Texas Longhorns: Landry Jones

AUSTIN, Texas -- When it came to David Ash, Malcolm Brown's answer was no different than any other Texas player has given over the past several years when the quarterback question has come up.

"Like Mike Davis said, he has a swagger about him now," the running back said of the quarterback.

Only now it might be time to believe in the rising junior. Not because of some huge personality shift in Ash, but because this time –-- the junior season following a multi-year starter's sophomore season -- is typically when said actions start to speak louder than words.

Looking back at eight Big 12 multi-year starting quarterbacks -- Texas’ Colt McCoy, Texas’ Vince Young, Missouri’s Chase Daniel, Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Kansas’ Todd Reesing -- all but one had a dramatic leap in every statistical category from their sophomore to junior years. (Jones was the exception. In the six categories measured, he only increased his stats in one category, average yards per game.)

So the odds are Ash, who started 12 games in 2012, should follow suit. Maybe not to the extreme of Young, who topped the other seven aforementioned quarterbacks when it came to overall production increase. But there should at least be a measure of improvement to Ash’s stats. How much is up for debate for the next several months.

But if he follows the statistical average presented by those eight quarterbacks who have gone before him, Ash could see his passing efficiency rating rise by 17.10 points, completion percentage by 5 percent, touchdowns by 5.8, interceptions shrink by a nominal 0.25, overall yards move up 581.8 and yards per game to increase by 45.6.

Of course, there are mitigating factors that could shape whether or not Ash has a rise or fall in his stats in 2013.

One of which is that Ash already experienced a dramatic rise in his stats from 2011 to 2012. In his sophomore season, Ash finished in the top 25 in passer efficiency rating and increased that rating 45.9 points. He had 15 more touchdown passes as a sophomore, threw for 1,620 yards and completed 10.4 percent more of his passes. (He also had 144 more attempts as a sophomore than as a freshman.) The point being that quite possibly a ceiling, if not already hit, is at least within arm’s length.

A counter argument could be that a shift in offensive philosophy, from traditional sets to spread, should serve to bolster his stats. In addition, the Big 12’s defenses -- at least that of the top teams Oklahoma and Kansas State -- have experienced huge losses on their side of the ball. Add that fact to the unavoidable truth that the Big 12 is not exactly chock full of top defenses -- only TCU and Texas Tech finished in the top 40 in total defense in 2012 -- and it sets up for Ash to have at least a nominal rise in his statistical production in his junior season.

If all that is not enough to make a decision, there are still the words of Ash’s teammates to go by as well:

"Now that he has it down, he’s a lot more comfortable," Brown said. "He’s loosened up with us and he talks more now because he knows what he’s doing."

Given that this is Ash’s junior year and that history is on his side, it might just be time to believe those words.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: The game that matters in 2013

The two teams that come up most as having the best opportunity to win the Big 12 besides Texas are Oklahoma State and TCU. You probably could deduce that those would be the most important games on the schedule, especially with TCU being on the road in Fort Worth.

As we continue our season wrap, we'll be looking to 2013 today. Let's take a look with some bold predictions in 2013.

1. The Big 12 will not expand or institute a championship game. I get the questions every day, but I simply don't believe the Big 12 will seriously consider expansion before the new college football playoff is in place, and the Big 12 gets an idea for where it stands in the college football landscape. Bob Bowlsby turned heads when a report surfaced that he'd inquired to the NCAA about bringing back the championship game, but that's a long way from actually doing so. Bringing back a No. 1 versus No. 2 league title game unless the Big 12 is a 12-team league with divisions is the surest way for the Big 12 to find it difficult to crack the four-team playoff.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireTexas could face a difficult decision should coach Mack Brown and the Longhorns fall short of expectations in 2013.
2. Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will win the Big 12's automatic BCS bid. Simply put, TCU and Oklahoma State are likely better teams. One of those two will win the league and represent the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl as its BCS representative. Texas is good, but not quite good enough and will have a difficult decision to make about Mack Brown's future after falling short. Oklahoma is just losing too much on defense and trying to live without Landry Jones, which fans will find more difficult than they imagined.

3. The Big 12 will have a Davey O'Brien Trophy finalist. The Big 12 is reloading at quarterback, and will likely have only one starting quarterback in 2013 (barring what happens at TCU) who started at least half of his team's games in 2012: Texas' David Ash. It won't necessarily be him at the awards ceremony, but I believe in the Big 12's quarterback development, and we'll see a breakout star next year. Will it be Michael Brewer at Tech? Bryce Petty at Baylor? Ford Childress/Paul Millard in Morgantown or Blake Bell in Norman? What about Daniel Sams or Jake Waters at K-State?

