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Talkin' Texas: 2009 Longhorns Football at the Quarter Pole

PB:  Been a while since we've Talked Texas, my friend. I have to say I'm glad to be doing so under the circumstances we are. What's your quarter-term evaluation of the team?

Big Roy:  Despite a few hiccups along the way, mostly involving McCoy interceptions, the first half against Wyoming, and some continued struggles with identity in the running game. I have to feel extremely happy about where the team is. The defense just rocked UTEP and teams are falling by the wayside every weekend in the Race to the Roses.

PB:  We can quibble (and because we're unhealthily obsessed, undoubtedly will) about the minutiae, but I don't think there's any way around describing Texas' position heading into this week as pretty near perfect. I wonder whether we're having a different conversation if Texas' third game of the season was against UCF instead of Tech, but that scheduling change was a boon and I'm not sure we could ask for much more heading out of bye week.

Moving to specifics: Who's your favorite offensive player so far?

Big Roy:  Unhealthily obsessed, huh? I can't quibble with the second part, but my health is quite excellent, sir, thank you. I believe Austin, Texas agrees with me well indeed. I would have to say that Dan Buckner's contributions to the offense right now ranks on top -- he's given the Longhorns that threat over the middle that they need in the Davis passing game and he's just such a mismatch in that flex tight end position, but not only that, he has great hands and McCoy seems to trust him.

PB:  Your girlfriend says otherwise, slacker. (What?)

I will say that Dan Buckner is indisputably healthy, though -- kid is an awesome athlete just beginning to come into his own as a player. And I'm with you, if McCoy is the de facto MVP and Newton the surprise spark, Buckner has been my favorite offensive player so far.

Let's look forward a bit now: after four games who are you seeing as improved and/or with the potential to break out? I'll throw Tray Allen's name into the ring, for starters. He's taken the Step this year.

Big Roy:  Mack Brown mentioned that this week and it's great to see Allen finally contributing and living up to the considerable hype that accompanied him to campus. My answer to that question is going to be a little bit vague, though -- I'm looking for a third receiver to break out. I don't know if it's going to be Kirkendoll or Malcolm Williams or maybe even a guy like Marquise Goodwin if McCoy can establish the same rapport with him that Gilbert already somewhat preternaturally does.

Maybe it's John Chiles. To me, McCoy is just too good not to establish a high level of comfort with one of those guys.

PB:  How about Brian Davis? I mean Brandon Collins? I mean.... nevermind.

Big Roy:  Facepalm.

From the Brian Davis school of academic progress.

PB:  I think that's a good wish for a development we see soon, and I'll add a healthy Fozzy Whittaker to that list. I think McGee and Newton are perfectly fine, but I can't shake my optimism about Whittaker as a difference-maker. (This makes me a tried and true Texas fan, of course: the best player is always the one not playing.)

Big Roy:  There is a Flavor of the Week spot open for the Mythical Fozzy creature this week with his name on it. I'm really excited about possibly being able to get through around half the season or so without having to repeat one yet. Hopefully I won't have to start stretching it soon.

I have to say I'm taking a wait-and-see approach with the artist recently known as Fragile Fozzy (dadgummit, I said I wasn't going to use that for a while...) until he manages to produce for a couple games in a row. The potential though, why, it's mythic.

Drink that Kool-Aid, PB! You should get a pimp-style Longhorn chalice for that

PB:  If you'd given the Flavor of the Week award to Jamison Whatshisname last week, you'd have a damn good shot at it. Live and learn...

Big Roy:  I'm hoping that Jamison makes an appearance at CU this weekend, but if not, there's always UCF...

PB:  It'll be fun when Berryhill outrushes Darrell Scott in DKR.

Jamison Berryhill: Not cursed.

Okay, defense. A radio guy asked me the other day if this was Texas' best defense ever. I told him to check the '83 archives and wait 'til the season is over, but it's not a stretch to think this unit might finish the season as Mack Brown's best-ever unit.

Big Roy:  Ha!  Hmm...I don't think I'm qualified to make that comparison -- whills is probably a better bet for something like that, but this defense does have potential greatness written all over it. It's no secret that I love me some Aaron Williams and to see a playmaker like Emmanuel Acho come on -- if there are players not protecting the football when he's around, it's got a good chance of coming out. And I think that is why this defense has a chance to be so good -- it's like the light switch has come on the last several weeks in terms of converting opportunities into turnovers.

On top of that, I think there is still room for growth as well. The only thing that concerns me is depth at defensive tackle and safety.

PB:  This is why the Tech scheduling switch was so important. They got it going that Saturday night against the Red Raiders. UTEP paid the price.

(Taylor Potts: Excuse me?)

Big Roy:  No doubt and it was a hefty Price for UTEP. Can you believe that ol' Mikey got paid for that performance? Guess he made amends last week. And that scheduling change really did work out well for the Longhorns.

PB:  I hope you're running a set of stairs to punish yourself for that pun. Go on, I'll type while you repent.

Big Roy:  I've got a nice hill beside my place. Does that count? The two of us have had some previous battles...

