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INSIDETEXAS.COM

2020 SEASON PREVIEW

FOOTBALL IN 2020? THE 2020 SEASON WILL LOOK VERY DIFFERENT IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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in this issue

Uncertain Times |

by

4

Mike Blackwell

The 2020 Season has been a moving target, with many teams opting out.

2020 Texas Longhorns Team Preview | A look at the 2019 Longhorns position by position

by

Joe Cook and Eric Nahlin

12

Offense

34

Defense The Schedule |

by Ian

Boyd

Ian provides a scouting report for the revised 2020 schedule

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


UNCERTAIN by

Mike Blackwell

How did Covid-19 go for you, coach? Well, Tom Herman went from planning to play board games with his kids to planning to play football against LSU to planning for the unexpected without a September date in Baton Rouge against the Tigers after all. In 2020, there is no such thing as “best-laid plans.�

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N TIMES


The only thing certain in these times is uncertainty. And that’s cer-

Services, UT Health Austin and Dell Medical School public health

tainly the case with the Texas Longhorns. When will football begin

officials.

again? Covid-19 will let us know, so you might as well stop asking. Team activities in all sports are supervised by UT’s sports medicine Now that practice time is here, the emphasis on safety and protocol

and strength and conditioning staffs, which monitor, review and adapt

is amped up. The university began testing student athletes for Co-

as needed to meet/exceed the latest Centers for Disease Control

vid-19 beginning with football the first week of June. According to the

(CDC), NCAA and Big 12 conference guidelines.

school, as of August 7, 457 tests have been given, and 17 studentathletes have tested positive.

Texas officials appear to be as prepared to handle the sports re-start as any school in the country.

In the three weeks since leading up to August 7, there have been no positive tests from 153 tests that have been administered to football,

“We’re so proud of how our entire Texas athletics team has managed

men and women’s basketball, volleyball and soccer. Football players

this health crisis, but most importantly, the trust and understanding

initially returned to campus for voluntary off-season workouts on June

our medical team has established with our student-athletes, coaches

13, when they began the on-boarding processes.

and teams,” said Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. “They are on top of everything, constantly communicating, helping to educate

“On-boarding” is the description used when a group of people is inte-

and answering every question, while providing all the tools to help the

grating into the new reality of dealing with Covid-19 in a safe manner.

student-athletes take care of themselves and those around them. It’s

From all accounts, the university has been vigorous in their safety

just been a truly awesome effort all the way around.”

measures and strategies, and a Student-Athlete Return to Campus task force has been developed in collaboration with University Health

The school has established reporting opportunity for anyone sus-

Texas Fans at DKR 2019

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pected of violating policy and procedure expectations, and student-

season.

athletes, coaches and staff are screened daily with the hope of being

* The ACC will, like the Big 12, use the format of conference-only

able to quickly identify those who may be ill.

games plus a single non-conference game, with this twist: Notre Dame - in normal times an independent - will participate as a league

Face coverings are of course mandatory in all campus buildings, and

member this season.

any elevated temperatures will be detected upon entry into any building; those testing positive are immediately isolated. And of course if

Also, this means the ACC will play 11 regular-season games instead

anyone has regular contact with a student-athlete will be tested per

of 10 - it will be interesting to see what this will mean at the end of

NCAA guidance.

the season, provided of course that every conference completes its schedule.

So, all of that to say: UT officials have been more than safe in their protocols to fight Covid-19. Now, to answer the question from Joe Longhorn Fan who also wonders how all of this affects the Texas football team, and NCAA football in general, below is what we know as of now. And to say the situation is fluid is very much an understatement. The brutal truth is that as of mid-August, no one can say without question whether there will - or will not - be football in 2020. What we do know is this: * The Texas football team in general - and Herman in particular - has handled this strange time with aplomb. Not only have the Longhorns dealt directly and decisively with the pandemic, but they’ve also gracefully handled the racial unrest that followed George Floyd’s death. Hence the re-naming of the Darrel K. Royal Memorial

Sam Ehlinger

Stadium in honor of Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

* Though the MAC is not a Power 5 conference, that league has decided to postpone all fall sports, a sign that you know the Power

* The Big 12 has announced that teams will play a conference

5 powers-that-be are paying close attention to. These conference

schedule plus one non-conference game - a 9+1 format. Because of

schedule adjustments have thrown athletic directors into a low-grade

the SEC’s decision to play conference games only, this means the

frenzy trying to adjust accordingly.

