The season opener is upon us, which means it's time to check in once again with one of the most knowledgeable Texas football insiders in the business, Orangeblood's Geoff Ketchum. For those of you that aren't subscribers to Rivals.com's Texas page Orangebloods, it's never too early to start. On to football.
Burnt Orange Nation: Anything on the depth chart that surprises you much? One thing I was pleasantly surprised to see was Robert Joseph sitting right behind Mike Griffin.
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: Really, I didn't see anything that caught me off-guard. I had written in last week's War Room that I thought Joseph might push for a spot based on his strong play, but there's still the thought that he might be redshirted, so it would have been easy for them to simply reward the older players. I think it says quite a bit about him and his future that he's one of two freshmen (the other being Jared Norton) who is listed by themselves as the top back-up at his position.
Burnt Orange Nation: The summer heat is peaking, the kids are done with the voluntary summer workouts, and fall camp has come and gone, Geoff. All the reports we've seen indicate that it was a high-energy, focused summer for the players, with very strong participation and competitive work. How did the summer and fall workouts for this team compare with where the team was coming out of the summer and fall from last season?
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: I think the participation was as strong as ever, but honestly, that's never been the team's problem. I've felt like for the last three or four years, there has been great participation in the seven-on-seven workouts and the like. Guys like Chris Simms and the players before these previous championship teams really set the bar and I thought last year's team finally used it to get to the next level. You could see the bond between Vince Young and Billy Pittman build in those seven-on-seven workouts and it wasn't a surprise that they hooked up so many times in big games. I think this year's team is building off of that success because they've seen it become a blueprint for success.
Burnt Orange Nation: Colt McCoy is your starter as of today, Geoff, which isn't surprising at this point. I've been postulating that McCoy is your hands down starter up until we're not in the hunt for the BCS title game. Is that your feeling on this situation? Can you envision any scenario in which Jevan wins the job from McCoy?
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: Not really. I suppose that McCoy could lose the job with poor play, but I don't think there's anything that Snead can do at this point to win the job. He had a chance in two-a-days and McCoy performed better, which was expected by many. If this season is going to be a success, McCoy is going to have to have a big year. If this question keeps getting asked three weeks from now, things will be going bad.
Burnt Orange Nation: Speaking of the quarterbacks, I can't remember a more talented and deep group of receivers in the Mack Brown era at Texas. Are you concerned that the pass-catching talent will get relatively underutilized because of the young quarterback situation?
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: Not at all. The only time the Longhorns have not utilized the wide receiver talent was during Vince Young's first season of action and that can be chalked up to where his skill set was at that time. McCoy is much more advanced in the passing game than VY was and I think he's going to have some very nice numbers this season. He's a lock in my opinion to win Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year if he stays healthy.
Burnt Orange Nation: The one area of the team that I'm a little bit worried about is the kicking game. We know today that Greg Johnson is listed as the first team punter, kickoff man, and FG/PAT kicker. This year's team may find itself in more close games than last year's, and the kicking game may be vital. What are the coaches' plans, and are you at all concerned about the kicking game?
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: Yes, everyone should be concerned about the kicking game and there are still more questions than answers at this point. The staff desperately wants Hunter Lawrence to win the place-kicking job, but he hasn't earned it yet. This situation bears quite a bit of watching and it probably won't be decided until there's some game action to grade these guys on.
Burnt Orange Nation: If you were the offensive coordinator for this year's team, Geoff, what kind of offense are you looking to run to get the most out our talent?
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: I love the Longhorns continuing to use the spread offense that was used so effectively last season. I would look for some zone-read, but look for more play-action out of that formation and they'll use the pass to set up the run off of that play and not vice versa. You'll probably see the quarterbacks under center more than last season, but this offense needs to be wide-open.
Burnt Orange Nation: We'll let you off the hook after this last question. We've certainly enjoyed having a good laugh at the Rhett Bomar embarrassment at Oklahoma, but we've also wondered whether the loss of J.D. Quinn might prove to be the more costly loss. How big a weakness is the Oklahoma offensive line this year, and how have their Big 12 title prospects changed with these dismissals?
Geoff Ketchum, Orangebloods: The offensive line was an area of grave concern before Quinn was dismissed and now it's probably in code red right now. They are depending on a lot of young players and JUCO guys to mesh very quickly. The bottom line is that there aren't any great players on that line and it's debatable if the ones they have are better than average. If they suffer any more injuries or suspensions, it'll look like the levies after Hurricane Katrina.
Burnt Orange Nation: Geoff, it's always great to talk Longhorn football with you. Thanks for the great info.