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Fozzy Whittaker, Former Texas Longhorn

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
September 8, 2022 9:02 pm

Fozzy Whittaker, Former Texas Longhorn

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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September 8, 2022 9:02 pm

Fozzy Whittaker joined Zach to discuss if Texas can keep it close against Alabama and who he's picking to win the Big 12. 

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Major League Baseball trademarks used with permission. Fozzie, appreciate the time. How are you? Yes, sir. Man, what's going on?

I am doing well. The buzz is alive and well out here in Austin this week in preparation for that huge game. So, appreciate you having me on.

Yeah, thanks for coming on. So far, what have been the early impressions now a year and a game in on Steve Sarkisian in Austin, Texas? You know, it's been a tricky rollercoaster per se. You look at a season ago when Texas went 5-7. You had really high hopes going into the season, built some momentum early on in some of those non-conference games.

And then that first game in conference against Texas Tech where you had an absolute showing of offensive dominance and then, man, just really falling apart the rest of the way. And then obviously getting a taste of what that SEC football life was about against Arkansas in week two last year wasn't probably what Steve Sarkisian had on his plate as well. But coming into the off-season, man, Steve Sarkisian and company, they recruited extremely well given the circumstances that they went 5-7 and had such a horrible showing in his first year. I thought that was signs of a positive coach and a positive outlook on what this Texas team could be like. Because if people were believing in what Sark could do and then he returns in the number five recruiting class in the country and had the best offensive line signing class that Texas has ever had since they started computing those stats, I thought there must be a buzz and a positive direction that, you know, Sark is the guy that could possibly turn Texas around. And looking at week one so far against ULM, I know the opponent isn't of the same caliber, but the team definitely looked like a better version of what we saw a season ago.

And they seem to be heading in the right direction. It's obviously clear he's doing a heck of a job recruiting. Everyone knows that they got Arch Manning. Since you're on the ground there and Arch is going to be entering that campus next year, we'll see if he'll be the starting quarterback.

It'll be Quinn Ewers. We'll get to that in just a second. Anything behind the scenes on the recruitment of Arch Manning and how Sark got him to go to Texas? You know, the biggest thing that I've heard and I haven't heard, like, I guess the true reason why, but I mean, Arch has been on statements saying that, you know, he wanted to go somewhere where he felt comfortable and could find himself playing at the next level eventually, and who could prepare him best for that opportunity. And you look at Sark's track record with quarterbacks that he's had in his system, and you can see he has a long list of guys that have performed and have performed at a high level on so many occasions with different teams and different conferences. So I think that might have been probably the biggest recruiting tool that Sark didn't even have to probably tell Arch Manning. It was part of the product of what Sark has been able to do over the course of the past 20 or so years, that you can see the proof is in the pudding with him. And I think that probably allowed Arch Manning to feel very confident in his choosing of pairing up with Steve Sarkeesian at the University of Texas. Fauzi Whitaker here with us.

When we get to this weekend, I'll just get to it right out of the gate. What do you expect out of Quinn Ewers up against this unbelievable Alabama defense? Man, I think that's the million dollar question, right?

Everybody's wondering. This is a guy, Quinn Ewers, that had his first collegiate start, first full collegiate game. Well, I guess not even a full game since he didn't finish out through the third quarter after Texas had a sizable lead, but he got his first meaningful snaps at the collegiate level. And I can say one of the things that I was most impressed with was he faced adversity early on in that game on his second collegiate pass. He threw an interception and we wanted to see how he would respond. And I thought he responded beautifully. Sark obviously helped him out with the play calling and then Bijan became his best friend. But we witnessed what it was like to handle adversity and how would he respond to that.

And I thought he did a phenomenal job with that. This matchup this weekend, it's no ULM, that's for sure. It's not going to be the Warhawks anymore. But I think this will be a great barometer and a measuring stick for him to be able to see, you know, what it means to play the top talent in the nation. What it means to play one of the top coaches to ever have coached the game.

And, you know, where did the coin stack up and how favorable is the matchup for Bama or how favorable are some of those matchups for Texas? And I think we'll all get an opportunity to see that. And I think Quinn will be prepared for the moment, obviously given Sark's tenure with Nick Saban and his experiences that he's had playing underneath Saban. I think Sark will have a great offensive game plan ready to help combat some of these explosive defenders that Alabama has on the defensive side of the ball.

Fozzie Whitaker here with us. I think Quinn Ewers is a top five storyline in college football because if he balls out this year, you basically end the quarterback competition that's going to happen in the offseason. It's going to be tough to sit Quinn Ewers if he plays really well and then maybe have Arch Manning on a bench for a season. At the end of the year, how do you think we're talking about Quinn Ewers?

