Texas Longhorns: Brandon Moore

AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Linebacker a position of strength

If there was one position of weakness that could be put in isolation on the Texas defense, it was linebacker. From inexperience to an injury to star sophomore Jordan Hicks, the group struggled game after game.

videoAUSTIN, Texas -- It is all about the family for Texas’ newest 2015 commit.

After receiving an offer from the Longhorns on Friday afternoon, defensive tackle Bryce English (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) wasted little time in committing to Texas. In doing so, he’ll eventually join a program coached by his godfather, Texas recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Bruce Chambers.

“I’ve been wanting to be a Longhorn ever since middle school,” English said. “I’ve been throwing up 'Hook’em' forever. My dreams are finally coming true.”

English (5-foot-11, 312 pounds) is the second sophomore to commit to the Longhorns in less than a week. Offensive lineman Aaron Garza (Sherman, Texas/Sherman) committed during Texas’ sophomore day on Saturday.

The product of one of Texas’ top high school programs, English severely helps fill a position of need across the interior of the Longhorns’ defensive front. Texas missed out on its top defensive tackle target in 2013 – A’Shawn Robinson – and ended up not signing a signing a single defensive tackle.

But they’ve got one now, one the Longhorns can count on to hold true to his commitment over the next two years.

“Coach [Mack] Brown was telling me that they wanted to offer me and didn’t want me to go to any other schools,” English said. “When you commit you stay true to Texas. That’s what I’m going to do.”

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Position breakdown: Defensive tackle 

February, 19, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Brandon Moore left and barely an eye was batted.

In years past maybe losing a consistent starter on the defensive line who will likely have a decent NFL career would cause panic. Not in 2013. Not with what Texas should have to offer at the defensive tackle position.

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Four downs: Managing expectations 

February, 13, 2013
Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Expectations

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Tim Warner/Icon SMIThe return of Jordan Hicks from injury will help bolster Texas' back seven.
Texas has never run from expectations even when it did not like them. Expectations sometimes lead to false hope and pressure. I’ve often thought that it is perfectly fine to feel nervous about a task. Being nervous only proves that you care about what you are doing. When people feel pressure, which is usually due to feeling unprepared for the task at hand, that is something that fractures the base of a team.

ESPN’s post-recruiting, pre-spring national ranking posted Texas as the No. 14 team in the country, with Big 12 cohort Oklahoma right behind it at 15. Texas is the highest ranked Big 12 team. Texas, whether it wants to acknowledge the validity of recruiting rankings or not, had the best recruiting class in the Big 12 in 2013.

Texas brings back the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12, the most complete backfield, its entire offensive line and the lion’s share of the receivers back in 2013.

If the defense can put the back seven together, then this Longhorns team just might meet expectations.

Second down: How important is 2013?

Recruiting has changed. Texas did not have a recruiting class that matched the depth and scope of the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes.

Momentum in the Texas football program is probably at an all-time low during Mack Brown's tenure. For the first time in his time in Austin there might be more questions than answers.

There is an apathy associated to the Longhorns football program in the Texas fanbase. Texas fans are not willing to stretch, believe, or commit to their program’s greatness because trust between the fanbase and the program has been fundamentally marginalized.

Texas does not need to win the BCS Championship in 2013 but it needs to be reflective of the commitment, the resources and the talent in the great state of Texas, and specifically at the University of Texas.

Third down: Walking into spring...

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Texas recruiting misses: 2010 

January, 30, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas -- Not much of the top talent in the state escaped the top program in the state in 2010.

Texas, coming off a national championship appearance, won the recruiting battle for defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and just about every other player it went after. The Longhorns locked up four of the top five recruits from Texas in ESPN’s 150. The lone miss was defensive back Ahmad Dixon out of Waco. And Texas even had Dixon for a short period. He committed to Texas after junior day in February of 2009 only later to decommit and commit to Baylor. He then decommitted to Baylor in favor of Tennessee only to decommit from Tennessee as he eventually signed with Baylor.

Another year, another recruiting saga.

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Texas adds juco OT Desmond Harrison

January, 21, 2013
Texas kicked off on Monday what could be a fruitful final few weeks of 2013 recruiting by picking up its first verbal commit since October.

The Longhorns have landed pledge No. 14 from Contra Costa (Calif.) College offensive lineman Desmond Harrison.

The three-star prospect chose Texas over Arizona State, USC, Oklahoma and offers from more than 20 schools.