Longhorns have lost the eagerly-anticipated non-conference matchup with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge.

Smaller school rely on their annual beat-downs versus the big brothers of the world; the money that comes with it plays a heavy role in

* The Big 10 made the decision in August to completely cancel its

their athletic budgets, and frankly, no one knows for sure how deep

season, a decision that is getting major pushback from coaches,

this abbreviated season will cut for the smaller schools.

players and parents of athletes. The Pac 10 has also postponed its

2020 Season Preview

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Herman said. Herman also said the players and staff have handled the pandemic as seamlessly as possibly could be expected. “We’re all going through this for the first time, together,” Herman said. “I think the kids are cognizant of that and they don’t hold us to a standard that is unreasonable in terms of us having all of the answers.” That understanding pertains not only to the physical aspects of adjusting to the new world, but also the inevitable mental issues that will arrive. “I think our coaches and staff are very aware of the mental effects this can and has had for certain individuals,” Herman said, adding that all have access to mental health professionals that can be utilized at Tom Herman

any time.

As for the football team specifically, Herman said he was certainly juiced to see his team begin practice, and is also impressed by how

In a world filled with people longing for answers as it pertains to

football players and staff have handled their new reality.

Covid and football, the truth is that those answers received by everyone will pertain only to now and today. And today, as of press time,

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited for training camp,” Herman

football is on, though in a very different way that we have never seen

said, remotely of course. “I didn’t sleep a whole lot last night (before

before.

the team’s first practice).” Tomorrow will come, of course, and those answers could be vastly Practically, the Longhorns have taken the necessary precautions in

different: good or bad, better or worse. This is our new world.

the Covid world, including the use of face shields, however unpopular they may be. “They don’t like them, but it’s part of playing football in 2020,” Herman said of his team’s reaction to the face shields. “At meetings, we are all six-feet apart and masked all the time. We take breaks every 12 to 15 minutes.” Even the football mainstay of the huddle has taken a hit during the pandemic. “We haven’t huddled in a long time, so we’re ahead of the curve,”

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-

just the facts

-

2020 Season Preview

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2020 TEXAS

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photos by Will Gallagher

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LONGHORNS BY JOE COOK and ERIC NAHLIN

2020 Season Preview

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QUARTERBACK

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Sam Ehlinger


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

I

n 2020 Texas arrives at a quarterback crossroads. Sam Ehlinger

in passing yards, touchdowns, and completions. The only place

will have played his final snap in a Longhorn uniform, and the

Ehlinger has a reasonable chance of catching McCoy is completions,

process of finding his successor will be in full swing. Luckily for

trailing by 428.

Tom Herman and the Longhorns, there’s a promise-filled season to be played before that occurs.

He does have an opportunity to join a club where McCoy and two other Longhorn quarterbacks reside, that of being a Big 12 Cham-

Texas can thank Ehlinger for ending a tumultuous era in the Texas

pion. Texas failed to capture a conference title in the 2010s and is

QB room. Until Ehlinger seized control of the starting job prior to the

currently on its longest drought without a conference crown since

2018 season, pre-season and in-season storylines focused on who

failing to win the Southwest Conference between the 1930 and 1942

was to be the starting Texas signal-caller for seemingly years on end.

seasons.

Those storylines completely disappeared prior to the 2019 season,

For most of the last decade, it was rarely the case Texas had a quar-

as Ehlinger found himself in the national spotlight after becoming

terback in the upper echelon of the Big 12 conference. For 2020, they

entrenched as the Longhorns’ starting quarterback. The Players’

return the arguable No. 1.

