Well, here’s something you see every day. Former Oklahoma wide receivers coach Jay Norvell is headed across the Red River and down to Austin as Texas’ wide receivers coach. Norvell spent seven seasons coaching the Sooners’ wideouts, and the last five as co-offensive coordinator.
An Iowa graduate, Norvell was also in the mix for Wisconsin’s open wide receivers job.
There are two ways to think about this if you’re a Texas fan. On one hand, Bob Stoops identified Norvell as part of the program with Oklahoma’s offense. And if that’s the case, how can he be part of the solution at Texas? On the other, Norvell was a major cog in the best passing offenses in Oklahoma history – he coached three of the top four pass-catchers in OU history – and had a hand in a number of Big 12 championships and, yes, wins over Texas.
Strong could have done a lot worse than a known commodity with skins on the wall in terms of player development and recruiting.
Norvell will have his work cut out for him this spring and fall. Texas boasted FBS’s 90th-most productive passing offense this fall and loses its top two pass-catchers (John Harris and Jaxon Shipley) to graduation. Rising senior Marcus Johnson is the Horns’ top returning wideout with all of 27 catches for 313 yards and one touchdown. No other returning wide receiver caught more than 10 passes last season.
Texas is also locked in recruiting battles for Tallahassee, Fla., wide receiver John Burt (vs. Auburn) and Aledo, Texas wideout Ryan Newsome (vs. UCLA and Tennessee).
If nothing else, Norvell has some pretty elite company. He’s now the third Texas coach to have worn crimson in another life. The other two? Darrell Royal and Mack Brown.
Arkansas is making itself at home in the Texas Bowl against Texas, leading the Longhorns 24-7 at the midpoint.
The key sequence came midway through the second quarter as Jaxon Shipley declined to catch a punt at his own 10 yard-line, and instead watched the Hogs down the ball at the 3. Disaster struck on the next snap as Tyrone Swoopes and Johnathan Gray, standing just in front of the Arkansas end of NRG Stadium, botched an exchange inside their own end zone, and Taiwan Johnson hopped on the loose ball for a touchdown to give Arkansas a 17-0 lead.
Texas responded with a sharp drive as Swoopes completed all four of his passes for 31 yards and rushed in from nine yards out to give the ‘Horns some apparent momentum heading into the half, but Arkansas immediately responded with a nine-play, 61-yard drive capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Allen to Keon Hatcher with 25 seconds to go before the break.
Allen has completed 8-of-16 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and Arkansas has totaled 100 yards on 21 carries.
Swoopes hit 6-of-10 throws for 30 yards (for those of you paying attention, this means he had minus-1 passing yard until Texas’ scoring drive), while three Longhorns rushers have combined for 16 yards on 14 carries.
Arkansas has a 217-46 yardage advantage and scored on all but two possessions in the first half.
Texas will receive the ball to open the second half.
Texas got a shot in the arm – specifically, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes‘ right arm – Saturday. At a Texas Bowl press event, head coach Charlie Strong revealed that senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley has been cleared to play.
Shipley missed the Longhorns’ regular-season finale against TCU with a hamstring injury. A four-year starter, Shipley has battled hamstring issue throughout his career in Austin.
Shipley is Texas’ second-leading receiver this season with 58 grabs for 578 yards and a touchdown. His 58 receptions are the 12th most in Texas single-season history, and he will move into the top 10 with two grabs against Arkansas. The 122 combined receptions between Shipley and John Harris are the fifth-most by a pass-catching tandem in UT’s single-season history.
Most importantly, Swoopes struggled – mightily – in his only start without Shipley. The sophomore turned in by far the worst performance of his career to date, completing 20-of-34 passes for 200 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a fumble returned for a touchdown in a 48-10 drubbing at the hands of the Horned Frogs.
Shipley’s presence means Texas has a leg up in the war of attrition with Arkansas. Razorbacks cornerback Carroll Washington and safety Rohan Gaines have been ruled out due to violations of team rules.
Texas and Arkansas will meet in the AdvoCare Texas Bowl at the Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium Monday night at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN).
The Texas Longhorns will be without wide receiver Jaxon Shipley tonight as the Longhorns look to upset No. 5 TCU in Austin. Shipley will be out of action due to a hamstring injury, which the school officially annoucned just minutes before the start of tonight’s Thanksgiving game.
Shipley is the second-leading receiver for the Longhorns this season with 571 yards and a touchdown in 11 games.
TCU will look to leave Austin with a huge victory to remain in the Big 12 title hunt. TCU is tied with Baylor for the Big 12 lead, but the head-to-head tiebreaker for the Big 12 belongs to Baylor. Texas has won three games in a row with three strong defensive efforts.
The SEC may prevent it from happening, but Texas wide receiver Jaxon Shipley says the Longhorns would love to have a chance to play Texas A&M. Now if only we could make it happen.
“Anybody on this team would love a chance to play A&M,” Shipley said Wednesday when meeting with the media (via Mike Finger).
It feels like listening to a broken record hearing one player or coach on Texas or Texas A&M lay out a challenge, but higher powers will intervene. Maybe it is jealousy, maybe it is hurt or bitter feelings. Or maybe the hatred runs so deep the mere thought of losing to the other or providing any slight benefit to the other is so detestable. Whatever the case, the waiting game will simply have to continue before the day the Longhorns and Aggies once again meet on the field.
At some point in time Texas and Texas A&M will meet on the field again. It is just a matter of when it will happen. Fans on both sides may say they do not need to see the rivalry resurrected, but deep down you know each side would love to stick it to their old rivals one more time.