Diving back in on the Q&A portion. Some good stuff - both overt and reading between the lines.
So we had the first sophomore day, and we felt like we are not being disruptive to the high school coaches. We talked to a lot of them and at the same time we know more about the sophomores in recruiting than ever before. We are way ahead. We have got great momentum with that class and think it will be a great class and can't wait to get them here and coach them in camp on Sunday.
Another reference to a strong 2015 and, by implication, a less pleasing 2014. How many scholarships we use in 2014 will give us some indication if the program is going to be more aggressive in pushing player churn. Nick Saban deserves all of the credit he can get for The Process, but he attacks program quality with numbers and a trapdoor as much as superior evaluation. Will we?
If we started tomorrow - what I said in the spring game was - if we started tomorrow, and it has not changed, that it would be Case McCoy. And the other young guys are fighting to get in that mix.
That's a statement for public consumption. As I wrote in Part I, I find it very unlikely that McCoy is our back-up QB. The message that would send is awful. And before you tear into Mack for dissembling, think about why he'd want to answer the question that way. He's still waiting to see how Swoopes and Brewer develop in the offseason and he has no interest in naming a Number 2 right now.
On QB Case McCoy's mission trip hurting his progress: I think it would be a killer for [some], but Case has been around for a long time. The offense really isn't changing and he and Major had a spring together so I don't think it will change much for him.
No way the coaches can allow a ten week program sabbatical from a former "team leader" without repercussions. The message that sends is simply unacceptable. I'd wager that the coach's office depth chart is very different from what Mack is representing here.
It will definitely give them more snaps. If you had your two older quarterbacks here, then they would take most of the snaps, and one thing, without us being around seven-on-seven, I hear the guys saying, the older guys step up. They don't want those young ones getting in. They are afraid they will take their spot.
Factor in the Overstreet move and it's pretty clear we have Swoopes and Brewer competing for 2nd team reps. Swoopes has the athletic advantage and the ability to advance the running game, Brewer is the most QB most likely to pick up on the reads in the offense.
On QB Davis Ash developing as a leader: The thing we are seeing now, he's becoming a confident leader, and he's pulling kids in. Even in the team meeting last night, they all came back last night and he was up front, high-fiving them and talking to guys. He's definitely at a different place than he was. He is the guy on offense that's running the team. He is the quarterback. We are not in here talking about who is going to be the quarterback now for the first time in the last two years, and I think that puts him in a lot better place with the other kids.
Good to hear. I like Ash just fine, but it is concerning to have so much of the burden of the offense on him. And even though he was forced into playing much sooner than he should have, it's important that we see him fight through his bad outings - which he will have. Losing the prospect of being pulled for McCoy should help him.
On his policy if a player wants to transfer: That's always been a University policy from our standpoint. What [UT President] Bill Powers and I decided, if a young man didn't want to be here, we would have him go anywhere he wanted to. But that's our opinion at this University. I think each school and each coach ought have the opportunity to do what he thinks is best.
A nice f you to Mike Gundy there.
On why he is optimistic about the defense: We played a lot backups. There were a lot of guys playing last year, because we had so many injuries. So we have the same system that we had that was very successful two years ago with older players, and it wasn't as good last year, because we didn't execute it as well. So I feel like the system is sound. And then we saw a lot of progress this spring. I also think that the fact that we are going no-huddle offense against our defense every day in practice is going to help prepare the defense and the defensive coaches better for what they are going to see in the fall. It's another reason that we went to tempo offense.
A very straightforward press conference drifted briefly into Mack-land.
1. We didn't have that many injuries last year. And if your defense is entirely reliant on one LB to set it, your system stinks
2. We ran a much different defense in 2012 vs. 2011. Does the switch from Cover 3 to MOFC ring a bell?
3. The explanation in favor of the no-huddle helping the defense is identical to his argument for the move to Harsin's power running offense in 2010. He might as well just say "Running an offense helps your defense see an offensive approach."
[Assistant head coach/offensive line coach[ Stacy [Searels] has done a tremendous job. He didn't know until he got here that [were only] seven scholarship guys that were going through spring practice. He has done a tremendous job of reloading our offensive line. We talked long and hard about it this morning. I really think that we can have two-deep and that will be the first time we have been two-deep around here in a long time. And I think we are -- I know we are headed in the right direction with our depth in the offensive line.
Agreed. We will go two deep across the board with real players for the first time in a long while, most gratifyingly at OT with the arrival of Desmond Harrison and the offseason development of young Kennedy Estelle. I still would like to see us enforce more redshirting discipline but whatyagonnado?
On OL Josh Cochran: Yes, he will work out this summer and he may be limited a little bit with his broken ankle early, but they think he will be ready to go 100% by the time we start.
An important development to watch.
On the defensive line depth: Right now we are in good shape. We have got the ability. We need experience. But the tackles, if you look at those guys, we have got five or six that can play, and we have just got to make sure we get the right rotation, because Ashton Dorsey, Desmond [Jackson] played great for us throughout. [And] Chris Whaley, Malcolm Brown. And then you start looking at the younger guys; you have got enough guys there that you have got four experienced and three young ones that should be able to help you out. And at the end you have three that have played a lot, three young ones with Shiro [Davis], Bryce Cottrell and Caleb Bluiett. You have got three young ones plus your three older ones with Reggie [Wilson] and Ced [Reed] and Jackson [Jeffcoat], you've really got enough depth to be good at both of those positions.