Tribune featured him in a video, and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football put him on the magazine’s cover for the second time in his football

The lack of a conference title currently separates Ehlinger from some

career.

of the other names in the record books he has shot past during his three seasons in Austin. 2020 is his last and best opportunity to win

Ehlinger gave Texas quality quarterback play for most of the 2019

that elusive title.

season. There were some poor performances along the way, including a career high four interception game against TCU. There were

In 2019, Texas gave up 2.77 sacks per game which was among the

stellar performances as well like his five touchdown game versus

most allowed in the nation. In 2020, Ehlinger will once again have

LSU.

Sam Cosmi protecting his blindside with other spots along the OL still yet to be sorted out. The difficulty of those tasks have been mitigated

As Texas enters the 2020 season, they hope to become College

by the recruiting and development efforts of Herman and Herb Hand,

Football Playoff contenders. Before that, they’ll have to be Big 12

but replacing two-thirds of the interior offensive line in an inside zone-

title contenders. Texas’ hopes of dethroning Oklahoma are largely

heavy offense is one of the offseason’s biggest tasks.

dependent on the play of its senior quarterback. In addition to the offensive line, replacing the top two receivers from Behind Ehlinger on the depth chart are three players lacking any

last year’s team might prove even more difficult. With Devin Duver-

extended, meaningful college snaps. Of course, part of that is due to

nay and Collin Johnson off to the NFL, Brennan Eagles and Jake

Hudson Card and Ja’Quinden Jackson not having played a snap as

Smith are two of the few receivers with proven production. Fortunate-

a Longhorn. The other part is due to Casey Thompson redshirting in

ly, those two showed big play ability and exciting upside.

2018 and serving as backup to a durable Ehlinger during the 2019 season.

In his senior season, Ehlinger will need to find new “favorite targets” along with reliable depth.

Tom Herman and new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich have a quarterback room dozens of coaches around the country would love

Plenty of change has taken place in Moncrief during the offseason,

to have due to Ehlinger’s bona fides, Thompson’s elusiveness and

but the constant Ehlinger will provide for one more year has Texas

time (mostly) patiently waiting, Card’s passing, and Jackson’s game-

positioned to compete for the conference title. Much of his legacy

breaking athleticism.

depends on this season and its final result.

But as Texas knows, lack of experience at QB can kneecap a season. Thompson may not have in-game experience, but having a

No. 25 | Casey Thompson

quarterback who has been behind Ehlinger since the 2018 season is

JR-2L | 6-1 – 197

the next best option. Thompson is at least more of a known than the

Casey Thompson has rushed 10 times, passed 12 times, and accu-

two unknown college commodities behind him.

mulated 106 total yards in four games in two season in Austin.

The quarterback situation is a good one, but its trend line is ap-

At the college level, he remains an unknown.

proaching a peak with a step down coming soon after it barring the unlikely addition of a grad transfer after the 2020 season.

During pre-season camp and whenever asked about Thompson, Herman would offer lofty praise to his backup quarterback. He did so just

Ehlinger currently sits second in school history behind Colt McCoy

before the Alamo Bowl, too.

2020 Season Preview

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

No. 1 | Hudson Card FR-HS | 6-2 – 193

No. 25 | Ja’Quinden Jackson JR-2L | 6-0 – 215

Hudson Card and Ja’Quinden Jackson cover all the bases skillwise for a two quarterback class. Both are plus athletes, and both have shown promise in different styles of offense. Both are coming to Texas off of senior seasons with unfortunate injuries. Card missed much of his senior season due to a foot injury before being cleared to return to the field in the playoffs. Jackson suffered a partially torn ACL in the state semi-finals. Unlike some freshmen at Texas in recent years, neither will be called upon to win immediately. Each have aspects of their game that require improvement before they’re ready to face down college defenses.

