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Attrition & The Texas Offense

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Talent acquisition and allocation is a subject near and dear to my heart, whether in sports, business, or American imperialistic intentions, 1898 to present. For whatever reason, this is also a subject that creates much wailing, teeth gnashing, and vagina rubbing among our online fanbase. I suppose it stems from this world where everyone gets a trophy and needs to be told how special they are before they get tucked in at night.

Well and good, but the reality for athletics, and anything else, is that people do come and go. Often times, management wants those going to go and those coming to come. Not always, but that’s the way it is with any competent managers I’ve been around, read about, or observed. This is a fan site for grown-ups, so I’ve got no qualms about the topic and want to throw it out there. If your lips start to quiver and you want to get emotional, call your mother or go click yourself into another thread.

PhxHorn, as the old schoolers will recall, always had a great way of looking at attrition factors. His primary consideration was looking at older players with younger players ahead of them on the depth chart. This isn’t foolproof, but it is certainly a useful measure. There should be other considerations, of course. I try to consider things like "Who can’t keep their shit together and is normally in trouble?" and "Who might flunk out, based out of information currently at hand?" Clearly, these are more subjective measurements, but I don’t have any pretenses about being more or less clueless outside of following this program’s behavior pretty closely during the Brown era.

All of that considered, what do things currently look like at each position, offensively?


"Come into my office and step over into the corner. We need to talk for a minute, son."

QB

Colt McCoy – SR
John Chiles – JR
Sherrod Harris – JR
Garrett Gilbert – FR

McCoy obviously starts one more season and is gone. Chiles, as always, is rumored to be an unhappy back-up and he’s a candidate to move on. I doubt this. He played plenty this year and he has to be thinking he has a shot at being the stud his senior year. It doesn’t matter whether that is believable to you or me. That is also a simple sales point that will be pushed on him if he does think of walking. The rumors of Harris leaving are even stronger than the Chiles rumors. There aren’t many selling points to give him if he wants to play QB. This is unfortunate, because he is a good program guy by all accounts, even if he doesn’t play a down when it matters for us. Gilbert is going to redshirt. He wants to and his decision to stay in HS through the spring all but ensures it happening. His dad isn’t from a "play-now" era and that is a strong influence here. I am glad for it and hope he gets the chance to learn before competing.

We are somewhat likely to lose one of our scholarship QBs this offseason.

Tackle

Adam Ulatoski – SR
Kyle Hix – JR
Tray Allen – JR
Aundre McGaskey – SO
Peden Kelly – FR
Garrett Porter – FR
Mason Walters – FR

Obviously, returning both starters is a big help. Adam Ulatoski displays shades of Robbie Doane, week in and week out. Hix is coming into his own and will be an All-Big 12 guy, at a minimum, by the time he leaves.

What of the other two on campus already? Allen could have used a redshirt at some point. It is disappointing that he didn’t get one. Does he move on? It doesn’t seem like there is any impetus for that happening. Same for McGaskey. I guess if one of the Freshmen come in and set the world on fire and pass them, that is a consideration.

I don’t know whether Kelly, Porter, and Walters all wind up as Tackles or not. My hope is that they redshirt, regardless. Folks I trust that evaluate for a living think that Walters can be an NFL veteran at LT. I hope he gets the chance to develop into that at Texas.

I expect no one to move on from the Tackle spot before next season.

Guard

Chris Hall – SR
Charlie Tanner – SR
Michael Huey – JR
Steve Moore – JR
Britt Mitchell – JR
Mark Buchanan- rFR
Luke Mullet – rFR
Thomas Ashcraft – FR

