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FROM THE STANDS: 5 Things I’m Looking For

‘Cause I’m a karate man! And a karate man bruises on the inside! They don’t show their weakness.

  • David Ash broke his foot and is out for the spring, as you well know. He’ll be back for two-a-days, but he’s shelved for the summer. That means, my friends, that USC-graduate-to-be Max Wittek has a realistic shot at not only competing for playing time, but winning the starting job. Wittek was a nationally ranked recruit coming out of high school and struggled at Trojan under Lane Kiffin. A fresh start can do wonders, and that fresh start in Austin could parlay into the starting quarterback job… If he comes. He hasn’t decided officially, but I think he’ll be a Longhorn soon enough and will be here for the start of summer school. If I am Max Wittek I am on the phone with Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson, Kendall Sanders and every other receiver I can get a hold of, setting up some morning throwing sessions ASAP.

  • An excellent sports weekend for the Metroplex and those that follow their sports teams. The Stars locked up an NHL playoff spot, the first since 2008 and the Dallas Mavericks locked up a playoff spot after beating Phoenix Saturday night. The Rangers also took two of three from the Astros. That last one is not nearly as impressive, but considering the Rangers are going to suck this year, I’ll take baseball happiness where I can get it.

  • Speaking of baseball happiness, the Texas Longhorns are No.6 in the polls. Why, you make ask? Because they SWEPT the oklahoma sooners over the weekend. The Horns raced out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the first Friday night before gagging it away, but won 10-8 in ten innings. Saturday wasn’t nearly as close as Friday with the Longhorns winning 7-2, and then it got worse for the sooners on Sunday (8-1). SO NICE.

  • The ou baseball stadium is weird looking. There is no wall between the field and stands. Not even a ledge. It looked like they were playing baseball in someone’s backyard next to the patio. Or on some hotel grounds by the pool. It didn’t help that no one was there, either. I think about 2,500 showed up Friday night and it was their biggest crowd of the year, which seems small for a school with a national title and post-season success. They went into the weekend tied with Texas atop the league, but the Horns ran them out of their own (weird) house. The TV announcers on Sunday said the sooners don’t look like a post-season team and I agree. That’s funny because I hate them.

  • Texas is a game up on Oklahoma State and two up on TCU, who comes to town for a three-game series starting Thursday (Thursday-Friday-Saturday due to Easter). The Horns have three Big 12 series wins and one loss, to 6-6 Kansas, and if they can get a series win this weekend against the Frogs it sets up a monster showdown at The Disch with Oklahoma State April 25-27.

  • Texas Ex Jordan Spieth couldn’t catch Bubba Watson on Sunday at The Masters, but there is no doubt that the former Horn is a star-in-the-making on the PGA Tour. It was great to see him play so well and it was awesome to see him lining up a shot on Sunday afternoon with a guy in Texas cap behind him in the gallery.

  • Come on, Myles Turner. Let’s do this.

  • Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller called out Michigan fans for poor attendance at their spring game. The Buckeyes had 61,000 at their game while the Wolverines had 15,000. If that is the announced attendance, it must have been like half that. It had to look like The Erwin Center when Texas plays Corpus Christi A&M in November.

  • If you choose to drive 34 on the access road of the freeway, please do so. HOWEVER, when you do so in the middle lane and get all screamy when someone going the speed limit passes you, now your problem is my problem. I offer this advice, angry mad soccer mom (lots of names and soccer ball logos on the back window): be mad or be slow, not both.

  • Who do you think will pick up Aldon Smith when the 49ers cut him for being Amanda Bynes-like? At this rate he’ll be playing for the Mean Machine in The Longest Yard.

  • One former LSU player shot another former LSU player. Why? Over a girl. Whatever happened to fighting? You know, with fists? Two guys have a problem, they work it out. No one dies, no one gets shot. And if she’s seeing both of you, chances are you aren’t the only two. Food for thought.

  • And by “fists” I mean man to man, Not what Dorial Green-Beckham did. The former No.1 player high school player in the country that Texas was ooh so close to getting is now school-less after losing his mind. Again. Someone will give him another shot, not because he necessarily deserves it (he might), but because he’s good. I could see someone snatching him up immediately with little or no regard for the actions that got him dismissed because that coach just wants to win and doesn’t really care about his players. I’m looking right at you, Bob Petrino.

  • And then this happened, too.

 

Texas Football- Spring Game

I can honestly tell you I have never been as excited to see a Texas spring game as I am to see this one. This will be the first time in 17 years that it is truly different. Surely there will be quirks, but the entire format will be different. For one thing, it isn’t Final Four weekend. Texas always went so early that it seemed to be on the Saturday of the Final Four, if not sooner. Granted, I expect this will still be a beauty pageant for the fans with little or no exotics of any sort, but I can’t wait. The last time I was this excited about spring practice was 2003 when a tall, silky-smooth kid named Vincent Young was coming off his redshirt season. Even then I knew what expect for the most part. This year, I have no idea what to expect.

