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INSIDETEXAS.COM

2015 SEASON PREVIEW

The Road Back CAN THE LONGHORNS REGAIN THEIR STRIDE IN 2015?

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in this issue

Gray Matters |

by

6

Bill Frisbie

Johnathan Gray will be key to the Longhorns’ success in 2015.

A Day in the Life |

10

Chris Hall Former center Chris Hall takes us inside training camp. by

The 2015 Longhorns |

by

14

Mike Blackwell

Mike breaks the team down position-by-position

The Schedule |

by Ian

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Boyd

Ian provides a scouting report for each opponent

Youth is Served |

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Eric Nahlin The 2015 class wants to make their mark now. by

Class of 2016 | by Eric Nahlin Eric assesses the early returns on the 2016 recruiting class.

Recruiting Update |

by

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44

Justin Wells and Ian Boyd

Profiles of 2016 verbal commitments.

Publishers -- Michael Pearle, Clendon Ross | Managing Editor--Clendon Ross | Editor-- Mike Blackwell InsideTexas.com Editor -- Justin Wells | Lead Writer -- Bill Frisbie | Contributor -- Ian Boyd Designer/Photographer -- Will Gallagher | Recruiting Analyst -- Eric Nahlin To Subscribe/Customer Service -- Phone: 512-659-8167 | Email: help@insidetexas.com 2015 Season Preview

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GRAY MATTERS by by B Bill ill F Frisbie risbie

FForget orget,, for for aa moment moment,, the the all all--important important quarterback quarterback battle battle.. FForget orget that that defense defense wins wins football football games games.. T The he most most indispensable indispensable player player in in the the L Longhorn onghorn lineup lineup is is senior senior rb rb JJohnathan ohnathan G Gray ray.. R Remember emember him him? ?

G

ray’s prep stats are unforget-

back recruit of 2012 has become the

“I just want to come out here and help

table. His 10,889 career rush-

invisible man in the Big 12. Heck, Gray

my team by being a well-rounded

ing yards and national record

is not only missing from preseason

player, being productive, and helping

205 TDs led Aledo to three straight

All-Conference consideration, he is

this team to victory, ” he said.

state titles. It also led Texas fans to

not even listed as a returning starter.

believe Gray would become the next

That’s what happens when a torn Achil-

It’s easy to disappear behind the series

great Longhorn back who could carry

les forces you to miss one-fourth of

of unfortunate events. That’s why few,

the program on his shoulder pads. Gray

your sophomore season and then take

outside the Forty Acres, are talking

picked Texas over TCU, Texas A&M and

handoffs as backup from an unprepared

much about Gray these days. RB coach

Oklahoma. Order was restored. All was

QB while toiling behind a decimated

Tommie Robinson is hardly known for

right in the Burnt Orange world.

offensive line.

his hyperbole, but he said all you need to know about Gray as Texas prepares

Fast-forward three years.

Gray seems content to toil in (relative)

for the season-opener at Notre Dame.

anonymity by taking a team-approach The nation’s most ballyhooed running

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heading into his senior season.

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“I’m expecting him to be one of the top


backs in the country,” Robinson said,

of difference-maker that the program

by-example, passionate commitment

“and he should be. I am expecting that

hasn’t had in five years.

from seniors like Gray.

The shocking dearth of proven play-

“When Johnathan Gray works hard and

makers means Gray becomes the

when Duke (Thomas) works hard, then

Given that Texas must replaces six

difference-maker by default. Yet, he has

it gets everybody going,” Strong said.

defensive starters, its leading rusher

so much upside, and so much unreal-

and top two receivers, it’s also reason-

ized potential, that Gray is probably the

No one has ever doubted Gray’s work

able to expect that Texas could (yikes!)

difference between a ‘winning’ and a

ethic. The prognosis following his

have a worse record than last year.

‘losing’ season.

season-ending injury at West Virginia

kind of performance from him. He’s expecting that kind of performance also.”

The argument here, however, is that

in November 2013 was at least nine

if the offensive line is at least service-

It was coach Charlie Strong’s assess-

months of rehab. That’s when he

able, and if the quarterback can avoid

ment that overall success during August

became one of the hardest working

self-sabotage and simply manage the

Camp and, presumably the rest of the

men on the team, albeit off the field. His

game, then Gray becomes the kind

campaign, is predicated upon the lead-

efforts appeared to pay off the following

2015 Season Preview

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- gray matters August that Johnathan Gray was back. Upon further review, Gray concedes

that he wasn’t 100 percent until late in

“I’m ready to go out and help my teammates in any way possible”

- Johnathan Gray

the season. By then, he had lost the starting job to Malcolm Brown. Both

ball-carriers learned quickly that Texas

football had become a BYOB affair (Be

Your Own Blocker). Gray managed 637 yards behind college football’s most inexperienced line. The bright spot,

ironically, came against West Virginia

approximately one year after his injury. His 101 yards and career-best three TDs on just 10 carries helped Texas

beat a Top 20 team for the first time in

Strong’s tenure. Many signaled the outing as the return to Johnathan Gray.

“My body feels better than ever,” Gray said during August camp.

The 2015 season also marks the first time in Gray’s tenure that he will hold

center stage. Granted, the backfield has been so infused with enough talent that

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it could be three-deep by season’s end. But there’s no doubt that Gray is the bell cow in Bevo Land.

“The running backs might be the

strongest position on our team, from top to bottom,” according to co-offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.

Gray’s career, from top to bottom, has

been quietly productive. He needs just 546 yards to rank among the Top 10

RBs in program history. A 1,000-yard

season would not only be a collegiate first for Gray, he could also become

Texas’ first thousand-yard rusher since

Jamaal Charles turned the trick in 2007. The transformation toward an up-

tempo, spread offense should get Gray

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into the wide open spaces. It will not

be a simpler scheme, but it is certainly more familiar. Strong notes: “About

95 percent of the high schools in the

state of Texas run (some version of) the spread.”

The system fits like a glove, Gray

remarked earlier this year. He’s healthy. And he’s hungry to enjoy the kind of

season that so many expected not only of him but of the entire program.

“I’m ready to go out and help my teammates in any way possible,” Gray said. If so, 2015 could be a season to remember for Texas’ forgotten man.


2015 Season Preview

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FA L L C A M P By Chris Hall

MORNING | 5 a.m. – 12 p.m.

F

all camp is not actually fall camp. It ends three weeks before the season of fall begins.

Of course it’s technically not “two-adays” either. The NCAA no longer allows two practices every day of camp. Every “two-a-day” must be followed by a “one-a-day”, even though players surprisingly wish they weren’t. Yes, when I played for Texas we preferred the two practices. (More on why later). It’s basically the genesis of every season (though the season arguably starts back in January). College football is a year-round sport even though its games are only played in the fall. The weights and workouts of offseason are crucial. Few guys can just walk on the field and play without having touched a weight all summer. Spring football is essential too. Coaches and fans get a preview of next season as young players get a month of practice to improve. But neither offseason or spring ball are fall camp. Real football begins in August. The hardest part about fall camp is time. It’s three weeks of nothing but football. From the time they wake up to the time they go to bed, including the dreams they dream while they’re asleep, players literally eat and drink football until school starts again in September.

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A D AY I N T H E L I F E A typical day (meaning every day) of fall camp begins at 5 a.m. That’s when you wake up, so you can eat breakfast and make sure you get to the field house on time. Everyone must be on the field at 6 a.m. That’s when pre-practice and stretching begins. The order of the day is usually twenty four periods. That’s a 2-hour practice planned out five minutes at a time. It’s here that all starting positions will be decided. Spring football means something, yes, but it’s actually fall camp when decisions are made. That means practice is full of hitting and live action, as well as offensive and defensive playbook installation. Football can only be played at full speed; this is how the staff learns who’s ready to play. After two hours of sweat in the day’s first session, you hit the showers with

an all too familiar headache. Sans headache if you play wide receiver, but everyone’s been battling no less. You weigh in and out every practice. The training staff monitors everyone’s weight. Big guys can lose as much as ten pounds in one day, that’s why hydration at this point is so important.

is hilariously real.

You look at your phone on the way to second breakfast; its 9 a.m. and the day’s only begun.

The film room is a your best friend and worst enemy: “the eye in the sky don’t lie.” Everything gets exposed in meetings. Who took wrong steps, who quit on the play, who’s dominating and who’s having the camp of a lifetime. Every step and drill is painstakingly critiqued because all there is to do is football. Nobody’s busy with anything else.

After a giant meal in the athletic cafeteria everyone heads back to the field house for position meetings. Meetings are a fight in themselves: a fight to stay awake, learn at every opportunity, and keep your limbs from going numb due to the cold. Seriously, why is the A/C in those rooms so cold? You go from burning up on the practice field to shivering in the film room. The contrast

Those film sessions can be the biggest motivating factor of all. Knowing you blew an assignment, watching yourself blow the assignment, getting yelled at by your coach — again — just as he did earlier on the field. The process makes you ready for the opportunity to redeem yourself. You start looking forward to the upcoming practice — that’s the kind of mindset a player needs to have.