PB:  I think the most comforting thing defensively has to be the exceptional performance we've seen from the defensive line. Seeing Eddie Jones and Sergio Kindle upright bookending the line is so sexy.

Big Roy:  Jones is playing with the intensity of someone who has almost had football taken away from him. Perhaps because he has. I feel great for him being out on the field and contributing in such a meaningful way. Why is it taking three years for all these former five stars? Jones, Allen, Chiles, Kindle. That's the start of a trend right there.

PB:  Do 2006-07 even count for those guys?

Big Roy:  Yuck. Almost seems like they shouldn't, right? I certainly can't blame Kindle. Jesus, I just had some Killebrew - Bobino - Derry flashbacks. How did this get started again? Make it stop. But about Kindle -- that freaky leg plant is just sick. I tried to demonstrate what it looked like for someone the other day, didn't work very well. Re-watching that Tech game he just wore that tackle out. Okay, yes, these memories are much more pleasant. Whew.

PB:  Yeah probably better not do that. You'll wind up like DJ Grant. Your knee no like.

Big Roy:  Plus I probably look stupid, too. So there's whatever pride I hope to maintain as well.

PB:  Moving back from the line, I have forgotten several times already that Jared Norton is a Texas Longhorn. And it has little to do with him, really. Robinson and Acho are just exceptionally talented and clearly ready for an exciting three-year run.

Big Roy:  Definitely some flashes from both of them. Let's put Jordan Hicks in there, too, shall we? But I digress. Like said, though, flashes from them. The potential that is still there is sick. I mentioned this to someone the other day, but can we just make a football team filled only with Texans of Nigerian descent? How fun would that be? Pretty good, too.

PB:  There's not much to debate about the defense -- very good, on the verge of truly great, and with championship potential. The Muschamp hire has been moderately pleasing.

Also pleasing: the special teams! Mack's had some good ST units before, but this group is outrageous.

Big Roy:  DJ Monroe. You don't really need to say much more than that, but Shipley has been great, Tucker has been excellent besides the dumb play against Wyoming and truly does have the left-footed rugby punt down. And Malcolm Williams -- it's been a huge disappointment that he hasn't contributed more on offense, but his work on special teams is truly valuable. Hopefully the team is improving a bit in kickoff coverage, but it's hard to be good at that right now, as Brown is currently preaching.

PB:  There's your third receiver, by the way. Davis needs to quit monkeying around with Shipley at split end, tell Malcolm he trusts him, and let he and Colt work it out. His blocking alone is plenty valuable; the catches will come.

Big Roy:  It would be nice if it were that simple, but I'm not sure it is. I think Davis likes Shipley commanding a safety deep on his side of the field because it frees up routes on the other side, particularly Buckner in the middle. Of course, I like Williams is they decide to leave him one-on-one over there and blocking on weakside runs, but I just want him on the field right now, even just in the slot because he can help out blocking there too. Especially on a play like the speed option out of the WildHorn. I definitely agree about him just needing to play and until Kirkendoll starts making some more plays, I don't have any problem with taking him off the field for a while. More Malcolm, please!

PB:  It's just not possible to say you can't stretch the safety with Williams, so if that's it, Davis is a fool. I actually think it's a lack of trust in Williams and that because his blocking is superior he's useful in the slot. Nevertheless, the better play in my mind is to get Williams back to split end, return Shipley to the slot, where those two have their highest ceilings. Of course, the non-con season would have been the time to work this out, but we're quibbling.

I know we've both got CU posts in the works, so let's wrap this briefly: Any predictions you wanna make?

Big Roy:  There has been a little bit more work in the last two games with Williams at the X and Shipley in the slot, so I think it could be coming. Agree about the lack of trust, not sure if it's more with the coaches or McCoy, but the drops in limited action don't help -- that's two, with one intercepted against Tech late.

Okay, turning to CU now?

PB:  Yeah, any predictions for Saturday?

Big Roy:  Well, it seems that you have already gone with more rushing yards for Berryhill than Scott and I think that's a tough one to top. Mostly, I just think Colorado tries to run the ball to shorten the game and not make the final score look as bad as it could, but I think Texas loads up and forces a lot of 3rd and longs for rag-armed lil Hawk and crew and that's when the fun starts. Not for lil Hawk, though. It gets ugly early for the Buffs. (Did you know that lil Hawk is a lot like Colt?)

PB:  Hard to predict anything other than a comfortable margin of victory. I'll save my full thoughts for my post, but I'm mostly going to be watching to see Texas attack the game with purpose. It would be a mistake to "save up" for OU.

Big Roy:  I agree. This is serious preparation time. Unleash the Predator and the WildHorn. Stampede!

Okay, that was maybe a little cheesy.

PB:  Are you auditioning for a columnist job at a newspaper? You're on a roll today, buddy.

Big Roy:  I could be the next Kirk Bohls! Yes, I can! Yes, I can! (starting chant)

PB:  And we're off the tracks. A sign to cut it off. Enjoy the weekend, sir. Hook 'em!

Big Roy: Indeed. And you as well, my friend in Longhorn football obsession. I'll be gettin' my horns up.