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Texas head coach Charlie Strong, hired to replace Mack Brown this offseason, wrapped up his inaugural spring game this past weekend minus QB David Ash, who is out due to injury.

Spring game review: Texas

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas finished off its first spring under new coach Charlie Strong with its annual Orange-White spring game on Saturday. The two-hour scrimmage was won by Texas' first-team offense, 38-14, and while Tyrone Swoopes' up-and-down showing stole most of the attention, here are a few more takeaways from the Longhorns' spring finale:

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
AP Photo/Michael ThomasTyrone Swoopes should improve as he gains confidence.
Best offensive performance: With only one other scholarship back available, you knew Malcolm Brown was in for a big workload. He kicked off his critical senior season with a solid day, picking up 82 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and adding 26 yards and another score on two screen passes. Texas will need Johnathan Gray (torn Achilles) healthy and Joe Bergeron (academics) back if this run game is going to lead the way, but Brown could be poised for an All-Big 12 caliber season if he stays healthy.

Best defensive performance: Strong didn't need to watch any film to know who stood out on his defense on Saturday. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was a "handful," in his eyes, and that was obvious to everyone else in attendance. The junior lineman racked up five tackles, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry, and he spent plenty of time in the backfield. "When he wants to play," Strong said, "he can create a lot of havoc and can make plays."

Best debut: Not many candidates for this, since Texas had just three early enrollees, so let's give a little love to a walk-on. Dylan Haines is a name most Longhorns fans had never heard entering Saturday, but the defensive back stole the show in the first quarter by intercepting Swoopes' overthrown first pass attempt and returning it 23 yards. Haines, a second-year scout team player in 2013, was rewarded for his big play with reps on Texas' first-team defense.

Notable play: Swoopes' best play of the day was his last. He took a low snap midway through the fourth quarter, faked a handoff and hurled a deep ball to Jaxon Shipley, fitting it in perfectly between defensive backs Chevoski Collins and Adrian Colbert. Shipley pulled it down over his shoulder for a 44-yard touchdown, giving Swoopes plenty to smile about after a frustrating start to the day. The pass was by far the best Swoopes has thrown in his first year of action and, to some extent, an encouraging sign he's not afraid to take shots down field.

Developing storyline: Texas has a chance to have one of the Big 12's better offensive lines this fall under the guidance of Joe Wickline, but this summer and fall camp will be critical toward fortifying that line and establishing needed depth. The mammoth Desmond Harrison must continue to develop at left tackle after a rough 2013 season. Kennedy Estelle and the injured Kent Perkins can become some of UT's best linemen in time. And the battle at right guard, between Taylor Doyle and Rami Hammad, isn't over. Wickline will start his five best, and that five should reveal itself over the next few months.

Biggest question answered: Is Swoopes the heir apparent at quarterback for Texas? Swoopes showed flashes in the spring game, particularly in the second half, but he never faced a first-team defense on Saturday and his play early on served as a reminder why a redshirt would've been the right move last fall. Shawn Watson is encouraged by his potential and still has plenty to teach him this summer and beyond. Swoopes has raw tools and will get better as he gets more confident, but his coaches and his fans should stay patient.

Quotable: "When you look at the level of concern, you look at today and you go out and say defensively you would like to play a lot better and get stops and make sure you don't allow teams to just consistently drive the football on you. Then on offense it is all about executing, but that is going to come with focus and with preparation. What happens is that the players understand what we are looking for and what we are all about. So once we understand that, things are going to get much better because they believe in the system. When they trust and believe in the system, then we are always going to have a chance." -- Strong
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Certain schools always manage to hit home runs at specific positions, despite a player’s ranking. Michigan State is a perfect example of that with quarterbacks, and the Spartans hit one out of the park this past weekend. And Texas made the most out of its opportunity to host recruits at its spring game.

Spartans continue QB success
Four-star quarterback Brian Lewerke, who is ranked No. 255 in the nation, announced his commitment to Michigan State this past Saturday. For the Spartans it was their second ESPN 300 commitment in the 2015 class along with offensive lineman Kyonta Stallworth. But more important, it gives Michigan State additional quarterback depth, a position where it rarely misses.

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QB Max Wittek visits Texas again

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Former USC quarterback Max Wittek visited Texas for its spring game Saturday, multiple sources confirmed.

Wittek was on Texas' campus for the third time this spring since electing to transfer, and the second time since the Longhorns began spring practice.

Wittek, a backup for the Trojans in 2013, is completing his degree at USC this semester and would have two seasons of eligibility remaining. He's expected to make his decision in the next month.

Texas continues to seek help at quarterback, particularly after David Ash suffered a foot fracture earlier this month. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes took the first-team snaps at the spring game Saturday and was backed up by converted tight end Miles Onyegbule and walk-on Trey Holtz. Freshman Jerrod Heard joins the program in June.

Wittek, who has also taken a visit to Hawaii, threw for 600 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons at USC.