2015 Season Preview

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NIGHT | 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

More hitting, more live action, there’s

way in. Either way a visit to the train-

every night, upon the sight of their

maybe some scrimmage at the end

ing room is in order; bumps, bruises,

pillow. But in fall camp sleep can

of practice too. Then everyone hits

and soreness are normal parts of the

easily escape you. Sometimes you’re

the showers again for the second

day. Treatment is how you stay ahead

plagued by the ball you dropped, the

time that day. For a solid month you

of potential injuries. That’s why start-

tackle you missed or the interception

only shower at the field house; you

ers are regularly in the training room.

you threw. You might not be able to

eventually bring your own toiletries (or

After that? You guessed it: more meet-

get your coaches words out of your

continually bum off the guys that do).

ings. Or maybe dinner and then more

head, replaying them over and over

It’s odd to think about in the beginning,

meetings. This one’s bound to be

in your mind. Or you might wake up

not showering at your own house for

short but why not squeeze in another

at 3am to go to the bathroom. You’ve

many weeks. But eventually everyone

session, right?

been hydrating so much because you

gets used to it. Fall camp is a special and necessary time of the year.

need it. Going back to bed, you wake By the time you get home it’s between

up every 45 minutes and check the

9:30 and 10pm; asleep is something

clock to make sure you didn’t sleep

After a shower some people need ice,

you wanted to be an hour ago. You’d

through your alarm.

or maybe they hit the cold tub on the

think guys would be out like a light,

THE LIFE

This is the life of a college football player.

it’s good for them. It’s something every

time. The struggle brings a team closer

A modern day gladiator who’s learning to

walk-on wants to be invited to and some-

together. Overcoming and thriving in the

become a man. Fall camp is tough, but

what fears being invited to at the same

midst of struggle makes champions.

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Kraken_Texas_mechanical.indd 1

5/19/11 2:17:09 PM


2015 TEXAS

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LONGHORNS BY MIKE BLACWELL

2015 Season Preview

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THE PLAYERS Tyrone Swoopes | Jerrod Heard | Kai Locksley

Jerrod Heard

IN A NUTSHELL - The quarterback position has been discussed ad nauseum since last season, when the Longhorns suffered injury (David Ash), followed by youth (Tyrone Swoopes) and inconsistency (also Tyrone Swoopes). Turnovers were also a huge problem which has to be fixed for 2015 for Texas to have any success at all. Swoopes has looked good in the spring and fall - certainly much better than last season when he was thrust into the starting role - but whether or not he has improved enough to be The Man remains a question that can be answered only on the field during actual games that count. Many predicted that Jerrod Heard would

have surpassed Swoopes by now, but that hasn’t been the case…yet. Coach Charlie Strong said both will play against Notre Dame, so the quarterback jury is still deliberating. THE BELL COW - Who is Bell Cow at quarterback? Heck, who is the quarterback, period? Until either Swoopes or Heard emerges, those questions remain unanswered. NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - Kai Locksley, the freshman from Maryland, is nothing if not intriguing. The son of a coach, Locksley has electric legs, and could redshirt this season. Jaxon Shipley

THE PLAYERS Johnathan Gray | D’Onta Foreman | Chris Warren Kirk Johnson | Tristian Houston IN A NUTSHELL - It is imperative that Gray have a big season for the Longhorns, with only sophomores and freshmen behind him on the depth chart. Obviously an improved offensive line will result in improved production from the running back position, and you know Gray would love to close out his Texas career with a huge season. Gray’s good health from a serious Achilles injury in 2013 seems to have returned, and he is on record as saying this is the “happiest” team he has played on at Texas. The Longhorns have talent behind Gray in Foreman, Chris Warren, Kirk Johnson and Tristian Houston, but they are all young and younger. Strong would

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like to be able to run the ball often and with force, and if Gray can stay healthy, he will emerge as the workhorse, with the young bucks providing the occasional breather. THE BELL COW - Well, duh, this has to be Gray, the only senior of the bunch. For various reasons, he hasn’t reached his zenith at Texas, and 2015 is his last shot to make a mark. NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - How about everyone else other than Gray? Realistically, the bulk of the carries after Gray will go to Foreman, who is big, nasty and a beast to tackle.

D’Onta Foreman


THE PLAYERS Marcus Johnson | Daje Johnson | Jacorey Warrick | Armanti Foreman John Burt | Lorenzo Joe | Dorian Leonard | Ryan Newsome Roderick Bernard | Jake Oliver | Garrett Gray IN A NUTSHELL - The Longhorns have unproven potential at wide receiver. Translated, that means they haven’t done anything yet. As hard as it is to fathom, Marcus Johnson is now a senior, and needs to pull a John Harris in order to end his career on a positive note. He has speed and decent hands but, like everybody else on the team, needs better quarterbacking play. Daje Johnson - who knows? Jacorey Warrick will try and fill a void left by Jaxon Shipley, and Armanti Foreman has a chance to be special with his big-play ability. Lorenzo Joe is talented, but needs to produce to fight off the bevy of talent at the position, all fighting for one football. John Burt is a fresh-

man who has drawn some oohs and ahhs in practice, and could be a special find by the Longhorns if he continues to produce. All in all: this group’s greatness - or not - is yet to be determined. THE BELL COW - Let’s go ahead and predict Johnson in this category, because he is the most proven in the pack of talented receivers. The time is now for him to be the Bell Cow.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH - Burt is easily the man to watch here. The Floridian averaged over 23 yards to catch as a senior and could be a bomb-catcher. Marcus Johnson

THE PLAYERS Andrew Beck | Blake Whiteley | Deandre McNeal IN A NUTSHELL - No one is really sure what role tight ends - or H Backs? - will play in Shawn Watson’s office. In fact, many folks have wondered what exactly has happened to the position at Texas. For 2015, the answer is simple: the Texas tight ends will be very young, and will probably not play significant big-play roles in the offensive scheme. In short, they are unproven, to say the very least. Each of the three at this position bring different skill sets to the table. Beck has great hands, but must improve his blocking skills to stay on the field. Whiteley is another good handsblocking-needs-improvement guy for the Longhorns, which probably doesn’t give Strong - who loves to TE Coach Jeff Traylor

run the football - a lot of confidence. McNeal - a freshman - is the most talented of this group, athletic and fluid, but unproven. In short, Texas tight ends have some distance to cover. THE BELL COW - This question is not easy to answer, but if we are to take Strong at his word, the tight end Bell Cow award winner will go to whomever is the best blocker of the bunch. NEWCOMERS TO WATCH McNeal is the man to keep an eye on here. A two-time all-state performer at Mesquite Poteet, he averaged over 21 yards a catch as a high school senior.

2015 Season Preview

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THE PLAYERS TACKLE

Marcus Hutchins | Brandon Hodges | Connor Williams Tristan Nickelson GUARD

Sedrick Flowers | Patrick Vahe | Kent Perkins Elijah Rodriguez CENTER

Taylor Doyle | Jake Raulerson

Kent Perkins

IN A NUTSHELL - To say the Texas of-

having options up front. Hutchins, Flowers

Bell Cow. As the left tackle, he’s in charge

fensive line in 2015 is a “fluid” situation is an

and Doyle are the seniors in the mix and

of the quarterback’s blind side, and must be

understatement for sure. However, the group

should provide leadership to a talented - if

a big-time performer for the offense to be

young - group of underclassmen. Strong has

successful.

has more quality depth than it has in recent memory, so the fact that many of its parts

Jerrod Heard

indicated a desire to the run the ball more

Jaxon Shipley

are interchangeable is most definitely a good

(don’t all coaches), and to do so, he’s going

Newcomer to Watch - Yes, he is a fresh-

thing. At the time of this writing, the likely

to need vast improvement from the group on

man, and yes, he will be facing players with

starters are, left to right on the line: Hutchins-

the field against Arkansas at the end of last

speed unlike any he has sees. But Connor

Flowers-Doyle-Perkins-Williams. Who the

season.

Williams is talented AND ornery. Keep an eye

starters are against Notre Dame is anyone’s

on number 55.

guess, but Strong and offensive line coach

THE BELL COW - Hutchins is not so much

Joe Wickline have to be thrilled at actually

a Bell Cow as much as he NEEDS to be the

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THE PLAYERS

TACKLE

Hassan Ridgeway | Tank Jackson | Paul Boyette | Chris Nelson Poona Ford | Jake McMillon | Alex Norman END

Shiro Davis | Bryce Cottrell | Quincy Vasser | Naashon Hughes Derick Roberson | Charles Omenihu

Naashon Hughes

IN A NUTSHELL - Watching his defense

someone needs to step up and step out in

not because of what he has accomplished,

get rolled up on the ground does not please

2015. With a healthy Jackson, Ridgeway and

but because of what he can accomplish. DC

Charlie Strong, so despite losing his best

Boyette, the Longhorns are strong up the

Vance Bedford says the sky’s the limit with

defensive lineman - Malcom Brown - last

middle, but they also need Shiro Davis to live

him, but he hasn’t reached the sky just yet.

year, expect this group to be more effective

up to his alleged potential at defensive end,

in 2015. It’s simple: for Texas to be a big-time

especially in the pass-happy Big 12. Bryce

NEWCOMER TO WATCH - Roberson is

defense, the Longhorns must get tremendous

Cottrell, Naashon Hughes and Derick Rob-

small, but is a natural pass rusher, which

production - and health - from tackles Hassan

erson will play vital roles, too, as defensive

means he could be invaluable in a league

Ridgeway and Tank Jackson. The Texas de-

coordinator Vance Bedford hopes to have a

where quarterbacks throw the ball all over the

fense lost its best defensive lineman (Brown),

true d-line rotation in 2015.

place.

Marcus Johnson

best linebacker (Jordan Hicks) and best defensive back (Quandre Diggs), so clearly

Shiro Davis

THE BELL COW - Let’s go with Ridgeway,

Desmond Jackson

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THE PLAYERS MIDDLE

Malik Jefferson | Dalton Santos | Breckyn Hager STRONG

Peter Jinkins | Cameron Townsend WEAK

Ed Freeman | Anthony Wheeler | Tim Cole

Peter Jinkens

IN A NUTSHELL - Losing Jordan Hicks and

been someone who folks have labeled with

THE BELL COW AND

Steve Edmond does not help, but at Texas,

“potential” - it’s so far unrealized, but he’ll be

NEWCOMER TO WATCH - Why not just

any talk of linebackers in 2015 begins with

the starter at strongside linebacker this year

keep on building up Jefferson? It’s pretty

freshman Malik Jefferson. Hard worker,

with a chance to be the player he wants. A

unanimous - his ability to plug into the de-

smart, fast and willing to hit, Jefferson’s ceil-

redshirt freshman - Ed Freeman - seems to

fense and play - and excel - will determine

ing is WAY up there. He will be the starting

have picked up Bedford’s schemes and will

the fate of the defense. No other linebacker

linebacker - as a true freshman - in South

be very important for the Longhorns in stop-

could conceivably be looked upon as either

Bend. Cecil Cherry’s decision to leave

ping the run. Tim Cole would help this group

the “Bell Cow” or the “Newcomer to Watch”,

probably gives Dalton Santos time to spell

tremendously if he can get healthy.

so....

