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November 2, 2011

The Good Stuff: Texas, Tech, LSU-Bama and Cowboys ...

Here's the debut of my THE GOOD STUFF column. Nuggets galore on Texas, Texas Tech, LSU-Alabama and the Cowboys ...

TEXAS STUFF …

***Texas strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie
was at Texas Tech for seven years ending in 2009 before going to Tennessee for the 2010 season. So he is very familiar with much of the Red Raiders' roster.

"Bennie will be great for us this weekend, because he can say, 'This one will knock your head off. This one is tough, and here's how they are going to approach Texas,'" Mack Brown said. "So Bennie will be involved this week in the mental attitude of our team going into the game."

***Mason Walters was a teammate of Texas Tech QB Seth Doege at Wolfforth-Frenship High School near Lubbock. Doege was injured and didn't get to play football his junior and senior years in high school. He was awarded a scholarship by Tech based on his performance at a summer camp before his junior year in high school.

"A lot of people stopped recruiting him," Walters said. "But he's got a great arm. He loves football. He studies it. He's going to be good. He comes from a great family and is a great guy. I watched film of Tech against New Mexico, and he absolutely lit them up (Doege had 401 yards passing and 5 touchdowns)."

***Walters said when the Texas offense needs to "take it personally" when the Horns get in the red zone.

"We have to have the mindset that the only thing that's acceptable is 6 points," Walters said.

***Malcolm Brown said he reached a high of 225 pounds in high school and is now down to about 210. Brown called himself "pudgy" at his high weight and feels faster at his new weight.

***Cody Johnson has embraced his move to fullback because he feels like he'll have a chance to make it in the NFL at that position.

When I asked Johnson what he liked and disliked about the job, he said, "I like the hitting, except when I have to block the isolation play and meet Steve Edmond in the hole. That will hurt your neck. Edmond is a big, physical dude, and he knows how to control the run."

More praise for Edmond on top of the glowing praise I reported earlier in the week from Keenan Robinson.

***Cody Johnson said the attitude of the offense is completely different from the pass-first mentality Texas used to have (under Greg Davis). When asked about Texas Tech being ranked 114th of 120 Division I teams in run defense, Johnson said:

"We're a running team. We're going to run no matter if a defense is No. 1 against the run or whatever. We're going to run. That's what we do."

***Mike Davis is Darius White's roommate, and Davis said he continues to encourage White to give it his all. With John Harris injured, there has been opportunity for wideouts to step up. Now, Jaxon Shipley (right knee) may be questionable with an MCL strain.

"I keep telling Darius every day to come out here and play with an edge and give it his all, like it was his last day and just play hard and focus on being consistent and do everything right," Davis said. "Darius is very athletic, like Roy Williams. He's a good player, smart, great hands, pretty fast. He just has to stay focused."

***Davis had a crack-back block against Kansas that drew oohs and aahs in the film room this week. Davis said his block wasn't quite as good as Marquise Goodwin's in the UCLA game.

"Marquise knocked the dude's helmet off," Davis said. "That was pretty good. But we're trying to let the whole world know the receivers at Texas are blocking downfield."

Davis said Goodwin told him, "You look like your daddy," referring to Goodwin's block vs UCLA. "We are cool, so he can say that," Davis said.

***Davis said he is staying after practice up to 45 minutes to catch passes from David Ash and work on their chemistry.

***Keenan Robinson said the communication between the front and secondary of the defense continues to improve. He said the freedom to make changes at the line against up-tempo offenses like OU and Oklahoma State caused some problems in getting the changes communicated. He feels like it's much better now.

***Robinson said the message was clear to the second-team defense after the starters replaced them in the final minutes of the Kansas game to preserve a 43-0 shutout.

"We wanted them to play. But at the same time, we wanted them to play up to our standards. So we just told them, 'If you aren't going to do that, then we'll do it for you,'" Robinson said. "If we would have given up that shutout, I would have been pissed."

***I thought Mack Brown was incredibly honest in his assessment this week about why both David Ash and Case McCoy are taking snaps with the first-team offense in practice and why the coaches won't take the "or" off the depth chart at that position.

"We feel like we need to keep both quarterbacks developing and keep them both ready to play," Mack said. "Because at that age, you're never sure. If one has a bad start, we've got five very difficult games coming up here. We can't afford to have a bad game at that position."

***Foswhitt Whittaker said he has found great inspiration from the Captain America super hero. So much so that he has bought plenty of Captain America memorabilia, including the shield, which hangs over his bed so that it's the last thing he sees before he goes to sleep.

"I always played the Captain America video game growing up, but I never really embraced it," Whittaker said. "But then I read about him when I got to college and really identified with him. I've actually spent a bunch of money on it. I have all types of memorabilia. Puzzles, pens, stuffed animals, action figures, posters.

"He's a super soldier with unbelievable patriotism."

***Talked to former Texas recruiting coordinator Randy Rodgers Wednesday, and he called Texas QB commitment Jalen Overstreet of Tatum, "an absolute stud."

"He can make plays with his arm and his legs, and Texas would probably have to change the offense to feature his talents," said Rodgers, who scouts Texas high school talent for colleges across the country.

***Mack Brown is happy the NCAA has voted to give schools the right to add $2,000 in grant money for student-athletes.

"I heard someone saying this is a situation that invites disaster because we are handing money to kids, and they are just going to waste it. And that's not fair. There are a lot of kids who send their Pell grant money home because their parents are out of jobs. I think it's a great step forward by the NCAA, and hopefully the $10,000 over five years will help keep a young man from talking to an agent."

