tackle

The Longhorns offensive line suffered two considerable blows last Saturday when senior right guard Mason Walters and junior right tackle Josh Cochran left the game against Ole Miss in the first half after sustaining injuries.

Walters (knee) and Cochran (shoulder) each entered the week listed as questionable for Saturday’s Big 12 opener against Kansas State. While the Texas coaches remain hopeful that both veteran linemen can suit up against the Wildcats, they realize that neither should be expected to play the entire game.

Sophomores Sedrick Flowers and Kennedy Estelle filled in admirably against Ole Miss after Walters and Cochran went down, and they both figure to be a major part of the game plan again this week. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said that while both Flowers and Estelle have room to improve, he expects each to step up again this week when needed.

“We’ll need both of those guys to step up and play well for us Saturday night against a good defensive front,” Applewhite said. “They did some good things. Obviously there’s going to be some plays you want back in the game, but overall I thought Kennedy and Sedrick did some really good things when they’re in there.”

Head coach Mack Brown listed Estelle as the starter at right tackle on the depth chart on Monday, while Flowers remained behind Walters at right guard. That said, both should receive considerable playing time this week, and senior left guard Trey Hopkins is excited to see what the sophomores can do.

 “We’re upset whenever one of our starters goes down but I’m excited for guys like that to get an opportunity to play,” Hopkins said. “I think they both stepped up pretty good. They’re both young and haven’t played that much in game situations, especially Kennedy. I think he’s really working hard this week in practice to really pinpoint what he needs to get
better with.”

With the offensive line potentially losing the experience of Walters and Cochran this week, sophomore running back Johnathan Gray believes it is up to the Longhorns’ veteran starters to limit mistakes on the field and help ease Flowers and Estelle into the lineup.

“With those guys down, we have to do a better job of being more focused and have less mental errors when they get hurt and new guys come in,” Gray said. “We definitely have to get the job done and can’t lose a step.”

Regardless, Hopkins remains optimistic that Walters and Cochran will line up to his right on Saturday, and he believes they are doing everything in their power to play against
Kansas State.

“I’m very confident that they’re going to do whatever they need to do to get back on the field,” Hopkins said. “I know they’re very dedicated to doing whatever they need to. They both love playing this game they wish they were in the game with us last week. I know they’re going to fight as hard as they can and do whatever’s in their will to get back out there.”

If they remain inactive, though, the Longhorns believe both Flowers and Estelle are highly capable of filling the void, and they do not expect the offensive line to miss a beat. 

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, should he slip, would be an intriguing fit in Minnesota. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

My 2013 mock draft, version 1.0. Like I had anything better to do. 

1. Kansas City - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - Why bet against group-think?

2. Jacksonville - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - The Jags haven't spent a first-round pick on an offensive lineman in five years. If you're going to give Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert continued chances, might as well protect them while giving Maurice Jones-Drew some room to run.

3. Oakland - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - An interior building block as a new regime tries to get off the ground in Oakland. 

4. Philadelphia - Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon - Reunite Jordan with college college Chip Kelly. If the Aldon Smith comparisons pan out, then this is a home run, even though the 6-foot-6 underproduced in college. Jordan fits perfectly in the NFC East. He can disrupt the quarterback (Eli Manning, Tony Romo) and he is quick enough to chase them down (Robert Griffin III).

5. Detroit - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - Probably a stretch, but with offensive tackles flying off the board, Detroit can't pass up a chance to fortify the line. 

6. Cleveland - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - A rush-end like Ziggy Ansah would be nice, but the Browns just spent big bucks on Paul Kruger. Here's Warmack, perhaps the best overall player in the draft — and best guard in quite some time. He should feel right at home opening up running lanes for old college teammate, Trent Richardson. 

7. Arizona - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama - Same situation as Detroit. Probably a stretch, but the Cardinals have to scoop up the last of the elite offensive tackles. Doesn't matter who's quarterback (and I think Geno Smith would be a reach here), the offensive line has to get incrementally better if Arizona is to compete in the NFC West. 

8. Buffalo - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU - The offseason signing of Mario Williams did little to help Buffalo get after the quarterback; the Bills finished with a middle-of-the-road 36 sacks. Add the freakish Ansah, who’d play outside lienbacker in the Bills’ 3-4 scheme, and you’ve got the makings of a dynamic front-seven. With two games per year against Tom Brady, Buffalo, which signed OLB Manny Lawson in the offseason, can afford to get greedy with pass-rushers.

