Strong Rivals Write-up: Texas Notes (Part 2)

Image from TexasSports.com

Earlier in the week I posted the first part of this Texas write-up. If you missed it you can see it here: Texas Notes (Part 1)

Practice Notes

I don’t have anything incredibly detailed, but I did get some notes from a friend who attended a few Texas practices. Since they’re our rivals, and with the new coaching staff, I’ve been really curious to find out as much as I can about them. I want to get a sense of what we might expect this year.

– Firstly, I was told that the first practice my friend attended was somewhat disorganized and lacked intensity. That might have just been part of the new staff and the process of implementing their practice style, because I was told the other practices were much better.

– We were told that Tyrone Swoopes was playing 2nd team QB behind David Ash. Since OU also recruited Swoopes, I’m always curious about his progression. Sounds like he actually looked pretty decent. Was told he looks great running the ball, which makes sense and comes as no surprise. But I was also told he did a nice job reading coverage and had a few nice completions, including a deep ball. I was also told that he’s still struggling with accuracy. I asked my friend if Swoopes looks like he could take Ash’s spot any time soon, and he said he didn’t feel like he could because of the accuracy issues.

– Was told the DLine dominated the Texas OLine. Obviously not sure if that says the DLine is nice or the OLine is soft, but my guess is the former will be improved for Texas this year. Guys like Malcom Brown (the DT, not the RB) have a ton potential and if the DLine coach can get the most out of them the way Montgomery did for OU, then they’ll take a step forward.

– Also told that of all the coaches, the DLine and the RB coaches are the most intense and animated. In general, I was given the impression the coaching staff isn’t as intense as one might have expected.

– Sounds like the first string CBs — Quandre Diggs & Duke Thomas — are looking pretty good. Though I was told the coverage they were running was almost exclusively zone, which actually makes sense based on some of their DB recruiting practices, which I’ll mention below. I really haven’t watched enough of Louisville to know what kind of defense Strong ran at Louisville. But if he plans on being a primarily zone team, then I suspect he’s going to find out pretty quickly that if you don’t play man or match-man in the Big 12, you’re going to get the ball thrown all over you.

It’s normal for a defensive coach to struggle with Big 12 offenses initially. We all know some of the mishaps Coach Mike had in his first year back at OU. He, of course, was running primarily man coverage so the failures were for a different reason, but the root cause is the same. Trying to find the right balance and scheme to combat the run/pass conflicts Big 12 offenses present.

– While it may sound like the defense is further along than the offense (at least it did to me when I initially spoke to my friend), my buddy said he felt the offense was more stable and consistent. Again, not sure if that means the defense is bad or if the offense is taking steps forward, but my friend said the WRs and the RBs generally looked good.

– Again, nothing earth shattering here but to me that was the story of the practice report – nothing earth shattering. I imagined hearing about this incredibly intense practice with guys puking all over the field. And that’s probably because I remember when Nick Saban came into Alabama and how intense it was early on for the players to transition from the old staff to Saban’s way of doing things. The impression I get is that while Strong is tough, he’s also patiently bringing guys along and teaching since I’m sure there is a lot to learn this spring in terms of scheme, terminology, etc.

Random Recruiting Thoughts

I’ll admit I haven’t been following Texas’ recruiting too much, and the little bit I have paid attention to has been mostly on the defense side of the ball. Mainly because that’s the side I’m most comfortable with. But I’ve talked to Texas people, and they’re all a little confused by the recruiting strategy in general right now.

– Two of the big corners that Oklahoma has offered, Jaylon Lane and PJ Mbanasor, have been offered by just about every school in the region, but still don’t have Texas offers. Meanwhile, you look at a kid like U of H commit Jordan Tolbert, and he received an offer at a Texas jr. day over a month ago. At first it kind of confused me, but in hearing that the coverages in practice were primarily zone and that Coach Bedford said they want their DBs to hit like LBs then I started to think. They’re looking for their corners to really get involved in run support.

