CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 13 Texas

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2011 record: 8-5 overall, 4-5 in Big 12 (6th-tie)

2011 postseason: Holiday Bowl (21-10 win over California)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: unranked/unranked

Head coach: Mack Brown (227-113-1 overall, 141-39 in 14 seasons at Texas)

Offensive coordinator: Major Applewhite (fourth season at Texas, second as co-OC); Bryan Harsin (second season at UT, second as co-OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 21st rushing offense (202.6 ypg); 86th passing offense (189.9 ypg); 54th total offense (392.5 ypg); 55th scoring offense (28.1 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: 10

Defensive coordinator: Manny Diaz (second season at Texas, second as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 6th rushing defense (96.2 ypg); 42nd passing defense (209.8 ypg); 11th total defense (306.8 ypg); 33rd scoring defense (22.2 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Austin, Texas

Stadium:  Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2009

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
The Longhorns certainly couldn’t be any worse than they have been the past two seasons, right?  Coming off a stretch in which it won 10-plus games for nine straight seasons, Texas proceeded to win just 13 games total in 2010 and 2011 — the same number they had during their title-winning 2005 season.  With a total of 17 returning starters — tied for 20th in the country according to the esteemed Phil Steele — from a team that “rebounded” with an eight-win season in 2011, it appears the ‘Horns are ready to emerge from its inexplicable two-year sabbatical from meaningful football.

The Bad
A four-game stretch of the schedule beginning in late September that features road games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, and home contests with West Virginia and Baylor, combined to go with uncertainty (still) at quarterback to go along with a defense that’s ill-equipped to withstand attrition in any form.  In other words, yes, this ranking could very well — hell, may very well — be such a stretch that I’m pulling a muscle/muscles as I type this.

The Unknown
The quarterback position, of course.  After seven straight seasons of Vince Young/Colt McCoy under center, the Longhorns the past two seasons have had, well, the exact opposite at the position.  And, no, it’s no coincidence the worst two-year stretch under Brown coincides with abysmal play at quarterback.  David Ash, who rotated in and out of the starting lineup with Colt McCoy’s brother Case last season, showed flashes that he could be the guy, although not enough for Brown to name him the starter entering camp.  If either Ash or McCoy can emerge as even an average player at the position, the Longhorns are positioned defensively and with the running game to get back to Texas normalcy record-wise.  That’s a huge, huge if, however.

Make-or-break game: vs. Oklahoma at Dallas, Oct. 6
While the preceding two games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia were tempting to slot here, the annual (warning: political incorrectness ahead!!!) Red River Shootout warrants the spot.  With the Sooners once again expected to be at or near the head of the class in the Big 12, the annual rivalry game will serve as a very solid midseason litmus test of where the Longhorns stand in the conference — and how far they may still have to go to get back to where they were just a couple of years ago.

Heisman hopeful: running back Malcolm Brown
If we have to put anyone here for Texas, it has to be the talented sophomore.  As a true freshman last season, Brown led the Longhorns in both rushing yards (742) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.  It’s a stretch to put Brown in the Heisman mix in the first place; add in incoming freshman Jonathan Gray and the return of Joe Bergeron (2nd in rushing with 463 yards) and it morphs into merely a pipe dream as there may simply not be enough carries for Brown, as talented as he is, to shine on a stage as bright as the Heisman.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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Danny Etling holds off true freshman, named LSU’s starting QB

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Myles Brennan is, more than likely, the future at the quarterback position for LSU.  In the here and now, however, the precocious true freshman will have to bide his time — at least for now.

After a significant, and maybe unexpected, push from the true freshman Brennan, Danny Etling Tuesday was officially named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in a battle that Ed Orgeron described as “very close.”  Etling, a transfer from Purdue, came into the competition as the incumbent, starting the last 10 games of the 2016 season after taking over the job from Brandon Harris.

“We believe in Danny. We hope he has a great year,” the head coach said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In his first season at LSU, Etling completed 160-of-269 passes (59.5%) for 2,123 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.  In his 10 starts, the Tigers went 7-3 in a season that saw them finish 8-4.