Jefferson in the middle. Peter Jinkens has

Malik Jefferson

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Duke Thomas

THE PLAYERS RIGHT CORNERBACK

Duke Thomas | Antwuan Davis | Davante Davis LEFT CORNERBACK

John Bonney | Bryson Echols | Kris Boyd WEAK

Strong Safety - Dylan Haines, Adrian Colbert, Deshon Elliott STRONG

Free Safety - Jason Hall, Kevin Vaccaro | P.J. Locke

IN A NUTSHELL - Hall is definitely the free

teams in the Big 12. The left cornerback spot

time receivers from Game 1. He’s a leader, a

safety if healthy, and if he’s not healthy, this

might very well be earned by Kris Boyd, who

veteran and must succeed.

area could be one of concern, to say the very

seems to have all that is needed to star, and

least. The strong safety spot will be manned

has been playing lights-out in fall practice.

NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - Kris Boyd, for

by starter Dylan Haines, with Colbert and

Yes, his athleticism is unique and he has good

sure. The freshman from Gilmer might very

Elliott seeing time as well, if Elliott’s health

size, but what makes Boyd REALLY special

well be the starter by the opener, and if so,

holds up. Thomas is a team leader, and solid

is attitude: he is fearless and a little nasty -

you can be opponents will be gunning for him.

at one corner spot, though both Davises

pretty good attributes for a defensive back.

If he answers the call and plays older than a

are extremely athletic and will definitely see

freshman, that’s great news for Bedford.

considerable playing time, as Bedford tries

THE BELL COW - We will go with Hall here.

and keep everybody fresh against pass-happy

He must be a cover guy, as he’ll be facing big-

THE PLAYERS KICKER

Nick Rose PUNTER

Michael Dickson RETURN SPECIALIST

Daje Johnson

IN A NUTSHELL - Senior Nick Rose - who has really great hair - made 14 of 21 field goals last year, and that’s not good enough. He’s also struggled at times in fall camp, missing four of five makeable field goals on one particular bad day. With an offense that may - or may not - score significant points, Rose must…MUST…be more consistent for the Longhorns in 2015. Speaking of special teams needs, punter Michael Dickson

is a mysterious Australian who supposedly has a monster leg. He’s big at 6-3 and 210 pounds, but has a tremendous lack of experience. If Dickson can’t figure it out and Rose remains inconsistent, ugh. Daje Johnson…what else can be said about him? He’s electric, but per usual, inconsistent. THE BELL COW - Once again - for the last time there are high expectations for Johnson. Or are there?

The enigmatic Johnson is has one more chance. NEWCOMERS TO WATCH - Obviously this has to be Dickson who has a bazooka leg. However, his primary attribuzte is supposedly accuracy there are videos on-line of his accuracy, but of course, it’s not against Oklahoma in October, so the jury is still out...

2015 Season Preview

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2015 SCHEDULE by an Boyd oyd by Ian

2015 Season Preview

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- GAME BY GAME Texas

looks to navigate a challenging slate that

opens big with a prime time game in South Bend and ends with a road game at

Baylor.

2015 Season Preview

23


notre dame South Bend, IN | Sept. 5th 2014 Record: 8-5 | Independent Head coach: Brian Kelly

RETURNING STARTERS 8-offense, 9-defense TOP PLAYERS Malik Zaire Ronnie Stanley Jaylon Smith

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY Brian Kelly was an early adopter of the power spread and with QB Malik Zaire the Irish can attack you with a physical and option-oriented run game as well as a vertical passing game. Zaire was designed in a lab for this style of offense, at 6’0” 225 he’s basically a running back who happens to also have an absolute cannon attached to his shoulder. If he has a flaw it’s executing the quick perimeter passes that give a spread run game optimal spacing to attack the middle of the field. The WR corps includes several explosive options and also the 6’5” Corey Robinson (son of Spurs legend David Robinson) who is dangerous on sideline post-ups down the field. The OL is perhaps the most intimidating feature of this squad with possible future first round pick Ronnie Stanley at left tackle along with three other returning starters. MATCHING UP The easiest way to stop the Notre Dame running game is to send help from the perimeter and Texas might be able to get away with pressing the Irish receivers while bringing pressure. Strong is going to want to force Zaire to beat them either with quick perimeter passes or accurate shots against man coverage down field.

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The biggest challenge may be the sheer quality of the Irish run game going up against a very inexperienced and unproven Longhorn LB corps. Texas is going to want to load up to stop the run and if the Texas DBs hold up you have to like the ‘Horns’ chances of keeping Notre Dame from blowing up the scoreboard. DEFENSIVE SUMMARY Before there was Malik Jefferson there was Jaylon Smith. The Irish outside linebacker is one of the most freakishly athletic defenders the modern game has seen and he’s now entering his junior season ready to break out. Their DC VanGorder is very high on bringing five-man pressures and he brings NFL expertise on disguising them and pinpointing soft spots in protection. He’ll outnumber the running game to set up obvious passing situations on third down. Besides Smith, they have a big and deep group up front, the soft spot could be in the secondary. They return starting corners Kei’Varae Russell and Cole Luke as well as nickel Matthias Farley but their safety tandem of Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield struggled a year ago. MATCHING UP The Irish D presents a very troubling

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match-up for the Texas offense. The top three Irish coverage players are all very solid and the line will be difficult to get a push against. They excel at bringing confusing pressures with elite athletes, which the Texas OL could not handle last year. The only obvious plan of action for Texas is to work the quick passing game to avoid pressure and rely on Swoopes’ arm strength and some after the catch magic from the receivers to generate yardage. Watson also needs to give Swoopes (or Heard) 10 or more designed runs along with instructions to make liberal use of the scramble in order to create enough explosive plays to keep pace. THREAT LEVEL - SEVERE Notre Dame may not have an efficient enough offense in week one to simply run Texas off the field but they have talent advantages that most Longhorn opponents lack with multiple future draft picks and will also enjoy home field advantage. I anticipate the Irish will pull away late unless early Longhorn turnovers allow them to blow things open early.


rice

Austin, Tx | Sept. 12th 2014 Record: 5-7 | CUSA Head coach: David Bailiff

RETURNING STARTERS 6-offense, 3-defense TOP PLAYERS Driphus Jackson Jowan Davis Darik Dillard

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY Rice runs a fairly unique spread offense that is nominally a wide-open attack but is actually designed to bludgeon opponents with big bodies and double teams. They’ve done a fantastic job of identifying tight ends over the years and always have a bevy of 6’4”+ bodies to serve as mobile blocking surfaces.

MATCHING UP Stopping Rice is pretty straightforward if your defense knows how to beat blocks and make tackles. They have some solid ball carriers and a fair amount of overall balance thanks to the talent of Jackson but no one who can really hurt you if you simply take away the deep pass and then rally to the ball.

doubtful that they can absorb those hits without taking a step back.

They move these all over the field either blocking DBs on screens or allowing the OL to get double teams at the point of attack, an advantage that their blockers will definitely need.

When Texas brings five and asks Rice to block their runs without the benefit of double teams across the line of scrimmage then things should stall out for the Owls.

Attacking opponents with the vertical passing game is generally the weak spot in their attack but this year’s Owl cast stars QB Driphus Jackson, a 6’0” dual-threat who’s a better passer than what they usually feature and who will be working with a supporting cast of 6’2” WR Dennis Parks and 6’6” 250 pound TE Robby Wells III.

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY Rice plays a TCU-style of 4-2-5 defense and will deploy the five defensive backs in cover 2 or cover 4 schemes based on whether they want to outnumber the pass or the run.

Fortunately this tactic is a Swoopes strength, provided that Texas find a dangerous weapon at WR to deploy there by game two. Whoever is going to emerge as the top receiver for Texas could have 100 yards in this game if utilized on the boundary. If Rice adjusts to cover 2 to stop Swoopes from throwing out there then Gray should be able to run wild.

The OL is losing three starters but assuming they have developed players in the pipeline it’s hard to imagine this being a grievous loss as none of them were dominant players.

The Owls enjoyed very good DL play with their starting ends notching 7.5 and 9.5 sacks respectively but both those players and their best DT are gone, along with five of the top six defensive backs and one of the two starting linebackers. Bailiff has done a great job over the years developing the Rice roster but it’s

MATCHING UP Unless Texas can just run over the Owls’ fronts with impunity (possible but far from a sure thing) this game will hinge on how Texas attacks the Kat safety and cornerback on the boundary.

It’ll be instructive to see if Rice feels that the Texas passing game or running game is the greater concern. THREAT LEVEL - GUARDED This should be one of the easiest games on the schedule, especially since it’ll be the home opener in DKR in front of a fan base that should still have some hope for the season.

2015 Season Preview

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california Austin, Tx | Sept. 19th 2014 Record: 5-7 | Pac 12 Head coach: Sonny Dykes

RETURNING STARTERS 8-offense, 9-defense TOP PLAYERS Jared Goff Daniel Lasko Michael Barton

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY The “Bear-Raid” should be a somewhat familiar offense for Texas as it’s an offshoot of the Leach Air Raid much like what Texas faced from Tech or West Virginia last season.

