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Notes from Monday's Press Conference: Longhorn Youth Movement

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In rewatching Saturday's game, freshmen were all over the field making huge plays when we needed them. From Shipley's circus catches in the 4th quarter and Malcolm Brown's game-clinching run to Quandre Diggs' forced fumble and INT, the young guns from the 2011 class showed up big on the stat sheet and Mack recognized them in Monday's press conference:

The Ball Hawk Awards. [CB] Quandre Diggs forced a fumble and had an interception. [CB] Adrian Phillips had one interception that led to points, and [LB] Steve Edmond on special teams with the kickoff coverage forced a fumble, as well. The Hard Hat Award on defense goes to Quandre Diggs for the hits he made throughout the game and the most valuable player on defense was [DT] Ashton Dorsey. He played really well up front. We're proud for him.

All true freshmen except for Dorsey, a redshirt freshman. We had to see it to believe it, but for the first time in more than a decade, it's not coachspeak when Diaz and Harson say the best players will see the field regardless of classification or experience. Mack is finally delegating to his coordinators, and so far that trust has been rewarded with exceptional playcalling and surprisingly crisp execution from the young studs on this team. The future is now, imo.

Jaxon Shipley - Already our best offensive weapon along with fellow true freshman Malcolm Brown. The one area what Jaxon is ahead of Jordan at the same stage is that he uses his 6'1 190 lb frame to makes plays in traffic and pull down jump balls in the red zone like a seasoned veteran. And he's pretty damn smoove doing it. Same flypaper hands, quick feet, and supreme understanding of finding soft spots in coverage. Mack doesn't usually make freshmen available at press conferences this early in the season, but Jaxon had plenty to say yesterday. On roommate and future Best Man, Case Mccoy:

On QB Case McCoy: Extremely excited because he finally got his opportunity. Nobody knows really what the situation is going to be like next week with the quarterbacks, and we're just going to leave that up to the coaches. But as for Case this last week when he was [put] in the game, I think he did a great job of executing what he was supposed to do. Case came in with a lot of confidence and with a lot of energy, and he was motivating us as soon as he got in the huddle, telling us that he's going to lead us down the field and that we're going to score and we're going to win this game. And that's exactly what happened. We did win that game.

Mack on the QB depth chart:

I don't know because we're two halves into playing two quarterbacks. I want to see us again Saturday and see, and if what we've done with Malcolm Brown, for instance, he's had the hot hand, so we've left him in. I remember one year at North Carolina when we had Jason Stanicek and Mike Thomas, the one that we started stunk, and the one that came in at the end of the first quarter won just about every game. So it was amazing. They laughed. They said, "I don't want to start. I don't want to be the guy that comes in [first] because that starting role is a tough spot." But all we're trying to do is figure out combinations right now to win.

The thing that we feel is we have to have a depth chart for you guys on Monday, but it'll really be fluid, and whoever practices the best this week will start. We felt like Case and David are listed eitheror on the depth chart, or that's the way it should be. I haven't seen it. And it would also depend, if those two practice well, which one goes in the game based on the play that Bryan would start the game with because they have packages for each other. But we thought Case did a good job on the final drive for sure to lead to points. We thought David still brings that different dimension. I thought Garrett did a great job, and what Garrett will do is compete again like he has throughout this competition to go back and try to get his job back. And while he's doing that, I'm sure he'll be pulling for the other guys. That's the type of young man he is.

This isn't just lip service from Mack. Just like that the Garrett Gilbert is over. His comments also dovetail with the 12 changes we saw on the new depth chart for the UCLA game as well as the Big Cigar's take posted earlier today:

As for the coaches, they’re standing by their promise to play the best players regardless of seniority or status. You’ll see that in the depth chart at a number of positions. Some kids really seized their opportunity on Saturday and they’ll be rewarded.

Are we still inside the 40 acres? Not.familiar.territory. Brave new world, imo. Expediting radical changes on the depth chart now rather than waiting until after an OU loss to start Cedric Benson Jamaal Charles Malcolm Brown and kickstart the youth movement on offense and defense will pay big dividends come October. At the very list it gives us a puncher's chance against OU and Okie State rather than conceding a loss by repeatedly slamming the Gilbert-led offense into a brick wall.

Desmond Jackson logged a lot of snaps and along with Dorsey and Greg Daniels caused some problems for BYU in the second half. He plays with such a low base that it's hard for guards to keep their leverage under #99. It's a matter of time before offensive coordinators have to choose between doubling Randall or D-Jax. They call him Big Nasty for a reason and it hasn't taken him long to adjust to the college game. Our biggest question on defense heading into the season was the lack of a proven second tackle and the quick emergence of Dorsey and Jackson has to have Kheeston Randall and Manny Diaz smiling.

Kheeston Randall on #85:

On DT Ashton Dorsey: He's a guy that I've always known would be a good Dlineman, a good interior player for us. He works hard in practice. He's a big guy and is a guy that can make plays in a game when you need him. He had a big sack Saturday and he's a guy that I think he had the most points on defense, which gave him the most valuable player on defense. He was the best player that night on the team, and I feel like he's a guy that we're going to need him to play that way for the next 10, 11 games or so in order for us to have a chance to win. He's a guy that I'm glad he's playing the way he is because when Dlinemen do their job, it makes it easier for the linebackers and the DBs to do their job.

And your job as well, Kheeston.

Diaz on Dorsey:

Yeah, he did. He did well on the sack and helped us on some other plays inside. You know, now the next step will be can he handle the success because we all still have a lot of room to grow. But he changed us in there a little bit to be sure. Ashton has great quickness, and that's a great skill, especially for what we want to do defensively because we do move a lot. We do some stunting and things like that. He's got good pad leverage. He plays low to the ground, and he can make a play. He's a guy that can get back there and make a play in the backfield. I think [defensive line] Coach [Bo] Davis has done a really good job of working on him, on his technique, and continued to stay after him. He's a guy that we feel like can be a really good player for us.

