Texas reports for 2011 season, loses senior WR
The Texas Longhorns reported to training camp Thursday ready to
leave behind the smoldering wreckage of their dismal 2010, but even
the fresh start on a new season came with the news they’ll be
without yet another veteran receiver.
Coach Mack Brown said senior Malcolm Williams, a well-liked
player who was also a key contributor on special teams, left the
team for personal reasons.
”Malcolm’s got some family issues,” Brown said without
elaborating. ”He’s been an outstanding player for us. He had some
tough things happen. I think this summer he was planning on playing
… I want what’s best for him.”
Williams played in 39 games, starting 18. He had 1,188 yards
receiving and seven touchdowns. His departure further depletes a
group of receivers that will also be missing junior Marquise
Goodwin, the U.S. national long jump champion who is skipping the
2011 football season to concentrate on the track world
championships and a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
Reserve receivers Brock Fitzhenry also will not return and Greg
Timmons, who played mostly on special teams last season, announced
in June he would transfer.
”We’re thin there,” Brown said. ”It puts us in a tough spot
The Longhorns’ 5-7 finish last season was Brown’s first losing
season at Texas and first in 20 years as a head coach.
Brown revamped his staff with seven new assistants and declared
every position open in the spring and in training camp to renew a
sense of urgency in a program that Brown says had settled into a
sense of entitlement.
”I think everybody has renewed intensity,” senior linebacker
Emmanuel Acho said. ”You learn you’ve got to keep swinging.”
But even with the changes, the Longhorns have been picked to
finish in the middle or bottom half of the new 10-team Big 12, well
below rivals Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Texas went 2-5 at home
last season and goes on the road to play four of the teams that
beat the Longhorns in Austin last season.
”Anytime you come off a season like last year, you have a lot
to prove,” senior safety Blake Gideon said.
The biggest position battle of training camp will be at
quarterback, where junior Garrett Gilbert is fighting to keep the
starters’ job after throwing 17 interceptions against just 10
touchdowns last season.
Competing with Gilbert is sophomore Case McCoy, the younger
brother of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, redshirt freshman
Connor Wood and true freshman David Ash. McCoy threw only one pass
last season but arguably outplayed Gilbert in the spring game.
Brown hasn’t given any hint as to who he expects to emerge as
the starter for the Sept. 3 season opener against Rice. Their
teammates were reluctant to shed much light on what they saw in
offseason practices, but junior defensive end Alex Okafor said
Gilbert ”really picked up his leadership.”
Brown, who often says the players know who should be the
starter, said he’s talked to them about the quarterbacks but
wouldn’t reveal what he’s heard. The coaches will chart every throw
and design drills that should allow the potential starter to
elevate himself from the group.
”The biggest thing is leadership,” Brown said. ”You’ve got to
protect the ball. You’ve got to put the ball in the end zone. We
feel like it’s going to be a great battle.”
The Longhorns also start training camp with a patchwork
offensive line that only has 36 cumulative starts among the
projected starters, with center David Snow (19) more than half of
those. That line will be expected to produce a better running game
than the one that ranked 66th in the country last season.
The uncertainty on offense puts more pressure on the defense and
new coordinator Manny Diaz to win games, a situation Diaz seems
ready to embrace.
”The defense determines whether you win or lose,” Diaz told a
group of fans on Wednesday. ”The offense determines by how