MATCHING UP The easiest way to handle the Air Raid is with gut pressure that ruins the quick passing game’s timing, spills the QB out to the edge players, and makes their interior-focused run game a gamble.

Also of note, Hardy Nickerson, Jr. will be the team’s starting middle linebacker. That would be the son of Hardy Nickerson, Sr. who played on dominant NFL defenses in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.

Their preference is to run single-back sets with flex TE Stephen Anderson on the field, a 6’3” 220 pound seamstretcher who had 661 receiving yards last season as a junior. They return three of the top four receivers overall, including deep threat Kenny Lawler who may need to be doubled some.

Texas can get gut pressure with Hassan Ridgeway and Malik Jefferson working to bring different pressures into the A-gaps. This interior OL is solid but if Ridgeway can dominate his battle with the Bears small center than things will get pretty hairy for Cal as they try to work out how to handle Texas’ linebackers.

MATCHING UP A re-occurring theme with these preconference games is that Texas really needs to be able to do some damage throwing the ball in order to effectively attack these teams.

Overall it’s a very strong cast of skill players and blockers that QB Jared Goff will be leading. The 6’4” 210 pound junior is the real story of this team and is already listed as a possible first round NFL draft pick. A glance at the film tells you that it’s due to his phenomenal accuracy and ball placement.

The Bears have some match-up weapons amongst their WR corps but the key is to attack Goff as he can beat you even if your coverage is good.

This is what makes these Bears dangerous, they can flood the field with good targets and Goff can beat good coverage, much like OU in the Sam Bradford days. Their running game isn’t dominant but they mix run and passing plays to punish defenses that sell out to stop the pass.

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DEFENSIVE SUMMARY The Bears were awful on D last year, ranking 108th in defensive S&P and particularly struggling to stop the pass thanks to a lack of pass rush, an inability to trade off receivers in zone, and a general lack of coverage speed in the secondary. This should be a better unit in year two under DC Art Kaufman but how much better will depend largely on whether they find some pass-rush and get more athletic at safety.

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In this contest, Texas could really shred the Bears by going four-wide and attacking the middle of the field with the passing game. The Bears simply lack the depth at defensive back to match-up with a spread passing attack from Texas and perimeter screens to athletes like Foreman, Warrick, and Daje would also cause big problems for their defensive backfield, which can’t hope to survive if Texas can effectively get their athletes in space. THREAT LEVEL - ELEVATED The Bears are a strong team who should be humming on offense in 2015 and can’t help but improve dramatically on defense as well. However, while they may be a comparable team in overall quality to Texas, they don’t match-up that well with the ‘Horns.


oklahoma state Austin, TX | Sept. 26th 2014 Record: 7-6 | Big 12 Head coach: Mike Gundy

RETURNING STARTERS 7-offense, 8-defense TOP PLAYERS Mason Rudolph Emmanuel Ogbah

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY Oklahoma State mercifully no longer has freakishly fast Tyreek Hill but what they do have are a pair of reasonably versatile TEs in Jeremy Seaton and Blake Jarwin, three very solid receivers in Brandon Shepherd, James Washington, and David Glidden, and an exciting young quarterback in Mason Rudolph. Rudolph “the reindeer” took over in 2014 for former walk-on Daxx Garman after Texas buried the ‘Pokes in Stillwater. He showed real potential in a loss to the Bears before leading the Cowboys to victory over Oklahoma (in Norman, no less), and in their bowl game. His greatest attributes are a strong and accurate arm throwing downfield. If the ‘Pokes can find a running back and figure out how to deploy all their skill talent to support this young QB there’s some potential for this to be a Big 12 contending roster. MATCHING UP If the Cowboys can establish a power run game from double TE sets and/or add some empty passing game formations utilizing those two then look out. Learning how to play the run against a gap scheme, especially one paired with quick passes in an RPO system, can be

challenging stuff for a young LB corps like the one at Texas. Similarly, it would be hard for Texas to attack a Patriotsstyle, double TE spread formation of the sort Oklahoma State could field. If Rudolph is ready to be a big time player than this will be a tough draw. DEFENSIVE SUMMARY A year after Oklahoma State had one of the strongest defenses in the league they were decimated by graduation and took their lumps throughout 2014 while getting a very young secondary up to speed. They found some real players in the process and should be back near the top of the league again in 2015. The greatest talent on this side of the ball lies in 6’4” 275 pound DE Emmanuel Ogbah who had 17 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and five pass break-ups in 2014. He’s a true edge rusher but his large size made him an impossible match-up even for the massive and experienced Sooner OL. OSU will have to replace both starting defensive tackles but the defensive backfield should be loaded and will have enough depth to allow DC Glenn Spencer to do what he does best, build defensive packages to choke out different types of offenses in different situations.

MATCHING UP Whatever Texas’ offensive strength will be in 2015 it’s very likely that Oklahoma State will be able to shut it down with their versatile defense, provided their new defensive tackles aren’t abhorrent. It’s just a very simple matter for the Pokes to stuff the box with good tacklers thanks to their combination of good coverage players and good run-support players like star linebacker Jordan Burton and boundary safety Jordan Sterns. The only recourse left for Texas may be to try and power the ball down main street behind Taylor Doyle and Kent Perkins against OSU’s unproven DTs with some pass options on the outside to try and keep the run-support from arriving too quickly. THREAT LEVEL: HIGH Drawing Okie lite at home before Rudolph gets going and before the hardest part of the schedule is right where Texas wants ‘em. This could be a 50-50 toss-up if trends in the season break right for both teams. OSU should be able to hold down Texas’ scoring but it’s possible that they won’t be putting up many points in DKR either.

2015 Season Preview

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TCU

Fort Worth, TX | Oct. 3rd 2014 Record: 12-1 | Big 12 Head coach: Gary Patterson

RETURNING STARTERS 9-offense, 5-defense TOP PLAYERS Trevone Boykin Aaron Green Josh Doctson

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

This might be a game for Texas to get

devastating on offense in 2014 as

package to get as many athletes on the

The Horned Frogs were not quite as

commonly perceived. Texas actually had them pretty well under wraps aside from TCU winning a few 50-50 jump balls

some young DBs on the field in a dime field as possible.

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

until the putridity of the Texas offensive

Texas was totally outmatched by the

better half.

staff looked helpless trying to attack the

performance finally burned out Strong’s

However, it’s schematically very difficult to account for all of the ways in which TCU can threaten the field and a leap

TCU defense in 2014. The coaching

Frogs with the run game and Texas was

regularly beat at the point of attack by the superior Frog front.

of improvement from the Big 12’s fastest

The Frogs have lost tackle Chucky Hunter

scary in year two of the Air Raid.

strong and weak safeties, and leading

player could make this offense pretty

And of course, everyone is back on this

there will be a learning curve for all the

the game.

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coverage then their ability to demolish your run game with aggressive support

goes out the window and the game is changed. Otherwise, you get stomped.

liberally using Swoopes (or Heard) in

and conquer” approach to attacking the Frogs.

THREAT LEVEL - SEVERE

they’ll be playing in For Worth, and

defense should take a step back in 2015.

tracking and harrying Boykin throughout

play conservatively with their safeties in

Dawson and co did a year ago.

fly to the ball in the same way that Paul

on quick throws outside the hash marks.

spy packages with Naashon Hughes

defense. Once you force the Frogs to

The TCU defense may take a step

Unless the Frogs young corners are

They also made effective use of some

is the key to punishing their brand of

it’s hard to believe that the new LBs will

to mix up looks and use confusion and pressure to keep Boykin from feasting

TCU safeties vertically in 2015, which

the run game to finish off the “divide

new parts in the middle of the field and

MATCHING UP

Marcus Johnson in the slot to attack the

cornerback Kevin White.

to dominate between the tackles in the

What worked for Texas last year was

Texas needs to use Armanti Foreman or

From there, the clincher could be

Their DL should still be formidable but

TCU Wickline-esque run game.

make them pay.

along with the top three linebackers, the

offense save for left tackle Tayo Fabuluje,

including Aaron Green who was starting

last year and the Longhorns couldn’t

ready to be dominant players this

MATCHING UP

TCU junked up their defense a tad to

attack Texas’ power-stick RPO game

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back but they’ll be far from terrible,

they’ll be playing a Texas team staring down the barrel of an important Red

River Shootout. This will be one Texas’ tougher games.


oklahoma Dallas, Tx | Oct. 10th 2014 Record: 8-5 | Big 12 Head coach: Bob Stoops

RETURNING STARTERS 7-offense, 6-defense TOP PLAYERS Sterling Shephard Semaje Perine Eric Striker

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

behind the massive 2014 OU line and

away from having a potentially terrifying

end/H-back Blake Bell made his life much

The Sooners are a game manager at QB offense. With incoming JUCO WR transfer Dede

Westbrook,

2014

star

Sterling

Shephard, 6’6” flex TE Mark Andrews, and

stud running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon the Sooners are absolutely loaded at the skill positions.

If they can find a QB that knows where the ball should go and can reliably get it there than all of this prodigious skill talent should do the rest of the work for him.

What they have is Baker Mayfield, who is the homeless man’s Johnny Manziel, and

Trevor Knight, who is prone to staring down receivers and making baffling decisions with the ball.

Whether new OC Lincoln Riley will be able to save the Bob Stoops era probably depends on whether he can salvage Knight

or make something of redshirt sophomore Cody Thomas in 2015.

MATCHING UP

Stopping Oklahoma’s running game won’t

be the worst challenge since Texas has done this reasonably well for several years running now and the Sooners’ best run-

blocking personnel have exhausted their eligibility. As good as Perine is, running

behind their fullback Ripkowksi and tight easier.

big way they may struggle to improve as much as needed.