4. Three Big 12 teams will finish in the national top 35 in total defense. This year, the Big 12 had only one team (TCU) crack the top 35. There will be great defenses coming back. Look for Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State to grab this accomplishment, and Texas Tech might not be far off, too. Offenses as a whole will be down from their crazy pace next year, and that's an opportunity for some experienced defenses.

5. The Big 12 will not play for a national title ... again. It's getting old for the league these days. Texas and Oklahoma both played a part in the SEC capturing seven consecutive national titles, but the Big 12's sat on the sidelines on that Monday night in January for each of the past three seasons. Make it four next year.

6. Texas Tech will be the Big 12's biggest overachiever. They'll do it on the back of Brewer, who I buy as the most likely breakout star for the Big 12 next year. He's got great running backs, a great system and great, experienced receivers. Having Eric Ward back will be huge, and Jace Amaro and Jakeem Grant will continue to grow. I'm a little cautious on picking them in the top half of the league in the preseason, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Red Raiders finish in the top three or four next year.

7. Baylor will win at least eight games again. The Bears' offense will be back, and the defense will be a little bit improved. It'll be enough to win eight games in three consecutive seasons with three different quarterbacks. That's crazy, and yet another testament to what Art Briles has done in Waco.

8. Kansas will win a Big 12 game. It has to happen eventually, doesn't it? The Big 12 losing streak now stands at 21 games. It won't reach 30 this time next year.

Tackling still a struggle for Texas defense 

October, 16, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- You’ve had to devour lots of sour, nasty statistics from Oklahoma’s 63-21 beatdown of Texas. Here’s another that won’t sit well.

The number is 311.

That’s how many extra yards Oklahoma picked up against the Longhorns thanks to a combination of missed tackles, over-pursuits, poor angles and other kinds of whiffs.

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Five thoughts: Oklahoma 63, Texas 21 

October, 14, 2012
Here are five thoughts following the Longhorns' 63-21 loss to Oklahoma:

1. Was it all offense?
[+] EnlargeTexas fans
AP Photo/LM OteroTexas fans had no choice but to frown after the Longhorns' performance vs. Oklahoma.
Coach Mack Brown called the Texas offense inept in his postgame press conference. While I have no problem with him saying that, it was strange that he isolated it there. Texas gave up 407 yards in the first half to Oklahoma while Texas had just 65. Damien Williams averaged 9.1 yards per carry for a total of 152 yards in the first half, and Landry Jones threw for 201 yards.

The Texas offense did nothing to help its defense and gave up a 14-play, 75-yard drive to start the game. While the second half was stronger, it still gave up a total of 677 yards.

This beat-down at the hands of Oklahoma was a collective effort. The Longhorns got to this state as a team, and they will pull themselves out of it as a team.

2. He always said they needed two quarterbacks ...
Brown talked us blue in the face that he wanted to have two quarterbacks ready to play in case one of them got hurt. Now it seems that he was planning for the future. While everyone is pulling for David Ash to be OK and be ready to play vs. Baylor, his wrist injury did not look good. Case McCoy came in and was 5-of-8 for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Yes it was in mop-up duty, but he is one of the most tenured backup quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference. I have talked to plenty of people about the Ash injury, and I have heard everything from it being a season killer for Texas to it not being a huge deal. I tend to think that McCoy is prepped to play and can lead Texas as well as any backup in the country. With that said, the injury -- when coupled with the defensive issues -- puts Texas in a tough position moving forward.

3. Where is this team mentally?
Losing two weeks in a row even in different fashion has to be mentally draining for this Texas program. I wonder where the psyche of this team is. Texas has been bad in every phase of football for the last two weeks. Its momentum is going downhill. Texas could be missing its best linebacker, starting running back and starting quarterback when it takes the field on Saturday against Baylor. The offense seems to be calling plays in a passive way, and the defense seems to be one of the most leaky in the country.

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Oklahoma scores 60, again, against Texas

October, 13, 2012
For only the third time in the history of the Red River Rivalry, the Oklahoma Sooners put up at least 60 points on the Texas Longhorns.

And all three times have come since Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma in 1999.

Stoops' first win in this series came in 2000, 63-14. In 2003, OU won 65-13, and on Saturday the Sooners won 63-15.

Combined with last year's 38-point loss (55-17), this marks the first time Texas has lost to Oklahoma by at least 38 points in back-to-back seasons.