“This feels real good,” Harrison said. “I feel like I just made the best decision. It was a tight decision. It really boiled down to Arizona State and Texas, and they really made it difficult. It just felt like Texas was the best for me.”

Harrison had been leaning toward choosing Texas for a while, but the final decision was tougher than he’d expected.

“It was a last-minute decision,” he said. “Everything came down to the end. I was still thinking about it today."

A 6-foot-8, 310-pound lineman who is being recruited to play left tackle, Harrison took an official visit to Texas on Dec. 7 and is the program’s second junior college pledge, joining Butte (Calif.) College tight end signee Geoff Swaim.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The deepest position on the Texas roster took a hit as defensive tackle Brandon Moore announced his intent to enter the NFL draft on Friday.

"I want to thank coach [Mack] Brown, [defensive line] coach [Bo] Davis and everyone at Texas," Moore said in a statement. "I enjoyed my time and really appreciate the opportunity I had to play for the Longhorns, but my life-long dream has been to play in the NFL and to have a chance to support my family. I'll definitely miss everyone at Texas and will always pull for the Longhorns, but I'm ready to put all of my energy into preparing for my future and getting ready to work out for NFL scouts."

The transfer from East Mississippi Community College started five games and had eight tackles for loss, two sacks and six quarterback pressure in his only season at Texas.

If there were a position Texas could afford to lose a player it was defensive tackle. The Longhorns used a five-man rotation last season and, prior to Moore’s declaration, were set to have all five players back. Moore’s departure should clear more room for rising sophomore Malcom Brown.

Brown’s playing time steadily increased throughout the year and it became clear he would be become and impact player in his sophomore season. Ashton Dorsey, Chris Whaley and Desmond Jackson will all vie for the starting spot opposite Brown.

While those four should garner most of the minutes, Paul Boyette Jr. may now have the opportunity to become part of the rotation. Boyette redshirted in 2012.

Overall the Texas defense will lose three starters from what was the worst defense in school history. Defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro are expected to be selected within the first two rounds. Because of his potential and size (6-5, 320) Moore could also grab a spot in the first three rounds.

Four downs: Who is Texas' bad cop? 

December, 5, 2012
Each week Sean Adams takes a look at some topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: We have some ying, where’s the yang?

[+] EnlargeManny Diaz
John Albright/Icon SMIIs defensive coordinator Manny Diaz Texas' disciplinarian?
Every staff in the country has two kinds of coaches. There is the coach that turns red and has to be calmed down and there is the coach that does the calming. There are "good cops" and "bad cops." For every Nick Saban spitting and yelling and throwing headsets, there is a Bobby Williams that comes behind them and hugs the player with a statement like, “Come on, he just wants you to be the best you can be. He loves you and we need you.”

Bobby Bowden, the good cop, had Chuck Amato and Mickey Andrews.

Mack Brown, the good cop, had Dick Tomey and Will Muschamp.

Who is the bad cop now? Who do the players fear? I don’t mean fear as in danger. I mean fear as in, “When I screw up, I don’t want to go to the sidelines." I mean fear as in, "I’m scared to watch film tomorrow.” I mean fear as in, "I’m going to lose my job.”

Who sets the edge for this team? Is that person defensive coordinator Manny Diaz? Is that person offensive line coach Stacy Searels?

Whoever that person is, they need to be heard. There seems to be no healthy amount of fear in the Texas program. I see interceptions thrown, tackles missed and passes dropped and very little chastising when they get back to the sideline. While that is not the end all and be all to a football team, that is part of the formation of a team and accountability.

Second down: Is the offense too complicated?

I was all for the offense put in buckets when I first heard about Bryan Harsin and the way his offense was structured at Boise State. His goal was to define roles for players and give the best athletes opportunities to get the ball in prime positions.

That worked for a while and still does, but the overview of the offense is that there is too much going on. There are so many different things that Texas probably does OK, but nothing is done really great. Players are not allowed to find a rhythm within the offense and the offense has become somewhat predictable based on motions and personnel packages.

Texas should not have to do what Boise State did to find success. Texas gets some of the best athletes in the country and tricking and teams without a consistent scheme is almost a misuse of talent.

Simple will be better for this team in 2013.

Third down: Another QB?

Texas is looking at two junior college quarterbacks: Nick Marshall of Garden City Community College and Arizona Western College's Tanner McEvoy.

With five scholarship quarterbacks (Case McCoy, David Ash, Conner Brewer, Jalen Overstreet and Tyrone Swoopes) already in the fold and sealed for the 2013 season, Texas is talking to more quarterbacks.