MATCHING UP

Instead this game becomes a matter

Once again, Texas is looking at a defense

happens to lack a trustworthy signal caller

up issues. In this instance the problem is

of matching up to another Air Raid that and may struggle to contain Texas’ passrushing threats. There are more worrisome offensive squads on the schedule.

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

Bob overhauled his entire staff in the offseason but while he didn’t spare loyal servants such as Josh Heupel or everyone’s new favorite back-up Texas OC (Jay Norvell), he did manage to save a space for his brother Mike Stoops. Nepotism, imo.

that could pose some troubling match-

Striker, Texas just can’t block that guy and that limits how they can attack the Sooner

defense. A Texas victory will be tough

if they can’t run the ball on OU’s athletic front.

THREAT LEVEL -- HIGH

After flirting with some of Saban’s 3-4 defensive tactics and an interesting take on how to use Eric Striker (as a nickel/ space-backer), the brothers Stoops seem to have determined that if they’re going down they’ll go down with what they know.

The week before facing Texas, Bob Stoops will face the West Virginia Mountaineers in Norman. Now, Holgo’s crew may be feisty when playing out east but in Norman they aren’t likely to present a threat that prevents Bob from staying up late that week to get extra Texas prep in. His seat is getting warm and he’s traditionally used this game as a way to make statements that stave off pressure from the more demanding elements of the Oklahoma football community.

They’ll be playing a 4-2-5 nickel with Striker floating around the line of scrimmage and aggressive three-deep pattern matching coverages behind him. Sophomore Steven Parker could be a star for them as a nickel and they return corner back Zach Sanchez, but unless a young corner like Jordan Thomas steps up in a

That said, he’s facing similar difficulties to Texas at QB only with a better supporting cast to try and prop up whomever he has to choose to man the helm. If Charlie gets his first victory over OU it’ll be because cultural rot has hamstrung Bobby’s program and robbed him of his extra “big game Bob” gear.

2015 Season Preview

29


kansas state Austin, Tx | Oct. 24th 2014 Record: 9-4 | Big 12 Head coach: Bill Snyder

RETURNING STARTERS 6-offense, 5-defense TOP PLAYERS Dante Barnett Cody Whitehair Johnathan Banks

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

Delton or JUCO transfer t Banks running

can do so, which bodes poorly for an

superiority and sheer grit. They game

the imposing Texas DL and then use

for this game in the hopes of simply

The KSU offense is all about tactical plan their opponents very carefully and utilize a wide array of formations and

schemes designed to create as much stress as possible on your weak spots

the football. KSU is going to double team modern option tactics and misdirection

to force the Longhorn LBs to play decisively or suffer the consequences:

and will not hesitate to run their QB

You also can’t forget that Snyder tends

withstand.

teams play and they have an exciting

as many times as he can physically

That will probably be their MO again

with Jake Waters and his top receivers

all graduating. Snyder does return four

starting OL, the starting running back

to invest a great deal in their special

young returner in Dominique Heath who could very well impact the scoreboard with his return ability.

attempt to try and install a Heard offense running them off the field.

MATCHING UP

The main challenge against KSU is simply what happens if your ability to

generate explosive plays is less than their ability to inflict negative ones that kill drives? If you have an inefficient

offense you can just forget about scoring at all, which of course is what happened last year.

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

and fullback, and some rising talent that

The Wildcat defense is designed to

Running the ball from the spread is the

hard to say exactly what this offense will

force opponents to work their way

to line up their safeties deep and don’t

includes a cast of dual-threat QBs. It’s look like but you can probably count on

Texas needing to have answers for a diverse and QB-oriented running game. MATCHING UP

stop explosive plays at all costs and methodically down the field. They’ll line

up in the same defense over and over

again, daring you to out-execute them on a sustained drive.

The biggest question for these Wildcats

In 2015 they return their star strong

that can punish opponents for loading

starting

is whether they’ll have a passing game

up to stop the run and how good the

run blocking will be from the OL, as they were only decent at it in 2014.

safety Dante Barnett along with both cornerbacks

while

hoping

that former pass-rush specialist Elijah

Lee can upgrade the athleticism and potential from their LB corps.

Perhaps the most challenging concepts

Last year the Auburn game demonstrated

big personnel sets with a QB like Alex

shut down an opponent’s run game they

for Texas to match up against will be the

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that if they want to be aggressive and

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best way to get at them since they like always have the athletes in the middle of the field to erase a good rushing attack.

This

THREAT LEVEL - HIGH

KSU

team

doesn’t

look

too

frightening, quite frankly, as they lack the

experienced

QB

that

normally

spearheads the more dangerous Bill Snyder squads. They’ll be breaking in

new young players on the road in this one so Texas should be okay unless

they give it up by getting whipped on special teams.


iowa state Ames, Iowa | Oct. 31st 2014 Record: 2-10 | Big 12 Head coach: Paul Rhoads

RETURNING STARTERS 6-offense, 7-defense TOP PLAYERS Sam Richardson Allen Lazard D’Vario Montgomery

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

but you can’t help but wonder if the

will struggle to rush the passer.

back in Ames and they’ll be looking to

the Cyclones have at the skill positions.

They also need JUCO middle linebacker

initially establishing a tough culture up in

cover players will be Duke Thomas and

way and lead a weak LB corps. There

Cyclones have failed to make any kind

particularly large.

Many of Mark Mangino’s weapons are

Longhorns may struggle with all the size

help him save Paul Rhoads’ job. After

We know at least two of Texas’ top three

Iowa and winning some big games, the

John Bonney and neither of them are

of leap off that momentum.

However, even if the Cyclones cause trouble

by

completing

Jordan Harris to come through in a big are lots of holes and few obvious answers across this defensive roster. MATCHING UP

That said, Cyclones could be very

some

an

The Cyclones are all about loading up

receivers back along with the QB and

this is a team that can’t even find a

a cover 4 scheme where they drop the

center Tom Farniok. Their three returning

they aren’t going to take down Strong’s

frisky on offense with three of the top 4

occasional jump ball to a huge receiver

most of the OL save for the best player,

starting running back. Without balance

receivers go:

defense.

D’Vario Montgomery: 6’6” 236 Quenton Bundrage: 6’2” 192

This is a terrible defense. Rhoads’ Cyclone D’s have typically enjoyed

That’s a great deal of size (and speed)

and safety and relied on their prowess

and it may be difficult for opposing teams

lack of athletes at corner or pass-rush at

hard-nosed play at tackle, linebacker

that the Cyclones can put out on the field

in the middle of the field to survive a

to keep all of them well covered. The big

defensive end.

the fourth receiver spot with Bibbs gone

They might be solid at corner with

serious help.

Kenneth Lynn all returning while free

and what they do at RB where they need

Nigel Tribune, Sam E. Richardson, and safety Kamari Cotton-Moya is a solid

MATCHING UP

extra man in the box but unless JUCO

to pressure Iowa State into oblivion

serious pass-rush with him the Cyclones

Texas should hypothetically be able

DT Desmond Tucker

brings

weak safety into the box (like Rice) or with a traditional cover 3 defense.

It’s possible that they won’t have a single

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

Allen Lazard: 6’5” 218

question will be what Iowa State does at

the box with eight defenders, either in

some

DL that needs to be doubled and their LB corps has fallen a long way since the days of AJ Klein and Jake Knott. Texas

should be able to run the ball even on loaded fronts unless Rhoads gets really desperate and aggressive.

THREAT LEVEL - GUARDED

The only thing really concerning about

this game is the fact that it will take place in Ames. This game should be an easy win with just enough difficulty from the Cyclones’ big WRs and aggressive defense to be a legitimate confidence builder for a young squad.

2015 Season Preview

31


kansas

Austin, Tx | Nov. 7th

2014 Record: 4-8 | Big 12 Head coach: David Beatty

RETURNING STARTERS 9-offense, 9-defense TOP PLAYERS Montell Cozart Ben Goodman

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

MATCHING UP

rushing yards to Oklahoma last year and

The Jayhawks’ staff had an opportunity

This

The

the DC who orchestrated the unsound

to offer Jake Hubenak a scholarship and

Jayhawks run an Air Raid of the sort

approach that helped make that possible

hope that he could take over this offense

Texas regularly faces only without any

has been retained.

in the fall. Instead, they opted to stand

real weapons involved. This will be

pat with what Charlie Weis left for them

comparable to the Tech offense Texas

With four new starters in the secondary

and are now likely to start true freshman

shut down last year that had Testaverde

you wonder what nightmares will befall

Carter Stanley instead.

at QB only with much weaker OL play

a Kansas front that can no longer play

and fewer weapons at WR.

aggressively while supported by man

should

be

really

easy.

With Michael Cummings injured their

coverage behind them.

alternative to Stanley is Montell Cozart,

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

who suffers from the fact that he’s a

The Jayhawks have vacillated between

terrible quarterback.

“reasonably

solid”

and

“awful”

on

MATCHING UP If Texas can’t improve on last year’s

defense for the last few years, often

horrible

Their receivers are all new starters,

depending on if they were playing home

Lawrence (that still got Weis fired) and

their stud TE who emerged in 2014 has

or away. Much of the reason for their

blow this team off the field than Strong

graduated, and they’ll likely go young all

occasional rounds of quality was the

may have to consider mid-season

over the field as new OC David Beatty

play of middle linebacker Ben “Captain”

measures

looks to get his own players acclimated.

Heeney and the solid corner play they

changing the quarterback.

offensive

even

performance

more

drastic

in

than

got from Jacorey Shepherd and Dexter The offensive line will be replacing a few

THREAT LEVEL - LOW

McDonald.

pieces from what was already a terrible

No way Texas should lose this game,

unit and are already looking to get my

All of those players are gone now, as

none at all. The Jayhawks should

favorite OL take of theirs from the 2014

is talented safety Isaiah Johnson who

struggle to win a single game this year,

class on the field, 6’4” 360 pound Junior

transferred to South Carolina.

much less win a road game at DKR.