Brennan was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Etling’s first start in his second season with the team will come Sept. 2 against BYU in the neutral-site opener.

UTSA-Texas State series rebranded H-E-B I-35 Showdown

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For those not familiar with HEB Grocery Company, it’s a grocery giant founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by a man named Florence Butt. H-E-B now owns nearly 400 stores stretching across south and central Texas and central Mexico. H-E-B essentially owns the San Antonio area and leases back to its million-plus residents, so it makes sense that when UTSA and Texas State wanted to brand their rivalry, they turned to H-E-B.

Starting this season, the UTSA-Texas State series will now be known as the H-E-B I-35 Showdown

Cue the AD boilerplate!

“We’re thrilled that H-E-B has become the title sponsor for the I-35 rivalry football games between UTSA and Texas State,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said. “No matter the sport, both fan bases always show up in strong support when the Roadrunners and the Bobcats get together on the playing fields. This newly-branded name for the football games this season and next will only add to the rich history between the two schools.”
 
“It is great to have H-E-B supporting the I-35 football series between Texas State and UTSA,” Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis said. “H-E-B has a great relationship with the state of Texas and both universities. We have continued to play UTSA in other sports and the rivalry is strong for our student-athletes and fans.”

The two schools are natural gridiron rivals. They sit just 50 miles apart — connected by Interstate 35, of course — and compete for athletes and regular students alike. The Roadrunners and Bobcats have been Olympics sports rivals for years, primarily as members of the Southland Conference. Each football program is (obviously) in FBS now and have met only once, a 38-31 UTSA win in 2012, since the Roadrunners’ program launched in 2011.

The series will resume Sept. 23 in San Marcos, with Texas State making a return visit to San Antonio on Sept. 22, 2018.

Hugh Freeze reportedly made at least a dozen calls to escort services as Ole Miss coach

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Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze dialed “at least 12” numbers associated with escort services through online advertisements, according to a review of open records obtained by ESPN.com. The calls took place over a 33-month period, stretching from April 2014 through January 2017, and typically lasted two minutes or less.

Those calls appear to be what Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter referenced as “a pattern of personal misconduct” on the night he resigned. The calls are the second phone related-issue connected to Freeze’s dismissal. He also made at least 200 calls to a booster that is under NCAA investigation.

There are two puzzling aspects to Freeze’s calls to escort services: A) that he made the calls on a university-owned cell phone in the first place, and B) that Freeze did not redact the calls from the records request, since other private calls were removed from the public review of his 39,000 calls as the Rebels’ head coach.

“Any personal calls having no relation to UM business are not public records,” Ole Miss attorney Robert T. Jolly wrote in an email to ESPN. “Personal calls will be clearly marked and redacted from the documents released.”

Freeze went 39-25 in five seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, peaking with back-to-back wins over Alabama and a long-awaited Sugar Bowl victory to close the 2015 season but ending with a 5-7 mark and a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season, which will be coached by interim Matt Luke. Ole Miss will sit before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11, with Freeze’s character and strict adherence to NCAA recruiting rules a cornerstone of the school’s defense.

Reports: Oklahoma State RB Jeff Carr to transfer

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Jeff Carr is planning to transfer from Oklahoma State, according to a report from Pokes sidelines reporter Robert Allen. That report has since been confirmed by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Carr has since been removed from Oklahoma State’s online roster.

A junior, Carr was Oklahoma State’s most experienced running back but was passed on the depth chart by sophomore Justice Hill. Hill ran the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, while Carr rushed 12 times for 83 yards and one score. His 6.92 yards per carry average led the team. Carr rushed 36 times for 142 yards and one score as a freshman in 2015. Carr also saw his touches as a kickoff returner (29 returns to three) and a receiver (11 catches to one) fall from 2015 to ’16.

After losing the Temple, Texas, native, Oklahoma State will have five running backs on scholarship — four freshmen and one sophomore, Hill.

Multiple outlets have reported Carr is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville, a Division II school that will permit Carr to play immediately.