Sadly, I didn't blink. Port Arthur hoops recruit J'Covan Brown will not be enrolling at Texas this fall due to undisclosed academic issues. The 6-2 shooting guard has been the source of several troubling reports since committing to Texas, most notably after getting kicked off his school team as a senior due to a conflict with the head coach. Both Brown and Texas head coach Rick Barnes issued statements yesterday expressing hope that he could/would right the ship and enroll at Texas in time for the spring semester.
I don't know what to make of this kid except to say that when this news broke, it didn't seem a shock. Given Rick Barnes' track record, I suspect this is mostly just a case of good old fashion immaturity. For Brown's sake, I hope he grows up, gets on track, and takes care of business. As for impact on this year's team, the guard depth takes a hit. What's new?
Related: I just noticed GhostofBigRoy has an excellent Fan Post on this.
Baptism by fire. From this Statesman notebook, we learn Texas has begun preparing earlier for opening week opponent Florida Atlantic than has been typical in the past. Said Mack Brown:
"We didn't realize how good their quarterback (Rusty Smith) was until we started watching film of him this spring," Texas coach Mack Brown said Wednesday. "This will be the best opponent we've played for an opener since I've been here."
Perhaps Brown was unaware that Rusty Smith was the player of the year in the Sun Belt as a sophomore last season, when he completed 59% of his passes for 3,688 yards, 32 TDs and 9 INT. He returns to familiar faces, as well, with FAU's top eight receivers--all of whom caught 15 passes or more last year--returning. For the cherry on top, the Owls' top two rushers also will be on the field again in 2008.
With 18 starters returning overall, Florida Atlantic isn't just the toughest opening week opponent during the Mack Brown era, they're likely the best non-conference opponent on Texas' schedule this year (depending what you expect from Arkansas).
Brown goes on to note:
"We're going to have to play well, because they're going to throw the ball," Brown said. "Those safeties are going to have to play older than they are."
Not only will the Owls provide a legitimate challenge to our green secondary, the entire non-conference slate is poised to do so. As I wrote back in May, I think that's actually a good thing:
1. Fortuitous scheduling: The non-conference schedule happens to be a very useful one. If you'd asked me a year ago about this non-conference slate, I'd have noted my enthusiasm for playing the Piggies and indifference towards the rest. That's not the case today after thinking through the consequence of this particular group of opponents: Assuming Arkansas throws considerably more with Petrino at the helm, the Longhorns' very raw secondary will be worked to the extreme during all four non-conference games. To have our most glaring weakness so thoroughly tested in September is a fortunate benefit the '08 schedule will provide. Because any team trying to get its secondary warmed up in this year's Big 12 will have hell to pay.
Have I heard this before? Chip Brown writes that Mack Brown has given Greg Davis the "green light" to expand the offense. If that sounds familiar, it should, because we've heard it before seasons from Brown many times in seasons past.
However, I've spoken with Chip Brown privately about this before, so I know he approached this particular storyline with all appropriate skepticism. And yet, Chip is sold that Texas fans should expect a different offensive philosophy this year:
If anyone has wanted to push the envelope offensively, it's Davis, who drew up game plans for converted slot back Hines Ward to play quarterback at Georgia in 1995. Ward stepped in when the team's top two quarterbacks went down with injuries. Ward ended up setting a school bowl game record by completing 31-of-59 passes for 413 yards in the Peach Bowl that year.
If anyone's been tapping the brakes, it's Brown.
Time will tell, but I trust Chip's instincts on this. Great news.
Briefly: The DMN on Colt McCoy's sophomore struggles... The horse-collar tackle is now a penalty in college football... The LA Times profiles Cat Osterman, comparing her to Carl Lewis... Cat's dreams for gold broken in stunning loss to Japan.