It's the third straight year Oklahoma has beaten Texas, all three with Landry Jones as the Sooners' starting quarterback. Jones is just the third starting QB in school history to beat Texas three times joining Steve Davis (1973-75) and Jimmy Davis (1954-56).

Jones also picked up his 33rd win, passing Steve Davis for most wins in school history by a starting QB.

Oklahoma's other QB, Blake Bell, had four rushing touchdowns -- the second time in his career he's rushed for four scores in a game. Bell is the first player to rush for four touchdowns against Texas since Oklahoma's Quentin Griffin set the school record with six in 2000.

With Oklahoma up 13-2, Damien Williams broke off a 95-yard touchdown run, the third longest in school history and the longest -- by either school -- in the history of the rivalry.

Oklahoma outscored Texas 23-0 in the second quarter. In the last two meetings, OU has outscored Texas 51-7 in the second quarter, and 70-12 in the first half.

Texas has now lost nine straight games against AP top-25 teams. The 677 yards the Longhorns allowed are the third most they have yielded in a game since 1950.

The Longhorns were outgained by 388 yards (677-289), their biggest disparity in a game since 1950.

Staff predictions: Texas vs. Oklahoma 

October, 12, 2012
Texas 27, Oklahoma 24
Texas is the better team in my opinion and the prediction is that easy. As shocked as we all are, Texas is better on offense than Oklahoma is right now. The Texas defense was expected to be better and if you can subtract the big plays, they would be good. Oklahoma will run the ball hard and often and force Texas to stop them. Both defenses are average, so I'm going to with better offense in a close game with field goals on both sides.
- Sean Adams

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Brett Deering/Getty ImagesCan the Texas defense pressure Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones on Saturday?
Oklahoma 38, Texas 35

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With the Red River Rivalry game between No. 15 Texas and No. 13 Oklahoma coming up on Saturday, HornsNation's Carter Strickland and SoonerNation's Jake Trotter answer a few questions.

1. Does OU still have an edge at QB?

Carter Strickland: No. Over the past six games David Ash has actually had the better stats and a better winning percentage, 5-1 to 4-2 for Landry Jones. But the reason OU’s advantage is not as great as is not just because of Ash. Texas has more weapons on offense and is more comfortable getting the ball to the players and letting them create in space.

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Five storylines: Texas vs. Oklahoma 

October, 11, 2012
Storylines for the Longhorns as they face Oklahoma on Saturday:

1. Winner take all
OK, not exactly. But the loser almost certainly will be out of the Big 12 race while the winner will at the very least stay one game behind Kansas State and West Virginia.

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Four downs: Pressuring Landry Jones 

October, 10, 2012
Each week Sean Adams takes a look at some topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First Down: Don't overreact

I have heard everything from “Texas is going to finish 7-5,” to “Manny Diaz is on the hot seat” to “Mack Brown needs to go."

After I stop laughing I have to remind everyone to tap the brakes. Texas is 4-1 and ranked No. 15. While every goal set before the season might not be possible, one loss in the Big 12 does not take Texas out of the running for the conference 12 championship.

[+] EnlargeJoe Bergeron
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesTexas tailback Joe Beregeron will likely start vs. Oklahoma, but freshman Johnathan Gray will see a lot of action.
Texas fans have been cautiously optimistic since 2010 because they have been let down so much. Texas fans err on the side of caution and save their pride whenever they can.

We do not know the ceiling for this Texas team but you can always bank on the talent. The talent is there. It has to be frustrating to have all of that talent and not have a corresponding defense that plays at that level.

The best players for Texas have to outplay the best players for Oklahoma and that is possible. Texas fans see what could have been in the West Virginia game and are overreacting to the loss.

Stop it. Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State will give Texas plenty of time to make good on their talent. Or fall flat on its face.

Second Down: And the young child shall lead them

The young guys need to get their time between the chalk. The Red River Rivalry will be a new environment for them but they are not freshmen anymore and Texas needs them.

Daje Johnson is electric and can score whenever the ball is in his hands. Texas has to figure out how to get Johnson out in space and down the field. He can play a number of positions and Texas has a number of needs with the requirement on the offense to score more.

Johnathan Gray, especially with Malcolm Brown likely out again, might be the best option for the mixture of speed and power in the backfield. While the power, strength and strain applied to a defense is huge by the running of Joe Bergeron, Gray could be the home-run hitter that Texas needs to break free on Saturday against Oklahoma.

Malcom Brown was one of the stars of the 2012 recruiting class and he is starting to show his skills at defensive tackle. He has the low-pad level and leg strength to make an impact. With the need for Texas to shuffle in players to manage the tempo offenses of the Big 12 conference, Texas needs Brown to keep fresh and strong legs in the game.