Casey Thompson

“We had some guest coaches that were at our practice yesterday and I had one kind of nudge me and say ‘hey, that backup you guys got is pretty dang good’ and I said ‘yeah he’s really, really talented’ and, you know, when he gets his shot there’s no doubt in any of our minds that he’s got the skill set to be a championship level quarterback here,” Herman said in December. He remains a question mark beyond the backup role. He’s been in the system two years and has a solid grasp on what college quarterbacks need to do. With Roschon Johnson remaining at running back, Thompson and Ehlinger are the only two quarterbacks on the roster with playing experience. Thompson might not be an impact signal-caller right now, but his value as a fill-in for Ehlinger and as a backup who can allow both Card and Jackson to redshirt is a plus. He can create outside of the pocket, too, which might be the best attribute he brings to the table.

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Card has arm talent and worked in an offense that resembles what Herman has run for his entire high school career, but overall strength remains an area for improvement. He will have a head start on that

deficiency thanks to enrolling early. Aside from the complications of a partially torn ACL, Jackson will need to adjust to a pro-spread offense after being in a Duncanville offense where he averaged 11 pass attempts per game over his junior and senior seasons. Card likely begins the 2020 season as the third string QB since Jackson will be in the midst of his recovery. Both have sky high potential, but that potential won’t become evident until at least a year or two down the road. Most likely, they won’t be forced to play too early like several other Texas quarterbacks in the most recent decade of Texas football. 2020 rests on the tested shoulders of Sam Ehlinger. Texas needs him to have another healthy campaign before the battle to be his heir apparent begins in earnest next spring.

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RUNNING BACK

Roschon Johnson 2020 Season Preview

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

T

exas’ top four running backs include one player from each

If he wants to remain on the field as much as he did last year as

classification - Daniel Young is a senior, Keaontay Ingram is a

Texas’ leading rusher, he’ll need to cement his status as the clear

junior, Roschon Johnson is a sophomore, and incoming five-

first-team back. If not, there are several options that could start to eat

star Bijan Robinson is a freshman. Even with a quarterback the caliber of Sam Ehlinger, the run game will be a feature and important part of Tom Herman’s offense. His

into his rushing volume, not including Ehlinger.

No. 2 – Roschon Johnson

affinity for inside zone necessitates someone capable of working con-

SO-1L – 6-2 – 227

sistently between the tackles. Most of the depth chart has produced

123 carries, 649 yards, 7 TDs. 23 receptions, 158 yards, 1 TD

at some point in their careers with those responsibilities. All four

Johnson’s breakout season at running back was the pleasant

running backs have big seasons ahead of them, like the rest of the

surprise of 2019. The Port Neches-Groves product walked into Tom

Longhorn offense.

Herman’s office and suggested he switch positions to help a running back room struck by the injury bug.

No. 25 | Keaontay Ingram

The PNG offense and the Texas offense had many areas of overlap,

JR-2L | 6-0 – 215

including the run game. Johnson was the central figure in the Indian

144 carries, 853 yards, 7 TDs. 29 receptions, 242 yards, 3 TDs

offense. He passed for over 2,200 yards and rushed for more than

When Keaontay Ingram showed up in 2019, he really showed up. In

1,500 yards in all three seasons as the starting quarterback. The

eight games in which he had 10 or more carries, Ingram averaged

main adjustment wasn’t running between the tackles as that was old

5.9 yards per carry. That includes two games against West Virginia

hat for him. The main change was just receiving a handoff first.

and LSU where he tallied 47 yards on 21 carries. The adjustment period was short. Johnson received nine touches in In the four games he didn’t reach the double-digit carry mark, he

his first game at running back, and finished the regular season with

averaged a misleading 6.4 yards per carry. Remove his 68-yard

a 23-carry, 105-yard performance with three scores against Texas

scamper that helped to salvage three points in the first half against

Tech. Johnson never took RB1 responsibilities from Ingram, but there

Baylor, and his average nosedives to a paltry 2.8 yards per carry.

were several games in which the freshman outperformed the sophomore who had played the position since high school.