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Spring games across the country finish up but still leave many unanswered questions for Alabama, Auburn, Texas and USC.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas' Orange-White spring game ended Saturday afternoon with a boom from the Longhorns' traditional cannon, and then another boom on the recruiting trail.

Shortly after the scrimmage wrapped up, Texas landed a verbal commitment from Converse (Texas) Judson defensive back Keivon Ramsey.


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The Texas spring game failed to offer any answers about the starting quarterback for the Longhorns next season.

Steve Edmond: Baylor is 'trash'

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
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Texas
AP PhotoSeveral months later, linebacker Steve Edmond says he's still mad about Texas' loss to Baylor, which ended the Horns' Big 12 title hopes.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas linebacker Steve Edmond is still bitter over losing the Big 12 title to Baylor last season.

The senior admitted after the Longhorns' spring game Saturday he's still frustrated, five months later, by the 30-10 loss in December.

"We could have won the conference," Edmond told reporters. "Even though I didn't get a chance to play in the Baylor game, I really feel like we should have beat Baylor. I really don't like Baylor. I still think they're trash."

Edmond did not play in the Baylor game after suffering a lacerated spleen the previous week against Texas Tech, an injury that ended his season.

His comments came after a reporter asked if new Texas coach Charlie Strong can turn the program around following two disappointing seasons.

"I'm mad as I can be. I knew we were a better team than they were," Edmond said. "And then ... Baylor gets the win and acts like they had never won before. Even in high school, you know how to react when you win a game. It's not like you never won a game. I'm like, 'They won it, so what?' They still suck to me."

That game, the final one at Floyd Casey Stadium, decided the Big 12 championship and sent the Bears to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Several Baylor players responded to Edmond's comments on Twitter.


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Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes struggles

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Charlie Strong era began at Texas with a shaky performance at quarterback and few questions answered about just how quickly the Longhorns can rebound in the Big 12 under their new coach.

Tyrone Swoopes' audition had its downs and ups, leaving Texas with little clarity for its quarterback concerns after the Orange-White spring game on Saturday.

The sophomore got off to a rough start, missing on seven of his first nine pass attempts, but finished with 229 passing yards and three touchdowns. He led the Longhorns' first-team offense on four touchdown drives during the two-hour scrimmage at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Swoopes received every first-team snap in place of David Ash, who missed the final week of spring practice with a fractured foot, but every snap came against the Texas second-team defense.

"You like the way he (was) able to bounce back," said Strong, who was hired in January from Louisville to replace Mack Brown. "He missed some big throws there, you'd like to see him complete those balls, but then the way he settled down and was able to bounce back, now you feel like, 'OK, he's getting himself back under control.'"

Swoopes was sacked on his first dropback of the day, and then threw an interception to walk-on Dylan Haines on his first attempt. The Texas starting offense accounted for 4 total yards on its first 18 snaps against the No. 2 defense.


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We've been doing something different with the mailbag, including Twitter questions with the regular mailbag submissions. To submit a mailbag entry via Twitter, simply include the hashtag #big12mailbag. You also still can send in questions the traditional way here, too.

To the 'bag...

Trotter: At this point, I think it's only a matter of time before Grant Rohach is named the starter. He was clearly the best QB in the spring game, and coming off the way he played at the end of last season, momentum is in his corner. I know the Cyclones are high on the potential of redshirt freshman Joel Lanning, and Rohach will have to perform once the season begins to keep the job, but at this point, it's difficult envisioning anyone other than Rohach starting the opener against North Dakota State.

Trotter: Texas' Cedric Reed, Kansas State's Ryan Mueller, Oklahoma's Charles Tapper, TCU's Devonte Fields and Baylor's Shawn Oakman. On the next tier, I'd have Oklahoma's Geneo Grissom, Texas Tech's Branden Jackson, Iowa State's Cory Morrissey and Oklahoma State's Jimmy Bean.

Trotter: My two darkhorse picks at this point would be Texas Tech and TCU. Schedule is a big part of this, and Tech gets Oklahoma and Texas at home, and Baylor in Arlington, Texas. If the Red Raiders could escape a September Thursday night clash at Oklahoma State, then they could be a factor. QB Davis Webb has made tremendous improvement since December, and he's going to have plenty of firepower surrounding him. Assuming Fields is back to his old self, the Horned Frogs will again be a formidable defense. The big question, as always, is, can they score enough points? But if Matt Joeckel can step in at QB and direct what is essentially the same offense he had at Texas A&M to respectability, TCU could be a handful.

Trotter: Charlie Strong can't get destroyed by Oklahoma. Can't enter any fourth quarter without a legitimate chance to win. Can't lose more than three games. If he avoids those three potholes, he has chance to take Texas a step forward. To me, that's the litmus test.

Trotter: Anytime a team loses its leading tackler, it hurts. Fortunately for the Sooners, they're deep at linebacker, and can absorb a key loss there better than they'd be able to at some other positions. Jordan Evans played well as a true freshman, and shined in place of Shannon in the spring game. A linebacking corps of Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Dominique Alexander, sack-master Eric Striker and Evans would still be stout. Of course, it would be even better with Shannon.