You know, I think it'll be in that form of fashion where he has solidified the starting job. Whenever I look at what he was able to do well and some of the things that he could still work on, obviously being a freshman in that first time game type environment, decision making is going to be critical and key, especially this week, going against a team like Alabama. You can't afford to have turnovers, especially not turnovers, on your side of the field. So you've got to be very wise and you've got to be smart with the ball. Make sure you're getting the ball on time, out of your hands. Find that rhythm and that pace to allow you to hopefully stay on schedule because if you get out of schedule, that's whenever Alabama, those guys, Will Anderson and Dallas Turner will pin their ears back and make it hard for this Texas offense to get something going.

But for Quinn Ewers, you've got to continue to play like he knows how to play. We saw the arm talent on display a week ago. A couple of passes to Ja'Tavian Sanders that were just like wow moments. Him getting those off-balance throws, those completions out to the backs. Dijon obviously got a touchdown out of the backfield, being able to utilize those playmakers in space. But if he can continue to build off of what he did in week one, if he can have a solid showing again this week, I think his confidence levels will be off the roof.

And I think that was all that he would need in order to solidify himself as the guaranteed starter moving forward until it's his time to hopefully enter into the NFL draft. When we flip gears to the defensive side of the ball for Texas, it's such a tough task for what Texas has to go up against offensively since you have Will Anderson going after your quarterback. But when you look at their offense, they may have the best quarterback in college football, the Heisman Trophy winner from a year ago and Bryce Young. It's almost impossible to slow down this Alabama offense unless if you're Georgia in the national championship game. What is the approach this week defensively for Texas other than going to the church and prying? You know, that's probably the number one thing that they need to do is make sure they are in that church house, understanding that Nick Saban done recruited some guys that can absolutely ball out. But the first game plan that I always look at, and this is a game plan that I remember whenever I used to play for Coach Brown, whenever I played for the Panthers as well with Ron Rivera, you got to stop the run.

And that is what Alabama loves to do. They will establish to run within any game. And it doesn't matter who the running back is. Obviously, Bryce Young is a runner himself.

So you've got to account for him as an additional runner in the pocket. But I think you've got to stop the run, take the line of scrimmage away from what Bama wants to do, which is obviously easier said than done. But if you can start playing on their side of the ball from the snap, creating penetration up front, allowing yourself to be able to be more physical at the point of attack, that's what we saw Georgia doing a season ago in the national championship game, is Georgia got a lot more physical than Bama up front and started to negate that run game.

And if you can do that, it starts to make Alabama one dimensional. And one thing that Bryce Young does not like is pressure in your face. And that's not just Bryce Young. That's a quarterback's worst enemy, honestly. It's just pressure in the pocket or pressure in your face. So after you're able to, if you can, stop the run, you need to be able to collapse the pocket and keep Bryce Young sitting in there. Because if he gets outside of the pocket, that's where a lot of damage is done and creates those big plays.

But if he's pressured in the pocket, it's a lot harder for him to see over those taller, offensive and defensive linemen, and it just makes it a lot harder to complete those passes. So I think the biggest thing that this Texas front will have to do is be able to penetrate and cause some havoc up front, whether it's stopping in the run game or being able to penetrate and contain Bryce Young in the pocket on drop-back passes, that gives Texas a chance to, hopefully, stay close and make some plays or turnovers late in the game. Hitting up the rest of the Big 12, Fauzi Whitaker. Baylor BYU this weekend. I can't wait for that late-night game.

What do you think the difference is there? Man, that is obviously one of the most anticipated games as well for this week. Whenever I was breaking down the most significant games within the Big 12 Conference, I actually dubbed this Baylor BYU game as the most significant because a season ago, we saw what Dave Veranda was able to do whenever BYU came into town, and Baylor absolutely controlled the line of scrimmage and really dominated that BYU team. But not only were they able to dominate them on the field, they were able to take that same confidence with them the rest of the season and instill that into Big 12 Conference play and eventually wound up as the Big 12 champion. So I can see this game having that sort of impact again for Baylor. If they're able to go onto the road where it's going to be an extremely hostile environment and come away with a win, especially if it's a sound win and be more physical than what this BYU team has shown on tape so far, that can prove a significant confidence booster for this new-look Baylor team with Blake Shafen at the quarterback. But if BYU is able to find a way and get the victory, Baylor still has a chance obviously to win the Big 12, but it could catapult BYU into another opportunity for them to have that same confidence booster that allows them to get on a hot streak. And their schedule is not favorable, but if they get on a hot streak against Baylor, improve to have that momentum the rest of the way in their first probably five weeks of the season, man, you could be looking at a playoff team if they can come away with that unscathed with the momentum they can generate this weekend.

