam Acho talked to certain guys and pointed out their own play on injuries (apparently these guys were both majorly banged up in their senior seasons), the young guys figure it out. By mid-season, every starter is hurt. But you may not be injured."

Also, Colt was pretty much a wreck from the OU game on in 2009. Dislocated fingers, bruised ribs, hip pointer, possible concussion (this is debated), bad ankle, toe. Team rallied around his example.

Maybe one possible explanation for why so many players were game day decisions late last season when mid-week practice reports were encouraging.

Muschamp

A lot more candid now that some time had passed. Will liked his time at Texas, but mostly relieved that he was able to elevate his career despite the sinking ship of 2010. A lot of the tension in 2010 was a result of Brown's sense of betrayal by his staff as the season unfolded, the staff's sense that they'd done exactly what he'd asked and that he'd established the culture to begin with, and the insecurity of coaches at an elite program watching it crumble wondering if they'd have to coach at Arizona, Purdue, or Louisiana Tech and start living out of suitcases again with older kids in tow.

Was surprised by the recruiting philosophy on offense, the lack of staff review of each other's takes, and our over-reliance on McCoy-Shipley. Felt not seeing a real running game hurt the Texas defense in some games because they'd destroy ours in practice and get a false sense of their run fits and it would take time to adjust in-game against real running teams. "By 2010, all of our practice reps were against bad RBs, bad OL, bad schemes. That doesn't get you ready. We had no idea what a simple lead play felt like."

Several of his defensive players were Googling their own weight workouts, getting stuff from Longhorn NFL guys, or conferring with strength coaches on other Longhorn athletic teams on the sly.

Thought the passing game execution level in the Big 12 was very high but physicality and quickness near the LOS was less compared to SEC. Biggest adjustment as DC was learning that "Big 12 QBs could complete passes to covered receivers" and that sometimes you had to play more bend but don't break.

Thought Texas had a "OU is important, but just another game" message to players while OU clearly conveyed to their guys that it was special. Then our guys get on the field, realize it's not just another game, and have to adjust to OU's intensity. Once they did, they were fine, but "OU got the first lick."

Overall roster talent level at Texas was lesser compared to high level SEC teams but the Texas athletes were brighter and there was less drama off of the field.

Florida was loaded with bad guys when he got there. Not necessarily gangsters, but punks and malcontents. Muschamp cleaned house on the ring leaders and is still working on converting the middle guys who were influenced by charismatic rogues. Felt discipline had been applied unevenly, highly recruited guys were protected, and they'd reached a critical mass of knuckleheads.

Relationship with Davis was cordial and respectful and Muschamp is a keep-it-in-the-coaching-offices type, but by mid-season 2010, the team and coaching staff were split and showing strain. Defensive coaches were paranoid about Mack being reflexively pro-offensive staff since he spends 90% of his time with them, offensive coaches scared for their jobs when they realized Gilbert wasn't McCoy or Young and our receiver, RB, OL talent were horribly depleted. Some staff tensions around recruiting effort - it was clear who was out seeing games and working and who wasn't but it was a taboo subject to broach.

GD was offered a lucrative lifetime job at the Longhorn Foundation and turned it down out of pride.

Things got testy briefly before Will went to Florida, but he and Mack now have a good relationship.

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