But there is plenty I want to see. Again, I know this won’t be a game with blitzes, checkdowns and trickery, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be takeaways from this. With that in mind, here’s five things I will be looking for this weekend at the Spring Game.

 

Joy

I’m a big advocate of emotion. It’s a huge part of the game and an integral part of success; but that’s not what I want to see on Saturday. Everyone should be excited about this game that is playing in it. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel and the prize after a long and grueling off-season that has tested them in new and difficult ways. If they aren’t excited about game day songs, uniforms and fans, they should do something else. I’m not looking for excitement for the game, what I want to see is the joy.

Charlie Strong came to Texas with the idea of changing the culture of a Texas football team that had grown complacent and a bit soft. It was a challenging endeavor and there were casualties. It’s a privilege to be a Texas Longhorn football player and if the rules and processes cannot be followed, then that privilege will be revoked. It’s likely made for some stressful times, but at the end of the day this is a game and it’s supposed to fun. The guys go through this grueling schedule because they love the game of football and they enjoy playing it. I want to see that fun, from the staff and the team. Last week at Tech’s spring practice they had a dance off. I’m sure there are plenty of people that think that is silly. I am not one of them. I think it’s great. It’s serious business, college football, but it has to be fun and there’s nothing wrong with cutting loose and enjoying it. I want to see Texas have some fun, some joy, Saturday.

It’s fun, guys. Remember that. I want to see some cool end zone dances, unit celebrations, sack dances, etc. Fun.

 

Schemes

I am really excited to see the Xs and the Os. We haven’t really been told what the offense or the defense will be, so this will be our first look what’s what. I CAN’T WAIT. Will it be shotgun? I formation? Five wides? Two tight ends? 4-3? 3-4? Something in between? A nickel back that was so dearly loved by the former staff? So many questions to be answered.

And what will the other stuff look like? What will the intro be? Different? New songs? What about the kickoff team?  Will they do some weird, quirky huddle like Mississippi State?

I want to see how they use the tight ends, the fullbacks and the slot. Where will Daje Johnson line up? Two backs in the backfield? Will Cedric Reed or Shiro Davis play linebacker?

My enthusiasm is tempered some with the David Ash news because frankly neither backup quarterback is ready for prime time yet. See Max Wittek above.

 

Offensive Line

Doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback or running back. It doesn’t matter if it’s no huddle or I-formation or anything in between. It doesn’t matter if the defense is a 3-4, a 4-3 or the 62 Monster Stack from All the Right Moves, the offensive line has to make holes, protect the quarterback and keep the chains moving. Joe Wickline is a master at taking what he has and adjusting to a new offense. He did it about 100 times at Oklahoma State for Mike Gundy, who went through OCs like Spinal Tap goes through drummers and he’s doing again here.

With senior Dominic Espinosa anchoring the middle and an NFL talent at tackle in Desmond Harrison, Wickline is trying to fill the holes left by the departed seniors. Kent Perkins had one tackle spot locked down, but a knee injury has cost him the rest of spring. He’ll be back this summer, but right now Texas needs to fill the spot. Also needing to be filled, the guard spots. Sedrick Flowers, Curtis Riser, Darius James, Rami Hammad and Taylor Doyle are all fighting for those two guard jobs while Kennedy Estelle and Camrhon Hughes battle it out for the other tackle spot. It’s pretty fluid right now, but reports are that Taylor Doyle has been working a lot with the first team. I expect they will all get plenty of reps this weekend. With an All Big 12 talent like Malcom Brown and an Award candidate in Cedric Reed at end, the ol will have it’s hands full on Saturday.

I want to see technically sound line play. I know there will be mistakes, but I want to see that they understand the concepts and offense. I also want to see unit that will stand up and regulate when a defender gets too chippy with a back, a wide out or anyone else on the offense. I don’t want to see nice. Nice can sit next to me in stands and offer to buy me a soda.

 

Tackling

Real, live tackling. In a game situation. No quick whistles, no wrap up and stop. No. I want to see good, hard tackling, gang tackling, with guys flying to the ball and getting people on the ground. THE GROUND.

Who will be the big stick? Who’s the player that will shine in the new, more physical defense? I can’t wait to see who steps forward.

 

Kicker

Bats are afraid.

 

So…

Everything about this spring game is unknown. The format, the structure, even the introduction, will be new. It is an exciting time on campus as the fans finally get to see Charlie Strong and his staff in action and catch a glimpse of the 2014 Texas Longhorns as well. It won’t be a fall game day as far as planning, playcalling and personnel, but it will be football. And it will be fun! I can’t wait.

See you guys at DKR on Saturday, or bumping around the stadium before the game. Or after the game. Or later. I’ll be around.

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