How about that, Fosse Whitaker here with us. Brent Venables, year one, there's high expectations. I think Oklahoma could win the Big 12. You have Dylan Gabriel at the quarterback position. How do you think the transition from defensive coordinator for all those years to head coach will go for Brent Venables? Man, everything that I have heard about that Oklahoma camp has been extremely positive. I played against Coach Venables, so I know exactly how well versed he is as a defensive coordinator. His resume also speaks for himself while he was the D.C. at Clemson and at Oklahoma.

So he is well respected around the country. And then seeing the way that the recruits have responded to it, I talked about Steve Sarkeesian this offseason, but the way Brent Venables has been able to recruit this offseason as well, not having even played a single game I thought was truly indicative of the type of culture and the type of people that he wants around on campus in Norman. And I thought he's done a phenomenal job of assembling his staff and getting people in the right places at the right time. And you saw that obviously a week ago, the way that they were able to dominate UTEP.

Going up 21-0, it seems like before five minutes was even into the game. That just shows how powerful the brand of Oklahoma is and how powerful whenever you have somebody like Brent Venables at the helm, everybody wants to follow. And Jeff Levy is an excellent offensive coordinator who's going to put Dylan Gabriel in the best opportunities.

And whenever you have playmakers like they do on the offensive side of the ball, and then you look at Reggie Grimes and Billy Bowman making plays on the defensive side of the ball, the way they were, David Uegbu as well, manning down the middle linebacker position. This is also a Big 12 Conference Championship caliber team that can win the Big 12 this year in Brent Venables' first year. Who's your pick, by the way, to win the Big 12, Fosse Whitaker? I actually picked Oklahoma State.

And the reasoning why, it really doesn't make sense, but it kind of does. But Baylor is the favorite by media and that is probably understandable why, especially the way that they move the ball against Albany and the expectations that they have. But it's really hard to repeat as a conference champion if your name is not Oklahoma.

It really hasn't been done before. So it would be really hard, in my opinion, for Baylor to repeat as a champion just because history proves otherwise in the Big 12 Conference. I didn't pick Oklahoma just because I thought there was still too much fresh of a turnover with the guys that have left and then first year for Brent Venables trying to establish the culture that he wants. Even though he has a talented roster, I just thought it could surmount to a little too much at the end of the day. But the most consistent and longest tenured coach in the Big 12 was my go-to pick because Mike Gundy has been there.

He's done it. He has a very, very solid team and he has the most veteran quarterback. And that was probably the biggest key reason why I picked Oklahoma State is because Spencer Sanders, the returning first team all Big 12 quarterback, is coming back for his final season. He has the most experience in the Big 12.

He has the greatest connection with Mike Gundy. And that defense, typically throughout three quarters against Central Michigan, they look like remnants of what Jim Knowles had them playing like a season ago. So if you compare that up with excellent quarterback play with Spencer Sanders accounting for six touchdowns, I felt like Oklahoma State was going to be a really, really tough team to beat. So I picked Oklahoma State because of that veteran leadership at the quarterback position and the longest tenured coach in Mike Gundy in the Big 12. Last thing I'll ask you, Fauzi Whitaker, and I want to end you on an NFL point.

You played a few years with the Carolina Panthers. Are you a believer in Baker Mayfield now as their quarterback won? You know, I've always been a believer of Baker Mayfield. I mean, I got to see the guy grow up in the Austin area. He played at Lake Travis High School, which is basically QBU for high schools. And he did a phenomenal job at the high school ranks and then he'd get to college. And his story is obviously well documented, going from Texas Tech and then going to Oklahoma and doing what he does there on a national stage and being a Heisman winner as well. And then going into Cleveland, and you can see his rookie year, man. He was phenomenal, on point, having that team headed in the right direction. And I think injuries kind of derailed the narrative that he wants to write. But now that he is completely healthy and got a fresh new look and a new teammate in Christian McCaffrey, I think the pairing of those two guys will be extremely explosive and dynamic. And I know CMAQ as a competitor, as one of the ultimate competitors, and in that same vein, I can definitely see Baker Mayfield being one of those ultimate competitors as well.

So the pairing of those two on the offensive side of the ball, I think, will prove more successful than what we've seen Carolina in the past couple of seasons. He's Fosse Whitaker. Make sure you check him out.

Big 12 Radio on the Longhorn Radio Network calling the games. Always appreciate the time. Thanks so much. Yes, sir. Appreciate you having me on.

Ya'll have a good one. That is out of the ballpark! All season long with

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-02 11:24:04 / 2023-02-02 11:32:44 / 9

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