My senior year in high school, we were taking our annual beating from Galveston Ball. The score ended up 69-14 that year, which was awesome. Anyway, I was a WR and never went to the huddle. One of the Guards was a lifelong friend of mine and he told me in the middle of the game to swing by the huddle. I said "no thanks" and he told me it would be worth my time. I walk over to the huddle after the next play and everyone in the huddle is telling our Center to pull himself together and at least attempt to make a block on the Nose Tackle. The Center, a buddy of mine and an 18 year old high school senior, is bawling in the huddle and hyperventilating. Literally, he had tears streaming and his face was a bright purple. "I’m doing the best I can, guys. Oh Fuck!?! You don’t understand!". I walked away, chuckling and mortified. On literally the next play, the NT took the Center on the snap and threw him backwards into the QB who was dropping back to pass. The QB fell backwards for the sack, with the Center collapsing on top of him. The Center is mocked to this day about that game and his behavior, against a Sophomore NT, no less. Of course, that NT was named Casey Hampton, but who cares. It was hilarious. Anyway, Chris Hall and Charlie Tanner remind me of the play of that Center against Hampton more than I care to admit. Scary.

Beyond those two, we’re not looking a ton better. I have no material opinion on the backups and I am not even sure Mullet and Buchanan are Guards. I asked Henry James what they’d been working out at during the year, in order to get a second opinion, and he A) didn’t know who Mark Buchanan was. He thought he was a Sportscaster in Austin for KVUE and B) insisted that Mullet was playing DT. Wow. Ashcraft has some body work to do, but he could damn sure be a mauler if he gets to redshirt.

I have a hard time not seeing at least one guy fall off at the Guard position, but I don’t know who that would be.

Casey Hampton can make most grown men cry.
"Dominic Raiola wasn’t the first or last guy that this dude made cry. "

Center

Chris Hall - SR
David Snow – SO
Mason Walters – FR

Hall played Center a lot this season, but Snow is a better prospect at the position. It is not difficult to see Hall moving over to take over Dockery’s spot and Snow starting, with Hall backing him up for redundancy. Walters played Center in HS and the all-star games. I assume he moves outside to Tackle, but perhaps that is wishful thinking.

I’d like to thank Buck Burnette for doing something dumber than giving birth to James Hale. As a result of his behavior, I don’t think we can possibly afford attrition at the Center spot and won’t see it.

TB

Vondrell McGee – JR
Antwan Cobb – JR
Fozzy Whittaker - SO
Cody Johnson – SO
Jeremy Hills – SO
Tre Newton – rFR
Chris Whaley – FR

That is seven guys on the roster for one position. That’s not an outstanding allocation of our scholarship numbers and when the program finds itself in that kind of spot, we usually see attrition.

McGee didn’t play a lick in the Fiesta Bowl after playing most of the year. He is reportedly healthy and in good standing with the staff. He is behind two underclassmen on the depth chart. All the signs are there for him to announce that he’s moving on, and accordingly the rumors have started. That won’t surprise me and it would be a smart move. He’s not in a good offense for his skill set and if he isn’t going to lose some weight and add some quicks, he needs to find a program that utilizes the I. Cobb didn’t play at all this year, unless I missed something. He did play last year and looked like a decent FB when we had that position until he was hurt. I am assuming he gets a med-red if he wants it. Is he capable of coming back and contributing? That is anyone’s guess, but he has to be considered an attrition candidate as well. Whittaker and Johnson seem like the A&B choices for the program going into next season and that’s fine. I would be blown away if either chose to leave. I’d be almost as shocked by one of them leaving as I would be if Greg Davis re-implemented the TecmoBowl notes I faxed him showing the Big Package images for the goalline with Johnson in the I.

Hills, Newton, and Whaley look like a traffic jam for the third spot. I would not be surprised if one of Newton and Hills decides to part with the 40 acres. Whaley is rumored to be a slam dunk to play, whether that is best for him or not.

We will see a minimum of one RB leave the program. If Cobb’s injury is severe enough, perhaps that equals two.

Greg Davis should call more plays like this.
"Did you lose my faxes, Greg?"

TE

Greg Smith – JR
Josh Marshall – SOBlaine Irby – SO
Ian Harris – SO
Ahmard Howard - SO
DJ Grant – rFR
Trey Graham – FR
Barrett Matthews - FR

When you rarely utilize a TE and you’ve got eight on scholarship, something has to give. Either you start utilizing the TE more or you’re going to need some of them to switch positions or leave. We should probably see some of all of that going into next season.

