With more ands and ors than a five year old explaining how Mom's vase came to end up in shards, behold the Texas depth chart. Divining intent and hidden subtext from these have become a Longhorn rite of passage every Spring and Summer and despite how silly it can get, I'm not immune from that impulse. Speculation is offseason catnip. What else are you going to do - watch another major league baseball hothouse flower deny his rampant steroid use?
2009 Texas Longhorns Spring Depth
Sub B 11 James Kirkendoll | 1 Phillip Payne | 83 Brock Fitzhenry
Flanker (Z) 5 Brandon Collins | 6 DeSean Hales
Split End (X) 9 Malcolm Williams | 4 Dan Buckner | 14 Montre Webber
We'll deal with the WR position in toto. Shipley out is positive insofar as it offers extra reps to youngsters like DeSean Hales and allows Brandon Collins and Kirkendoll to cement their confidence. We badly need Malcolm Williams clicking to develop any semblance of a downfield passing game. Malcolm's development is the most crucial offensive piece for this Spring - your wild fantasies about downhill running games notwithstanding.
Starters? Two wide: Shipley and Williams. And it's a run, so now it's 2nd and 10. Three wide: Collins/Shipley/Williams. Four wide: Collins, Kirkendoll, Williams, Shipley. Hales and Buckner first off the bench in the rotation. Timmons has a shot at contributing as he's more sophisticated skill-wise than the typical prepsta (I combined gangsta/OR/ prepster/AND/prep star). Where does Chiles fit? Your guess is as good as mine.
Depth is key. If we continue our identity as a short passing game O, we need to disperse reps and receptions widely to keep Shipley and Collins off the injured reserve by Week 5. If Shipley catches 10+ balls a game over the middle, he'll be done by late October. For that reason, our big body guys in particular need to show that they can tune in and do what's required of them.
The absence of DJ Monroe from the depth chart is telling.
Tight End (Y) 83 Greg Smith OR 13 Ahmard Howard| OR 16 85 Ian Harris/D.J. Grant
More ors than an ancient trireme. This job is wide open. We have two major openings: situational run blocker, many- down pass catcher.
Greg Smith is allowing many fanalysts to repeat the stupidity voiced about Peter Ullman last preseason. The conventional wisdom is that he's a good blocking TE...because he's big. I'm odd in that I like to examine if the person can actually do what they're credited with. Like Ullman, he has been subpar in the traditional running game. Size at TE means nothing if you don't have feet and the ability to sustain a block.
We also gave up five bad sacks last year from the TE position - all of them kill shots on Colt. Smith has work to do if he wants to do anything but contribute Misty May ball-sets to opposing secondaries.
DJ Grant is intriguing. He lacks size, but he has the requisite aggression - he was a stand-up OLB/DE at LBJ and he likes mixing it up. Obviously, we don't want him run blocking OU DE Jeremy Beal on the edge from a three point stance, but if we split him out two feet standing, he'll gladly earhole LBs blocking down. I know we all want to see what he can do with the ball in his hands.
Ahmard Howard and Ian Harris are the compromise players. They have the correct size for the position, but they are blank screens upon which we can project whatever we like. The Spring will be informative. I hope one of them can block. Matthews and Graham will be interesting freshmen. Josh Marshall is injured and will be no-contact when rejoins practice after Spring Break.
Right Tackle 64 Kyle Hix | 72 Britt Mitchell | 76 Aundre McGaskey
Right Guard 63 Michael Huey | 54 Mark Buchanan | 79 Thomas Ashcraft
Center 71 Chris Hall | 78 David Snow | 68 Drew Oldis
Left Guard 52 Charlie Tanner | 75 Steve Moore | 67 Mason Walters
Left Tackle 74 Adam Ulatoski | 56 Tray Allen | 77 Luke Poehlmann
If you don't look good, we don't look good
OT - Ulatoski and Hix are known quantities, so let's talk reserves. I'm from Missouri on Britt Mitchell as a second teamer, but all of that will work itself out quickly enough. We need a big camp from Tray Allen at LT. Got to have 3 OTs you can trust. McGaskey and Buchanan switching jobs with each other is interesting - both are young and I'm curious as to what we have in each. Poehlmann's ode to Vidal Sassoon is worth a scholly even if he never plays. He is said to be a good athlete who lacks strength. Plenty of time for him to show. Have patience with RS frosh OL ye spastic fans.