Consistency will be the key for Ingram as he enters his third year in the program. He’s remained mostly healthy, with some brief spells of

Where Ingram sometimes was hampered by his style, Johnson ran

limited carries. But in an offense where inside zone is a staple, more

differently. He wouldn’t wait for things to open up. He would run, lane

can be expected of him. More might be needed of him.

or not. Sometimes that works and creates a play. Sometimes, that results in a collision with a guard’s rear.

There are flashes of greatness, including four 100-yard games in 2019 where his lowest average per carry was 5.4 against Oklahoma

Herman announced in February that Johnson would remain at

State. He contributed in the passing game too, both as a reliable

running back for his sophomore season. Johnson proved he had a

blocker and a receiving option out of the backfield.

knack for the position, including the essential dirty work outside the glamorous task of carrying the ball.

Ingram should be motivated for a big year, and he’ll have family alongside him as his little brother, Kelvontay Dixon, joins the Long-

With a position change, pass protection and route running were

horns in the summer.

questions that Johnson answered reasonably well. It never was a truly glaring issue. Is it surprising that a former quarterback knows

The competition for RB1 last year dwindled as camp went on due

how important it is for backs to pass block?

to injuries to Ingram, Kirk Johnson, and Jordan Whittington. Ingram eventually emerged at the top, but the competition this year could be

Johnson originally switched to RB due to a swath of injuries in

stiffer with a more experienced Johnson, senior Young, and five-star

preseason camp. He remains there because he proved he can be a

Robinson all set to compete for carries.

threat at the position.

Ingram can be a difference-making back. His running style is “patient”

Side note: Could Johnson be utilized in a Taysom Hill-like role? As

when successful, but “timid” when it isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with

with the Saints, there isn’t a good reason for Texas to take QB1 off

being patient, but if the line isn’t developing lanes to run through,

the field. However, Hill’s dynamic athleticism, ability to play any skill

then all Ingram is doing is waiting in the backfield. In addition to

position, and throwing ability provide a constraint only one team has

his patient style, Ingram could benefit from becoming multifaceted

and 31 others are trying to figure out how to stop (in addition to the

instead of just trying to impersonate LeVeon Bell carry after carry.

other record-setting aspects of the New Orleans offense).

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS Of course, Hill played quarterback for his entire BYU career, while Johnson’s experience as a collegiate quarterback is fifteen spring practices. With limited college practice time and Johnson still developing at his current position, it’s not something that can make up a page or two of the playbook. That said, just a handful of plays where Johnson has an option to throw could help Texas steal a few yards, or even six points, at some point this season.

No. 32 – Daniel Young SR-3L – 6-0 – 215

16 carries, 63 yards, 2 TDs. 2 receptions, 7 yards Young has seen his carries dwindle in his three seasons at Texas. He

Keaontey Ingram

received carries in just four games last year, most of them over the final three games. Young still provides value as an experienced option for Stan Drayton. He could also be seen as an extra short-yardage back thanks to his physicality, but Texas’ current quarterback brings that style to the field already. He mostly played on special teams last year and should continue to be a contributor to that phase. Though his carries might be limited, his presence as a fourth-year player with in Herman’s program could bring intangible leadership to the running back room.

Those expectations are valid with the five-star ranking and his Arizona prep career. Robinson totaled 7,036 rushing yards and 103 rushing touchdowns in his career at Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic. His career yards per carry average was an astonishing 13.4. Robinson said in January he’s participating in speed training this spring as opposed to running track. Though some may not like that news, it’s hard to quibble with what has worked for a player of his caliber. Plus, what’s wrong with more home run speed at running back? It’s something Texas has lacked for some time, even though it isn’t a necessity at the position. In addition, Texas could utilize multiple running-backs on the field

No. 24 – Derrian Brown FR-RS – 5-10 – 180

Brown is still working out separate from the team about a year after his stroke. The fact he is able to work out and run out of the tunnel in a Texas uniform is still nothing short of remarkable. While Tom Herman has said in the past they still have hopes for him to be able to one day suit up, that doesn’t seem likely soon.

at the same time with the talent available. More backs means more carries, or at least more snaps, for everyone. Robinson should be an early beneficiary of those offensive changes. His sky-high yards per carry average does indicate that Robinson completely eluded contact on a significant portion of his carries at the Arizona high school level. Though his athletic ability should continue to help him avoid defenders, he won’t be able to do that every single time he touches the ball.

