John Harris

Texas hires former Oklahoma WRs coach Jay Norvell

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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.

‘Horns WR Jaxon Shipley to play in Texas Bowl

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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).

Texas’ leading receiver, tackler won’t seek sixth seasons

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Two of the most prominent members of the Texas Longhorn football team, one each on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, had the opportunity to pursue a return to Austin for one more season at the collegiate level.  Neither, though, has decided to take that tack.

Linebacker Jordan Hicks and wide receiver John Harris both confirmed Tuesday that neither will be back with the Longhorns in 2015.  Both players could’ve applied for, and likely received a medical hardship waiver for a sixth season of eligibility.

Hicks had the best case of the two, missing all but three games in 2012 due to a hip/groin injury and all but four games in 2013 because of a torn Achilles.  He had previously received a fifth season of eligibility for the 2012 injury.

Harris missed all but the first three games in 2011 and took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2010.  UT would’ve argued that Harris was forced to redshirt because of injury/health issues.

In 2014, Hicks led the Longhorns in tackles with 138.  Harris, meanwhile, led the Longhorns in receptions (64), receiving yards (1,065) and receiving touchdowns (seven).

 

Baylor leads the way with nine AP All-Big 12 nods

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It’s been a bad a news week for the Big 12 after splitting its championship in ugly fashion, getting shut out of the College Football Playoff, and then passing the blame around the conference like an angry grenade in the news media. So how about some good news for controversy’s favorite conference?

The AP released its 2014 All-Big 12 team on Monday, and One True Champion Baylor leads the way with nine selections, but One True Champion TCU managed to snag both offensive and defensive player of the year honors. The Frogs Oklahoma boasted with seven picks apiece, and Kansas State followed with six.

Oh, and Kansas had as many selections as Texas, and more than Oklahoma State and Texas Tech combined.

Here’s how it broke down:

Offensive Player of the Year: Trevone Boykin, TCU

Defensive Player of the Year: Paul Dawson, TCU

Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Taylor Young, Baylor

Offense – First Team

QB Trevone Boykin, TCU

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor

WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

WR Kevin White, West Virginia

TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State

C B.J. Finney, Kansas State

OL Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech

OL Spencer Drango, Baylor

OL Mark Glowinski, West Virginia

OL Daryl Williams, Oklahoma

PK Josh Lambert, West Virginia

AP Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State

Defense – First Team

LB Paul Dawson, TCU

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas

LB Pete Robertson, Texas Tech

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

DB Sam Carter, TCU

DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma

DB Chris Hackett, TCU

DB Orion Stewart, Baylor

DL Andrew Billings, Baylor

DL Malcom Brown, Texas

DL Shawn Oakman, Baylor

DL Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

P Trevor Pardula, Kansas

Offense – Second Team

QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

RB Shock Linwood, Baylor

WR John Harris, Texas

WR Curry Sexton, Kansas State

WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma

TE Jimmay Mundine, Kansas

C Joey Hunt, TCU

OL Tayo Fabuluje, TCU

OL Quinton Spain, West Virginia

OL Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma

OL Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

PK Jaden Oberkrom, TCU

AP Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Defense – Second Team

LB Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma

LB Bryce Hager, Baylor

LB Jordan Hicks, Texas

LB Jonathan Truman, Kansas State

DB Quandre Diggs, Texas

DB Karl Joseph, West Virginia

DB JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas

DB Nigel Tribune, Iowa State

DL Chucky Hunter, TCU

DL Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

DL Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma

DL Cedric Reed, Texas

P Spencer Roth, Baylor

No. 13 Oklahoma overcomes strong effort from Texas

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The fans gave Texas a standing ovation as they walked off the field in the old Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Longhorns dug deep for a valiant effort against their rivals from Oklahoma, and the fans recognized it and rewarded it appropriately. Despite giving Oklahoma everything it could handle, it was No. 11 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) that escaped state fair with a victory over Texas (2-4, 1-2 Big 12). Thanks to a special teams and a defensive touchdown, Oklahoma avoided a second straight loss in the state of Texas in as many weeks with a 31-26 victory over the Longhorns.

After a tough battle in the first half, Oklahoma came out and flexed its muscle in the second half in building a 31-13 lead a few minutes into the fourth quarter. How they got there was a-typical of what Oklahoma has done this season. The Sooners were without a third-down conversion until the final minutes of the game (0-for-9 before the final possession of the game). Trevor Knight was held to just 12-of-20 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown and the running game managed just 103 yards. Samaje Perine was the leading rusher for Oklahoma, and his 13-yard touchdown run early in the fourth ended up being the game-winning score.

After falling behind by 18 points, Texas could have easily packed it in and let the inevitable result play out. Instead, the Longhorns stormed back and made a run. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes led the charge on offense with a touchdown pass to John Harris midway through the quarter. After the defense did its job, Swoopes again led the offense downfield, gassing Oklahoma’s defense in the process. After a 12-yard run by Swoopes for a score, Texas scrambled to try to get a two-point conversion attempt put together to make it a three-point game.

The play clock continued to run and Texas was unable to get a play off. Rather than accept a five-yard delay of game penalty, Strong used one of his timeouts to try to get the right play. The decision to use a timeout in that situation might be worth discussion, as the Longhorns likely would have benefitted from having that extra timeout on defense. Texas failed to get the two-points once they did run a play, so the timeout was ultimately wasted. Had Texas just accepted the delay of game penalty, the two-point conversion attempt could still be run with a little more room to spread things out, which seemed to be playing to the advantage of Texas at that point in the game. Texas also would have had one extra timeout to use to save some clock. Instead, Texas ended up running out of timeouts on defense and not getting the football back until 19 seconds remained. Maybe Oklahoma would have won anyway, but this felt like a coaching decision worth taking a harder look at moving forward.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong is not one to take pride in moral victories, but he should be able to take something from this performance against Oklahoma once he allows it to settle in. The Longhorns were called for 11 penalties to Oklahoma’s three. Texas will look to snap a two-game losing skid next week at home against Iowa State. At 2-4, Texas must win four of their final six games to become bowl eligible. That schedule includes games at a ranked Kansas State and Oklahoma State and at home against a ranked TCU squad.

Oklahoma will host Kansas State next weekend. The Sooners also remain in the Big 12 hunt, as TCU and Baylor are underway in Waco to determine who sits in first place. Oklahoma can still have a great chance to win the Big 12, and perhaps even make a push for a College Football Playoff spot, but the Sooners look to have some work to do.