While my colleagues have been ably manning the ship the last few weeks, I've been holed up for the annual sleepless month it takes to assemble the Eyes of Texas football preview magazine. While the project cuts into my ability to write here as much as I'd like, but by the end I always love having experienced such a deep and sustained immersion in Texas football -- and out of which I emerge brimming with knowledge about the team and excitement for the upcoming season.
I still have a ways to go on this year's magazine, but I've been working on a piece reviewing Manny Diaz's first year in Austin, which I'm co-authoring with SB Nation's football stat guru Bill Connelly -- whose blog, you may recall, was cited in an interview by none other than Manny Diaz, in reference to the very groundbreaking advanced per-play metrics which Bill and I are now applying to an evaluation of Diaz and his first UT defense.
We've only just begun work on the article, but in conducting research last night, I ran across a post that I published freshly emerged from last summer's magazine immersion: "The Intoxicating Potential of Manny Diaz." The purpose of the post was to introduce readers to the way Manny Diaz thinks about football, but its thesis was that from everything I was able to learn about him, Diaz appeared to be exceptionally well-rounded and intellectually curios, with a keenly strategic and insightful mind -- attributes that his approaach genuinely radical and his potential intoxicating. Gushing with puppy love, I even concluded by suggesting that I found Diaz even more appealing and exciting than the coach he replaced.
And most important, Manny Diaz's particular background, temperament, and intellect led to the development of a smart, unique strategic philosophy for playing defense. Diaz embraces and aggressively deploys pressure -- not as a pure end unto itself, but as a reasoned consequence of his analysis of the capabilities of a collegiate offense. It is exciting that he arrived at his strategy independent of the canonical teachings of other defensive coaches, the strategies of which may or may not be optimal, and are at least potentially self-reinforcing and limiting. And as with every promising new idea, it can be intoxicating to revel in the possibilities and potential.
Published prior to Diaz ever having served a down as defensive coordinator, my post was littered with all appropriate caveats, but here we are a year later, with one Diaz season under our belts and an exciting fall ahead.
For your football fix today, revisit the arguments offered in last summer's post, consider what you've seen from Diaz so far, and share with us your own thoughts on Texas' charismatic defensive coordinator. One year later, would you trade Diaz for Muschamp? As much as we all loved Muschamp, does anyone else think that in Diaz we might have lucked into someone special?