Visinia. They have some experience on the DL Long-suffering Kansas fan and writer

and supposedly some young linebackers

Kevin Flaherty has said this may be the

they like but the experienced players

worst Jayhawk roster he’s ever seen.

were part of a unit that gave up 400

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west virginia Morgantown, WV | Nov. 14th 2014 Record: 7-6 | Big 12 Head coach: Dana Holgerson

RETURNING STARTERS 6-offense, 8-defense TOP PLAYERS Wendell Smallwood Daryl Worley Karl Joseph

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

The Holgo-Raid is at the forefront of

modern

spread

innovation

and

Holgorsen was one of the first guys to use

the spread-I and diamond formations or RPOs to create easy, explosive passes off the spread running game.

Their offensive line will certainly be massive with some quality players inside while Skyler Howard was a decent QB in the bowl game against A&M and could

be dangerous after a second offseason in the program.

The question is who will be the featured

play-makers that make the system

the Mountaineer attack requires more of

have Karl Joseph, one of the league’s

daring the unproven WV receivers to

Dravon Henry.

an effort to control the run game while beat them.

The most difficult aspect to stopping the

Mountaineers in 2014 was the fact that both of their outside receivers, Kevin White and Mario Alford, were too good

for most teams to leave a corner on them

MATCHING UP

Last year Strong made the decision

safeties than Texas will shut down the Holgo-Raid with ease.

the most similar to Charlie Strong’s of with base nickel personnel and often use an “all or nothing” school of anti-spread

defense where they will mix and match

between dropping eight defenders or bringing the house. Their

control while allowing the Mountaineer

Daryl Worley and Terrel Chestnut are

run game to go for 200 yards.

In 2015 they may determine that stopping

MATCHING UP

secondary

is

fantastic

to beat the Mountaineers in Morgantown, places to play in the entire league.

Whoever starts at QB the staff should

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

to play a lot of max coverage to make sure the WV passing game was under

weapon in the blitz package.

which is actually one of the toughest

the rest of the Big 12. They run a 3-3-5

ball and set up their deadly play-action.

but they need someone who can be a

without lots of extra attention from the

handle the new generation of receivers

Gibson will probably be another despite

tight end Cody Clay will help WV run the

by converted safety Nick Kwiatkowski,

Texas is going to need to run the ball well

The West Virginia defense is probably

a non-descript 2014 season. Fullback/

Their LB corps is pretty solid as well, led

without any help. If Texas’ corners can

go. Running back Wendell Smallwood

should be one while receiver Shelton

most notorious big hitters, and rising star

and

arguably one of the best in the nation. both difficult corners to attack, KJ Dillon

mans the nickel and is a poor man’s

Kenny Vaccaro, and back at safety they

emphasize

true

QB

option

plays

over RPOs because otherwise the

Mountaineer defense will confuse the Longhorn signal-callers with their “all or nothing” defense and dare them to

beat good man coverage with accurate throws when it really matters.

THREAT LEVEL - SEVERE

Don’t get me wrong, West Virginia isn’t an impossible match-up, but winning on

the road there against that secondary and against a team with a solid running

game is a tall order. You need veterans

to win this type of game and Texas isn’t a veteran team.

2015 Season Preview

33


Austin, Tx | Nov. 26th 2014 Record: 4-8 | Big 12 Head coach: Kliff Kingsbury

RETURNING STARTERS 9-offense, 9-defense TOP PLAYERS Patick Mahomes DeAndre Washington Jakeem Grant

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY Kingsbury’s Raiders are ready to rebound in a big way in 2015 with an offense that’s in much better shape than a year ago when they were replacing Eric Ward and Jace Amaro. The

Raiders

return

1k

yard

rusher

DeAndre Washington, who ran for 97 yards on only 16 carries in this game last year. Davis Webb is a very strong Air Raid QB but smart money has to be on Mahomes

then tightening up in the red zone where

hawks that Gibbs molded at Houston,

they lack physicality. If you can build a lead

otherwise this unit will still struggle.

on offense they often try to force the action

Gibbs’ uses

a

Strong-like

5-2/Under

Texas’ three deep/five under coverage

defensive

with a spy on the QB would be a good

varieties of cover 3 defenses with the three

scheme to mix in but the classic anti-Air

deep defenders all keeping zone eyes

Raid defense is to play wide contain and

on the quarterback. He creates this base

try to get a pass-rush up the middle that

defense with lots of stunting and disguise

causes the QB to panic and force the ball

(remember, turnovers are the ultimate

somewhere he shouldn’t.

goal) in a way somewhat akin to how

to win the job after he torched Oklahoma,

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

Iowa State, and Baylor down the stretch last season.

MATCHING UP

and turn it over.

fronts

backed

by

multiple

Charlie does things at Texas.

After firing the previous DC for allegedly

The last thing you want to do against this

coming to work inebriated (is there any

defense is to try and pick them apart with

The Tech OL is actually quite solid and the

other way to attempt to coordinate a Tech

the passing game, but instead you want to

passing game is largely built around option

defense?) Kingsbury tried to hit a home run

deliberately and methodically pound them

routes that require tight, pattern-matching

when he snatched up David Gibbs from

with the running game and make them

coverage from the defense to lock down.

Houston.

prove they are about that “stopping the run” life.

Add in Mahomes’ ability to scramble for time and you have a nasty offense to plan

David Gibbs’ style on defense is to focus

for.

almost entirely on forcing turnovers as

THREAT LEVEL - ELEVATED

a means for stopping opposing offenses

Tech could have a very strong season and

Out wide the Raiders return slot man

and winning games on defense. He’s

Pat Mahomes could potentially give them a

extraordinaire Jakeem Grant along with

inheriting some solid players with corners

chance to win every game on the schedule

some emerging outside weapons such as

Nigel Bethel III and Justis Nelson and Pete

BUT Texas gets them at home, at the end

Devin Lauderdale, Ian Sadler, Reginald

Robertson is quietly the best pass-rusher

of the year with a young team, and after a

Davis, and Dylan Cantrell.

in the Big 12.

bye week. This would be a good game for

MATCHING UP Handling the Raider offense can be done simply by playing bend don’t break and

34

Texas to ignore the new up-tempo tactics, Their problems are at safety, where they

control the game with the run, and not

have a bunch of JAGs that need to be

risk getting into a shootout with a superior

fashioned into the kinds of ferocious ball-

offense.

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baylor

Waco, Tx | Dec. 5th

2014 Record: 11-2 | Big 12 Head coach: Art Briles

RETURNING STARTERS 8-offense, 9-defense TOP PLAYERS Spencer Drango KD Cannon Andrew Billings Shawn Oakman

OFFENSIVE SUMMARY

Beating the Bears is primarily about stopping the deep passing game but doing

true about the Longhorns to have a chance against this offense in 2015.

so requires that you stop their running

First, they need linebackers who can

power run game approach but with spread

box safety that can basically be an extra

game as this is basically a pro-style, formations, RPOs, and lightning quick tempo added in to create layer after layer of stress upon the defense.

Their OL from last year returns intact, including star left tackle Spencer Drango

and their “mega-backs” Tre’Von Armstead and LaQuan McGowan who serve to make their run-blocking and protection schemes even more challenging to handle.

Bryce Petty is gone, but when Briles doesn’t plug in yet another QB who immediately

throws for 4k yards then I’ll assume that this sort of thing might actually rock the boat in Waco. The biggest issue is that they return

1k yard receivers Corey Coleman and KD Cannon, you can’t double them both.

MATCHING UP

be trusted to stop the run OR a dynamic linebacker that allows the front to bring different pressures and attack the Bears

Secondly, Texas’ outside corners on the field have to be able to run with Cannon

and the other Bears on vertical routes in space without help while the safeties and nickel join forces to close off the middle.

the Bears. There are two traits that must be

the seams and the run game wasn’t able to do enough damage to keep the ‘Horns in the game.

Although they play a base nickel D, the

better response by far is to attack the Bears with spread formations that line up

the slot receivers out wide and force their safeties to attempt to handle them in the seams.

the QB run game. If Baylor’s safeties get

and Longhorn legacy Bryce Hager. With nose tackle Andrew Billings and his partner

Beau Blackshear back they should still be

Texas should also be making good use of overworked their D could unravel quickly.

THREAT LEVEL - MIDNIGHT

okay in the middle. Defensive end Shawn

Baylor looks like the best team in the Big 12

well as he’s bigger and stronger than most

can ask exceptionally difficult questions

Oakman will be a serious load to handle as of the OL for Texas.

leaps of improvement, it’s hard to see the

from established wisdom on how to handle

the QB to seriously threaten the Bears in

piece from 2014 save for middle linebacker

blitzes that pushed him into a 7-22 day plan was simple enough and borrowed

79 yards. Texas lacked either the TEs or

Of course, like with every opponent,

Considering how much athletic talent is

with only 111 passing yards. The game

was a single bright spot with 12 carries for

DEFENSIVE SUMMARY

The Baylor D returns most every important

Texas had the right idea against Baylor in

2014, attacking Petty with disguises and

out of the Texas offense, although Gray

going into 2015 with a loaded offense that paired with a very athletic defense that should at least be able slow people down.

returning for this defense that could make

Even worse, this game is in Waco, where

Bear defense not having a good year.

seasons (vs TCU in 2012). The last time

MATCHING UP

Last year the Bears totally choked the life

they’ve lost only once in the last four either Oklahoma or Texas was able to win

in Waco was 2010. A victory here could be foundational for the Strong era.

2015 Season Preview

35


YOUTH IS SERVED BY ERIC NAHLIN

THE 2015 RECRUITING CLASS

LOOKS TO MAKE THEIR MARK AND GIVE CHARLIE STRONG’S TEAM

MAKEOVER SOME MOMENTUM.

