The Houston Texans officially began their ninth season in the NFL this past Friday, July 30, when they opened Training Camp at their Reliant Stadium Practice Facility. While expectations have been high the past couple of seasons, Head Coach Gary Kubiak, along with the Texans players know that ANYTHING LESS than a playoff berth in 2010 will be totally unacceptable, and will mean a changing of the guard at head coach. No one is more aware of what is at stake than Gary Kubiak. After the team’s afternoon practice on Sunday, August 1, he was asked about a specific player as to whether it was a “do or die” year for him. Kubiak’s response, which drew several laughs, was “I think it’s a do or die year for a LOT of us around here.”
Based on the way his team has begun camp, it appears this year just might be the year it all comes together for Houston. In the offseason, they improved their power both offensively and defensively with a couple of impressive draft picks, along with some key off-season acquisitions via free agency. One of the most promising of those was free-agent quarterback John David Booty. Many East Texans will remember him from his success at Shreveport Evangel High School, and his impressive play at USC under Coach Pete Carroll.
Sunday afternoon we had a chance to talk with Booty, who as the third quarterback in the mix behind starter Matt Schaub, and former Detroit Lions starting quarterback Dan Orlovsky, shows much more promise and possesses more talent than his predecessor, former Bears starter Rex Grossman.
Needless to say, Booty is happy to be close to his Louisiana roots. We asked him if he ever envisioned he’d be able to get back close to home after college at USC. “No, I didn’t, especially after going out to California. I didn’t figure there was ever going to be a chance to get back to home, but it’s nice. I figured it was either New Orleans, Dallas, or here. That was about it.”
J.D. also commented about the major life change he underwent going from Western Louisiana to Los Angeles. “Oh, there’s no doubt about it, especially going out to L.A., and where I’m from it is a little slower than Hollywood and L.A. It was an eye-opening experience. I adjusted to it and enjoyed it, and was able to have a great time, and I was even able to get a couple of Louisiana boys out there with me. We really had a great time, and obviously, we had a pretty good football team too. I think at first it’s a little bit distracting (having movie stars around the team constantly), but I was able to adjust, and after a bit it just becomes a regular deal that those people are always around. When you see it all the time, it just becomes a regular thing and it doesn’t affect you.”
Booty is excited about having the chance to latch on with the Texans this season. “It (Houston’s offensive scheme) is similar to what I had at USC, and even in Minnesota. It’s the West Coast offense. There are some variations to it, which is really just learning the new terminology and picking all that up, but it’s the same routes I’m used to seeing run. I would love to stick around here; it’s exciting, and I hope I will be able to do that.
He also had some thoughts for all his friends and acquaintances in East Texas and the Shreveport area. “I miss them and wish I could get there more, and now hopefully I’ll be able to. I went through seven years that I couldn’t get back very easily, but now I’ll get back to Louisiana and over to East Texas.”
The excitement level of the entire team and all Texans fans is through the roof. For the first time in their short history in the NFL, there is more confidence than pressure in camp, and that will hopefully turn into a good thing. HOPEFULLY, at the end of the regular season, Houston will have proven themselves in a good way as the result of a lot of “doing”. If not, there will be Dying, i.e. cuts and firings. Gary Kubiak and a lot of his friends and players are focused on the job ahead, and are determined to find a way to reach the post-season tournament. Their fans are due, so hopefully things will come together this season.