9. New York Jets - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - How do you satiate an angry fanbase? Draft a slick, explosive receiver — that’s how. With questions at quarterback, taking Austin ensures that whoever lines up under center will have something to work with.

10. Tennessee Titans - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - The best defensive back in the draft is slipping because of injury concerns, but Milliner is a nice fit for a team that prides itself in its ability to defend the pass.

11. San Diego Chargers - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - The Chargers used a second-round pick on a defensive tackle last season and a first-rounder there in 2011, so this isn't a "need" pick, but rather one based on value. 

12. Miami Dolphins - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - Offense is the priority here, and without reaching to take a tackle to replace Jake Long, the Dolphins get Ryan Tannehill the next-best thing: a versatile weapon in the passing game.

13. New York Jets - Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU - Just the guy the Jets wanted to get at No. 9. How Mingo's career pans out will be analyzed for years, as this is the pick New York got from Tamp Bay in the Revis deal. 

14. Carolina - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - Richardson is a mountain of a defensive tackle, with potential to get a lot better. 

15. New Orleans - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas - The second-worst passing defense would benefit from the addition of the draft's best safety. Vaccaro would come in and make an impact right away. His ability to cover outside and slot receivers, as well as step up and make plays in the running game, are highly valued. 

16. St. Louis - Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia - Ogeltree is the opposite of Dion Jordan: poor measurables, but great college results. Also, his character concerns aren't likely to sway Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who has a history of brushing those issues aside. 

17. Pittsburgh - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - The once-rugged AFC North is opening up, what with Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton emerging as super-productive quarterbacks. The Steelers' LCB, Keenan Lewis, started 16 games last season but did not record an interception.

18. Dallas - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - The Cowboys already locked up their left tackle for the next 10 years with the Tyron Smith selection two years ago. Time to get him a long-term pal on the interior. Don't be surprised if Jerry Jones trades up — even if it's to get Cooper, who some have going in the first 10 selections. 

19. New York Giants - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State - This has been a cursed position for the Giants in recent years. Aaron Ross is back on the team after failing to meet big expectations in his first go-round. Terrell Thomas can't stay healthy, while results have been mixed for Prince Amukamara in two seasons.

20. Chicago - Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame - The perfect replacement for Brian Urlacher in the middle of the Bears' defense. A slow 40-time isn't a biggie. 

21. Cincinnati - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama - Somebody's going to take a running back, and why not the Bengals? BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished with over 1,000 yards last year in his Bengals debut, but he only picked up around 68 per game. Lacy provides an upgrade. It's a two-back league, anyway. 

22. St. Louis - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee - Again, Fisher isn't afraid to pull the trigger on a player with character red-flags. Patterson isn't Tavon Austin, who's likely the No. 1 option in St. Louis, but he's still very dynamic (16.9 yards per reception, 12.3 yards per carry in one year at Tennessee).  

23. Minnesota - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - Yes, the Vikings spent a first-rounder two years ago on Christian Ponder, but Smith here is too good to pass up. Why waste the prime of Adrian Peterson’s and Greg Jennings’s careers with Ponder, who has completed only 59 percent of his passes last season in his career? 

24. Indianapolis - Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia - An edge-rusher to replace Dwight Freeney, and a major steal at No. 24. Jones drops because of chronic spinal stenosis, which didn't seem to bother him too much at Georgia (12.5 sacks last season).

25. Minnesota - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina - Minnesota took a luxury pick at No. 23, but now it's time to upgrade at a position of immediate need. 

26. Green Bay - Margus Hunt, DE, SMU - A physical specimen at 6-foot-8, Hunt could be the second coming of Jason Taylor. With his size and speed (4.6 40-yard dash), Hunt can fill a variety of holes for Green Bay — a five-technique in the 3-4 defense, or a stand-up pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews. 

27. Houston - Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee - Like everybody else, I think the Texans have to take a wideout with the No. 27 pick. With Austin and Patterson off the board, the 6-foot-4 Hunter is the next-best candidate. He's got a 39-inch vertical and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. He's not just some workout wonder, though. Hunter had 1,083 yards receiving and nine touchdowns last season.

28. Denver - D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston - The Broncos badly need a cornerback to pair with Champ Bailey. You saw the AFC Championship game, right? 

29. New England - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - Werner had an ACC-best 13 sacks last season, while New England was 15th in the NFL with 37. An outside receiver could work here, but this fits a need for the Patriots. 

