December 2, 2007

Inside the Locker Room

Q: (MCB0703■) -- First, the rumor of possible contacts between Mack Brown and Guz Malzahn seems to be gaining momentum. Have you heard anything more definitive or do you believe there's any truth to this rumor? If there is something more to this, would you think this is a good fit for the current young talent and the incoming recruits or would UT begin recruiting different types of players to match his offensive play calling? Is the Malzahn offense more similar to Univ. of Florida spread offense or is this more of a Univ. of Hawaii offense?

Second, I believe Ed Orgeron is going to be a hot commodity, especially with recruiting, and will not be out of a job very long. Do you believe Mack will make a run after Orgeron or have you heard anything to indicate this possibility?

Third, there have been numerous postings about Mack's retirement and how much longer he wants to remain at UT. With the current talent on campus that are either freshman or sophomores, the incoming recruits and the possible strong class for 2009, it appears Mack is trying to leave the program with strong talent for the next head coach & coaching staff. If Mack were to leave in the next 3 years, I believe Todd Dodge, Butch Davis, & Tim Brewster would be a few candidates, but who would you believe the administration would turn to? Do you know of a specific candidate that Mack would recommend? Any candidates that may be a surprise to fans?

A: Lots of questions, so let's just start with the first one and work our way down. I think the buzz you're hearing in regards to the Longhorns and Malzahn is very similar to what we heard back in 2004 about Chris Peterson. Everything that I've heard thus far indicates without a shadow of a doubt that Brown will not make any personnel moves until after the bowl game and it's very unlikely that he would be making contact with coaches in the capacity that some are suggesting. From talking to staff members this week, the Longhorns spent all of last week focused on recruiting, specifically the Class of 2008. Look for them to turn their attention to some kids in the Class if 2009 in the next week. I don't think there's any question that Malzahn is going to be a hot commodity over the next couple of months, but a change to that style of football would seem to go away from everything that Brown holds dear to his heart regarding offensive philosophy. Contrary to what Brown ever says, he cares about being able to run the football and he prefers to have a physical attack if possible.

Second, there have been rumors circulating about Oregon possible coming to the Longhorns, but he doesn't seem to fit the mold of Brown's hires over the last decade. Frankly, Oregon has a reputation for being a bit of a wild man and while the program could use his recruiting skills and his energy, it would seem to be a major "outside the box" hire for Brown, whose recent hires have been of the conservative/comfortable variety.

Finally, I'm not really sure that a natural slip-in candidate exists at Texas right now. Of the names you mentioned, I think Davis might get a call, but he might need a turnaround at North Carolina because the Longhorns will likely locate some very high-profile coaches. Don't be surprised if they called a few coaches like Mark Richt at Georgia or even an Urban Meyer at Florida, if for no other reason than to find out if they would have any interest at all. This job is as coveted as any in college football and coordinators and head coaches without major resumes shouldn't apply.

Q: (Cgarcia89) - Several rumors swirling around about coaches who are looking to leave and or will be/should be let go for other jobs at other schools or due to horrible performance on the field. I have heard the following:

Duane Akina - Reassigned back to DB coach or just flat out let go
Greg Davis - Retiring or leaving now that he is finally ready to be a head coach again
Larry MacDuff - Gone back to NFL
Mac McWhorter - Retiring or leaving
Mike Tolleson - Retiring or leaving

For the sake of argument, let's say all are true, who do you think will be promoted or hired to fill these spots? Now back to reality, what do you see really happening?

A: I think it's simply way too early to know which direction that Mack Brown is going to go in after the bowl game, but the events of the next month will probably go a long way in determining whether Brown is ready to make some very tough decisions. Oh, he's mad right now and he's made that clear to everyone, but will he willing to pull the string on major staff changes?

If I was a betting man, I would wager that MacDuff leaves and Brown hires a new co-defensive coordinator/linebacker's coach who will take over the play-calling duties. In the process, Akina will remain a co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach, but he will not call plays. Any other changes that take place will be made voluntarily, but I could see a few of those taking place. If you're wondering whether or not I think Brown will seriously consider replacing Davis, the answer is no. If he didn't replace him after the 2003 season and the debacle against Washington State, I don't think he ever will.