Our on-paper depth is excellent. But our DTs need to do something more than just be solid. Basically, my rule on DT play against the current spread offenses is that pretty good doesn't have any more qualitative impact than average. You're not meaningfully impacting a game largely played outside of your direct influence. Dominant DT play, however, will definitely show up, even against three step drop quick throw offenses, in the form of batted balls, early bull rush pressure, hits on the QB, putting the opposing running game into 2nd and 12, and being able to underman your front to allow dime coverages.
The strength of DE really relies upon a Gaskamp year from Wilson, a full season of a healthy Jeffcoat (which he's never really pulled off), and a big step up from Bluiett and/or Davis as our third DE.
I think the landscape has changed more than anything else. Things have changed and for somebody to be here 16 years, you have to change with it. When we got here, we were the change. We made a lot of changes in the landscape in recruiting in the state and this area, and then that changed and it worked for us a long time. So, If it got off track some, it's our job to figure out what's the best way to do it and fix it, and we think we are doing that. We are in the process. I'm really excited about our changes. I'm tremendously excited about the response we are getting from the 2015 kids. I didn't know how that would work [with] the coaches. We are really back on track, and we have momentum going forward in recruiting. I think our evaluation process is better, too. We are doing a better job of making sure, regardless of who else likes him, regardless of what the evaluation process of someone else has been, we are taking the guy that we really like and our coaches are watching very closely in spring practice.
Nothing to add, but some meaningful stuff here, both overt and reading between the lines. Mack Brown was indeed the change when he came in, but less than a decade later, we were calcified in terrible habits. The struggle to break through them, some of them formed by the core of who Mack Brown is, has been the dominant narrative since 2010 when the butcher's bill came up past due. But that bill was accumulated as early as 2006.
Please note his fourth reference to the 2015 recruiting class. He makes another later. There's a message there.
On the timing of David Ash’s injury last year: Yes, you'd have to ask -- I'm not a doctor, I'll tell what you they told me. I think it was a fracture in his ribs. Sometimes when you have a very minute fracture, you can't see it on the X-rays, and didn't see it. He was having trouble and didn't practice at all the week back before TCU. We thought he would be fine. I have a lot of respect for David because he practiced hard in pain and didn't tell us and then took some hard shots and played with pain in that ballgame. And then it showed up, and we couldn't play him against Kansas State.
We speculated on that last year and now the TCU game makes a lot more sense, as was his subsequent "benching" against KSU. The hidden upside of that KSU game though was that it finally forced the coaching staff to come to realistic grips with the Case McCoy situation. Which they did.
And the mission trip was his response. Weak sauce.
On Ash’s ability to make plays with his feet if necessary: They were huge. The teams that are hardest to stop, nobody is standing there to stop the quarterback. That's when your third down conversions are so high, percentage is so high. If the guy wasn't there, they run for a first down, and we haven't had that the last couple years. So we feel like that's something David can do and really help us.
Amen. Ash, while he has shown some struggles going through his reads in the passing game, his pure improvisational ability is actually pretty respectable. And that's been the defining area of next level play for Longhorn QB play in the spread over the years. Being able to run a is a big part of that, but it's also found in pure physical strength and the ability to shed pass rushers and extend the play. We've seen a half dozen instances where Ash has shaken off a defender and then made a throw. If he can bring his feet to the game - judiciously - with a run out of bounds or slide at the end, we've got an offense that can stay on the field with junk first downs.
While I'm still leery of his ability to run through all of his progressions, I'm actually optimistic about his ability to transition from "Oh no!" to playing on pure instinct once things do go to hell. I hope we make improvisation his third read in the offense.
On QB Tyrone Swoopes: We saw Tyrone as a junior in our camp and he had a tremendous camp. He looked really good. And we saw some of that this spring. He's 6-5. He's 250, he doesn't have much body fat. He's in great shape and he was very difficult to tackle. Probably runs 4.7.
He'll play this year, IMO.
On if he feels the talent level on the roster is similar to where it was in 2005 or 2008 or 2009: We do feel like our other talent level is getting to be very similar. I think this league is better.
The NFL draft is the best arbiter of that contention. And a huge part of this rests on OL and front 7 development. We'll see.
On if he can tell when a team has a championship "swagger": It develops. This one doesn't have that yet. If we'd had it, we'd have beaten West Virginia in the end. The fans were unbelievable. It's as good as I've seen our stadium, and that's the game you win, like we did at Oklahoma State. We won it at the end because we had some swagger.
Please shoot the reporter asking this question. My thoughts on SWAGGER.
On if he has a pecking order for the running backs: No, I think all three of them are really good. They all three have played at NFL level when they have been healthy and played well. So we are really lucky to have them. I like all three of them. I just hope Joe [Bergeron] and Malcolm [Brown] will stay more healthy.
Translation: Gray is my Number 1.