Coach Mike’s philosophy is to let the heart of the defense play the run, and let the corners cover. But it may be that Strong is more of a “all eyes on the ball” kind of guy – at least that seems to be the initial direction. In which case, when you look at guys like Tolbert or Kris Boyd, who also has a Texas offer, the offers make sense because those two guys are the kind of corners who will come up and hit you. That isn’t to say that someone like PJ won’t, but it’s just not a central part of his film so they probably want to see more. In fact, I was told they plan on going out to evaluate PJ in the spring.

– Texas has also offered 2015 safety, Keivon Ramsey. Again, in Ramsey, you’ve got an old-school hard hitting safety.

– One of Texas’ recent commits, DE Charles Omenihu, was offered at a jr. day, and I believe committed shortly after. This was interesting to me, because I feel quite certain that Mack Brown would have never made that offer. Coach Brown always seemed to go after the “big” recruits, five-star type kids all the recruiting services were hyping up. Omenihu’s offer list prior to Texas wasn’t particularly impressive. I think Omenihu can play mind you, but he probably wouldn’t have been a kid I’d go after that early.

There are certainly things I like about him, but there are kids, like Brandon Wilson out of Florida, who don’t have huge offer lists but are fantastic players. Wilson probably has a better get off than Omenihu, and he’s also a much more muscular and physical kid. I would have offered someone like Jake Pickard before Omenihu as well. Pickard runs 6’6″ 220 lbs, but, again, has a better get off. Omenihu turns the corner pretty well, but when you’re putting out offers this early — especially to kids that you expect a commitment from — you want a kid who pretty much has it all right there on tape already.

Having said that, I think the more interesting story is that Coach Strong and his staff are clearly evaluating players. He and I may disagree on whether Omenihu is or isn’t an early offer, but the fact he offered is something I respect because it says this Texas staff isn’t just going after names and stars. Like some might say their predecessors developed a bad habit of doing. Instead, they’re going after players they thoroughly evaluate and like regardless of their star ranking.

I think you see a similar thing with the offer to Jordan Tolbert before guys like Lane and Mbanasor receive offers. Again, they’re going after players they like…not players I or anyone else likes. Like I said, I respect that. I respect guys who trust their eyes.

Question:

As we all try to guess what the future holds for our biggest rival, I’m curious to know from y’all…what kind of record do you think Texas posts this year?


  • SoonerfanTU

    I expect UT to lose 4-5 games. I think a really good year for them would be 3 losses. Don’t see them being any better or worse than that.

    • Zack

      I would have to agree with you. I think they would have to be happy if their only losses are to Baylor, ou and kstate. Ucla and tech are the other 2 games that at this point are probably a push and I would go with texas losing because they suck

      • SoonerfanTU

        BYU and @osu might not be easy either. UT won’t lose all of those games, but I’d bet on them losing 3-5 of them.

        • Zack

          Yeah I think they’ll have a lot of close games but I think texas has enough guys with experience now to where they should win those games. Who knows I’ll be happy if they only lose one game to ou. And I’ll be just as happy if they go 0 for 9 in conference.

  • wolfbuilder

    I can see anywhere from 5 to 8 win team.

    Should win
    North Texas, BYU, Kansas, and WV

    LOSSES
    UCLA, OKLAHOMA, Baylor, @KSU, and ISU

    Toss up
    @OSU, @TT, And TCU

    • wolfbuilder

      I ment to put ISU on the Toss Up list, sorry

  • Perry Dickey

    If Strong’s way creates a winning beast of a team, good for us as a team. If it implodes, the fallout will be great entertainment for us as rival fans!

  • SoonerPhins

    Texas will post a 6-6 season. They will lose to BYU, UCLA, Baylor, OU, KSU, and OSU. If they have a worse record than that, then prepare the couches for burning.

