Last week we brought in Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman. This week, we turn to what I consistently argue is America's best sports page: The Dallas Morning News, and Chip Brown, who writes the best Lonhorn football beat around.
For local Austin readers, Chip Brown can also be heard every morning on The Big 1530 ESPN Radio from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. As you can see from the answers below, Chip knows his Longhorn football - there's no better way to get your daily fix than his radio show. Other than this blog, of course.
Burnt Orange Nation:The proposition that's bugging us most at Burnt Orange Nation is the possibility that Mack Brown will shuttle Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead out there interchangeably. We're skeptical of the two-quarterback system and would prefer Mack pick a guy and stick with him until we lose. After that, he can tinker all he wants. Do you think Mack truly intends to go with both guys, or is this just necessary posturing while the two battle it out?
Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News: Mack wants one quarterback. He'll play both until he can figure out which one is going to lead the team. And I guess we shouldn't forget Sherrod Harris. Even though he's way behind, he's a smart kid and may be able to catch up. Time will tell. Whether it's three QBs or two QBs playing in the North Texas game, the bottom line is that you don't want to be juggling QBs against Ohio State, but Texas may have no choice. Mack won't know how his young QBs face adversity until the Ohio State game is under way. Expect the coaching staff to have the QB down to one by the time OU rolls around. That being said, Mack and Greg Davis will still probably play two QBs to some degree all season, so that two have experience in case one goes down. It will be tricky. People will want to make comparisons to Major Applewhite and Chris Simms. It's not similar because Major had played well before getting stuffed for Simms. None of the QBs this season has played. Mack Brown was sort of forced to play Simms because he was such a high-profile recruit whom he honestly believed had a bigger upside than Applewhite. Brown doesn't have a vested interest in one of these QBs winning the job this season. He wants the best game manager and leader. It may result in one of these QBs transferring after this season, if it becomes clear the job belongs to one guy. That's why Brown went out and got two solid QB recruits in the freshman class of 2007 (John Brantley and John Chiles). My best guess as to what happens this season: Colt McCoy starts the season and Jevan Snead finishes it with Harris redshirting.
BON: Is the 2006 football season essentially a two-game season (Ohio State and Oklahoma)? How much of a challenge will road games at Texas Tech and Nebraska really be?
Chip Brown: We have no idea if it's a two-game schedule because of the uncertainty at quarterback. Assuming McCoy, Snead and Harris are up to the occasion and Jamaal Charles stays healthy, the offense should be fine and could beat Ohio State and Oklahoma. But going out to Lubbock can be the Bermuda Triangle for the best of teams, and Nebraska should be better this season. Even with what should be an outstanding defense, I don't think anyone realizes how much this team will miss the leadership and swagger of Vince Young, so I'm seeing one or two losses this season. I'll say Ohio State (freshman QB jitters and juggling) and the BCS game. (Yes, Mack Brown wins his second Big 12 title.)
BON: With an unproven quarterback situation, a tremendous offensive line, and a wealth of talent at tailback, Texas figures to run the ball like never before. Just how good can the Texas ground attack be, and is there a chance that Jamaal Charles puts up a Heisman-worthy season?
Chip Brown: I can't wait to see how effective the Gun-N-Run, shotgun option attack is without Young. He simply paralyzed defenses. Charles is amazing. I think he's very capable of a Heisman caliber year, if he can stay healthy. Selvin Young and Henry Melton are great complements. Ramonce Taylor has played his last game of football at Texas, even if he's cleared of the drug charges he's facing. Based purely on the spring game (because that's all we got to see this spring), Snead appears to be the stronger runner (who also happens to have the bigger arm). Jevan and Jamaal should be a devastating tandem for the next three years. I've had NFL scouts compare Jamaal to Mike Rozier because of the way both could cut in traffic. Rozier won the Heisman. I think Jamaal is really special.
BON: You are in a terrific position to gather insights about the team that most of us aren't privy to. Tell us two players (one on each side of the ball) that are going to surprise Longhorn fans this year.
Chip Brown: On defense, a lot of players are going to surprise fans this year, including linebackers Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckleroy. The player who is going to have the biggest impact, however, is defensive tackle Roy Miller. This guy is so hard to block. He's so low to the ground and gets good penetration. He and Derek Lokey will be better for Frank Okam than Rod Wright because they get more penetration than Wright did the last couple seasons. Their fire will help ignite Okam, who should be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft by the time he's done. (He should have a tough decision to make after this season about whether to leave early. He's got that much potential.) Okam is also moving from the nose to the 3-technique (lined up on the outside shoulder of the guard, where it will be harder to double team him.) On offense, tight end Jermichael Finley will surprise. He's got great hands. His quarterbacks already look for him in key situations.
BON: The entire medium of sports journalism seems to be changing, with the boom of the internet and electronic information distribution. Some people say that the newspaper is a dying medium. What is the Dallas Morning News doing to thrive in this new environment?
Chip Brown: We're jumping into the Internet age full force. We're doing on-line newsletters, blogs and breaking news on-line as much as possible.
BON: Many "mainstream" journalists have expressed a certain amount of fear and loathing toward blogs and the explosion of the "blogosphere." How do you think they fit into this new media landscape? What role can they play? Should they play? Do you read any blogs? (Perhaps Mark Cuban's?)
Chip Brown: Blogs are the future. Anyone who sees them as a passing fad or a waste of time is disconnected from reality. I personally read Cuban's blog as well as several blogs on sports web sites.
BON: Thanks for taking the time to give us these terrific answers, Chip. And it's always good to see someone with as big a crush on Jamaal Charles as we have.