Kris Boyd

W

hen breaking a young horse,

tivated, hard working and confident;

he knows how to identify talent that

you don’t try to rid it of its

perhaps over-confident at this point.

has been passed over by others.

spirit, but rather its unruliness. Spirit

In many ways they’ve exceeded

This class is different in that it’s

is to be tamed, then harnessed,

expectations before a single snap

overtly talented while still maintain-

then ridden to its full potential. Some

has been played, but the only place

ing the mental characteristics of his

horses are gracefully athletic and

that can truly play out is on the field,

previous, less talented classes. This

chew wide swaths of land through

between the lines and between the

has sent a shockwave of excite-

fluid gallops. Others are plow horses

whistles. And in the case of young

ment throughout the program that

whose utility is to uproot stubborn

mustang, Kris Boyd, probably a little

has resonated through most of the

earth and rock. There are many

after the whistle too. Strong won’t

fanbase.

types in between and that’s essen-

try to bridle that enthusiasm much,

tially the Texas recruiting class of

but rather try to focus it in the proper

The class’ talent compounded by

2015.

direction.

its work ethic and early returns on the practice field have expedited

Charlie Strong and his merry staff

While not overly familiar with Charlie

expectations for high performance.

of football men have their work cut

Strong’s previous recruiting classes

It’s important to keep in mind fresh-

out getting this class ready to play

at Louisville, one can assume by

men are generally not as fast, not as

as early as possible, but they’ve

both his success on the field and

strong and not as mentally prepared

received tons of help from the class

the amount of players he’s had

to play a heavy workload early in

itself. Collectively they are self mo-

drafted in recent years by the NFL,

their career but youth won’t serve as

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an excuse for a Strong led team. By Strong’s own admission if a

saw the entire class play, other than

coverage from the defensive backs

Kai Locksley at quarterback and a

mixed in with blown assignments.

couple of the offensive linemen.

The good will out weigh the bad,

veteran and a freshman are in a tie

especially when you account for the

he’ll play the freshman. It makes

Help is needed across the board

experience and on-the-job training

sense, you must invest and build to-

and help is here but we’re head-

received, but fans will be frustrated

wards the future. True to his words,

ing into a game in South Bend that

at times. Such are the perils of youth

a handful of freshmen are already

likely won’t be forgiving to the youth

movements.

receiving starters’ snaps in practice.

movement but these young players

The depth chart is already heavily

have no idea they’re not supposed

In the end it’s unfortunate to a de-

populated by players who graduated

to win. In that regard, confidence is

gree to think about all the freshmen

high school just three months ago.

their greatest ally.

we’re about to see hit the field but

As the season progresses more

you don’t sign a class who brings all

will start, and even more will play

Their reward for the talent, con-

those positive traits to the table and

extensively.

fidence and competition infusion

not reward them with playing time.

they’ve gifted the program is early

That’s how you crush spirit. Instead

Expectations for this class should

snaps across the board. My expec-

you saddle them up and run them

be muted to a degree, but when you

tations are we’ll see examples of

at a speed they’re comfortable with

see offensive tackle Connor Wil-

individual brilliance interspersed with

and hope it’s a pace that keeps you

liams and linebacker Malik Jefferson

mental lapses. Big play touchdowns

in the race.

arrive on campus a semester early

and drive killing drops. Hip to hip

and immediately push for first team, it’s hard not to get excited. When

Malik Jefferson (46)

wide receiver John Burt arrives in June and instantly makes plays in 7 on 7 and it carries over to the practice field, well, its hard not to dream about the possibilities of an explosive downfield weapon. Many thought Patrick Vahe would redshirt, despite his immense athleticism and nasty disposition in the interior offensive line. No way he’d be strong enough at the point of attack to create displacement, right? No way he understands his duties within himself much less the overarching themes and teamwork required to play offensive line in Joe Wickline’s zone running schemes, right? Not so fast, so far he’s looking very solid at guard. We’ll see true freshmen play at every single position this season save a nightmare situation at quarterback. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we

2015 Season Preview

37


CLASS of 2016 BY ERIC NAHLIN

The football season lasts four months. Recruiting lasts a full calendar year with different classes overlapping and intertwining. Last year the staff slowed its in-season recruiting efforts to focus on the games at hand. With so many fires to put out - notably quarterback, offensive line and special teams play - that was understandable. Charlie Strong and company gave up some ground during September, October and November but were able to make that ground up down the final stretch. They won’t want to do that again.

I

n the last few months we’ve seen some

Here’s a position by position status check for

changes in approach at the top. The staff

Texas and the current class.

has been more aggressive recruiting the class ahead - in this case the 2017 prospects -

QUARTERBACK: Texas is perfectly happy

while also keeping close contact with the high

with Elite 11 stud Shane Buechele’s (Arlington

priority 2016 players. We’ve seen many more

Lamar) commitment. Buechele’s an excellent

campus visitors this summer than last, from

fit for the scheme you’ll see Texas run this

June all the way into August practice.

season.

Strong’s recruiting still isn’t as on-the-surface

RUNNING BACK: With the recent transfer

or instantly gratifying as Mack Brown’s ap-

of Duke Catalon, Texas has a bigger need

proach, but it’s certainly better suited for

than previously believed for an explosive and

Strong’s personality and preference to evalu-

versatile back. Beaumont Central’s Devwah

ate and weigh options as long as possible.

Whaley fits the bill perfectly but Texas has a

It’s an approach that’s not for the weak, and

good, old fashioned Red River Rivalry on its

the practice has its negatives as well, but it’s

hands for his services.

become quite clear Texas is setting itself up for another late and furious finish.

WIDE RECEIVER: Texas is looking very good already with Reggie Hemphill (Manvel),

The 2015 class saw an astonishing 19 of 29

Collin Johnson (Valley Christian, San Jose)

signees (not all made it to campus) com-

and Tren’Davian Dickson (Navasota) already

mit from November on. In years past Texas

committed. That’s a versatile grouping but the

fans were happy to have a handful of recruit

staff would love to add a fourth. Perhaps Dee

storylines. Under Charlie Strong the storylines

Anderson (in between high schools, commit-

are so numerous they’re hard to keep straight.

ted to LSU) or even Devin Duvernay (Sachse)

That will again be the case in 2016.

find their way to Austin. If Texas lands neither

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Jordan Elliott


Shane Buechele

they may look at a contingency plan, of

who likely fits as an athletic guard, but could

experienced its share of fortune (Malcom

which there are many possibilities.

perhaps be a right tackle. Texas is all on

Brown, Hassan Ridgeway) and misfortune

in 5-star, Baylor commit, Patrick Hudson

(A’Shawn Robinson, Andrew Billings and

TIGHT END: One component missing on

(Silsbee), but there are some obstacles to

Du’Vonta Lampkin) over the years. The

the roster is a tight end who can seal the

overcome. Some are of the belief Gerald

net result is the significant need for a tal-

edge. That player is Texas commit, Peyton

Wilbon (Destrehan, LA) will end up at of-

ent infusion in this class. Texas looks to

Aucoin (Brother Martin, New Orleans).

fensive line but he prefers defensive tackle.

be in favorable position with Jordan Elliott

Texas would like to also sign a true receiv-

Look for the Texas commit to take visits.

(Houston Westside, committed to UofH)

ing threat. TE’s coach, Jeff Traylor, is

Of all the positions this one lacks the most

who is one of the most important pieces

focused on a couple of options, notably Ja-

clarity heading into the season. Look for

in the entire class. Former LSU defensive

mal Pettigrew (St. Augustin, New Orleans,

Texas to keep chopping wood on Hudson,

tackles coach, Brick Haley, has Texas in the

committed to LSU), Aucoin’s teammate Irvin

make a run at Greg Little (Allen) and put

conversation for McDonogh, LA., product,

Smith (committed to A&M) and Isaac Nauta

the full court press on Jean Delance (North

Stephon Taylor. Landing Taylor would be

(IMG Academy, Bradenton). All three are

Mesquite) and Denzel Okafor (Lewisville).

a boon and a surprise. He’s a stud. Texas

longshots, but instate options remain start-

We expect more names to emerge at the

will press for Killeen Shoemaker’s Kendell

ing with West Mesquite’s Donte Coleman.

position from everything to out-of-state war

Jones until the morning of National Signing

daddies and in-state under-the-radar types.

Day but he’d have to spurn his Alabama

OFFENSIVE LINE: A position of consterna-

An improved showing on the field this year

commitment. Other options, such as Marcel

tion for many recruitniks, Texas isn’t off to

from the offensive line would go a long way.

Southall (Duncanville) and Ross Blacklock (Fort Bend Elkins) are also out there. Texas

the greatest start, having missed so far on the majority of its early targets. Tope Imade

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: The greatest need

needs to land three players who can play

(Arlington, Bowie) is a fine piece as a player

in the class is defensive tackle. UT has

relatively early.

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underscores their versatility and ability. The

DeMarkus Acy. If Texas pushes hard for

DEFENSIVE END: A difference maker

key piece yet to be mentioned is Fort Bend

both they can be had, if not, I think both

at SDE is needed and that’s just what

Elsik’s Dontavious Jackson, a true Mike

could still end up as teammates, just at

McKinney North’s Justin Madubuike is.

linebacker. UT is in good with Jackson but

Oklahoma.