30. Atlanta - Kyle Long, OL, Oregon - Quickly-rising up the draft boards, Long would be a nice right tackle for the Falcons, who signed left tackle Sam Baker to a six-year deal this offseason. Atlanta really doesn't have many weaknesses. 

31. San Francisco - Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU - The 49ers need to replace departed safety Dashon Goldson. Cyprien or Florida's Matt Elam are the likely candidates for the job. 

32. Baltimore - Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU - Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe have both moved on. It's time for the Ravens to find a new heart of the defense. Minter was an All-SEC player in 2012. 

See Daily Texan Sports Editor Christian Corona's mock draft here.

He’s still learning the game, but so far Josh Turner has made monumental strides as a player. The versatile defender was first employed as a cornerback but has since shifted to safety.
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

For Josh Turner, last Saturday’s contest against Baylor was a game of firsts.

He recorded his first collegiate start, first ever tackle for loss, and most importantly, first career interception.

The pick came in the second quarter of a 28-28, back-and-forth game. Baylor quarterback Nick Florence was looking to hit Lanear Sampson on a post route over the middle but overshot his target by a few yards. Turner, who was playing back at safety, made a break on the ball, dove and plucked the ball right before it hit the turf to secure the interception.

“We were in thirds,” Turner said of the play. “I was in right third, and I was just reading the quarterback. I saw that he kind of overthrew the receiver, and I was just trying to make a play on the ball.”

The pick was a huge momentum swing in the game, and perhaps a symbol of many more firsts to come for Turner.

Turner, the Oklahoman who scorned his native Sooners to come play in Austin. Turner, the corner turned safety who didn’t utter a word of complaint in the offseason because he enjoyed the challenge of switching positions so much. And Turner, the young safety whose playmaking ability rivals that of former Longhorn greats Aaron Ross, Earl Thomas and Nathan Vasher, according to his position coach Duane Akina.

“He has a knack for the ball,” Akina said. “That is one of the things that really stands out with him. He has some nice natural instincts for the football.”

His interception against Baylor was a perfect example of that. He was naturally instinctive on his break to the ball and when he reached it his natural athleticism took control.

“It was a super catch, and he is one of the few guys out there that is capable of making that play,” Akina said. “You know moving to his right, having to come back, ball off his body. He did a nice job of rolling.”

His athleticism gave him the aptitude to make the spectacular play, but it’s his dogged work ethic that’s allowed him to switch positions seamlessly from his freshman to sophomore year.

Turner played corner in his first season on the 40 Acres, but with the departure of four-year starter Blake Gideon, the Longhorns needed more depth at safety. Akina, who likes to cross-train his defensive backs, thought Turner would be the perfect fit to make the switch.

It wasn’t an immediate success story by any means. It took Turner a while to get the hang of the position, and even now he has the occasional stumble, missed assignment or whiffed tackle attempt.

But Turner recovers from those mistakes quickly, in part because of his will to improve and his desire to be pushed to the limit. And Akina has no qualms about granting his request in practice. Akina is intense and relentless in his frenzied devotion to making his players better, which means he is often forced to show a little tough love.

It doesn’t bother Turner a bit.

“If he’s hard on me then he actually sees potential in me,” Turner said. “Whereas if he didn’t say anything that’s when you have to start to get worried.”

Because of his lofty standards, Akina is a hard person to please. Turner’s teammates were impressed by his showing against Baylor — just not surprised. The performance served only to confirm what they perceive every day.

“He showed me what I already knew,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “In practice, he makes a lot of plays. He’s a playmaker. He’s real disciplined, and he played good against a good offense.”

Turner watches film every day, striving to get better. He studies tape after practice, on the bus, after class and every night before he heads to sleep.
With all of that work one would think Turner reach the point of exasperation. But, in the polite manner of the soft-spoken defensive back, he had a rebuttal for that conclusion. His answer was short, but went a long way in explaining his success.

“No sir,” Turner said. “You can never get tired of watching film.”

Printed on Friday, October 26, 2012 as: Turner's instinctive nature allows him to flourish

BYU's rushing attack presents big test for Longhorn Linemen

Forget about the Rice game, the Longhorns will have their first true test of the season on Saturday against BYU.
Texas failed to dominate the point of attack in the season-opener and the team won’t have it any easier this time around against a Cougars squad coming off a hard-earned road win at Ole Miss.