Smith is our answer to the loss of Peter Ullman, with Ullman’s graduation and defection to the AVP circuit for beach volleyball. If we have anyone else healthy and want to use a TE, my hope is that Smith can be moved back to Tackle and back folks up there. There was positive buzz about Marshall before he went down for the year in summer drills. I remain from Missouri on him, but I am rooting that he shows us something in the spring and/or summer. Irby was looking like a terrific college spread TE stud when he was Willis McGahee’d by some random Rice dude. Does he come back? It sounds like him contributing in 2009 will be tough. My guess is that he sits next year out and continues to rehab. Harris played sparingly in the middle of the year before we decided to get serious about Ullman as the TE, apparently. We didn’t see much from him at the spot. The same can be said of Howard, who appears to be back DE already.

DJ Grant was rumored to be running some slot TE and looked good. I hope that’s the case. If so, he could be a dynamic threat from that spot. Graham seems like a prime candidate for a redshirt. Having seen footage of him, he looked like a guy that needed some seasoning within the program before he was going to produce. Matthews is not nearly big enough to be considered a traditional TE. As a slot TE, he looks promising. Does he redshirt? That probably depends on the development, or lack thereof, of Grant and Marshall, as well as Irby’s recovery.

Perhaps we lose a guy at TE. It seems more likely that several guys move to other spots on the roster, as Howard has already done. As well, Irby could take another year. My guess is we lose zero players from the program at TE, but Smith and Howard move to other spots.

WR

Jordan Shipley – SR
Brandon Collins – JR
James Kirkendoll – JR
Philip Payne – JR
Montre Webber – JR
Dan Buckner – SO
Malcolm Williams – SO
Desean Hales – rFR
Greg Timmons – FR
DJ Grant – rFR
Brock Fitzhenry – rFR
DJ Monroe - rFR

Look, I get it. When you run a spread offense, you need a plethora of WRs to fill up the field for you. Do you need 14% of your roster to be comprised of WRs, though? Perhaps not. When you stack it that high, you wind up with a circumstance where you’ve simply go non-contributors taking up a lot of space.

Shipley is a starter and the 3rd 1st team All-Big 12 WR next year alongside Bryant and Briscoe. He is All-Everything for this team and it is good to get him back. Collins and Kirkendoll ended up developing into legitimate tertiary threats this year. That surprised me, but it bodes well for the program and neither one of them is going anywhere. As well, neither can be considered early exit candidates, so we’ll be stacked with their help in 2010, too. The other two JR WRs have to be considered the primary transfer candidates on the entire roster this offseason. Neither one of them plays, they’ve not shown any signs of playing, and they’ve generated zero buzz since stepping on campus. They are passed up by underclassmen already. If Payne and Webber are on the roster come August, I will shit a golden Roy Williams Detroit Lions jersey and set Lovell Pinckney on fire.

One has to wonder what Buckner is thinking at this point. He got some looks, but he was not in the rotation to finish the season. Guys he came in with, like Hales, are going to be pushing him in the spring, if not passing him. I hope Buckner steps up. Malcolm Williams is a big play waiting to happen and he needs to get his drops under control this spring. We need this guy stretching the field next season, no way around it. DJ Grant appears to have moved on to TE. It sounds like he’s going to be given every chance to see the field, either way. Hales and Timmons both seem like guys that could get into the rotation next year, although a redshirt for Timmons won’t surprise or bother me. Brock Fitzhenry is haunted by the ghost of Dustin Miksch on a regular basis. A séance with Clint Haney might remedy the issue. DJ Monroe appears to be gone, irrespective of the false hope created by articles and posts from the moderators at Orangebloods.

It seems pretty clear that WR is going to go from twelve to about eight this offseason. That’s dramatic, but the numbers were too high to begin with and some of the drop is due to a position move. Speaking of WR position moves, I wouldn’t mind seeing Beasley get a look in the spring. He fits the WR profile better than the CB profile at this point.

In summary, I know humans are terrible at predictions and forecasting, and I don’t profess to be any different. My guess is that we lose 3-5 players from the offensive side of the ball before next season starts. It’s already started with Monroe. Grades, PT, injury. 3-5 isn’t huge, but it feels like more than we normally see. Oh well.