Does that mean that it is not happy with those signal-callers on campus or does that mean that it knows all five will not be back on campus for the 2013 season?

Either way, the quarterback situation is a mess. For an offense that over-delivered this fall it appears the only position that will come back with a dose of unknown will be the quarterback spot.

I will stay with the notion that Texas will not be a championship winning team in 2013 if it doesn't leave the spring with a dialed-in, 100-percent starting quarterback. This is a competition that cannot go into the fall.

Fourth down: When are people going to talk about the defense?

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AUSTIN, Texas – Quandre Diggs talks like he plays -- fast, hard and with an edge.

So when the question as to why the defense has not lived up the hype was put to the Texas cornerback he came back with a quick punch: "You think everybody who comes on the field is automatically an all-American."

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannCornerback Quandre Diggs, who has three interceptions on the season, has been arguably Texas' top defender this season.
Well, true. That is the perception of Texas because Texas does recruit and sign so many high school all-Americans. Over the past five years, Texas has had 51 ESPN top 150 players sign. For perspective, Baylor has had three. The Bears are only 25 spots worse in overall defense than Texas this season.

Where the real difference is that Texas was expected to be better. Check that, Texas was expected to be among the best. The players, the ones Texas brought in front of the media in the spring and fall camp, said the defense was better than the 2011 version that finished 11th in overall defense. Linebacker Steve Edmond moved like no big man they had seen before, they said. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore could block out the sun and throw aside offensive linemen with ease, the players said. And the secondary would be better due to a year of experience and the addition of a healthy Adrian Phillips, was the claim.

Then they played. And it was clear from the first 82-yard touchdown pass allowed against Wyoming this defense had issues.

Here then is a breakdown of why Texas has broken down on defense:

Linebackers: To pin all the issues on Jordan Hicks’ injury would be wrong. He was the leader of that group and the leading tackler before injuring his hip flexor against Ole Miss. But not even his play would have been able to mask the deficiencies present in the other players.

First off, Texas had no adequate backup for Hicks. It tried to play with three linebackers and put Demarco Cobbs in Hicks’ spot while bringing Kendall Thompson in to play the other outside linebacker. But it became apparent Cobbs’ speed, his greatest asset, was wasted due to his inability to use that speed to go in the right direction.

In addition, with the proliferation of spread teams Texas needed more defensive backs on the field and therefore would have to play more nickel and dime. So despite Cobbs being a former safety, he had to come off the field. (He did play more of a floater linebacker/safety role against Baylor on some plays and actually was not all bad.)

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Stats that matter: Baylor vs. Texas 

October, 17, 2012
Numbers, it's said, rarely lie. With that thought in mind, HornsNation -- with a healthy assist from the ESPN Stats and Info crew -- will dig into the numbers each week and pull three stats that could play a significant role in the outcome of Texas' game. This week the focus is on Baylor, its explosive offense and wet-firecracker defense.

1. 120
Baylor is dead last in total defense allowing 559 yards per game. Seriously, West Virginia is better. Only six spots, but better.

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The Texas 10: Week 7 

October, 15, 2012
Each week, HornsNation will rank Texas' top 10 performers of the season up to this point:

1. LB Jordan Hicks
He hasn’t played in three games but his importance to the team cannot be underestimated. Texas desperately needs him to help with its run defense and overall maturity.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas defense, which has suffered many blows in the past few weeks, just took another to the gut.

Jackson Jeffcoat is out. Gone for the season. He tore his pectoral muscle. This time it was the right one. Last year it was the left one. So much for Texas having the top two defensive ends in the Big 12. Instead Texas is just left with big questions at a time when it is searching for answers.

The foremost is: Can Cedric Reed or Reggie Wilson even come close to producing at Jeffcoat’s level? The answer is no. If they could, they would have had the starting spot.

[+] EnlargeJackson Jeffcoat
John Albright/Icon SMITexas will have to replace DE Jackson Jeffcoat, arguably its top defender, with inexperienced players.
Wilson showed a flash against Ole Miss when he jumped a diving blocker and sacked Bo Wallace.

Jeffcoat does stuff like that every game. The junior had four sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown already this season. Reed and Wilson have a combined five tackles for loss and one sack.

But Jeffcoat’s game went beyond stats. He, along with bookend Alex Okafor, was able to pin in quarterbacks and shrink their options. The reason Geno Smith was unable to roll the pocket and therefore roll Texas was because he had Jeffcoat to his left and Okafor to his right every time he dropped back. It was the combined pressure of the two that forced Smith to take four sacks and be stripped of the ball twice.