No. 5 – Bijan Robinson FR-HS – 6-0 – 222

The crown jewel of Texas’ 2020 class comes to Austin with plenty of expectations. He’ll have an opportunity to meet those expectations,

How Robinson reacts not just to the first hit, but to several hits throughout the course of practice and when he starts receiving ingame carries will be worth watching. Until then, it’s all promise.

as he should move up the depth chart when the pads come on in late July or early August.

2020 Season Preview

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WIDE RECEIVER

Brennan Eagles

T

exas wide receiver coach Andre Coleman summed up his

However, one of the main reasons Coleman was promoted to full-

2020 wide receiver situation eloquently on February 11.

time wide receivers coach is his track record as a developer. Texas returns only one receiver with over 500 career receiving yards, and

“They just have a lot of potential,” Coleman said. “That’s it. All po-

just two with double-digit career receptions.

tential means is that you haven’t done anything yet. That’s what I tell them. It’s not about touchdowns. It’s about being assignment sound.”

For the Longhorns to contend for one of the top two spots in the Big 12 this year, Coleman will need to teach his young receiving corps

Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, two of the top eight in receiving

how to help quarterback Sam Ehlinger in ways they have not had to

yards in school history, are off to pursue NFL dreams. One of those

in college.

two will be the first Longhorn wide receiver drafted since Marquise Goodwin in 2013.

Of the receivers likely to contribute in 2020,all were four-star prospects with compite ratingin the mid-90s. There is talent. There is

Winning helps recruiting, but so too does putting players in the NFL. Texas has recruited well at receiver, but more Longhorns catching passes in the NFL should help Coleman in his efforts to fill his position room with as much talent as possible.

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potential, but as Coleman said, most are unproven.

No. 13 | Brennan Eagles JR-2L | 6-4 – 229

32 receptions, 522 yards, 6 TD

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When Duvernay took over the slot position, that created a battle for

Eagles was suspended for the game in Fort Worth. The effects of that

starter’s snaps at the field receiver spot. Eagles beat out John Burt

suspension likely contributed some to Texas’ losing effort. After that

for those snaps, and rewarded the coaches’ decision early in the

game, Eagles returned to the field. No other issue arose regarding

season. Over the first two games, Eagles caught eight passes for

Eagles the rest of the year, and any rift emanating from that week

175 yards and three scores. From that point on, he had a reception in

was left in 2019.

every game he played. He first started out at field receiver due to his straight-line speed; When Johnson was unable to play, Eagles started to get snaps at

while in high school, he clocked a 4.51 40 and a 3.99 shuttle. At

the boundary receiver position. He was targeted more and more and

6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he has the size and ability to play on the

made plays, notably a toe-tapping touchdown versus Iowa State.

boundary side as a No. 1 option.

These were important snaps as it showed Eagles could reputably start and challenge Big 12 defensive backs at the boundary position.

Eagles’ steady play and ability to become a reliable target for Ehlinger will be pivotal following the departure of Johnson. Ehlinger

Though he turned in a sophomore season that hints at a rising trajec-

found Johnson often, and Johnson could normally use his 6-foot-6

tory, the lasting memory of Eagles’ 2019 probably won’t be either of

frame to win jump-balls and body smaller corners out of the play.

his long touchdown catches versus LSU or Oklahoma State, but what

That’s a demand of the position. Eagles will need to do it for an entire

he didn’t do the week of the TCU game. After missing a practice,

year.

