The underclassmen declaration period hasn’t even closed yet, but that nor good sense will stop me from having an opinion and hoisting it in public. Or semi-public. Or something.
Anyway, there's been a ton of inferences over the past month by folks on the various longhorn boards about next year's team being a potential top 2 preseason team. Frankly, I don't disagree. We return a ton of talent all over the field, especially with Kindle coming back. Our schedule is also ridiculous in its simplicity. Yes, it is. Louisiana Monroe would get pwn3d by Katy; Central Florida represents your mother's old douchebag, which may still be in Ohio; Wyoming's talent is worse than its uniform color choices; and UTEP is a punching bag. That is just the non-conference roster. The in-conference schedule is equally as irrelevant. A ton of our opponents lose all kinds of talent and the Big 12 in general is going to be down next year.
We have a really good chance to have a special season in 2009. Let's look at what other Big 12 programs bring back next year.
The sooners bring back more from their usual offseason liquor store robbery than they return on their roster next year. Bradford is a top 5 draft pick and the Heisman winner. It is doubtful that he returns, no matter how many times the sooner faithful wishes otherwise. Gresham is a 1st round selection waiting to happen and likely walks as well. Gerald McCoy was the best player for the blowkies in the MNC and projects as an early DL pick, but he declared today that he's staying in school. Granger has already declared, since he needs to buy more coats. That is major attrition at the underclassmen level and, if three leave, it will be devastating to their 2009 season.
That takes us to the OU upper classmen. Iglesias, Cheney, and Manny Johnson are done. That comprises three of their top four wide receivers, leaving only Broyles behind. Loadholt, Cooper, Robinson, Walker and Braxton are seniors on the OL. Only Braxton is a backup. No matter how many times Trent Williams tries to hold them, those 5 won't be staying. Williams, for that matter, is projecting as a better NFL player than either Robinson or Cooper, so perhaps he’s a flight risk as well. Backup Joey Halzle at QB is also gone, although that might be addition by subtraction. Provided Bradford and Gresham are gone, that is a decimated offense. 2005 results might be the brightest hope.
Defensively, they lose Harris and Holmes at safety. Alan Davis, the backup DE, is also gone. They don't lose much else, especially with McCoy staying in school. The defense will have to improve dramatically for the sooners to have a prayer of winning 9 games next year.
They do return the Alexander, English and Beal at DE. Adrian Taylor comes back at DT with McCoy. Travis Lewis, Box/Balogun, and Clayton should all return. Franks and Jackson are decent CBs that will also return. The OU defense will be pretty stout by comparison to this year, and they’re going to have to be. They could be worn down against good clubs because of virtual certainty of the futility of their offense.
Stoops is 1-3 against Texas in his last 4 and he is 6-4 against us overall. Next year should look a lot like the 2005 match-up and I will be disappointed if we ever let our foot off the pedal against these cheating asshats.
Oklahoma loses 9 starters for certain. They could lose up to 3 more. I assume only Bradford and Gresham go, which means they lose 11 starters out of 22. On STs, they lose their punter, Knall, and the two WRs that returned kicks for them.
Many people tend to pose OSU as our greatest threat to running the table next season. I’ve seen this on TV and the boards, and I’ve heard it on the radio. I get it, and I buy it.
Offensively, OSU has three big losses in Pettigrew and two of their OLs. Pettigrew was an elite college TE. In addition to being a pass catching threat, he was a terrific blocker. I don’t know where he’ll go in the draft, but I will be surprised if he isn’t taken on day 1. The Center, Washington, and one of the guards, Denning, are done.
Kendall Hunter, Robinson, Bryant, 3 OLs, and a bunch of randoms at WR all return. Toston, an excellent backup to Hunter, also comes back. The Oklahoma State offense should put up no less than 40 points a game and could approach 50.
Defensively, OSU returns a bit less, which is good news. The bad news is that most of their defensive playmakers are back. Chinasa is back at DE, Cox is back at CB and KR, and Lemon and Sexton are back LB. They also return Burton at DT and their WLB, Levine, who I don’t remember well. They do lose Tea, the DT that was sporadic. They also lose 3 DBs, including Lacey, and Chatham, the other DE.
Oklahoma State has recruited well of late. They will be a formidable opponent in 2009 in Stillwater. At the same time, they usually **** their pants when we come to town and I don’t know why next year will be any different. It starts at the top, and Mike Gundy is a psycho that could lose himself in his playcalling at any time. This will be the marquee game of the Big 12 next season.
Oklahoma State loses 8 starters out of their 22. The punter Fodge is also done and he was as good it gets.
Delusional Tech fan has already gotten in my face this year, on January 2nd at BW3 in Midtown, Houston. Tech was getting blown out and embarrassing themselves in another bowl game. We had been rooting for them, but quickly turned and began mocking them when we knew all was lost. This was followed up on by Tech fan attempting to holler scoreboard at me and telling me they’d do it again next year. We merely smirked and told the guy that the game in Austin would surely be one for the books.
I don’t know what Tech has to be optimistic about in 2009. Their football team will have trouble making a bowl and they have nothing else to fall back on. It isn’t as if they do anything with their degrees but hide them in attics in shame.