Without that type of pressure the Texas secondary, which already has issues in coverage, is susceptible to being picked apart by a quarterback like Baylor’s Nick Florence. Florence, the FBS leader in total offense, just so happens to be the next QB Texas faces.

The Longhorns might consider pulling the redshirt off someone like Shiro Davis in order to get more speed on the edge. But, as Texas has proven in the past two losses, it is very tough to play fast as a defensive player when you do not know where you are going.

Without Jeffcoat, Texas, a team that has allowed 111 points and more than 1,100 yards in the past two games, might be wondering where it is going.

Ash not ruled out
Texas has prepared itself since the spring to use two quarterbacks. Now the Longhorns might have to do just that.

While quarterback David Ash has not been ruled out with a bruise to his non-throwing wrist, he has not been cleared to play, either. That means Texas might once again be turning to backup Case McCoy.

The junior, who was 3-2 as a starter in 2011, lost out on the starting job after what was an eight-month competition. But the Texas coaches qualified their selection of Ash by stating, repeatedly, that they felt McCoy was more than an adequate backup and that they would not hesitate to play him.

Well, now the time might have come and it might be against Baylor, which happens to be the last team McCoy started against. In that game, McCoy was responsible for five turnovers. That, as much as anything, is what led to his demotion.

The coaching staff could not abide a quarterback who played fast and loose with the ball. They wanted a game manager. Ash better fit that role. McCoy, on the other hand, is much more of a draw-it-up-in-the-dirt player.

But McCoy has matured. He has added 15-20 pounds and put more zip on his intermediate throws as well as length on deep throws.

If he is the quarterback, it is almost a certainty that co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin will play it close to the vest and try to get McCoy to distribute the ball to playmakers such as Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin and Johnathan Gray. That has been when Texas is at its best. And to beat Baylor, a team that is No. 2 in total offense and No. 4 in scoring offense, Texas’ offense will have to be at its best.
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Texas coach Mack Brown was curious to see how his team reacted against a solid Big 12 team. In the first half, the answers were mixed. Offensively Texas was solid. Defensively the struggles from Ole Miss continued.

Stat of the half: After scoring a combined 35 points in the first quarter, all these two teams could only manage three points in the second quarter. Oklahoma State clearly struggles in second quarters. The Cowboys failed to score against Arizona in that loss and only scored three against Texas. This was the first time that Texas has failed to score in the second quarter.

Player of the half: Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle has devastated Texas in the run game. The junior took his first handoff and went 69 yards for a touchdown. Randle had 103 yards in the first quarter and continued to carve up Texas in the second, finishing with 147 yards and a touchdown. Oklahoma State had 168 rushing yards in the first half.

What's working for Texas: David Ash has continued to play with poise. The sophomore has directed two scoring drives and been accurate on most of his downfield passes. Ash, who has two touchdown passes, should have had another, but a 40-yard toss was dropped by Mike Davis in the end zone.

What's not working for Texas: The Longhorns are once again failing to tackle. Both of Oklahoma State's first half touchdowns came as a result of missed tackles by safety Adrian Phillips. The first was the 69-yard run by Randle. Phillips had Randle wrapped up at the 48, released hum and watch him run the next 52 yards. On the next touchdown, Phillips hit receiver Josh Stewart at the 23 but bounced off, getting injured on the play. Stewart scooted into the end zone from there.

What Texas needs to do to stay ahead: Continue to get a rotation of fresh players in on defense. The Longhorns are down four potential starters on that side of the ball. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore (virus) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (hip) did not make the trip. Phillips was hurt in the game. Defensive tackle Desmond Jackson also was hurt. Texas has had to use true freshman Malcom Brown at defensive tackle and little-used junior Kyle Kreigel.

Missed tackles pile up for Longhorns 

September, 18, 2012
Kenny Vaccaro didn’t care about the 66 points Texas scored.

It was the 31 points that the defense gave up that was driving him crazy.

"We had a lot of big plays but I think a lot of its gets canceled out by the big touchdowns we gave up," the Texas safety said. "You can’t give up big plays."

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The Texas 10: Week 3 

September, 17, 2012
Each week, HornsNation will rank Texas' top 10 performers of the season up to this point:

1. QB David Ash
A career day with 326 passing yard and four touchdowns. Those four touchdowns equaled his total from all of last season.

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Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.