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The Subscriber Roundtable, Pt.2

More excerpts from the Inside Texas Subscriber Roundtable, where a group of IT subscribers sat down with a pair of former Longhorn players, two time All-Southwest Conference LB Britt Hager and two time All-Southwest Conference DT James Patton, to discuss the upcoming football season. Plus, Hager and Patton discuss the difficulties players face transitioning to each level of football.
Subscribers, staff and guests at the Roundtable:

TEX(AUS)dos bobbyhornagainDukeNo11djbfootballSammy GilfordRoss LucksingerWill GallagherBritt HagerJames Patton

Hager and Patton were each two-time All-Southwest Conference selections for the Texas Longhorns. Both went on to play in the NFL, with Hager playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams over nine seasons and Patton playing four years on the Buffalo Bills — and going to back-to-back Super Bowls as a teammate of Garrett Gilbert’s father, Gale Gilbert.

hornagain: I don’t know about you

guys, but I’m a fan of hard-nosed, smash-mouth football. I know

we’ve been really successful throwing the football all over the

place, but I just want to run over everyone we face,

personally.

Lucksinger: So what kind of success do

y’all think the offensive will have this year adjusting to the new

scheme?

TEX(AUS): Less than last year.

Lucksinger: Less overall success than

last year’s offense?

DukeNo11: It’s going to start of a

little bit slow, but as things start clicking I think later in the

year the offense will be just fine.

Hager: There’s also the issue of

perceived success. An offense can have success with less total

yards. The spread offense is all about total number of plays. You’re going to this more two-back, pro-style offense where

controlling the clock is more important. You definitely got to think

points are going to be down just because of the type of offense. But, again, you’ve got a quarterback who’s done extremely well

leaving and a new one coming in, a lot of unanswered questions. Hopefully the first few games will start answering some of those

questions. I think you’ve got to assume it’ll be a little be down

from last year, though, at least initially.

TEX(AUS): The running game hasn’t been

there, not all because of the scheme. We don’t have very good

running backs. That’s not the fault of Texas. There haven’t been as

good of running backs out of the state of Texas, compared with other

positions.

hornagain: Two pretty good ones

available for the 2011 class.

Lucksinger: Can Texas get it done with

a running back by committee system?

hornagain: If you have a “committee”

of running backs, then you don’t have a running back.

Gilford: One guy really does need to

get reps. When you’re switching guys in and out, I know you’re

getting fresher legs, but you don’t get that rhythm that you need. As the game goes along a good running back can get a feel for where

the defenders are going to be, who’s going to show up in the hole. If you’re on the bench, you can’t get that feel.

Patton: That’s why they’re running to

sidelines, because they don’t know where they’re going.

[Laughter]

DukeNo11: That is exactly what

happened with Jamaal Charles when Nebraska came to town in ’07. Jamaal ran crazy in the fourth quarter. He had seen exactly what the

defenders were going to do. He knew if he made just one cut at a

particular point, then nobody’s going to be there and he’s going to

go for a few yards.

Lucksinger: Then I guess the question

to our panel here is: Who is going to be Texas’ starting running back

this year? Is it going to be Chris Whaley, Tre’ Newton, Fozzy

Whittaker?

DukeNo11: I think Tre’ Newton at the

beginning of the season.

Gilford: I think Newton. Although if

Whaley can learn how to run and use his power more. In the Spring

Game he finally put his head down and ran.

Lucksinger: He certainly gave A.J.

White a “Welcome to College Ball” stiff arm.

DukeNo11: Are we sure Tre’ is Nate

Newton’s son? The size difference between him and his father is

unreal.

[Laughter]

Lucksinger: Well look at Jeremy and

Tony Hills. They look just alike, in the face anyway. But the

interesting thing about Tre’ Newton is that his statistics weren’t

amazing last year, but every time I go back and look at the film,

he’s always better than I remember him being. And you’ve got to

remember he was just a redshirt freshman.

DukeNo11: He was solid. And he

understands such a high percentage of all the things he needs to do,

all of the different jobs they want from him.

dos bobby: It helped being from a

similar offense at South Lake Carroll. That helped him.

Lucksinger: It did, but it was still a

tough transition to the college game and I think doing what he did as

just a redshirt freshman is worth noting.

djbfootball: It’s just hard to know

how any of these guys are going to do this seaon. It’s still summer.

TEX(AUS): Speaking of the transition

to college. I was wondering if I could ask you two (Patton and

Hager) how big of a difference there is going from high school to

college and from college to the NFL.

Patton: Going from high school to

college, they talk about the change in speed and it’s become a

cliché. But really the difference between each level is it’s harder

to find weak links. In high school you might play against two really

good players; college you might play against five or six; the pros

you play against 11, 16 every week. It’s the average competition

level. There are unbelievable athletes in the NFL, sure, but there

are unbelievable athletes in college. It’s the average level of

competition and what they say about speed comes from that. Everybody’s fast in the NFL. There’s no off-weeks, no week where

you’re going to say “I don’t have much in front of me.” It

doesn’t happen. Maybe it happens for the guy I backed up (in

Buffalo), Bruce Smith, but for me it that didn’t happen. I was

fighting every time.

Hager: I came from Odessa Permian in

West Texas. We don’t grow that big. Roy Williams about the tallest

guy you’d find out there…though I guess Garrett Porter is pretty

big. I remember coming to campus (at Texas) and the first guy I had

to tackle is Edwin Simmons, a 6-5, 245-pound running back.

[Laughter]

Hager: For me it was quite a sight. I

had to overcome size and speed at that level. It was a big jump. Maybe it’s not as big of a jump if you come from some big school from

Houston where they’re bigger on average, but for me it was the

combination of size and speed together. In the pros there are great

players but you’ve got understand the schemes have a lot to do with

it. At Texas we may have run 50 defenses. With Buddy Ryan (in

Philadelphia) we had over 1,500 that we had to learn. The mental was

a big part of the step up. Then there’s the business part of it. Now I’m making money. Now I’ve got a family to handle outside of

football. You have to deal with all of those challenges and issues

along with football and still stay focused on the game. It was

eye-opening.

As August camp approaches we’ll post more excerpts from the discussion.