On offense, Tech loses Harrell, Crabtree, Woods, Morris, Read, Vazquez, and Hamby. That’s pretty much the offense, minus Baron Batch and that fatass blowhard with the face paint. Britton and Lewis also return at WR, but big deal. They’re back to the drawing board for personnel on offense. Techfan thinks that Taylor Potts is special. Special indeed.
The big thing about the Tech offense has always been the continuity of the system from one season to the next, irrespective of the QB calling the snap behind the Center. While that may well hold constant, and let’s face it, Graham Harrell was not more interesting as a player than Symons or Kingsbury so Potts might be fine, the bigger issue for Tech going into next year is the loss of Crabtree. Guys like that don’t come around to Texas but once every 5-10 years, much less a place like Tech. He changed the dynamics of every game in which he played, so finding something that halfway provides that same value for their offense will be a big deal. It won’t happen in 2009 and could be years away from occurring.
Defensively, Tech returns a lot more of their core defense. Their entire front four of Dixon, Williams, Whitlock, and Jones comes back. All three linebackers return as well. Jamar Wall is pretty good corner and he also returns with the other CB. They do lose Charbonnet and McBath at safety. That looks like the strongest Tech defense in the Mike Leach era. They may actually have a more respectable defense than offense next season.
Their defense is what will help them grasp hold of their perennial perch of 8-4 with a bowl choke to finish 8-5. Of course, Tech plays its usual weak sisters in the non-con, starting with North Dakota State, then Rice and Houston, and finishing with the powerhouse of New Mexico. They really are an embarrassment.
Overall, Tech loses 9 starters out of 22. Their ST guys return in force.
I will be honestly shocked if Baylor isn’t a bowl team next season. They showed a lot of flashes this season, and not just from Griffin. Going into 2009, they return almost everybody.
On the offensive side of the ball, they lose Jason Smith and Dan Gay. Jason Smith is an NFL tackle and a big loss. Remember Ben Gay? Boy, Baylor really got a lot of use out of that guy. I wonder what he’s up to these days? My guess is that he’s gone full retard in a padded room somewhere. Whew. They also lose Thomas White at WR. He was their second leading receiver and a decent college ball player. Beyond those three, they don’t lose anything else on offense.
When I look at what Baylor brings back offensively, it’s a legitimately strong group. Griffin is going to be a damned fine QB and he’ll show us even more in 2009. WRs Gettis and Wright also come back. Both of those guys are good. With those guys return 5 additional starters, including 60% of the OL.
Baylor’s defense didn’t look nearly as promising this season, but they do bring a lot of guys back. They lose their sack leader, Leon Freeman, a DE. With him, they also lose a DT and one of the CBs. Defensive leaders Pawelek and Jordan Lake both return.
Effectively, Baylor loses only 6 guys, returning 16 of their 22. For once, Baylor fan has something to looked at with a sober eye and smile besides the pretty coeds. Baylor also returns all of its ST players.
I almost finished writing this post without including ATM. I didn’t not include them out of spite. I just literally forgot. I knew there were five Big 12 South teams though, so I had to figure out who I was forgetting. Sure enough, it was the aggies. They’ve sunk to the embarrassing level of retaining space only in the very back of our minds. Do their prospects improve at all in 2009? No. Not at all, actually.
On offense, they lose McGee, Lane, Goodson, Pierre Brown, and an OL, Travis Schneider. McGee and Lane didn’t end up getting a ton of playing time as the season progressed, but they were core elements to any success ATM experienced over the past 3-4 years. Goodson was electric and explosive, but of his explosives were directed towards his teammates and coaches, so most aggies say "good riddance". Maybe so, but he was one of the only potentially dynamic guys on their O. They return a solid core of mediocrity and Jeff Fuller. Johnson is back at QB. They return 4 OLs, Tannehill, Cyrus Gray, and McCoy also. They will be a middle of the pack offensive team if they catch some breaks.
It is just as ugly on defense for the aggies. They lose Bennett, who was their best DL. Obiozor is gone at the other DE spot. That fat bitch Kellen Heard actually has another year left in him, which surprised me. I was thinking that he was a senior. Alton Dixon was the leading tackler for the team. Done. Arkeith Brown is gone at CB. Danny Gorrer, a some time starter, is also gone. The same is true for Devin Gregg.
Ultimately, the aggies had a youth movement on some level as the season progress and some of the underclassmen got starts towards the end and maybe that will bear fruit. When you’re as bad as ATM is right now, how much worse can it be? My guess is 3-9 is how much worse it can get. They will go 0-5 in the Big 12 South, on a bullet. Can they scrounge 3 wins from the other 7 affairs? Perhaps, but it will be tough.
Overall, ATM loses 7 (including McGee and Lane gets you 9). Bringing back 15 starters would be a positive sign of improvement for many programs. The aggies are so down in talent that it may not matter. They also lose a big traditional aggie weapon in their punter, Justin Brantley.
Big Picture for the South
Looking at the entirety of the Big 12 South, it’s somewhat difficult to understand why many folks are saying that the Big 12 is going to be "down" next year. Is it going to be a bit weaker in the South in 2009 as compared to 2008? Well, sure. Is it going to be "down"? Nope. Texas will be as good or better in 2009. Oklahoma State will be better. Baylor will be better. Oklahoma will be worse but decent. Texas Tech will be a top 25 program again. The aggies pull up the rear.