***For junior-college students enrolling in August 2012, the NCAA will require transfers to have a 2.5 grade-point average, up from 2.0, and no more than two physical-education classes. Something tells me, any JUCO player considering Texas would have had to be making more than a 2.5 GPA to come to Austin with as difficult as it is to get JUCO credit to transfer at UT.


TEXAS TECH STUFF …

***I talked to Tommy Tuberville
this week, and he said his team didn't handle the newfound attention and notoriety of the victory over Oklahoma very well. He also said his team goes as QB Seth Doege goes.

"When Seth plays well, we have a chance to win," Tuberville said. "When he doesn't, we struggle. And there are a couple games he'd probably like to have back. Last week, against Iowa State. And against K-State, we had 400 yards at halftime. K-State had 90. And then we started turning the ball over in the second half."

Tech has lost three Big 12 games at home this season ? against Texas A&M, K-State and Iowa State.

Tuberville said his defense still isn't where he wants it in terms of recruiting.

"The staff that was here before wanted to win games by outscoring people," Tuberville said. "I believe you have to play defense. We still don't have the size and speed we need. But we are recruiting well and will get there."

***Tuberville said of Texas, "They are improving each week. You can see that. And they have a lot of speed. A lot of talent. And a lot of speed. Any time you change out both coordinators and bring in new schemes like Mack did, it's going to take time. But you can see they are getting better. It will be a challenge for us this week."

***Tech WR Adam James, the son of ESPN analyst Craig James, who was at the center of controversy when former coach Mike Leach was let go, has 14 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown this season. James had a career-day against Oklahoma, catching 5 passes for 75 yards.


OTHER COLLEGE STUFF …

***I'm leaning toward LSU in 2011's biggest game in college football this weekend. And I never thought I'd say this, but it's because of former Brenham QB Jarrett Lee, whose name was reviled in Baton Rouge back in 2008.

That was Lee's redshirt freshman year, and he was forced into action before he was ready because of injuries, and he threw 6 pick-sixes that year.

Lee was Jordan Jefferson's backup the past two seasons, getting only one start. But he did play a key role in LSU's victory over Alabama last year, hitting Rueben Randle with a 47-yard pass on a key third down late in the game to help seal the victory. Lee was 4-of-7 passing for 67 yards.

Lee also played well at Florida last season as he completed 9-of-11 passes for 124 yards and two TDs, including the game winner with six seconds left. He found Terrence Toliver in the corner of the end zone for the game-clinching 3-yard score that gave the Tigers their first win in "The Swamp" since 2005.

So I know Lee can deliver in a tough spot. And this season, Lee has thrown 13 TD passes with only 1 interception in replacing Jefferson, who was suspended for fighting earlier this season and hasn't been able to win his job back.

LSU has only turned it over 3 times all year.

I simply don't know what Alabama QB A.J. McCarron will do in a tight spot, if he needs to make a big throw, because McCarron hasn't been in that position yet as a starter.

Lee is one of the best stories in college football this season with his ability to overcome the doubt of fans and his own doubt to be a winner for the Tigers.

I love both teams' defenses. I love LSU RB Spencer Ware, and Alabama RB Trent Richardson.

But I think the grass-eating Les Miles will have his team loose and ready to roll, much like he did when he took Oklahoma State into Norman, Okla., in 2001 and took down the Sooners.

Geaux Tigers.


NFL STUFF …

***Talked to long-time Dallas-Fort Worth radio personality Wally Lynn
Wednesday, and Lynn is very dialed into the Cowboys.

He is getting word that Dez Bryant is turning into a locker room cancer with his whining and complaining.

Lynn said Bryant is being allowed to behave this way because he's a Jerry Jones' favorite, and, of course, a high draft pick. Lynn said if something isn't done about Bryant, like putting him in his place, it will derail the offense and possibly the Cowboys.

This will be a story to watch for sure because Dallas has Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson at wideout, and that's a pretty good one-two punch with TE Jason Witten. You'd love it if Dez Bryant would get his mind right, but that may be too much to ask, according to Lynn.

I covered the Cowboys for The Dallas Morning News when Antonio Bryant was a receiver for the Cowboys, and that guy was mega-talented, but all over the place in terms of his emotional stability. He ultimately threw a sweaty jersey in Bill Parcells' face and got cut.

Now we have Dez Bryant, who wears his jeans too low at North Park Mall, and probably ran the wrong route, leading to an interception in a game Dallas should have won against the New York Jets.

Romo's personality doesn't do well with prima donna receivers. We saw that with Terrell Owens. And if Jerry Jones doesn't give coach Jason Garrett the power to discipline Bryant, this situation appears as if it could get out of control.

And one other thing, what has TE Martellus Bennett done for the Cowboys to still have a job? Just sayin.


RANDOM STUFF ...

***How cool is Kevin Durant?
That guy, bored during the NBA lockout, ends up playing flag football with a bunch of Oklahoma State students and becomes a YouTube sensation ... again.

Just like when he put up 66 points at Rucker Park.

Only this time, he was slinging the pig. And he showed some pretty good pocket presence.

***At what price is it worth whoring out every single family member for television fame and fortune?

Kris Jenner's family is as big a wreck as Jersey Shore, only without the gym, tan, laundry and punches.

Kris Humphries is the lucky one in this deal. Of course, he's still a New Jersey Net. That was the one aspect of Humphries' life Kris Jenner couldn't control, although she probably tried to have him traded to the Lakers or Clippers for TV filming purposes.

All we need now is the smush, reality mega-merger: Kim Kardashian and The Situation both being DTF.

Bet Kris Jenner and Ryan Seacrest could get that on pay-per-view before we get Pacquaio and Mayweather.

Just sayin.


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