Trotter: That's a tough question. It was startling how much the K-State defense suffered when Ty Zimmerman wasn't on the field last year, but I have faith Dante Barnett is ready to assume a leadership role in that secondary and stabilize the defense. I have less faith right now in K-State's running backs. So far this spring, no one has really emerged from a crop of backs with almost no meaningful experience. The K-State attack has always been predicated on a strong running game, so this is no small issue. Maybe freshman Dalvin Warmack can jumpstart the position when he arrives this summer. But running back looks like the biggest question on a solid-looking team with not many questions elsewhere.

Spring game preview: Texas

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
2:00
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The first Texas football game of the Charlie Strong era will look a lot more like a practice.

The Longhorns hit the field this weekend for the first time since Strong arrived. Even though fans can expect a more scrimmage-like approach to the annual Orange-White spring game, there will be plenty worth keeping an eye on.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
Matthew Visinsky/Icon SMISophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes will get a chance to work with the No. 1 offense in a game setting Saturday.
What to watch for:

  • Swoopes' confidence: The last time we saw Tyrone Swoopes in action, he looked like a flustered freshman (he was, in fact, a freshman) trying his hardest not to mess up amid a beatdown from Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl. He wasn't afraid to take some shots, and he scrambled for a 28-yard gain, but all in all it was a tough ask for a first-year QB who still had a lot to learn. With David Ash sidelined, Swoopes gets a chance to run the No. 1 offense in the spring game and show how far he has come in 14 practices with Shawn Watson, Texas' new quarterbacks coach. Watson is enthusiastic about the sophomore's future and praises his work as a student of the game, but this is a chance to see how well he can execute with a crowd watching and a No. 1 defense coming after him. Strong says the key to Swoopes' play is confidence and playing within himself. Everyone in attendance on Saturday will want to see if he can do just that.
  • New-look defense: This is going to be a vanilla ballgame on both sides of the ball. Both coordinators acknowledged that after their final practice Thursday. Why give up the good stuff when any Big 12 opponent can DVR the game on Longhorn Network and pick it apart? Even fiery defensive coordinator Vance Bedford will show restraint. But how he lines this defense up, both in scheme and personnel, will be intriguing. Texas coaches say this will be a multiple defense capable of lining up in 4-3 or 3-4, and you could see a little bit of both on Saturday. No, the defenders can't touch Swoopes. But you better believe Bedford will demand they get after him and put up a fight.
  • Playmakers on the outside: The hype is building for this Longhorns receiving corps, and their coaches have had nothing but good things to say about a group that must make up for the loss of deep threat Mike Davis. Nobody will be surprised if Marcus Johnson is the breakout player of the spring game. He's a star in the making. Jaxon Shipley, Kendall Sanders, Daje Johnson and Jacorey Warrick are all said to have had a big spring as well, and don't be shocked if you see tight end Geoff Swaim do some things in the passing game after primarily serving as a blocker in 2013.
  • Rising returnees: A new coaching staff means a clean slate for these Longhorns, and that means a fresh start for players who either weren't playing or were underperforming. The differences will be far more noticeable by August after a long summer of lifting and drills, but there will be some new standouts on Saturday. Guys such as safety Mykkele Thompson, offensive guard Taylor Doyle and linebacker Tim Cole have made an impression on the new staff and could do so again this weekend. Or perhaps it'll be someone nobody else is talking about, like how Duke Thomas caught everyone's eyes last year.
  • New sheriff in town: It's going to be a little strange to see someone other than Mack Brown on that sideline, isn't it? You know plenty of Texas fans will have their eyes on Strong for a glimpse of how he operates in a game setting and what he bring to the Texas sideline. You know the 100-plus recruits in attendance will care about that, too. For all the talk about how Strong is a stern coach out to lay down the law and whip the Longhorns into shape, let's see him have a little fun on Saturday.

Big 12 lunchtime links

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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NBA playoffs start this weekend. This should get you ready for the fun!
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong’s #letsride movement is picking up momentum, and it’s going to the next level on Saturday at Texas’ Orange-White spring game.

Strong and his coaching staff already have picked up seven verbal commitments since taking over and could have a chance to lock up a few more at the annual spring game. As many as 100 prospects from the 2014, 2015, 2016 and even 2017 classes are expected to be on the sidelines and in the stands for the unofficial first game of the Strong era.

The highlight of that lengthy list? Texas is expected to receive unofficial visits from the following members of the newly released ESPN 300:

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Defensive Backs Coach & Special Teams Coordinator Chris Vaughn wired during 2014 spring practice.

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Horns Strong Discusses Spring Game, Aggressive Offense
Texas head coach Charlie Strong, hired to replace Mack Brown this offseason, wrapped up his inaugural spring game this past weekend minus QB David Ash, who is out due to injury.Tags: Charlie Strong, Ricky Williams, Texas Longhorns, Longhorn Network
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