Third Down: Change of focus for the defense

Everyone knew coming into the season that West Virginia had an explosive offense with huge stars on that side of the ball. The plan going into that game last Saturday was about stopping the passing game, getting pressure with the front four and really not thinking about the Mountaineer running game. But the running game killed the Longhorns.

Against Oklahoma the plan changes completely. Stopping the run is at a premium and the goal is to pressure the Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Pressure has caused him to turn the ball over and make mistakes. The Texas defense is in strong need of the confidence that comes from forcing turnovers.

While every defense wants to start out by stopping the run, forcing Jones to beat Texas is the best way to initiate and force turnovers by the Sooner offense.

Fourth Down: Adams’ Big 12 Power Poll

  1. Kansas State (No. 1 last week): It was hard for me to move West Virginia past the Wildcats because of the Mountaineers defense. They are still on top.

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There's one word you'll hear most often when talking to a Texas defensive lineman.

Talk to Jackson Jeffcoat, and it comes up about every sentence: "Uncomfortable."

That's how the Horns want any quarterback to be, and that discomfort can come in a variety of ways. Maybe he's just got a hand in his face. Maybe he's got a guy running at him. Maybe he's uncomfortable while having his shoulder planted into the turf, with or without the ball.

[+] EnlargeAlex Okafor
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireAlex Okafor, the Big 12's leader in sacks, will be pressuring Landry Jones in the Red River Rivalry.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was certainly uncomfortable while watching Jeffcoat pounce on a fumble in the end zone Saturday night in Austin.

Whatever it looks like, the defensive line's goal is simple.

"That’s been our goal, to get pressure. I think we got four sacks [against West Virginia] as a unit, which is big, and that’s what we want to continue to do, just get pressure on the quarterback," Jeffcoat said. "It doesn’t even have to be sacks. Maybe it’s just pressure and making him throw the ball away or throw an interception. That’s our goal, to keep a quarterback uncomfortable."

They've been pretty good at it thus far. Alex Okafor won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors after forcing Smith to fumble on both of his sacks, one recovered for a score by Jeffcoat and another recovered at West Virginia's 13-yard line. Okafor even managed to block a field goal with his face mask.

"They’ve played really well. We felt like we needed pressure on the quarterback on Saturday and they got four sacks and created three fumbles and West Virginia’s got an older, very accomplished offensive line. They’ve got a good scheme," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Alex Okafor, he and Jackson Jeffcoat are two of the best defensive ends in the country and they’ve got to continue to play well."

Okafor took the Big 12 lead with his fifth and sixth sacks of the season against West Virginia, a total that ranks 12th nationally. Jeffcoat is in the No. 4 spot in the Big 12 with 3.5 sacks of his own.

This week, their efforts to make the quarterback uncomfortable will be more important than ever, with Oklahoma's Landry Jones waiting in Dallas for the Red River Rivalry.

"I haven’t watched a lot of film, but I’ve seen a little bit, and he gets a little uncomfortable with pressure," Jeffcoat said, "and that’s why we have to get to him, we definitely have to get to him."

Jones is the school's all-time leader in touchdowns and passing yardage with 100 touchdown passes and more than 13,000 yards.

He's also thrown 43 interceptions. Make him uncomfortable, and big things could happen.

"I see a confident quarterback who can sit back in the pocket and can deliver the ball to whoever he needs to throw the ball," Jeffcoat said. "He’s very accurate. We want to make sure he’s uncomfortable and not allow him to tear us apart."

He tore Texas Tech apart, but Kansas State made Jones move, forced him out of the pocket and he coughed up a fumble for a touchdown and threw an ugly interception, too.

After the game, the K-State defensive line made it clear: That was the game plan. Get Jones moving and make him uncomfortable. It'll keep him from shredding defenses and there might be big plays in store for an opportunistic secondary or an enterprising lineman or linebacker who catches Jones in the backfield.

Texas' defensive line is more than capable of making it happen. If not, life could get a little uncomfortable on the Texas sideline.

Stats that matter: Texas vs. Oklahoma 

October, 10, 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 the Red River Rivalry as Texas is headed to Dallas to take on Oklahoma.

