Mailbag: Bellicopter, new Tech ceiling

In today’s mailbag, Longhorns search for answers, Sooners hype up the Bellicopter and Red Raiders begin talking big after last week’s win over TCU.

To the bag:

Brian in Colorado writes: Texas has been trying to move toward becoming an SEC-style team, so what are the odds that Texas will have Mack Brown step down and then try and steal Kirby Smart from the Tide? Smart would be a perfect fit for a talented team that needs a younger coach to bring an energetic style.

Jake Trotter: Smart is a tremendous coordinator, but I imagine Texas will go after an established head coach first. Besides, Texas only tried to become an SEC-style team because of Brown.

Josh in Oklahoma writes: Given Texas' inability to stop the option, how great would it be to see the BellDozer turn into the BellBone for OU-Texas?

JT: Great for who? Certainly not Texas. Then again, I’m not sure Blake Bell’s skill set is tailored for the read option. Bell is tough to tackle, but he doesn’t have the requisite quickness to operate the option, play in, play out. That’s one reason why Trevor Knight beat him out during the preseason. But if Bell throws like he did against Tulsa, he won’t need to run the option all that often, anyway.

Ric in Moore, Okla., writes: My guess is Blake Bell will be a very average QB, and OU loses 3-4 games this season. Your thoughts?

JT: Bell showed me a lot in that Tulsa game. I think he’ll hold onto the job. I still don’t see OU winning more than 10 games, though.

Nicholas in Houston writes: In the last chat, you said, "Bottom line, if Texas and OU aren't carrying their weight, the Big 12 is going to be viewed as a sub-par conference.” Do you think that if one non-OU-Texas team goes undefeated and another comes really close, would that Big 12 perception improve?

JT: Honestly, not really. Oklahoma State went 12-1 in 2011 and it didn’t do much for the conference’s perception nationally. The Cowboys still got left out of the national title game, even though really they were more deserving than Alabama on paper. Now, if OSU and Baylor won 10 games annually over the course of a decade, that would be something different. But the OU and Texas brands were built over the course of 70 years, and when their brands suffer, so does the Big 12. A great season here or there from the non-flagship schools does little to change that.

John in Tulsa, Okla., writes: I know it's not the case for every team, but I'm wondering what the advantages and disadvantages are for having the defensive coordinator on field level. Logic would say that having the coordinator in the box would aid in reading the formations, personnel, tendencies and plays of the opposition. The only explanation I could come up with was that having the defensive coordinator on field level helps make adjustments real time instead of via headset. But how effective are the adjustments that are made at that point?

JT: John is correct -- offensive coordinators usually call plays from the box, while defensive coordinators often call plays from the sideline. Maybe it’s because offense is more analytical, and defense, more emotional? Also, offensive coordinators are on their own time to some degree when making adjustments, giving them time to relay calls from the box. Defenses are on the offense’s time, meaning defensive coordinators have just moments to holler in their adjustments before the snap.

Jeff in Austin writes: The perception is that if UT, OU, or OSU were undefeated after the regular season they would likely play for the trophy in January. What would the likelihood of Baylor or Texas Tech playing for the national championship if they went undefeated while everyone else was at 12-1?

JT: Assuming the SEC filled one side of the title game, Baylor and Tech would probably need Oregon, Stanford, Clemson, Ohio State, Louisville, Florida State, UCLA, Michigan, Notre Dame and Miami to all go down. The Bears and Red Raiders, however, have never won a Big 12 title. Isn’t it a bit premature to be talking national title after three games?

Ali in Fort Worth, Texas: What do you make of three Big 12 teams beginning conference play against West Virginia?

JT: I didn’t even realize this was the case until you brought it up. It should be an advantage for West Virginia in the Oklahoma State and Baylor games.

Brian from the Apache forward operating base in Afghanistan writes: Jake, love the blog. If Mack Brown does lose his job what are you early thoughts on the man who would replace him? I mean, I would think Texas would warrant a big name guy for the job right?

JT: Given its proximity to high school talent and its infinite resources, Texas is probably the most attractive head-coaching job in college football. Stanford’s David Shaw was the name I kept hearing when I was in Austin last weekend. But don’t rule out Texas making a pitch to Nick Saban, either.

Shelby in Big Spring, Texas, writes: How concerned should Raider Nation be that Tech's offense did not move the ball much during the TCU game? Scoring on the first and last possessions is a little unusual for Tech's offense? Also, yay or nay on the gray unis?

JT: I’m a fan of the gray uniforms. I’m not overly concerned. Despite its problems on the other side of the ball, TCU is still really good defensively. The one concern I might have is the Tech offensive line. Can they protect the quarterback? If so, the skill talent is there for this Tech offense to be prolific.

P.J. in El Paso, Texas, writes: How much of UT’s woes can be attributed to lack of a top QB? It seems that the top teams in the Big 12 all boast pretty good QBs. Texas has top talent everywhere else.

JT: Quarterback is the least of Texas’ worries this season. Have you seen this defense? Even with Johnny Manziel back there, this Texas team would not be going anywhere.

Clint in Houston writes: Looking back, Texas failed to recruit or offer a scholarship to some of the best QBs in the country. With Texas' shoddy QB play and comparatively horrible record since Colt McCoy, shouldn't Mack be let go for the program's lack of interest in Andrew Luck, RG3, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston?

JT: This will ultimately be part of Brown’s undoing. But only part of it. Brown has also whiffed on coordinator hires, failed to forge offensive and defensive identities since the ’08-09 teams and struggled to recruit mentally tough players.

SoonerPaintJob in Oklahoma City writes: After an impressive performance through the air, where do you see Bellicopter and company ending up by season’s end? Does it feel a little like 2000?

JT: I don’t see a Roy Williams on defense or a Josh Heupel on offense. So no, this doesn’t feel like 2000. Bell looked good against Tulsa, but it was against Tulsa. I’m nowhere near ready to proclaim this a team of destiny after home wins over Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa.

Jay in Midland, Texas, writes: Jake, you promised a revised ceiling for Texas Tech should they beat TCU. Time to get your Guns Up!! How do you see the conference shaking out, now that we are three weeks into the season?

JT: I still see the conference title being decided by OU, OSU and Baylor. But the Red Raiders are looming. If they slip past these next four games -- all winnable games -- to get to 7-0, I might be compelled to move them into the upper tier.

Finkaboutit in Ames, Iowa, writes: The past two years Iowa State has had some talent on the offensive side of the ball, and we have not had any form of solid offense. Does ISU need to start looking for a new offensive coordinator?

JT: Why do Iowa State fans keep insisting the Cyclones have had talent on the offensive side of the ball? The last Iowa State offensive skill player to get drafted was Seneca Wallace 10 years ago. A different play-caller doesn’t change the fact that Iowa State is deft of playmakers offensively. The Cyclones’ offensive woes stem from mediocre recruiting more than anything else.