Getting To Know The Texas Longhorns: Q&A with Burnt Orange Nation

The Ralphie Report sat down for a quick Q&A with Peter Bean of the SBNation Texas Longhorn site, Burnt Orange Nation.  Peter gives us some insight into some of the key positions to watch this weekend as well as some important gambling tips. Take a look!

Head over to BON to see our responses to their questions.

FSU logoTaking the level of competition into account, how would you asses Colt McCoy's performance so far this season? Closer to 2007 or 2008?       

Burnt Orange NationThe 5 interceptions is more in line with 2007, but it's just not possible for anyone watching closely to think he's regressed since last year. He's unequivocally a better football player today than he was in 2007. It's also worth acknowledging that when you put up one of the freakier statistical seasons in college football history, some regression to the mean is likely. The important question for Texas is whether McCoy can settle into a similar comfort-level as that in which he operated a year ago. He's still building rapport with new receivers and has at times appeared to be pressing a bit. It's hard to blame him given the expectations.

FSU logoI drafted Malcolm Williams in my fantasy league and he's gotten next to no points.  Outside of Jordan Shipley and Dan Buckner (A-town represent) who is catching McCoy's passes and how would you grade the unit as a whole?

Burnt Orange NationI'm glad you drafted Williams on your own and not after asking me because I'd have told you to grab him and you'd be blaming me for his early season no-show. With that said, if you have the roster flexibility to wait it out, I'd hold on to him for a while. As I wrote earlier today (link:http://www.burntorangenation.com/2009/10/8/1076558/pre-game-musings-colorado-at-texas), he's an enormously "high reward" player Texas needs to try to involve more. I doubt you'll be rooting for as much this Saturday, but I'm rather hoping this is the week he begins his ascendance.

Beyond Williams, Buckner and Colt McCoy's roommate, Texas gets the ball to John Chiles and James Kirkendoll with some regularity, though neither has been a huge factor in the receiving game so far. Talent-wise, this unit is an A-grade group, but there's clearly some learning and comfort-building going on out there right now. Their production and excellent blocking earn them a solid B for performance so far, but the ceiling is much higher.

FSU logoThe Longhorns have lacked a featured running back for the past few seasons.  How has the position shaken out so far this year and how does the fan base feel about the unit's progress to date?  Follow question, was Mack Brown smoking crack when he said he was scared of the CU running game?

Burnt Orange NationFrom one hippie town to another, you should know that it was grass or hashish, dude. This isn't Rutgers. (To answer your question: that's just Mack being Mack, and while you can rightfully poke fun at his folksiness, it's genuine and infinitely preferable to the petulant egomania of a guy like Bob Stoops.)

As for the Texas tailbacks, there's a group of good-not-great guys with similar skill sets that Texas can plug-n-play, highlighted by Tre' Newton and Vondrell McGee. Beyond that, I'm personally bullish on redshirt sophomore Fozzy Whittaker, who along with having one of the greatest names in the history of ever has been sidelined by just enough nagging injuries to justify optimism that "if he can just get healthy..." a big breakout awaits. Both (a breakout or lasting health) are mere hopes at this point.

Also worth mentioning is short-yardage and goal-line specialist Cody Johnson, who has proved as a law of physics that he is incapable of losing yards. Everyone in the stadium and on both sidelines knows where the ball is going when Texas needs a yard or two, but no one has stopped him yet. We probably take it for granted, but shouldn't - it's tremendously valuable.

FSU logoWe all know about Sergio Kindle, but I believe the rest of your defensive line is rather young.  Give us the lowdown on the other starters and who we should watch out for.  

Burnt Orange NationIt's not so much young as it was unproven before the season. Starting nose tackle Kheeston Randall is a true sophomore, but starting alongside Randall is senior standout Lamarr Houston. (Senior Ben Alexander is the primary substitute on the inside.) At end opposite Kindle is junior Sam Acho, a strong and smart D-Lineman who will occasionally slide to the interior to make room for fourth-year junior Eddie Jones, whose name I suspect Colorado fans will know by the end of Saturday's game.

An injury to Kindle or Houston would carry scary consequences for the unit, but so long as they remain healthy, they've looked terrific and quashed every preseason worry.

FSU logoI would ask a question about your secondary here but they won't be needed this weekend. Instead, how you feel about the Dez Bryant situation?

Burnt Orange NationI think I'll just add a "Seconded" to Gobbler Country's take on the topic (link: http://www.gobblercountry.com/2009/10/7/1075498/ot-dez-bryants-suspension-is-why-i): 

"Bryant thought just going to Sanders' house was a violation of NCAA rules. I don't blame him. It seems every small, stupid thing is an NCAA violation, even if it's just Chillin' With Deion. The NCAA has these kids scared to leave their dorms without doing something that will cost them their eligibility. 

That's not how it should be. If the kids take pay for play then they should be ineligible. But when kids start thinking that talking to a retired NFL player is a violation, then you know there are too many rules.

Congratulations on busting such a nefarious rule breaker like Dez Bryant, NCAA. Now when are we going to hear something from you about Reggie Bush?"

FSU logoHypothetical...  If CU somehow upset the Longhorns in Austin this weekend (hey, K-State and A&M pulled it off) do you think that Texas would still be able to recover and advance to the National Championship game like OU did last year (and no, I don't think it will happen)?

Burnt Orange NationIf Texas loses to Colorado on Saturday, they might be able to recover to get to the Big 12 title game, but they will not play in Pasadena.

FSU logoLast question.  Does Texas cover the 32 point spread?

Burnt Orange NationTexas could start slow coming out of a bye week and I've no doubt Hawkins will try to slow this game to a crawl by running the football, so it's a risky bet perhaps, but if I were to throw money down I'd lay the points. My sense is that Texas is rounding into form. Playing a night game in front of an excited home crowd, I won't be surprised if this one gets out of hand by halftime.
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