Looking for some football answers

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Texas head coach Mack Brown has kept things pretty hush-hush this offseason after a disappointing 5-7 record in 2010. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Jeff Heimsath | Daily Texan Staff

My mom wants to know if her man Mack can get Texas back to a bowl.

The guy at the textbooks stand wants to know if it’s going to be Garrett Gilbert or Case McCoy.

The man installing my cable has never heard of David Ash.

My Baylor-attending sister just wants to know if the Longhorns will ever beat the Bears again.

So many questions, so few answers.

I feel like we say it every year, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited for the start of football season.

At the same time, (and I know I’ve never said this before) there has never been so much uncertainty surrounding this proud program: Who’s the quarterback? What’s the running back rotation going to look like? Who’s on the offensive line? Who’s on the defensive line? Who’s starting at cornerback? Who’s returning kicks?

Everybody wants answers. So, I’m searching for some truth.

A day-trip to Dallas in late July for Big 12 Media Days got me a few answers: Fozzy Whittaker admitted a lack of leadership last year, Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho assured us that the linebacking corps is in good hands and head coach Mack Brown was adamant that this is a real quarterback battle.

Media availability has unveiled a few more secrets: Malcolm Williams won’t be playing this season, Chet Moss will be a fullback, Joe Bergeron is a nice surprise at running back and Ash has impressed the veterans.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz thinks the offense is so complex that it’s got “tight ends coming out of helicopters and secret holes in the ground.”

My ears perked up when I heard “tight end.” I haven’t seen one of those since 2007.

Co-offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite are excited about a young group of receivers — Mike Davis, Darius White and Jaxon Shipley are your stars, but don’t sleep on John Harris — and the competition that new offensive line coach Stacy Searels is fostering.

“He’s moving the guys around, and he’s done a really good job of it,” Harsin said. “He’s putting them in different positions and scenarios — we’re mixing and matching to see how guys compete.”

Can’t forget to mention junior defensive end Alex Okafor, the star of the offseason.

“I’m not sure if he knows how good he can be,” Diaz said.

All nice nuggets, but nothing earth shattering.

All practices are closed to fans and media alike. Unlike past years, the Longhorns have not opened the gates to the fans for a select practice or two. If you’re not the Longhorn Network, you’re not getting in.

There was once a time when things weren’t so secret around here — last year, 5,000 people sat in 100-degree heat just to watch the players walk through some drills.

None of that now. Last season’s 5-7 aberration means an airtight Moncrief-Neuhaus. I hear they even own the skies above the practice fields and that undocumented planes and helicopters are shot down without warning.

“We have too much work to do,” says Brown. “We got to go back to work like we did in the spring, and we don’t need any distractions.”

That’s a shame, because a look at some of Texas’ freshest talent could send preseason enthusiasm through the roof. Instead, you’ll have to bide your time until Sept. 3 for a glimpse at Shipley or Malcolm Brown.

Just about every team has at least one practice available to fans. Oklahoma and Alabama have Fan Days, and Texas A&M allows any former or current Aggie, plus the media, to take in an Aggie practice. Probably not too hard to get a good gauge at the depth chart there. Here, we’ve got another week of waiting around just to see the two-deep, which Mack Brown says is still a work-in-progress.

“It’d be stupid for us to give you four positions that are settled when the rest of them aren’t,” he said.

I was getting fed up with all this secrecy until, like a godsend, I recently found refreshing honesty flowing from the mouth of senior safety Blake Gideon:

“We’ve got enough to worry about than making sure you guys have all the info you need.”

Truth hurts.

 

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Media finding it tough to get answers from Horns.