The key to success this week will hinge on the Longhorn’s ability to control the line of scrimmage. Texas must win the battle of the trenches for it to come out on top.

The Longhorns’ run defense was not up to par in Week 1 as the Owls gashed them for 130 rushing yards, with most coming in the middle of the field. Questions about Texas’ toughness remain and head coach Mack Brown is ready for some answers, which he thinks he will get some against BYU.

“We’ve been concerned about our toughness on both lines of scrimmage,” Brown said. “We’ll get some answers Saturday night because this bunch (from BYU) is tough. There’s no question they come in here tough.”

Brown has the Longhorns preparing for an old-fashioned, grind-it-out affair.

“This will be a street fight,” he said. “They’re so physical, they’re big, they’re strong, the strength of their team is both lines of scrimmage. They will fly to the ball and hit you.”
The Longhorns pride themselves on stopping the run, and senior linebacker Keenan Robinson says his team will need to limit the Cougar’s run game early and often. But the key to Texas stopping the BYU tailbacks starts along the defensive line with senior tackle Kheeston Randall.
Randall will certainly have his hands full going against an imposing Cougars front five.

“They’ll probably be one of the biggest offensive lines that we face this year,” he said.

Randall wasn’t pleased with the defense’s performance against Rice, when the Longhorns reverted to their form from year ago — a unit that allowed 138.2 rushing yards
per game.

“We gave up entirely too many yards up the middle,” Randall said. “We didn’t get enough penetration, we went back to the old way that we played and that’s unacceptable.”
No defensive lineman recorded more than one tackle against the Owls. That needs to change. Randall is a proven player, but someone else must emerge and solidify the line. And with Texas’ next two games against quality opponents in BYU and UCLA, the time is now for a second and third tackle to rise to the occasion.

“I don’t think we’re at the point right now where we’ve answered that other tackle spot,” Brown said. “And we need at least three to get where we need to get. We need two more guys to really step up.

“For the next two games, both of these will have physical offensive lineman blocking them, we’ll know more (then). Our guys are going to see really good looking teams for the next two weeks.”

Sophomore tackle Ashton Dorsey will return against BYU after missing the Rice game because of a suspension. Still, the Longhorns are young and inexperienced inside. Randall is the only senior at a position that includes three sophomores and two freshmen.

“We have a lot of maturing to do as a unit,” Randall said.
Texas will also be tested along the offensive line. While the Longhorns plowed their way to 229 rushing yards a week ago, they will need a better effort against the Cougars. BYU limited Ole Miss to 64 yards on 29 carries and knocked out three of the Rebels running backs.

“It’s going to be a big test for us,” said senior left guard David Snow.

The Cougars are coming to Austin with something to prove. They beat an SEC school on the road last week and they’d love to put a Big 12 school on their resume.

The Longhorns, though, welcome the challenge. They have something to prove as well.

“If it is a dog fight we’re going to be ready,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

The Longhorns’ toughness up front will be tried early and often. It’s up to them to fight back. Expect a “street fight.”

Forget about the Rice game, the Longhorns will have their first true test of the season on Saturday against BYU.

Texas failed to dominate the point of attack in the season-opener and the team won’t have it any easier this time around against a Cougars squad coming off a hard-earned road win at Ole Miss.

The key to success this week will hinge on the Longhorn’s ability to control the line of scrimmage. Texas must win the battle of the trenches for it to come out on top.

The Longhorns’ run defense was not up to par in Week 1 as the Owls gashed them for 130 rushing yards, with most coming in the middle of the field. Questions about Texas’ toughness remain and head coach Mack Brown is ready for some answers, which he thinks he will get some against BYU.

“We’ve been concerned about our toughness on both lines of scrimmage,” Brown said. “We’ll get some answers Saturday night because this bunch (from BYU) is tough. There’s no question they come in here tough.”

Brown has the Longhorns preparing for an old-fashioned, grind-it-out affair.

“This will be a street fight,” he said. “They’re so physical, they’re big, they’re strong, the strength of their team is both lines of scrimmage. They will fly to the ball and hit you.”

The Longhorns pride themselves on stopping the run, and senior linebacker Keenan Robinson says his team will need to limit the Cougar’s run game early and often. But the key to Texas stopping the BYU tailbacks starts along the defensive line with senior tackle Kheeston Randall.

Randall will certainly have his hands full going against an imposing Cougars front five.

