A few Nuggets while coming down from my Breaking Bad (non-meth) high …
WHAT’S gotten into Mack Brown? First he opens up six practices for the media. Then he yucks it up with reporters on the sideline. What next? Juggling chain saws for an insurance company?
He’s as relaxed as I’ve ever seen him in during a summer. Add the 25-pound weight loss and you’re looking at the new and improved Mack. Perhaps he believes for the first time in a while that this Texas team is one that will compete for a conference title, maybe more.
Speaking for my media colleagues, I’m very appreciative of Mack for allowing us to get a look at what he will be putting on the field in the fall. Many college programs are going the way of closed practices, and this switch in philosophy was a great one. It not only allows us to see what we are covering, but also gives us the chance to bring you more informed reports and opinions. It’s a win-win. I hope it’s the start of a trend.
THE one line that I will take away from the week of practices we witnessed came from defensive tackle Chris Whaley.
The subject was Kansas State cornerback Tre Walker, who basically called the Longhorns soft at Big 12 media days when he was asked about the 2012 meeting of the two teams, a 42-24 Wildcats win.
“They kind of laid down a little bit,” Walker told reporters. “That’s nothing to say about their character. That’s just what they do.”
When asked if other teams thought the Horns were tough, Whaley said, “They know we are.”
That’s an answer that may be replayed throughout this season. The proof, or lack thereof, will come soon enough.
CAN’T help but think this season will be about the Texas defense, particularly the front seven.
If there’s one player I’m looking at to step forward and be the straw that stirs this Longhorns drink, it’s defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. He told us Friday that he’s a lean, mean 250 pounds, though he looks closer to 240 at that height. Jeffcoat, who missed the spring with a pectoral injury, said he is as strong as ever.
“That’s what we always are trying to do, get better each year and be the best we can be,” he said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for the last half of the season, so I wanted to come back and prove to my teammates that I’m ready to go, and we’re ready to go.”
It’s time for Jeffcoat to be a Brian Orakpo/Alex Okafor sort of presence on the edge, because this defense without a scary pass rusher will be average at best. He has the ability to provide that intimidation factor and be the disruptor this defense needs to be as good as any in the Big 12. Anything less than 10 sacks will be considered an underachievement.
WANT to know how to make an NFL football team? Well, there’s no clear-cut formula, but returning a kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown in a preseason game should go a long way in securing a roster spot. That was the feat turned in by Texas ex Marquise Goodwin on Sunday.
Goodwin, a rookie wideout with the Buffalo Bills, went coast to coast in blurry fashion against the Indianapolis Colts. He was also credited with a 53-yard return that came so close to being another TD.
Thanks to guys like Wes Welker and Steve Smith, smallish wideouts are all the rage these days, and if he makes the club, Goodwin — who clocked a 4.27 in the 40 at the scouting combine — could also team with Leodis McKelvin and Brad Smith to form the league’ s scariest kickoff return attack. Goodwin averaged 25.2 per return his senior season at Texas.
AND, finally, after signing a one-year contract with Green Bay for the veteran minimum of $840,000, Vince Young is back in the NFL. The next challenge? Staying there.
Young completed one pass for 7 yards but rushed twice for 12 yards, including a pair of first downs, in his Packers debut against Arizona. He has a real chance to beat out former Texas Tech star Graham Harrell for the job behind Aaron Rodgers, but that can only come with playing time.
Young says he has matured, and that’s all well and good, but only eye-opening plays like he made earlier in his career will land him a full-time gig behind Rodgers come the fall.