The biggest surprise so far in this young season on defense has easily been fast acclimation to the speed and physicality of the college game by Byndom, Diggs, and Philips. We knew what we had in both Vacarro and Gideon, and Diaz has successfully schemed around the weaknesses in coverage and run support that Blake brings to the table. Kenny holds it all together. But the surprisingly physical play of Byndom, who added ten pounds of much needed bulk in the offseason from a diet of Jamaican jerk chicken, Goats blood, and Maca Root, has been a nice suprise. Diggs had the easy pick when he ran the WR's route for him, Nathan Vasher style, but his most telling play of the game was on the forced fumble, where he immediately walked to the sideline to celebrate instead of recovering the ball. That won't go over well in the film room but he has been flawless otherwise. Let's wait to anoint these two until we see how they fare against Ryan Broyles and Justin Blackmon in a few weeks, but it has been a promising start.

Meanwhile, sophomore Adrian Phillips is showing up everywhere on film from his nickel spot as well as on special teams. He plays with a huge amount of confidence, has great hands for a DB, and if you're looking for a highly optimistic hybridy projection, he'll end up as a mix between Aaron Williams in terms of build and coverage ability, and Earl Thomas with his desire to hit you in da mouf and force gamechanging plays in the secondary. Next stop, Canton, enshrined between Deion Sanders and Darrell Green.

The lone concerns on defense so far have been the lack of a pass rush and the occasional loss of containment in run support from Okafor and Jeffcoat. This was a presumed strength heading into the season but most of the pressure and pursuit thus far has come from the interior, late in the game when the opposing OL is worn down. UCLA's QB play has been shaky at best to start the season and I suspect Okafor and Jeffcoat step up with a few TFLs in the running game and a sack/forced fumble shot on Prince or Brehaut, who both go 6'2, 225. Maybe one of them will leave the ball conveniently on the ground to scoop up like Kyle Orton did for Lamarr Houston last night, but you can't gameplan for those things. Or can you, Manny? I'd put nothing past this guy. I'd still like to see Reggie Wilson get more snaps off the edge in passing situations. He came in raw and remains so, but I'm not sure we have a better pure pass rusher on the team. The Brian Orakpo succession plan has been slightly delayed and while I'm still optimistic the light will violently come on one day, Reggie has nobody but himself to blame: His favorite musical artist is Celine Dion. Orakpo's is Lil Wayne. But like every other player on the team, their favorite actress is Halle Berry. So there's hope yet.

A quick look ahead to UCLA

Scipio will have his preview up later in the week and you will all nod your heads in approval while forwarding to your co-workers but UCLA comes into the Texas game sputtering after a loss to Houston on the road 38-34 in week 1 where they spotted the Cougars a 17 point half time deficit despite racking up 550 yards of offense in the game. Last weekend in Westwood the Bruins squeaked by a terrible San Jose State team, 27-17, and looked completely disinterested in even playing the game. The lackluster play prompted an outburst from Skippy, who asked if his guys if they even cared anymore!? Two weeks into the season. Not good. Of course UCLA looked like dogshit most of last year and we know the result in Austin.

The lone standout for the Bruins against SJSU was RB Derrick Coleman, who rushed for 135 yards on 14 carries (all in the second half) to pull away late after being tied at 17-17 in the 3rd quarter. The two teams actually split time of possession, and through two games the Bruins D has only logged two TFLs. Eric Kendricks seems to be the their only defender with a pulse. And without bleached tips. UCLA's strength remains it's running game and Diaz will be keying on Coleman and young stud Johnathan Franklin in film study this week. I'm hoping we make quicker adjustments in the first half to take away the run early and force UCLA to throw the ball to anyone other than 6'8 freak tight end Joseph Fauria or WR Nelson Rosario, a 6'5, 220 Lb senior. Those should pose a nice test for our 5'10 DBs.

A few comments from Diaz on stopping the Bruins' running game:

This game it starts up front again.The different challenge that UCLA provides is that they will have the speed to be explosive. One of the reasons why we're off to a good start defensively is that we have not given up the big play, and that's a big part of our philosophy. But UCLA will be the sternest challenge in that they have backs that can go the distance. They have wide outs that can go the distance, and they have tight ends that can stretch the field and make big plays down the field. This by far will be the most explosive unit that we have gone against. I guess a mistake this week could be really more crucial than perhaps it's been in the last two ...We're getting there. You know, I talked last week about the need to go, and it went a little better I thought in the front seven. I thought we obviously attacked the line of scrimmage better. We attacked better versus the run game, which of course has been a big point of emphasis. There's still an entire 'nother level. There's another gear that this deal can go in, and that's what we're working on this week.

On his first trip to the Rose Bowl:

I have not been in the Rose Bowl stadium. I mean, the Rose Bowl is one of the great venues in all of sports. I mean, back to when the NFL played there, you just think of all the NFL Films when the Super Bowl was always played at the twilight hour. If an artist could draw a place to have a football team, you would think that's where it would be with the mountains in the background. Super Bowls would always start in the daylight and the game would end at night. There's a lot of history there. We'll be taking a lot of players to that stadium that aren't aware of all that history. We'll be taking a lot of players who haven't been on an airplane before. They'll be wondering what the "fasten seatbelt" light means more so than who scored a touchdown at which end of the Rose Bowl. But it's a great place to play. It's why you come to Texas, to play in games like this.

Buckle up, Malcolm. These kids can't wait to get back on the field.

Early prediction: Texas 27 UCLA 23

To the victors go the spoils...

Then it's bye week in the bat cave for Harsin to prime the McAshmobile for conference play.