Q: (Eddie Mayo) - What do you think will happen in offering the QBs for the Class of 2009? Do you think they will offer 3 of the top ones such as Russell Shepard, Garrett Gilbert, Casey Pachall or Tyrik Rollison and take the first two that commit.

A: I would be shocked if both Shepard and Gilbert aren't among the first players offered in early February. Look for both to get offers and both will likely have as much time as they want to make the decision, although they will both understand that the staff will probably start looking elsewhere later in the spring if they don't have a commitment. I could also see the staff making a play at Pachall in February, but look for the two obvious guys to get the first offers.

Q: (Rocky Dennis) - For the first time in what seems like several years, we're going to have several uncommitted players here on December 7th for their official visits. What are your projections for that weekend?

A: With Austin LBJ's loss this weekend in the playoffs, we now know that three uncommitted prospects thus far will be making the trip to Austin this weekend. Of the trio that includes Austin LBJ athlete Derrick Grant, Denton Ryan defensive end Josh Williams and Denver (Co.) Mullen offensive lineman Bryce Givens, I think Williams and Grant are the best bets to end up committing to the Longhorns. Williams has been shaky Husker commitment for a couple of months and the Longhorns have been making up ground in recent weeks. As for Grant, if things go well this weekend, there's a very good shot that he could be the first LBJ Jaguar to sign with the Longhorns since Shon Mitchell.

Q: (ElPasoMD■) - What is Greg Davis going to do with Chris Hall next season and is he talented enough to be a three-year starter for us? If he's at guard, does that mean that Michael Huey will have to beat out a senior in Cedric Dockery to get on the field? What does your starting offensive line look like heading into next fall?

A: In a perfect world, Hall will stay at guard next year and third-year sophomore Buck Burnette will emerge as a high-end player at the center position. Although he had some rough moments in limited action, the coaches are very encouraged with Burnette's progress and they believe the only thing he's missing right now is more reps. If he can hold down the center position, I think it will be very difficult for anyone to push Hall out of the line-up at guard. In all seriousness, I think he'll be named team MVP (along with probably three others) on Friday night at the team banquet.

If you pencil him into one spot with a permanent marker, then that will likely leave Dockery and Huey to battle it our for the other starting job. Considering that Dockery will be a third-year starting senior, I have a hard time thinking that he'll be anything less than a co-starter with Huey.

My best guess on a starting line-up will depend on who emerges at tackle between Tray Allen and Kyle Hix. If Allen wins, he'll play left tackle, and if Hix emerges as the second-best tackle on the roster, look for the Longhorns to possible swing Adam Ulatoski from the right side to the left side. My gut feeling right now is that Ulatoski, Hall, Burnette, Dockery and Hix will be your line.

Q: (BrewsterBaker) - What is going on with our wide receivers? I was stunned to see a stat over the weekend that the Longhorns haven't had a wide receiver contribute from any of their recruiting classes since 2005. Bobby Kennedy had a great reputation as a guy that did a very good job of developing big receivers. Well, am I crazy or is all of this on his watch?

A: Are you a glass is half-full or half-empty kind of guy? When looking at Kennedy's ability to develop players, you have to give him a ton of credit for the developments of Limas Sweed, Quan Cosby, Nate Jones, Billy Pittman and Jordan Shipley. All of those guys arrived at Texas and were pups when Kennedy took over and he's helped turn them all into quality college players, with Sweed, Cosby and Jones all performing at very high levels over the last two seasons. Still, it is a concern that none of the younger receivers, especially Montre Webber and Phillip Payne, have emerged in recent years because the Longhorns need some younger players to emerge, but none will have a proven track record as a college performer heading into next season. Assuming that Kennedy is around next season, I think we'll know a lot more about his ability as a developer of talent because some young players are going to need to grow up fast.

Q: (RR Doughnuts) - Are there any juniors that I need to worry about with regards to the NFL Draft?

A: I know what Jamaal Charles and Quan Cosby have both said to the media, but I'm still not convinced that one or both won't go pro. In particular, a buzz continues to grow that Charles is going to seriously consider his options after the bowl game. That situation is going to warrant serious attention. Outside of those two, I'm not sure that there are any juniors in a position to make that kind of move.

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