Football

Summer Opponent Preview: Texas Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns are the final opponent of the year, Thanksgiving Day in Austin. Let’s take a look at the Longhorns.

Quick Facts on Texas

Last Year’s Record: 6-7
Location: Austin, Texas
Coach: Charlie Strong
Returning Offensive Starters: 6 (QB Tyrone Swoopes; WR Marcus Johnson; OT Marcus Hutchins; OG Sedrick Flowers; C Taylor Doyle; OG Kent Perkins)
Returning Defensive Starters: 5 (LB Peter Jinkens; S Dylan Haines; DT Hassan Ridgeway; CB Duke Thomas; S Jason Hall)

Because I am running out of time (the season is, like, right around the corner), I’m going to have to dispense with the three players and five things and just write all of my thoughts.

Yards

Pass Yds/Gm Rush Yds/Gm Rec Yds/Gm
QB Tyrone Swoopes 185.30 20.15 0.00
RB Johnathan Gray 0.00 48.92 9.40
RB D’Onta Foreman 0.00 10.57 1.00
WR Marcus Johnson 0.00 0.00 24.10
WR Armanti Foreman 0.00 0.18 17.10

Points

Pass Pts/Gm Rush Pts/Gm Rec Pts/Gm
QB Tyrone Swoopes 6.00 1.80 0.00
RB Johnathan Gray 0.00 3.20 0.00
RB D’Onta Foreman 0.00 0.00 0.00
WR Marcus Johnson 0.00 0.00 0.46
WR Armanti Foreman 0.00 0.00 1.10

Thoughts on the Offense

  • As abysmal as Texas was offensively, they still put up 34 points on Texas Tech, which was darn near their season high (48 against Iowa State and 38 against North Texas) and hopefully that changes for Texas Tech.
  • From all accounts, it appears that Swoopes will be the guy calling the shots and Texas returns an offense that was 98th in the nation in rushing and 88th in passing. Not exactly terrific results. And they lose some key guys, including RB Malcolm Brown, who I thought was terrific, and Gray has to pick things up offensively for Texas. It seems logical that if Texas is going to be what they want to be, it will largely be dependent upon how they run the ball.
  • Gray, now a senior, hopes to lead his team and the running back spot is a bit thin as the Longhorns will be leaning on Gray, Foreman and probably Chris Warren, the freshman that Texas Tech was also in on until he choose Texas.
  • From all accounts, Daje Johnson is said to be very much turning things on at receiver and he can be a dangerous offensive weapon for Texas as he’s also a pretty good kick returner. Texas lost a ton of receiving talent, including John Harris and Jaxon Shipley, although Johnson is pretty good and Gray is also pretty good receiving out of the backfield. Still, Harris and Shipley caught 68 and 59 passes and that’s a lot of production to pick up.
  • The two biggest areas of concern are scoring offense, where Texas was 106th last year and 3rd down conversion, where they were also 106th last year. With Swoopes, the idea is that his arm has improved to the point where he can make some easy 3rd down completions, keep drives alive and that should help the scoring. If Swoopes doesn’t get it done, then Jerrod Heard could get an opportunity, but so much is dependent on Swoopes being very good.

Tackles

Solo Assisted
DB Dylan Haines 45 29
DB Duke Thomas 33 17
DL Hassan Ridgeway 28 18
DL Caleb Bluiett 22 15
DB Jason Hall 24 12

Havoc

Tackles for Loss Passes Defended Forced Fumbles
DB Dylan Haines 0.00 10.00 1.00
DB Duke Thomas 0.50 13.00 0.00
DL Hassan Ridgeway 9.50 0.00 0.00
DL Caleb Bluiett 6.50 2.00 0.00
DB Jason Hall 1.00 2.00 0.00

Thoughts on the Defense

  • Ridgeway and Jinkens are really pretty danged good, although Malcolm Brown, the defensive tackle, maybe had something to do with that as offenses focused on him as he was incredibly talented. Desmond Jackson should add some depth.
  • Texas graduated a ton of defensive talent: Jordan Hicks, Steve Edmond, Mykkele Thompson, Cedric Reed Quandre Diggs, etc. That’s a really big percent of the guys that made plays for the Longhorns last year and it’s always tough to discount that. And make no mistake, they were good on defense, 25th in total defense and 11th in passing yards allowed while the team sat 25th overall in total defense. Oh, and they stopped opponents on 3rd down as well, good for 22nd in the nation.
  • Malik Jefferson is the real deal, at least that’s the talk. Jefferson is maybe expected to play right away, probably at middle linebacker.
  • The secondary should be really good again. Haines and Hall received time despite being pretty young while Duke Thomas should get the call at one cornerback with Kris Boyd getting the call at the other cornerback. Also, John Bonney, a kid from Cibolo, also returns after a redshirt freshman year.

General Thoughts

  • Everything being written about the Longhorns turning it around is contingent on the offense turning things around on offense. That’s similar to what’s being said about Texas Tech, except on defense. Terrible units offenses or defenses issues, but marginally comparable offenses or defenses create really good teams. It seems like Texas is replacing a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. Lots of play makers are missing.
  • But it’s Texas and they seem to have an endless supply of talent, or at least on paper. I’ve always thought that Strong was doing things the right way, but I don’t know how patient fans will be with another losing season. They’re on the brink of being good or terrible with just about everyone else in the Big 12 sans Baylor, TCU, Iowa State and Kansas.
  • None of this is really revolutionary and I’d guess that Texas fans are pretty tired of the same things being written about their team by other people. “Yep, that offense looks like it’s going to struggle, but the defense should be pretty good.” The problem is that it’s true as of right now and not knowing how or if Swoopes can really be better than 58% completion, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Texas is supposedly going to be implementing some pistol formations to maybe help Swoopes and the running game, perhaps leading some defenses to some indecision. I think the other part of it is that Swoopes was never meant to run a pro-style offense and last year’s offense really didn’t take advantage of what Swoopes is, which is a fantastic athlete that was still learning how to play quarterback. If UT can get a little more deception in their game plan so that it’s not so cut and dried as to what the Longhorns are going to do, then maybe the offense will be better.
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