03 May 2012
As West Virginia prepares to enter their inaugural season in the Big 12 conference, many Mountaineer fans are taking the opportunity to connect with others from their future conference mates. And we here at eerinsider.com are no different.
Last week, we had the privilege of doing a Q&A with Hornsports.com, an phenomenal website dedicated to Longhorn sports. They were gracious enough to return the favor, and let us know more about the Horns, their thoughts on WVU, and what fans can expect when visiting Austin.
EI: By Texas' standards the Longhorns are coming off a disappointing 8-5 season in 2011. What are your overall thoughts and outlook for the 2012 season?
HS. The last couple of seasons for the Longhorns have been tough in every sense of the word. Emphatically speaking, Texas is a program that is accustomed to winning football games more so than losing them. We would be lying if we said the post-Colt McCoy era at Texas has not been challenging. The offense has struggled to find its identity and it has forced the young quarterbacks to step up and compete. After the 2010 season (Mack Brown' first losing season in 14 years at Texas) the guys bounced back last year and went 8-5 with the win over Cal in the Holiday Bowl. Some nice progress could be seen which will definitely carry over into the 2012 season. The defense should be one of the best in the country and the quarterback situation looks to have leveled out a bit. Throw in the fact that Texas has one of the best trio of running backs (we consider) potentially to ever have played together in Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and incoming freshman Jonathan Gray and we expect a lot of success from this team this year.
EI: Texas split time last season at quarterback, between David Ash and Case McCoy. Is that something we'll see again this year, or do you believe one will separate themselves from the other?
HS: Garrett Gilbert actually started at quarterback the first two games for Texas last season which were against Rice and BYU. David Ash and Case McCoy came in and both played during the BYU game and after that they basically split time the rest of the season. Both guys experienced a certain level of success last season but it was clear that the offense still had some work to do. This year David Ash has by all accounts seemed to have established himself as the starter, at least through the spring, but don't be surprised if you see a little of both. Co-Offensive Coordinator Bryan Harsin throws some funky looks at defenses so expect the unexpected when it comes to quarterback use.
EI: Texas is known for its stellar recruiting classes. Is there anyone from last year's class that is expected to make an immediate impact?
HS: Texas raked in another phenomenal 2012 recruiting class highlighted by the nation's top ranked running back and top-5 national player Jonathan Gray. Gray owns the record nationally for career touchdowns and will join an already talented set of running backs. He has blown away all of the high school records in Texas, some of which have stood for more than 50 years, and he is a beauty to watch. Even with the abilities of Bergeron and Brown, Jonathan Gray will come in and push the bar. He's a player that could see a ton of playing time this year even as a true freshman.
Another guy the Longhorns cannot wait to get on campus is Nick Jordan. Although it is not the sexiest of positions kicker and incoming true freshman Nick Jordan looks to have won the job even before he has stepped foot on the 40 Acres. Texas has been extremely fortunate for the better part of a decade with respect to its place-kickers, and hopefully this year turns out to be no different. Jordan will have a tremendous amount of pressure on him to perform and make kicks, potentially in high pressure situations but he is up to the task. Losing games because of the kicking game is not something Texas is used to or wants to see.
EI: Who are some other Longhorn players, offensively and defensively, that WVU fans need to keep an eye on?
WR Jaxson Shipley, brother of current Cincinnati Bengal WR Jordan Shipley. Shipley had a stellar freshman campaign, but was slowed by a knee injury late in the season. Jaxson has come back this spring stronger and faster. He will be one of the nation's best WR's and will also play a big role on special teams. One other note, Shipley threw 4 TD passes last season.
WR Mike Davis. Davis has as much natural talent as any of the Longhorn WR's but has yet to live up to the hype. He is terribly inconsistent, but can explode and change a game in a matter of seconds. He is poised to have a great year and with Shipley on the other side, the Longhorn WR tandem can make things very difficult for opposing defenses.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat. Jeffcoat is the son of former Dallas Cowboy great Jim Jeffcoat. Jackson is a definite game changer at DE and can disrupt many opposing defense with his speed and strength.
LB Jordan Hicks. Hicks is the highly touted LB out of Ohio who spurned Ohio State to come south. Hicks has started to put his stamp on this defense and like Jeffcoat, can change a game in seconds with his speed and athleticism.
EI: What is the reaction amongst Texas fans about Big 12 expansion, and particularly West Virginia's addition?
HS: Honestly, Texas fans are glad the conference is stable and they are excited about bringing the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers in as conference members. There were times last year the 'Horns were thrown around in the same sentence with the Pac 10, Big 10 and even with the ACC. Texas belongs just where it is in Big 12 country playing against top-tier competition and teams it has a rich history of competing against. We lost our 117 year rivalry with Texas A&M but we pick up an old one with our former Southwest Conference opponent TCU. Throw West Virginia and a rabid fanbase in the mix and things are really cookin' again for the Big 12. Texas Fans we have talked with are excited about making the trip to Morgantown in 2013 and they are excited about watching Geno Smith and the rest of the team next year in Austin and beyond. Coach Holgorsen has spent time at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State as an assistant in years past so he is no stranger to this conference and the teams in play.
EI: The majority of Mountaineer fans we've spoken with specifically mention Austin as their top place to visit for a road game. In general, what kind of atmosphere can they expect?
HS: I'm probably a little bit biased but to say the least Austin is an incredible city. It is an eclectic place with tons of history and is filled with the best in nightlife, great food and fun. Make no mistake about it though – Longhorn football is king. Travelling up I-35 you cannot help but notice the monstrosity (and beauty) that is Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, which holds 100,00+ fans that rock the house on Saturday nights. Texas fans are the epitome of classy fans, so do not expect beer bottles thrown at you or anything like that should your team put a beating on us. Well, unless you are Oklahoma... Just joking (not really). Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World" and is home to legends like Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughn. After a game Mountaineer fans should hop on over to 6th or 4th streets to listen to live music or hang out in one or more of the many, many bars and nightclubs. We guarantee a great time in the capital city – one you won't forget. In the words of a wise character from a Richard Linklater film... "Party at the Moontower." Be there and Hook'em!
The Hornsports.com team can be found on twitter: @HornSports & @CB_Hornsports
|< Prev||Next >|