OG - Steve Moore @ 2nd team OG, see Britt Mitchell. Mason Walters at OG is odd, but he's a guy that can play all five positions, so I'm not overly concerned with where he's initially slotted and the coaches see game reps to be had if he takes the backup job from Moore. Check back with me at the end of August. We're married to Tanner at OG and only a position shift from Snow/Hall will supplant him. Ashcraft can shirt. So can Porter and Kelly.
C - Hall is slotted as the starter. I like David Snow and if he is strong enough at guard or center, he'll allow the coaches to threaten Huey and Tanner with Snow or a supplanted Chris Hall. In any event, Chris Hall really needs to work on his body. If he can match some physical re-hauling with his effort level, we're fine.
Tailback 31 Cody Johnson OR| 2 28 Vondrell McGee Fozzy Whittaker|OR 25 Jeremy Hills 23 Tre Newton
The message to all of our backs is crystal clear: if you want to play, learn to pass protect. And secondarily, show some hands out of the backfield. The guys who take that edict seriously will be our players. Not much more to it than that. Chris Whaley's arrival in the Summer offers what all Longhorn fans covet: a shiny new object to fixate on that won't address any fundamental problems. That written, Whaley does have fantastic hands so if he's a savant at pass protection, I'm sure there's an immediate role for him. At TE. I'm kidding. Just kidding. OR AM I?
I think our goal should be to have six backs rush for 225 yards each on the entire season. Keeps them fresh! Opponents off-balance! Never know what we're going to do!
I've already discussed our running game sufficiently and our talent here is fine to do what we need to do. If you're of the belief that you must have Eric Dickerson in your backfield and five NFL OL blocking to have a viable running game, or that the solution is that "we gotta get tougher!", then I'll leave off here to allow you to lick asbestos and gnaw more paint chips and commence to naming our defense.
Fullback 24 Antwann Cobb | 46 Aaron Smith | 41 Jamison Berryhill
Preparing for a downhill run
Fullback is crucial if we wish to establish a...Ha ha! Focus. Regain composure. Fullback, more than any other position is a necessity...Ha ha. Wait. Sorry. Regarding FB, many do not know that Jamison Berryhill, much like former walk-on Ahmard Hall, once...Ha ha.
I can't do this.
Quarterback 12 Colt McCoy | 17 Sherrod Harris
I predict Colt will win the starting job. I also predict the stock market to tank in 2008 and that Jerry Schmidt will make a lollygagging OU player eat a bowel movement. Not his own.
John Chiles is a WR now.
Funny, that. At this point I'm not sure what Chiles will contribute at WR. One can point to Kerry Meier or Steve Tanneyhill as productive QBs converted WR, but Chiles hasn't shown elusiveness since his senior year of high school (aside from juking a Pac-10 scrub for a TD in the Holiday Bowl last year). Do you redshirt him to let him find his way in a new role?
I think Sherrod Harris has a really interesting opportunity if he's up for it. Please indulge this fantasy scenario. The coaches are indicating by the Chiles move that Gilbert will not 'shirt.
Sherrod can throw a pipe wrench in that with his play this Spring. If the coaches can realistically envision him as a one year Tee Martin-type senior starter on a very good football team in 2010, they'll reassess. I don't know if Sherrod is aware of that, but now would be a good time for him to punch a teammate in the liver for disrespecting his place in the lunch line and generally start asserting himself.
The reality is that the coaches are trying to hand Garrett Gilbert an open depth chart. I'm not a big fan of coronations without competition, but so be it.
Here's what Mack Brown had to say about it all.
What you got?