Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown met with the media for his Monday morning press conference in preparation for the Iowa State game after taking last week off due to the bye week.
Here are the highlights from the presser.
-- Texas will wear a "JS" sticker on their helmets to honor former quarterback James Street, who passed away on Monday morning at 62 of cardiac arrest. One reporter somewhat jokingly asked Brown about running another Wishbone play to honor Street. Brown laughed, recalling the risk taken throwing a backwards pass in the endzone last year against Iowa State on a play that targeted a tight end in Greg Daniels who had not caught a pass all season. Don't look for another iteration this year.
-- Brown indicated that he hadn't heard about the comments from Chris Simms, with whom he has not spoken since the national championship game. In an appearance on Fox Sports 1, Simms said that he doesn't see Brown coming back next year and pointed to the program's inability to produce NFL prospects as a sign of its deterioration. As Brown has in recent days, he was vehement that he's not paying attention to the things that are being said outside of the program.
-- Texas legend Earl Campbell is still welcome around campus, where he has been spending a significant amount of time at the rehab center in recent years. However, Brown did say that he was disappointed in the comments from Campbell, adding that the Tyler Rose is entitled to his opinion and that some of the quotes may have been taken out of context. As much as Brown has embraced icons like Campbell and DKR when he was alive, it had to be tough for Brown to hear Campbell say those things, as much as he would never reveal that that publicly to a greater extent than saying he's "disappointed."
-- Iowa State is +52 in points scored after turnovers on Thursday and Friday night games, illustrating just how dangerous the Cyclones can be in those circumstances, especially at home, where they defeated Oklahoma State in 2011 and eliminated their shot at playing in the national championship game.
-- Sophomore running back Johnathan Gray is becoming a team leader through his hard work in practice, selflessness, and willingness to block. Brown called him one of the best blockers on the team and credited the downfield blocking of the wide receivers and junior tight end Geoff Swaim, who had eight knockdown blocks against Kansas State.
-- The play from freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in practice has been up and down -- hardly surprising. Brown said that the Whitewright product is "making some good plays and making some freshman mistakes."
-- In depth chart news, senior offensive guard Mason Walters is listed first as a co-starter with sophomore Sedrick Flowers at the right guard spot. Expect them to continue splitting playing time, with significant potential for Flowers to relegate Walters to even more of a back-up role.
-- The biggest news was the change as the weakside linebacker position, where redshirt freshman Tim Cole has been named the starter after impressing defensive coordinator Greg Robinson during practice over the last week. Brown cited Cole's play on special teams against Kansas State as one of the reasons for his elevation above junior Kendall Thompson, whose play has been a massive disappointment over the last two seasons, saying later that Cole is upbeat, positive, smart, and never makes a mistake.
Known as an instinctive player in high school, Cole has remarkable agility, as demonstrated by his 4.2-second time in the pro agility drill at The Opening, where he ran a 5.0 in addition to posting a 31-inch vertical leap. Now listed at 6'2 and 235 pounds (30 pounds heavier than he weighed in at two years ago), Cole will have to read and diagnose plays as quickly as he did in high school to avoid some of the physical limitations he has in length and athleticism -- if he's consistently playing with offensive linemen right in his face, he's probably going to struggle, but if the defensive line can keep him clean, his instincts should allow him to make some plays.
With junior middle linebacker Steve Edmond suspended for the first half, Texas will start all three members of the 2012 linebacker class on Thursday, as sophomore Peter Jinkens is the starter on the strongside, where junior Tevin Jackson backs him up.
Iowa State runs a spread offense that will often feature three receivers, so expected the Longhorns to play a significant amount of nickel on Thursday. Who will be the first linebacker to come off the field in that situation? The odds would seem to point to Cole.
-- The other change on the defensive depth chart is junior safety Mykkele Thompson back as the starter over junior Josh Turner after a rebound performance against Kansas State that used him more around the line of scrimmage as Texas put an extra player in the box to combat the Wildcat run game.
-- One change in the kickoff return game that has flown a bit under the radar has been the usage of junior running back Joe Bergeron as one of the returners to add some mass blocking for sophomore wide receiver Kendall Sanders back there. Junior running back Malcolm Brown is the back up in that role after strong work against Kansas State as a blocker in the Pistol I Texas used extensively against Kansas State.
-- As expected, the Texas-Oklahoma game will kick at 11 a.m. CT on ABC. ESPN will carry the 6:30 p.m. CT kick for the Iowa State game this week with Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack, and Samantha Ponder on the call.