A rolling blog from the second day of the Big 12′s media kickoff in Dallas, where the Mountaineers are in “press room no man’s land,” situated between Texas and Oklahoma. We’ll be adding words and photos throughout the day. …
DALLAS, Texas — Can’t wait to hear West Virginia’s Quinton Spain reprise his “last year you couldn’t get a ride” theory on team chemistry. Can’t wait to hear David Ash reprise his fumble-oopsie that likely cost Texas a win vs. WVU. Can’t wait to hear Lache Seastrunk dodge questions about Oregon’s NCAA sanctions. Can’t wait to hear Bob Stoops tell us how awesome the SEC is.
But first, some referee chatter from Walt Anderson, who last week addressed a room full of officials and now stares at a room full of sports writers. Hope he dumbs down his presentation appropriately.
Anderson is rolling through video examples of legal and illegal hits, the latter of which will result in automatic four-quarter ejections this season. Many of these same videos were utilized at the officials’ clinic last weekend in this same city, and you can read about targeting and the pressure replay booth officials face to validate or correct what’s called on the field.
Two ex-players now working for Fox television—Brian Baldinger and Charles Davis—are questioning some of the near-perfect form tackles Anderson is highlighting as targeting this season. And Anderson, who LOVES explaining the physics of this stuff frame-by-frame, is talking about defenders needing to lower their “strike zone,” sometimes by a matter of inches, to remain in the game.
West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, who as a freshman developed a rep for delivering hard knocks, said he prefers targeting remain 15-yard penalty without disqualification.
“That’s a little intense, throwing somebody out of the game,” he said. “That’s a big part pf my game—being physical. I’m not going to change the way I play. I’m just going to be smarter.”
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said video staffers are piecing together instructional presentations coaches will show to players at the start of fall camp.
Those videos will also be instructional for Holgorsen, who was asked if he had a grasp on the targeting particulars and replied, “Not yet.”
You can read about targeting in these previous MetroNews stories posted last week, but Anderson mentioned another rule change—the “2-second rule”—that could affect late-game comebacks. It means that when a ball is snapped with 2 seconds or less, an offense has one play. If the quarterback attempts to spike the ball inside the final two ticks, the game is over. This rule change takes some of the guesswork off the clock operator, much like the basketball rule that doesn’t allow catch-and-shoot with less than 0.3 seconds.
Speaking of 2 seconds, that’s how long we have until Stoops takes the podium …
Given that it has been 12 seasons since Oklahoma won a national title and four seasons since OU last contended, Stoops was asked if he still felt appreciated by Sooner nation.
“I do,” he said. “But I’ve never been appreciated by everybody, even in 2000.”
With some 9,000 Mary Kay reps overtaking Dallas for an annual conference—bringing with them more than 40,000 pairs of heels and countless pink autos—Stoops said his wife Carol, a national sales director, would be leading a session this weekend.
“I’m proud of her,” he told reporters. “You should get your wives to do it. It would be good for them. I’m recruiting.”
As Stoops exited the podium, a reporter complimented him on the salary his wife must be generating, to which the coach joked: “I’ve still got her by a little bit.”
The Longhorns—my pick to win the Big 12—return 19 starters, yet my media cohorts voted Texas fourth in the preseason poll. That’s reasonable, given the tendency for Texas to underachieve since appearing in the 2009 BCS championship.
Last year’s 9-4 mark was respectable, though as Mack Brown noted, “Nine wins aren’t enough at Texas.”
WHERE’S THE ‘D’ IN TEXAS?
When the Texas rushing defense slipped to 88th nationally last season, Brown didn’t clean house. That’s because the same defensive coaches helped the Longhorns rank sixth overall in 2011, and as Brown emphasized Tuesday, “they didn’t just get stupid.”
He’s betting more experienced players will make the schemes and stats look better this year. The Longhorns ranked 73rd in scoring defense and 67th in total defense last fall.
“We thought the continuity of keeping the same staff on defense, because we had a great defense two years ago—we had the No. 1 run-stopping defense in the league,” he said.
“We played poorly last year, and we were much better at the end of the year. So I thought it was a real advantage to keep things in place and grow and move forward than have the distraction of bringing an entirely new group in.”
HOLGORSEN ON QBs
For the 4,533rd time this offseason, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen was asked about replacing Geno Smith. The coach said WVU is simply in the same boat as seven other Big 12 teams.
“The quarterback play in the Big 12 last year was phenomenal, and it’s going to be phenomenal again, just with different people,” he said.
A COUGAR BECOMES A MOUNTAINEER
Regarding Houston transfer running back Charles Sims, Holgorsen said: “We’re extremely fortunate to have his services for one year. He’s a great kid. He’s a tremendous football player.”
Holgorsen casually mentioned how he recruited Sims and coached him during his freshman year at Houston. “That was probably his best year statistically.”
That connection no doubt made it easier to lure Sims to Morgantown as a one-year graduate transfer, though Holgorsen emphasized, “I didn’t promise him anything.”
In joining a backfield that includes junior college signee Dreamius Smith and WVU returnees Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, Sims is expected to pick up the offense quickly. The media selected him preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
“He knows what I’m all about. He knows how I coach. He knows what our offense is about,” Holgorsen said. “So we need some playmakers on offense, after losing 90 percent of our production last year or whatever that crazy number is.”
“He knew he’d be able to come in and fit in and get an opportunity to play in the Big 12. That was his motive. He loves the University of Houston. He got his degree from there. He’ll be a Cougar for life, but he wanted to be able to play in the Big 12 to be able to increase his draft stock, which we’ll put him in position to be able to get that done.”
Watch Holgorsen address Sims, targeting and fall camp goals in the video below: