Texas Longhorns: Mykelle Thompson

AUSTIN, Texas -- While Texas has not counted out Jordan Hicks this week, it might not be prudent to count on him, either.

The junior linebacker suffered a hip injury against Ole Miss a week ago and is still not 100 percent. Texas will check his health at Tuesday's practice. But the team's leading tackler is probably a longshot to make it on the field for Oklahoma State.

"Without Jordan, that's a leader on defense there," said Quandre Diggs.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireLinebacker Jordan Hicks injured his hip in Texas' win over Ole Miss.
Added safety Kenny Vaccaro: "It will hurt us. But we also have depth and a lot of young linebacker who can play."

The issue for Texas is it is not sure which of those young linebackers is ready to step up and play against the nation's top-scoring offense.

"We have the first three linebackers," said coach Mack Brown of Hicks, Demarco Cobbs and Steve Edmond. "Then we have a group. If the injury were on offensive line [offensive line coach] Stacy [Searels] would know to put Luke Poehlmann in. In the secondary, [secondary coach] Duane [Akina] would put in either Josh Turner or Mykkele Thompson. At linebacker there is a group of players."

Brown and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz sat down Sunday night to try and figure out contingency plans. The one thing they struck upon was that they did not want to have to be handcuffed by putting a certain player in at a certain position. Instead, Texas is going to play the next best linebacker no matter if his speciality is middle, strong side or weak side.

So that could force some shifting among the linebackers. When Hicks went out against Ole Miss, Cobbs slid from the strong side to the weak side and Kendall Thompson came in at the strong side. Edmond stayed in the middle.

But with an off week to prepare, Texas was able to shift guys around and experiment with sets that allowed for Dalton Santos, a natural middle linebacker, to be on the field with Edmond.

(Read full post)

Over the next two months, HornsNation, will analyze each of the scholarship layers currently on the Texas roster. (The bulk of the 2012 class is not currently on the roster.) We will look at the player’s past contributions, what he might do for Texas this year and the future impact he could have on the program. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis we will go through the roster numerically before ending with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 7
Mykkele Thompson
Defensive back, 6-2, 183, sophomore

60 days, 60 stats: No. 53 

June, 11, 2012
Each day, as a countdown to fall camp opening on Aug. 2, we are going to provide you with a number that was important in 2011 and let you know why it will be important in 2012.

Inside the number
Texas had 53 kick returns last season and two of them were extremely memorable.
In back-to-back games, Fozzy Whittaker went the distance with kick returns to score two of Texas’ 44 touchdowns in 2011. Those returns helped Texas rank 20th nationally in kick return average with 24.08 yards per return. But the issue for Texas is that beyond those two returns, Texas was average at best when it came to returning kicks. In fact, take those two 100-yard returns away and Texas averaged 20.9 yards per return which would have been 90th in FBS.

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60 days, 60 stats: No. 59 

June, 5, 2012
Each day, as a countdown to fall camp opening on Aug. 2, we are going to provide you with a number that was important in 2011 and let you know why it will be important in 2012.

Inside the number
It took 11 games for the Texas defense to finally break.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The numbers don’t add up for Texas.

Not now, anyway.

Not after the departure of Fozzy Whittaker.

The senior was the one who carried the Texas return game despite only having 10 returns. Still, Whittaker accounted for 424 kickoff return yards -- a 42.4-yard average -- and two touchdowns. The effort from the returners not named Whittaker was less than stellar -- 852 yards on 43 returns or an average of 19.8 yards per return. That average put Texas into a tie with Northern Illinois for 100th in FBS in 2011.

“We weren't returning them well until Fozzy started,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He returns two for touchdowns and then we don't return them well. So obviously that guy back there is probably more important than the other 10 guys blocking for him because he made that a viable scoring opportunity and field position for us.”

[+] EnlargeMarquise Goodwin
AP Photo/Gregory BullMarquise Goodwin is likely a prime candidate to replace Fozzy Whittaker as Texas' primary kick returner.
The other guys that were back there are back again this season -- Quandre Diggs, D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin. It was Goodwin who put up the best numbers among the trio, averaging 22.4 yards per return and having along of 40.

But Monroe might have proved to be the most explosive. He had a 100-yard kickoff return called back because of a penalty that did not directly affect the play.

Diggs saw the most action with 19 returns but had a lowly 19.5 return average, and while he proved to be explosive on punt returns, he never broke the 30-yard barrier on kickoff returns.

So suffice it to say, there is no heir apparent to Whittaker.

“What we thought is that it would be really important for us to look at everybody, because we know what Quandre can do,” Brown said. “We know what D.J. can do. We know what Marquise can do.

“So let's look at everybody. Let's take Sheroid [Evans]. Let's take Mykkele [Thompson]. Let's go out of the box a little bit. Let's work guys that haven't worked there a lot.”

That means Texas will be working freshmen into that spot as well. Right now, only Duke Thomas is the only freshman candidate on campus. But in the fall, Texas may take a hard look at Daje Johnson, Marcus Johnson, Kendall Sanders and possibly even Johnathan Gray at the return spot.
“You have to have depth,” Brown said.

It’s also a position where Texas has to have a solid decision maker. The rules will change in 2012. Instead of the 30-yard line, the kicks have been moved up to the 35.

That means there is a greater likelihood that the returner will catch the ball in the end zone with a decision to make. In the case of Whittaker, both his touchdown returns were 100 yards, so clearly he made the right decision.

Plus, the more beneficial starting point could lead to teams electing to do something other than the traditional kick.

Texas will have to prepare its returners on what do when receiving the kick five yards deep in the endzone, and also instruct them on what to do in those different situations.

“So there's a lot of different scenarios of what will happen.” Brown said. “Will more people squib instead of trying to kick it out to try to keep you inside the 25? Deep sky kicks? What will change?”

While there are still plenty of questions, it is clear that Texas must still find yardage and impactful returns.
The players like to refer to Texas as DBU (Defensive Back University).

The nickname works only because the defensive backs work as well. Throughout the Mack Brown era at Texas, the Longhorns have been known for putting quality players into the NFL. Following the 2010 season, three players were selected. After the 2012 season, one more will certainly go into the NFL Draft, Kenny Vaccaro, and he could be joined by another, Carrington Byndom.

Kenny Vaccaro
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireKenny Vaccaro (4) will be the ringleader of one of the country's best secondaries.
But for now both are in the fold and should allow Texas to build one of the best secondaries in the Big 12. With their experience and talent, Texas will have the opportunity to give offenses multiple looks and packages. No doubt defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will start working on those packages this spring.

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Baylor notes: More quarterback woes 

December, 4, 2011

The Texas coaching staff is adamant in its conviction that the Longhorns have a quarterback on their roster who can lead them in 2012.

“We’ve got a quarterback,” Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “Absolutely.”

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Freshman Quarterbacks A Growing Trend?
Ted Miller looks at how freshman quarterbacks have become more common in college football, and how these "rookie" college players could factor in at several College Football Playoff contenders.