In order for me to avoid thoughts of suicide over the summer I have to talk myself into certain aspects of the Longhorn football team. Usually it's some version of "Greg Davis will learn from his mistakes finally," and it never seems to happen. But that + trampolines + water sprinklers makes for a happy summer and that's the goal.
Major Applewhite - 80% Kool-Aid
This year's version of "Greg Davis will learn from his mistakes finally." The past two seasons have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we have a high school level OC that will never, ever get it. There is just no potential to improve. He is a remedial student in an advanced class and he's having trouble with the material.
"This bud of love by summer's ripening breath/May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet."
Romeo is comparing his love to a flower, see? He's saying that their love will bloom and grow. You have to read into it, Greg.
This is where the golden child comes in. Early reviews have drawn raves even from this staunch pro-Chris Simms crowd. It's important for coaches to "get it," and Major certainly seems to. He knows what our problems are and he knows how to fix them. He is also still adorable. The question is how much his influence will be felt on the field. I know I'd let him feel me on the field.
In the spring game we showed more variety in the run game than we have . . . well, ever. We showed a few new wrinkles (that could have just been young players screwing up), including a new way to attack the defense with a zone read. Our passing game has never been complicated or varied (nobody wanted to hear it when the ESPN experts were going on and on about Vince's simple offense, but they were right) but it doesn't really have to be if we can run. We need to be able to do it and I am on board with Teh Major.
Rashad Bobino and Sergio Kindle - 5% Kool-Aid
My hopes with Bobino are that a good coach could recognize his strengths and work with them. He is fast to diagnose plays and quick to attack the line of scrimmage on runs. He knows his gap and is usually there. The problem is that he's so lousy and shedding blockers and tackling that it often doesn't matter if he's in the right place - you can beat him anyway.
He's only played in single gap systems so far that don't offer him a whole lot of protection. In order for him to do anything he needs to get the Zach Thomas treatment, meaning the entire defense is structured to keep him free and roam. He hasn't really shown any great ability to be the kind of player that can do that, though, plus anytime Bobino is moving laterally, it's good for the offense.
It wouldn't be a problem if Kindle could stay healthy and out of the doghouse, but there isn't much evidence of that, either. He made enormous strides under MacDuff to the point that you can see an All-American in there, but he needs to actually play to earn any honors. I know there is a possibility that this works out well but I'll need to see it before I believe it.
Secondary - 110%
My pitcher is actually overflowing with powder. It's all over the place. Some fell in my shoes, but I don't care. There is no water needed, I'm snorting it straight. We are going to have a badass group of DBs even with all the youth. Deon Beasley is the shut down corner we've become accustomed to having. Chykie Brown, if he plays, is the same. Ben Wells is the best hybrid of cover corner and hard hitting safety we've had since Quentin Jammer played back there. He may not be Michael Huff good but he has a chance to reach the elite status. Earl Thomas is a little fire plug who can also make plays in both run and pass, and really bring the wood for a small player. I see him ending up as a rich man's Ahmad Brooks.
Depth is a bit of an issue. Ryan Palmer is still a mediocre cover guy with awful size, but he still might start if Chykie can't pick up the scheme (how hard is it to tell him to cover the guy in front of him?). Our third safety at this point seems to be Blake Gideon, which is not good news.
Still, we have Curtis Brown, Aaron Williams, and Ron McKelvey - who has shown great maturity so far - so it's not like we can't develop that depth. I cannot wait to see this group in action. There will be rookie mistakes, but it's the most excited I've been about our secondary since the 2005 group left.
William F. Muschamp - 95% Kool-Aid
I mean come on, the guy has champ right there in his name. Slightly wary because of our last Auburn coordinator.
The F stands for F'in.
Colt - 30% Kool-Aid
His freshman season was sensational. He was exactly what we needed; someone to drive the bus and distribute the ball. We didn't need him to make plays and he succeeded in that role.
Then he caught a case of happy feet and turned into a street baller. I have no idea if it's him, or if we just didn't have people open, but when you scramble and throw on the run 70% of the time, you are going to throw a lot of INTs. It led to our only big plays through the air, too, so it's not all bad. Still, you won't see instructional videos teaching QBs to underthrow 40 yard passes off of one foot while on the move.
Scrambling so often that it practically becomes standard operating procedure is a huge worry that needs to be solved. Since Colt was nice and calm in 2006 I can hope that he returns to form, but he might have caught permanent scramblitis and we have no cowbell to cure him.
He also gets lazy on his reads, or desperate if he is on the run, and throws into traffic with alarming regularity. Getting good, efficient QB play has never been a Greg Davis staple, so we'll have to count on the run game to take pressure off Colt this year. He's already proven he can't carry the load on his own.
It would be easy to blame Davis for this, since defenses have never had problems stopping his passing game without a run threat to go with it. But it doesn't really matter whose fault it is, only that the outcome is that Colt is not effective. I know he can do it, but my lack of faith in Davis leaves me pessimistic.
Beating OU - 50% Kool-Aid
Last year was the worst Texas football team Mack Brown has produced, and we were still a fumble and a missed tackle away from beating a good OU squad. There, that is the only good thing I can say about last year's game.
Beating OU is not about how good they are, but about you achieving a minimum competency at attacking their weaknesses, which are pretty much the same every year. OU is a measuring stick. If you can beat them, you're elite. If you can't, you suck and need to go back to the drawing board. They haven't been a real title contender in years, although they've had good seasons propelled by a weak Big 12. But they put the same team out year after year and straddling that line between really good and good.
So the question is, are we good, or really good? We have to be able to hit big plays through the air, we have to be able to protect the passer, we have to be able to run at least a little bit, we have to stop their run game, and we have to disrupt the QB. The 2007 Texas squad was good at exactly none of those.
This year we should have at least a few covered. Our OL will be better, and hopefully that will spread to other parts of the team. Our skill players are questionable, but you don't really need great talent to beat them, just a good game plan and proper execution.
Our defense will be much better, and it has to be. Sam Bradford is the best QB in the conference, and there are plenty of weapons available to him even without Malcolm Kelly. If we can stop the run we can beat them, and if everyone stays healthy we can stop the run. We can win, but we've shown a great ability to yank defeat from the jaws of victory (but not an ability to yank chicken mcnuggets from the jaws of Maddog).
If I trusted our passing game it would be easier to drink the Kool-Aid. As it is, I just have to hope we pull it together on defense.
Recruiting - 100% Kool-Aid
Lots of folks were worried last year after OU got the 2 best players in the state (Aaron Williams disagrees) and we passed on several good prospects who didn't meet our stringent GPA standards that we impose on ourselves to take Blake Gideon and Hey Maybe He Can Be Our Wes Welker, Jr.
I wasn't worried. Not because those weren't questionable moves, because they were. But I wanted to wait to see if it was a long term shift in philosophy. Well, it wasn't. We are right back to dominant. We fudged up the Russell Shepard thing, but we could've had him easily so it's easier to get the Kool-Aid down.
The best news is that OU and A&M were absolutely obliterated in state. We are at our best when we lock OU out, so the good news is that we ate up the top 10 in the state quickly and the leftovers will probably end up at LSU's wallet.
There are going to be big losses every year, but we've definitely proven that we are not going to target short white kids because they are honor roll students as a habit. We should've done whatever it took to get Shepard, but it's not like there was an inherent problem here that made him stay away. We are just idiots.
Oddly, that makes me feel a little better.