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Getting Personal with Burnt Orange Nation

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Peter over at BON and DTN asked each other a few questions concerning this weekend's matchup. Here are my answers to his questions. Enjoy!

  1. Jamaal Charles has been running like a man on a mission, do you attribute his recent success to the offensive line, to the play calling, to Mr. Charles himself, or is it a combination of the three?

    It's definitely a combination of all three; it would be uncharitable to the others involved in his recent success to suggest that Charles has simply flipped on a switch and more or less decided to run as he has. In truth, the blocking has improved some, the playcalling has improved some, and Charles has improved some.

    Still, though the results may be a combination of all three, the Charles' utterly silly numbers of late are directly attributable to the tailback himself. I recently posted a video of Jamaal's 75-yard TD run against Oklahoma State - it's one of the most beautiful runs I've seen in a while. Charles can go from zero to gone perhaps quicker than any tailback in the country, and he seems to be in a groove where he's finding seams and exploding through them. He's a special, special talent.

    What's really interesting is that the blocking and the playcalling had become so poor mid-season that Charles himself was struggling to produce adequately as Texas' feature tailback. His performance against Baylor left a lot of us wondering if we'd broken permanently our pretty toy. The first three quarters of Nebraska only confirmed that. Since then, he's been on an eye-popping tear.

  2. There have been quite a few injuries this week, including center Dallas Griffin, defensive back Drew Kelson and defensive end Eddie Jones. How significant are these injuries, are the injuries starting to become a concern for the Longhorns, and is there a player or two player who might step up that might surprise folks?

    The biggest injury is to a player you didn't mention - linebacker Sergio Kindle, who had played himself into a starting position before suffering an injury in the fourth quarter against Nebraska. Texas desperately needs him in general, and in this week in particular. He's the one linebacker Texas has who makes offensive players slow a step, look around, and make sure he's not anywhere near. He'll be a game-time decision, so keep an eye on that one.

  3. Much has been made on BON about the frustrating play of the linebackers, but the rush defense has been pretty good thus far, is this a case of the defense being better than you think or that the pass defense has suffered due to the inconsistent play of the linebackers?

    Though the overall numbers are solid, it's important to remember that Texas hasn't faced many good offenses this season. Baylor, Iowa State, Rice, Arkansas State, Central Florida, and TCU have all helped to mask some troubling deficiencies in the play of the defense. There simply haven't been many offenses on the schedule who've been capable of fully exploiting our weaknesses.

    Oklahoma State certainly was an offense with such a capability, and exploit us they did - certainly until Mike Gundy got too conservative in the second half. Texas Tech, of course, is another such team. I'll be nervous up to and until the 'Horns take a step forward with their play on defense on Saturday.

  4. Colt McCoy was successful running the ball last week, but considering McCoy's history of concussions is this the best way to utilize McCoy's talents?

    He's a gutty, gutty kid who's doing anything and everything he can to make this offense get through each Saturday. But to answer your question - no, it is not. On the one hand, Texas does need to have a quarterback who can provide a running threat - one which, bless his heart, McCoy has provided of late. But Texas' coaching staff has mistakenly not integrated true freshman John Chiles into the offensive attack to alleviate Colt of some of the pressure.

    In many ways, we're a ticking time bomb. Hopefully, we'll get through battles with Tech and A&M before things explode, but if disaster strikes and McCoy goes down? We're in terrible position to recover.

    The better plan would have been to develop Chiles through the soft part of the schedule, such that there existed an interesting McCoy-Chiles combo to keep defenses on their heels. Right now, we're stuck with McCoy trying to do a whole heckuva lot. He's a warrior, but it's risky business.

  5. Predict who will be UT's offensive and defensive players of the game on Saturday.

    As unpredictable as we've been, this one's a crap shoot, but I'll play:

    Offense: Gotta be Jamaal Charles, right? Looking at Tech's game logs, the Red Raiders haven't been torched too often through the air, but they've struggled to stop the run in losing efforts.

    Defense: If Sergio Kindle is healthy and plays, he's my guy, but I'm skeptical on both counts. Instead I'm going with Brian Orakpo or Lamarr Houston, Texas' two most athletic defensive ends, each of whom will have myriad opportunities to disrupt what Tech likes to do. I'll say this: both need to play well to keep Graham Harrell from getting too comfortable.