“They’ll probably be one of the biggest offensive lines that we face this year,” he said.

Randall wasn’t pleased with the defense’s performance against Rice, when the Longhorns reverted to their form from year ago — a unit that allowed 138.2 rushing yards per game.

“We gave up entirely too many yards up the middle,” Randall said. “We didn’t get enough penetration, we went back to the old way that we played and that’s unacceptable.”

No defensive lineman recorded more than one tackle against the Owls. That needs to change. Randall is a proven player, but someone else must emerge and solidify the line. And with Texas’ next two games against quality opponents in BYU and UCLA, the time is now for a second and third tackle to rise to the occasion.

“I don’t think we’re at the point right now where we’ve answered that other tackle spot,” Brown said. “And we need at least three to get where we need to get. We need two more guys to really step up.

“For the next two games, both of these will have physical offensive lineman blocking them, we’ll know more (then). Our guys are going to see really good looking teams for the next two weeks.”

Sophomore tackle Ashton Dorsey will return against BYU after missing the Rice game because of a suspension. Still, the Longhorns are young and inexperienced inside. Randall is the only senior at a position that includes three sophomores and two freshmen.

“We have a lot of maturing to do as a unit,” Randall said.

Texas will also be tested along the offensive line. While the Longhorns plowed their way to 229 rushing yards a week ago, they will need a better effort against the Cougars. BYU limited Ole Miss to 64 yards on 29 carries and knocked out three of the Rebels running backs.

“It’s going to be a big test for us,” said senior left guard David Snow.

The Cougars are coming to Austin with something to prove. They beat an SEC school on the road last week and they’d love to put a Big 12 school on their resume.

The Longhorns, though, welcome the challenge. They have something to prove as well.

“If it is a dog fight we’re going to be ready,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

The Longhorns’ toughness up front will be tried early and often. It’s up to them to fight back. Expect a “street fight.”

The Longhorns don’t play with passion. Senior defensive end Eddie Jones can hook his horns and sing “Texas Fight” after losing to Iowa State and his fellow end Sam Acho can pump his fist after making a tackle, but as a whole, the team does not play with a passion or a purpose.

And head coach Mack Brown knows it. He could feel it in August.

“I worry about this team,” Brown said. “On the first Wednesday scrimmage we had this year, I said that we didn’t see the emotion from players.”

Because the Longhorns have had nine consecutive 10-win seasons, they assumed this year wouldn’t be any different. But things aren’t looking so rosy right now and the players are learning that just because they wear a longhorn on their helmets doesn’t mean wins are guaranteed. This season, entitlement won’t get them anywhere. It’s going to take more dedication and energy than ever before.

As the old saying goes, “You play how you practice,” and junior receiver Malcolm Williams admitted that the energy levels have been lower than usual at practice all year.

“It’s been there at times, but it’s been more sketchy,” Williams said. “Some days it’s there, others it’s not and in the past, it’s always been there. We always found a way to bring it. Even at 6 a.m. practices we found a way.”

The enthusiasm was there in the past because of leadership. Players like Roy Miller, Brian Orakpo and Colt McCoy never would have stood for indifference. In fact, those players were ready to call out their teammates if need be.

Brown recalled the 2008 Fiesta Bowl when Texas was about to play Ohio State. He was worried his team didn’t have an edge in pre-game, but then he heard a lot of commotion coming from the locker room.

“I heard all this ruckus and I turned to [strength and conditioning coach Jeff Madden] and I say, ‘Jeff, something’s happening in there, go see what’s going on. It sounds like a fight,’” Brown said. “So he goes in and walks back out with a smile on his face and he says, ‘Uh, no coach, it’s Roy [Miller]. He’s just getting everyone ready to play.’ He was throwing trash cans and screaming.”

This team may not be the type to throw trash cans, but a few players discussed what they are going to do this week to change the overall attitude.

“Now is the time where it’s not a time to be comfortable,” he said. “Everybody has to get out of their comfort zone whether that’s in their leadership styles or in their style of play. You have to be uncomfortable in order to grow.”

Williams said that he is going to lead by example.

“It’s not just about being vocal anymore, it’s my actions, too,” Williams said. “Every time I step out on the field, I try to go to work and work my hardest.”

Senior receiver John Chiles is going let the rest of the team know they still have a lot to play for.

“We have to keep playing each and every game like we are going to win the national championship,” he said. “We have to keep on playing, keep on going, keep on working hard and gel as a team.”