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,
Lucksinger: So what kind of success do
y’all think the offensive will have this year adjusting to the new
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
As August camp approaches we’ll post more excerpts from the discussion.