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Rick Barnes answers...

Texas Football:

Since I didn't have anything on Monday I'm back today with thoughts on some of the individual guys in the current class of 13. I don't have much to say on the OL as I generally agree with the Roll On You Bears take that projecting the potential of 300 pound bullies dominating 200 pound lineman in highlight tapes is about has roughly the same predictive value as a Paul Krugman column.

I did watch some Taylor Doyle and noticed that he uses his hands well, moves laterally well and he drove a defensive end several yards with little apparent effort. He did get double team help on a particular play to keep the end from making a move back inside but it looked unwarranted.

Teams always look for the wide base, long arms and great athleticism from their Left Tackles but I think the most important value is having the intelligence and drive to anticipate and thwart the moves by rushers. All of the physical attributes make that easier when the ball is snapped, but if the pre-snap focus and preparation isn't there it's all useless. Anyways, I can't really make that out from highlight tape.

Desmond Jackson: Muschamp actually seems to put the highest premium on these tackles who can get off blocks quickly, fight double teams and provide interior pass-rush more than trying to find a 3-tech out of high school. I think Muschamp would rather see ends grow into 5-tech ends/3-tech tackles and focus on loading up on players like Dorsey or Jackson who will allow Muschamp to play his odd fronts (3-4) and have reliable play from the anchor. For Cowboys fans out there we are stocking up on Jay Ratliffs.

It's also possible that any high school who has an explosive big tackle will play him as the nose-guard more often than not and some of these guys will be 3-techs in college where they can't fight double teams from college-level OL. At any rate Jackson is another great take at tackle.

Chet Moss: I decided to take off my green and black tinted sunglasses and try to see what value the fellow Timberwolf might have. First thing of note, since the last time I attended a Cedar Park game they have switched to the 3-4 and that was probably the most valuable thing I was able to glean from that worthless tape that basically charted a few successful drives against Cedar Park where Chet was successfully avoided. From what I've seen he looks like another Earnest who can have some value as a Mike but will probably never top the 2-deep if Tevin Jackson and Tariq Allen pan out. His lateral speed looks solid and he takes on blocks well fairly well. His fellow inside-backer was blowing up guards but was pretty slow getting sideline to sideline.

Sheroid Evans: There isn't much that needs to be said about this selection. Sheroid Evans is a surefire prospect. He's miles faster than anyone else on the field at his current level, he hits like a .50 caliber to the chest and he mixes it up in the running game without fear. On one play he was fooled by a lateral to the WR who threw it deep. He recovered 10 yards in about a second and immediately stripped the ball out of the hapless victim's hands. I'm curious as to whether he can run a 4.3 at 215 pounds given his height and frame. At 200+ and that speed he'll be one of the most physically talented safety prospects Mack has had.

Again, this kid is fast. He looked twice as fast as most of his competition, and I mean literally that he looks fast enough to run 40 yards faster than those guys running 20.

A lot of the tapes at this point are built around 1 or 2 drives and many of the prospects don't have much film put together yet but those are my thoughts on these 3 defensemen (as DKR would say).

Horninexile had an excellent and thorough piece on possible conference realignments for Texas here that will probably clue most of us in on the several complex factors involved better than anything we're hearing anywhere else.

The Rivals:

Aggy has finished up their staff with Dat Nguyen and Steve Kragthorpe the most noteworthy additions besides new defensive coordinator DeyRuter whom they locked up earlier this offseason. Kragthorpe will be coaching wide receivers but you can't help but think he'll be a valuable addition to the overall offensive brain trust in college station since he had such success leading Tulsa earlier this decade.

It's on defense that Sherman is really focusing here with a big emphasis on returning to the "wrecking crew" days with a 3-4 coach in DeyRuter and new linebackers coach Dat Nguyen who was apparently involved in some form with those earlier days. How this translates to the field in the next few years will determine Shermy's job as it seems to say that they have started to figure out offense pretty well over there.

DeyRuter seems like more of an attacker than, say Darnell who mastered the "drop the linebackers deep/jump the routes and watch Texas fall over themselves instead of running the ball" approach on defense before Muffin McNeil really popularized it in that one game. I'm not thrilled about Aggy becoming more schematically sophisticated on defense with a driven young coach but their talent levels on defense don't warrant much concern just yet.

Over at Boomer and Sooner NateHeupel has their spring depth chart up with a few comments. I gleaned a few bits of useful information here such as the fact that Keenan Clayton has mercifully moved on. Replacement Ronnell Lewis is getting a lot of hype but I'm pretty unconcerned with an OU defense featuring 2 inside linebackers on the field paired with Travis Lewis. Given that, the departure of Jackson and Franks (2 high quality corners) and the less-than stunning play of Proctor and Carter at safety I'm feeling very confident that OU will struggle defending the forward pass this season.

Baylor somehow landed Brandon Williams recently. That still leaves Malcolm Brown and several other great prospects and may be a promising sign regarding Texas landing Brown or a negative sign about Williams' approach to recruiting (Ahmad Dixon?). Mostly importantly, I think it's easy to forget that This Guy is still at Baylor and pairing him with Brandon Williams can only mean terrible, unspeakable evil for the rest of the conference. Honestly, I don't even want to deal with that possibility. It's not a world I want to raise children in.


Chip Brown has an awesome, free, article up on Rick Barnes where the coach acknowledges everything we've talked about as fans. It's an absolute must-read. An excerpt:

"I don't care what anyone says, about John Wall (of Kentucky) or anybody. Avery Bradley, Damion James, Dexter Pittman have been playing three against five. That goes back to what we're trying to build to. If we would have put those guys out there too early, we would have lost everybody. And we couldn't do that."

Rick Barnes said that, the one that coaches Texas basketball. He explains the process of coaching Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown and basically being willing to take several frustrating losses rather than allowing them to build bad habits or play the game in an unacceptable manner. You'll respect Barnes more when you read it, even if you still think the team would have been better off allowing Hamilton and Brown to try and learn on the go. I think he's building this team in the way that he knows how and that his priority is performance in March over a regular season title.

As far as the regular season goes, Awiggo at BON has some projections on the rest of the season that put Texas 6th in the conference. If that's followed by Texas winning the tournament for the first time I'm not sure if I care. Honestly though, I don't think Texas will drop the Missouri game and could potentially win at Baylor as well. Missouri is a fast-paced team that will be playing right into Texas' hands.

I know Missouri is built around the Full-court press and up-tempo offense but I also know Texas has defenders and open court players that are skilled beyond anyone enrolled at Missouri and have been most comfortable this season in that kind of game. Dogus Balbay in particular is able to shine in that setting while Bradley and James are notorious thieves at mid-court.

Texas plays @Missouri, @Tech, OSU at home, @Aggy, home for OU, and @Baylor to finish out the season. These are some of the stiffest road challenges yet but I say bring it on. Texas has the potential to win all of these games save perhaps for the one in College Station which has become seemingly impossible for Barnes to overcome.

On a final note, I keep seeing Ndamukong Suh being listed as only "marginally better" than other defensive tackle options in the class and thus not worth the risk for the Rams. Not just marginally better than McCoy, marginally better than several tackles. Ndamukong Suh is miles better than he is receiving credit for. Am I the only one that sees this? I feel like I'm taking Crazy Pills!