He combines size (6-3, 255), strength and

he has the amount of options you’d expect

rare quickness and could play immediately.

of someone of his abilities. Fitting his repu-

CORNERBACK: The most tangible com-

He’s in the same category as Elliott as a

tation, Charlie Strong is also looking into

mitment would come from Waco’s Eric

major need. He’s wide open at this point

Florida at this position, particularly Miami

Cuffee. He’s visited a lot over the years

but we feel good about UT’s chances as

Jackson product Shemar Smith. Other op-

and long been prioritized. Texas is in great

his recruitment crystallizes. Also keep an

tions will materialize and don’t forget about

shape with him. Look for Archbishop Rum-

eye on Aldine McArthur’s Isaiah Cham-

long-committed Demarco Boyd. A football

mel’s Kristian Fulton to visit. He may not be

bers. He’s a stud in his own right but he

player’s football player who will see the field

the lock to LSU some believe he is, though

may be ticketed for TCU at this point. With

at either linebacker or fullback.

it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the local product ended up in Baton Rouge.

Texas, the Fox position conflates with Sam linebacker. This helps in recruiting numbers

SAFETY: Brandon Jones and Deontay

as well, especially when you find guys like

Anderson are the headliners at safety and

All in all, Texas has plenty of options, but

Jeffrey McCulloch (Aldine Davis) and Erick

both figure to make late cycle decisions.

the net hasn’t been cast nearly as wide

Fowler (Manor, committed to LSU) who can

Jones will be a battle between Texas and

as it was last year? The reason being, of

play both. Texas is also heavily pursuing

A&M and Anderson will come down to LSU,

course, it doesn’t need to be yet. Charlie

Rahssan Thornton (Killeen Shoemaker,

Ole Miss and Texas. I couldn’t be happier

Strong and staff feel good for many of it’s

committed to LSU). Texas is in good shape

with UT’s position with Jones but it’s much

highest priority targets. If you see more and

with McCulloch but has work to do on flip-

shakier with Anderson. Texas would like to

more offers go out you’ll know confidence in

ping one or both of Fowler and Thornton.

take two at the position and also has offers

some instances may be waning. Either way,

extended to two players who could factor

get ready for another wild finish.

LINEBACKER: Both Fowler and McCulloch

in at nickel, Dontavious Jackson’s team-

fit into the conversation here as well which

mate, Chris Brown, and Wilmer Hutchins’

Jean Delance

2015 Season Preview

41


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2015 Season Preview

43


RECRUITING UPDATE by Justin Wells and Ian Boyd

Heavy in playmaking ability, long in talent, here’s the Recruiting Notebook for some of the Texas commits from the Class of 2016.

DEMARCO BOYD, ATH Gilmer (2016)

How he fits at Texas: Undersized linebackers in Over front defenses are all the rage now, but they aren’t a great fit for Texas unless they can win 1-on-1 battles vs OL on a blitz. Boyd played nose-tackle at Gilmer, which required him to wrestle with opposing OL without the running start that linebackers typically rely on. He also showed great lateral quickness and stunting abilities from that position. Because of his lateral quickness, functional strength, and overall ferocity I think he could fit at Texas as a Will linebacker. His skills might also translate to the offensive backfield. – Ian Boyd

Coach says: Not often you will see a running back flip over and

How this affects Texas: Boyd is one of the most interest-

play some nose tackle AND be good at it. His athleticism and

ing prospects in the 2016 class. He’ll be Gilmer’s starting

quickness made him a problem for offensive lineman to block and

LB/DE and FB in 2014. His older brother is one of the top

he is relentless in pursuit of the ball carrier. He constantly got into

DBs in the nation, Kris. The idea of both playing at the same

the backfield on film and when he got to the ball he arrived with

college is very intriguing to them so both landing in Austin

a bad attitude. This kid will be a big back or will end up playing

isn’t a surprise. It only took Demarco two days to pledge

linebacker in the long run if he continues to grow, his violent dis-

Texas after his brother Kris did. Former Gilmer native and

position for the game makes him a take at either spot and he will

Texas corner, and cousin Curtis Brown approves of this

continue to get better. Just punishes people.

message. – Justin Wells

How he fits at Texas: Johnson is an outside receiver and one that Texas will want to isolate as often as possible to force opponents to try and match him with just a corner rather than bracketed safety help. Johnson has an amazing catch radius, great quickness, and good size that will make him impossible for even the best corners to handle without help. Rather than being moved around as Texas did with Harris though, his skills translate best to being allowed to stay outside where his ability to win deep balls will always command attention. - Ian Boyd

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SHANE BUECHELE, QB Lamar (Arlington, TX) (2016)

How he fits at Texas: He has a

How this affects Texas: I’ve

whole lot of what Shawn Watson

had a fondness for Buechele for

looks for in a quarterback; intelli-

months now – not just because

gence, good footwork, quick feet, and

his dad, 80’s Texas Rangers’

a solid, accurate arm. Only 6-foot-1 at

hot-corner holder Steve, was

this time, Buechele makes up for that

the reason I played 3rd base

relative lack of height with a classic

growing up. Apparently, so has

delivery. He gets the ball up and out

Texas. When speaking to Shane,

quickly. He also reads the field quickly

Watson is the first name he men-

and anticipates well. When you talk

tions. When speaking to Shane’s

about running packaged plays, you

HS OC, Watson is the first name

need a quarterback who is fast in

he mentions. When Watson

his head and fast in his delivery and

visited Shane back in May, he

that’s Buechele. He may not become

told him an offer was coming this

a star in college, but he could play a

summer. Buechele likes Wat-

big piece in a flourishing and balanced

son’s spread philosophy and the

offense. If UT runs the ball as hoped,

direction of the UT program. This

Shane should make a living on the

has the makings of a beautiful

deep ball where his accuracy shines.

recruitment ending in UT netting

– Ian Boyd

one of the more sound, accurate signal-callers in the 2016 class.

Coach says: This kid is a player, plain and simple. I’ve watched his tape a handful of times now and every time I watch I come away more impressed. He can really spin and he has great touch on his deep ball and also has the ability to dial up the velocity to fit it into tight spaces. Does a great job of leading his receivers, he will murder a defense from the pocket and just when you least expect it he will pick some yards with his

Damn good shortstop too. He’s now a member of the Longhorns Class of 2016. He’ll enroll early in Austin. - Justin Wells

feet. Decent enough athlete that you have to respect his wheels. You can tell he’s well-coached.

How this affects Texas: It’s always good to grab one of the nation’s top wideouts before he catches a ball his junior year. We knew he had talent, but didn’t know how much. After watching his 2014 film, I get excited about the idea of covering this kid for four more years. He wanted to follow in his dad’s shoes (80’s DB Johnnie Johnson) and play for Texas, so he pledged UT. He wanted a QB, so he went after Arlington Lamar’s Shane Buechele. He wanted to play college call with his brother, Kirk, so he’ll sign with Texas. He wants to be an All-American next. See a trend. - Justin Wells

Coach says: When you go out and look for outside receivers, this is exactly what you are looking for. This kid is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and still has plenty of room to grow. He does a good job of finding and tracking the ball in the air, and even if he is double covered he is capable of going up and bringing it down. Shows consistently that he is willing to sell out to catch passes and also shows that he is a willing blocker, which is always a big positive in my book.

COLLIN JOHNSON, WR Valley Christian in San Jose, CA

2015 Season Preview

45


TOPE IMADE, OL Arlington Bowie (2016) Coach says: Damn near has tackle measureables at the guard spot. Probably got pegged there since he doesn’t have the ideal athleticism to stick at tackle. One thing I love about him is that he will get after you through the whistle; once he locks up on you he is looking to finish. Would love to see him play with better leverage, but that is something that can be coached up over time. He has enough athleticism to navigate and locate his man on the second level in the run game. Strong as an ox.

How this affects Texas: Let’s talk offensive line. This should be fun. Wickline is busy trying to find 4-5 O-linemen in the Class of 2016. So far, it’s been a slow process. After landing a great group in ’15, the juniors have been less inclined to join the mix. But it’s early. One such player is

How he fits at Texas: Tope is one of those “leaner” recruits that Wickline

Tope Imade. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound guard/tackle is one

covets, no doubt. In reality this is what Wickline offers often look like. A big,

of the strongest football players in Texas and has seen his

long kid with quick moving feet that is a mobile wall opponents cannot scale

recruitment rise recently. The current OL pledge represents

or tunnel under. When he gets locked onto an opponent, it’s all over but he

a positive for the Longhorns in the offensive line department.

may also have the quickness to play at right tackle. He’ll be a bull on zone

One at a time, Joe. – Justin Wells

runs and is effective on reach blocks. Great take for Wickline.– Ian Boyd

Coach says: If you are looking for a tight end that will line up and try to kick the guy’s ass lined up across from him, then you will love Peyton Aucoin. This kid doesn’t give you the dimension of being able to throw to him as a receiving threat, but he will hit your butt until the cows come home and love every minute of it. Guys like Aucoin are a dying breed due to the way the game has evolved, so it is always nice to see that guys like this still exist. I can see Charlie Strong falling for this type.

How he fits at Texas: Aucoin, who’s name sounds like that of a confederate officer in a civil war movie, is a strong in-line blocker thanks to his ability to use his size and feet to control the momentum of defensive ends on zone runs, as a lead blocker he brings a lot of punch and that skill set makes him a good for the new “B” tight end position in Texas’ offense. His skills as a receiver are harder to discern in his run-centric HS tape but he’s fluid enough with the ability to extend and bring a ball in on the run, which are baseline competencies even if he’s not a huge threat running routes in the seam. – Ian Boyd

How this affects Texas: UT isn’t pulling any punches. They want TEs. Enter Aucoin. The New Orleans based prospect visited Austin recently with his family and came away impressed. Aucoin’s best offers are UT, Arizona State, NC State, and Vanderbilt. If LSU stays away, I really like Texas’ chances with the run-blocking force. And always remember, they use TE like NFL. Aucoin joining the Longhorns Class of 2016 was huge on many levels, notably the absence of talented pass-catchers at TE for UT. Aucoin changes that. - Justin Wells PEYTON AUCOIN, TE Brother Martin in New Orleans, LA (2016)

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Inside Texas 2015 Season Preview