    • oupunk

      Agreed

    • Shelby is a Patriot

      Didn’t that BYU QB rush for over 200 yards against Texas? It’ll be interesting to see how that game plays out this time in Austin.

    • pitbull17

      If they lose to Osu this year that’s bad. I think little brother is going to have a tough season this year.

      • Shelby is a Patriot

        I was thinking the same.

  • Ed Cotter

    8 wins

  • Shelby is a Patriot

    With all the question marks for Texas it makes their schedule look even harder.
    I’d say 5 to 7 wins seems likely, with 7 being a damn good season considering.

  • Roger Nixon

    ScipioTex over at Barking Carnival had this to say: “Pray that Wickline is a miracle worker because the OL is rough right now. Espinosa is a reliable starter at center, but Kent Perkins will be out for the rest of the Spring and the other projected starters are on the academic fault line, haven’t been developed at all, or are totally inexperienced.”
    I think that might answer your question of whether the DL is that good or the OL is soft. I would expect the OL will improve under Wickline.

  • EasTex

    I don’t really do predictions, but I will do preferences.
    I would prefer that the wHorns be undefeated when they get humiliated by the Sooners in the RRS and then lose out the rest of the season.

    One day in the pavilion at Karakorum he [Genghis Kahn] asked an officer
    of the Mongol guard what, in all the world, could bring the greatest
    happiness.

    “The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,”
    responded the officer after a little thought, “and a falcon on
    your wrist to start up hares.”

    “Nay,” responded the Kahn, “to crush your enemies,
    to see them fall at your feet — to take their horses and goods and
    hear the lamentation of their women. That is best.”

  • pitbull17

    “I asked my friend if Swoopes looks like he could take Ash’s spot any
    time soon, and he said he didn’t feel like he could because of the
    accuracy issues.”

    With Ash’s concussion issues I don’t think this bodes well for the whorns. I think they’ll be improved under Strong but they’re still going to struggle a lot this season with all the new schemes and adjusting to a new style of coaching. It will be fun to see them try to run zone against OU this year. I could see texass losing 5 games this year.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDUvqXK4DEM DCinAZ

    The Whorns have a pretty tough schedule this year. I could see them dropping a game early against either BYU or UCLA, dropping another game between Baylor or OU, and dropping a third somewhere in the mix playing at OSU, at KSU, and at Texas Tech and that’s if they’re a solid team. They’ve got a great running game and a good defense that will keep them in most games but I’m not sold on Ash. I’m being conservative given their running game and defense and saying 9-3 AT BEST. They could easily go 7-5 or worse though because I think T-Tech and KSU will be stronger than people think, OSU will have gelled as a team by the time Texas comes to town late in the season, and WVU gives Texas problems no matter what.

  • Sonny Schovanec

    I know you all will hammer or disagree and that’s alright but coming from The Texas Coaches Clinic perspective the Horns will be better. And Wick can take average kids and make them good and good kids and make them great. See Wicks quote in the Showdown Thread above. This is Wick and Watson not Major Applewhite here. They can flat coach. Wick is one of the best in the biz. One thing Wick talked about was the previous Pre Practice ? Specials the Oline played grab a$$ during that period. That is an extra period to work with you Olineman, No wonder they haven’t had an Olineman drafted in forever.

  • blaster1371

    Teams with talent always seem to have a bump up in performance when new coaches arrive. OU experienced that with just a change in Texass d-coordinator. That team with a healthy Ash will not be a cake walk for anyone and if they get some confidence they could hit over achiever status.

    Strong seems to have taken a page out of OU’s older recruiting strategy: that is to evaluate a player regardless of rating and not offer too soon. I am a little concerned OU is traveling down a road of looking at guys on the national radar and offering way too soon. That was the hit Mack took for years especially when those players never panned out. I guess there has to be something to the rating systems in that if a player is getting offers from big name programs the trained eye must be seeing something that this mere mortal cannot.