1. 190
[+] EnlargeDamien Williams
William Purnell/Icon SMIJuco transfer Damien Williams is the Sooners' top tailback.
With all the talk about how well or poorly Landry Jones is or isn’t playing at quarterback for Oklahoma, one stat lost in the shuffle is that the Sooners are in the top four in rushing in the Big 12. Led by Damien Williams’ 85.3 yards per game, OU has piled up 190 rushing yards per game. Now while that is not quite the 300 per game Oklahoma State has averaged it still should be a concern for Texas given what the Longhorns have given up on defense as of late. After holding its first opponent to 69 rushing yards, Texas has allowed 211 rushing yards per game. In the last two games, Texas has allowed 199 yards rushing to OSU’s Joseph Randle and then 207 to West Virginia’s Andrew Buie. Even against Ole Miss Texas’s defense allowed a single back to victimize it. Jeff Scott had 95 yards on eight carries or 11.7 yards per carry.

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Campus location: Norman, Okla.
Nickname: Sooners
Conference: Big 12
Record: 3-1, 1-1
Record vs. Texas: 42-59-5

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Steve Muench of Scouts. Inc took a look at three big defenders who could be making big moves up draft boards in the weeks to come.

The Big 12 player he's got his eye on? Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

I couldn't agree more. There's no question about Jeffcoat's physical skills, but his production against some of the Big 12's best offenses will be on display in his next three games.

Oklahoma State hosts Texas next week, and the following week, Heisman front-runner Geno Smith comes to Austin for the Mountaineers' biggest Big 12 game to date.

Jeffcoat's got the ability to mess some stuff up in that game for the WVU offense.

A week later, it's the big one: The Red River Rivalry. The Big 12's signature rivalry will be underway in Dallas, with Landry Jones going for three wins in a row against Texas. If Jeffcoat can turn that game and disrupt Oklahoma's offense, expect plenty of draft hype and maybe more for the Longhorns' force up front.

Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year buzz, too?

Big 12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big 12 power rankings are heavily influenced by what each team did in the previous week, and aren't necessarily a reflection of the Big 12 standings.

Think of it this way: As of right now, this is how well each Big 12 team is playing. Here's how I slot it to begin the season:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have an awkward opener, kicking things off on the road out in the desert against UTEP at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Still, we'll get a first look at a revamped offensive line and the new, young receivers Landry Jones will be throwing to all season. Look out for a coming out party from Trey Metoyer, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

2. West Virginia: West Virginia plays Saturday's first game, kicking off against in-state rival Marshall at noon. The Big 12 newcomers have all the offense they need, but what will the pass rush look like with new defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson?

3. Kansas State: K-State opens with Missouri State on Saturday night, with Collin Klein's revamped arm on display after an offseason of development. Everyone's watching that. What they should be watching? How does the offensive line look after replacing three starters?

4. Texas: The Longhorns settled on David Ash at quarterback, but the season opener Saturday night against Wyoming on the Longhorn Network. The defense will be fiendishly fun to watch this year, but how much better is Ash? We'll get somewhat of a feel in this one.

5. TCU: Oh, you poor Frogs. TCU is officially a Big 12 member, but has to sit and watch all Saturday as the rest of the Big 12 opens their respective seasons. It gives Amon G. Carter Stadium one more week to prepare for the debut of its facelift, but by the time it does next week against Grambling, 13 Big 12 games will have been completed.

6. Oklahoma State: The defending Big 12 champs are the sixth team in the mix for a Big 12 title in 2012, but their hopes rest on the 18-year-old shoulders of Wes Lunt, a true freshman we haven't heard much out of all summer or fall camp. The Pokes don't know who his top target will be just yet, but the defense that supports the offense should be improved from 2011. We'll see them open up against the poor saps at Savannah State (yuck) on Saturday night.

7. Baylor: The post-RG3 era doesn't officially kick off until Sunday, when Nick Florence takes a snap against Baylor's old Southwest Conference rival, SMU. Last year's opener against TCU proved to be one of the most memorable games of the season. Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese have the firepower to outgun the Mustangs in a shootout. Hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk will make his long-awaited debut after coming back home from Oregon.

8. Texas Tech: Tech opens against Northwestern State on Saturday night. That's no big challenge. Staying healthy could be after two injury-riddled years to start the Tommy Tuberville Era. Keep an eye on how running back Eric Stephens looks after returning from a catastrophic knee injury last season.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones should be challenged in their 3:30 p.m. visit fron Tulsa. Steele Jantz quarterbacked ISU to three fourth-quarter comebacks to open last season, and he may need another one. Paul Rhoads' Cyclones are a slight underdog in this windy weather showdown.

10. Kansas: Kansas' last coach, Turner Gill, opened with a disastrous 6-3 loss against FCS outfit North Dakota State two years ago. This time, Charlie Weis takes on South Dakota State. He's got a better team. Expect a better result Saturday for the former Notre Dame coach and a former Irish quarterback, Dayne Crist.


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.