For the final time before the Texas Longhorns start gameweek preparations for the Wyoming game in 10 days, head coach Mack Brown met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to share his thoughts on the state of the team and release a depth chart that included a starting quarterback for the first time in many, many months.
Here are 10 thoughts on the availability:
- True freshman Daje Johnson, who appeared poised to take over the so-called "T&Z" role that was created in an effort to get senior DJ Monroe the football in space and use him more as a wide receiver, was suspended for the Wyoming game for an unspecific violation of team rules. The rumor is that Johnson missed curfew at some point this fall.
- Mack Brown fired a volley across the bow of those who believe that he withholds or fudges injury information, pointing out that the training staff and running back Joe Bergeron believed that the then-freshman back suffered a cramp in the Texas Tech game that ended up being a hamstring injury. Brown also said that the training staff simply didn't know that neither Brown nor Bergeron would be healthy enough to play against Missouri, despite expectations that they could. Time to reduce the skepticism there, perhaps? Mack clearly thinks so. In happier news, Brown said that the team has suffered fewer injuries than ever, particularly leg injuries, citing the influence of the new-ish S&C staff, as well as the new team nutritionist. A nutritionist! How cutting edge.
- The plan is still to play both quarterbacks, even though Ash has been named the starter. Brown said that both have improved significantly since the spring, that he believes the competition through the summer was valuable in keeping both motivated, and that McCoy is a leader for the younger players, while Ash has improved his confidence in the huddle.
- DJ Monroe could be the major beneficiary of the suspension of Johnson. Brown said Monroe is catching the ball better and that he's putting in the effort to get on the field. Speaking of skepticism...
- Brown said that he feels that the team can once again win every game, but a mediocre effort would leave them susceptible to losing to anyone, then going on later to talk about how much Kansas could improve under Charlie Weis, lip service normally reserved for gameweek.
- For about the 100th time in the last several years, Brown talked about teams running the ball on Texas and the Longhorns not being physical enough in games against Ohio State and Alabama following the 2008 and 2009 seasons, respectively. Brown then talked about feeling sick after a game against Colorado in DKR in which the 'Horns could not run the ball effectively when necessary. It all helped spark his relative change in philosophy (returning to his old-school ground-and-pound inclinations), though he doesn't want the team to be run-first, rather preferring balance to keep defenses honest.
- The best offensive linemen in fall camp have been Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters, according to Brown. Texas obviously needs better play on the outside more than anything, but the guess here is that Donald Hawkins and Josh Cochran didn't get more credit because they have the unenviable task of going against Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor.
- The disconnect and discord that existed between the young players and the older players two years ago is now gone. Texas has been getting better leadership across the board from older players, who have been taking the freshmen under their wings, citing Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis helping the young receivers get acclimated.
- Quandre Diggs big-timed a younger player in a meeting room, telling them to get out of his seat. Diggs pointed out that he's been around the program since he was six. Obligatory mention that Texas waited until after the second Junior Day to offer Diggs. That was nearly a catastrophe.
- Brown sounded really pleased about the progress of the kicking game. Punter Alex King has been booming punts, freshman kickoff specialist Nick Rose has been booming kicks, and the team has devoted more planning and practice time to developing special teams than ever before. The biggest room for improvement is keeping the ball into the endzone to reduce pressure on coverage teams that have struggled for years. It sounds like Rose will be able to achieve that feat.