2020 Season Preview

19


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS become much more consistent with the ‘normal’ plays while still sprinkling in what made him such an appealing high school prospect.

No. 15 | Marcus Washington SO-1L | 6-2 – 191

3 receptions, 33 yards Washington utilized the four-game redshirt rule last season but still managed to haul in a few passes, including a 14-yard reception versus West Virginia. The 6-foot-2 St. Louisan projects to an outside role in the Longhorn offense. With Eagles the only other returning full-time outside receiver now that Malcolm Epps is at tight end, Washington should see plenty of snaps on the opposite side or in Eagles’ place in his redshirt freshman season.

No. 83 | Al’Vonte Woodard

Jake Smith

No. 7 | Jake Smith SO-1L | 6-0 – 200

25 receptions, 274 yards, 6 TD Smith began the 2019 season as Duvernay’s backup in the slot. Since slot is the position in the Texas offense that receives the ball in space more than any other, Smith was able to use his speed and agility to succeed in his first four games. He caught four touchdown passes in those contests. Then, Smith hit the freshman wall. He hauled in a touchdown versus

SO-1L | 6-2 – 214

3 receptions, 28 yards Woodard saw his first career action, playing in eight games in 2019 and recording catches catches in two out of Texas’ last three matchups. Woodard was recruited as a vertical route field-stretcher but found himself both outside and in the slot in the late portions of the year. Woodard is one of several players in the receiver room who could play multiple receiver positions. As just a redshirt sophomore, Woodard still has time to write his story at Texas.

Kansas, but a rushing play versus the Jayhawks was indicative of his freshman season. On 4th and 2 just before the end of the first quarter, Smith lined up at wildcat QB. Smith tried to run for a first down but was stuffed short of the line to gain. The frustration was obvious. What had come easy earlier in the season was now a significant challenge. He still appeared in all 13 games and caught his sixth touchdown pass against Texas Tech in the regular season finale, but he never quite had the same effectiveness before he hit the freshman wall. Maybe with Duvernay off to the NFL and the slot receiver position up for grabs, Smith will take hold of the position and become the burner at the slot. He’ll have to compete against Jordan Whittington for those snaps. The freshman wall is tough. Sophomore slumps can be tougher. Smith made several ‘wow’ plays during his freshman season. If he wants to take hold of the slot position as a sophomore, he’ll need to

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No. 4 | Jordan Whittington FR-RS | 6-1 – 209

2 receptions, 17 yards A groin injury robbed Whittington of the majority of a freshman season that was to be spent at running back. Whittington had both the physical ability and football acumen to play running back, but now he is at the position he was originally recruited for out of high school. His state championship performance aside, most of Whittington’s snaps while at Cuero were at slot receiver. He could play on both sides of the ball, but decided around the time of his junior year he wanted to be a pass-catcher at the next level. Around the same time, he committed to Texas. The four-game redshirt rule greatly benefits Texas with regards to Whittington, but as Tom Herman has said in the past, they know Whittington likely isn’t a player they are going to have around for four seasons. The talent he has should put him near the front of the depth

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS chart for snaps at slot receiver. His time spent moonlighting as a running back though could unveil

No. 14 – Joshua Moore SO-1L – 6-1 – 169

After his season-long suspension from suiting up on game day,

new aspects of the Texas offense. Whittington could move all over

Moore was reinstated and is contending for snaps at the outside field

the field, whether that be by Ehlinger or split wide. He is the poster

position with Washington. He has the ability to play inside if neces-

child for hybrid personnel who can play multiple positions and put the

sary, too.

defense in conflict. Moore saw limited action his freshman season in 2018, but he did In order to do that, he has to stay healthy. His groin has nagged him

show promise. He’s an athletic weapon, fluid in his routes with the

since his days at Cuero and multiple procedures to fix a sports hernia

ability to win deep.

took up most of his freshman season. A healthy Whittington is a force. A healthy Whittington hasn’t been at Texas yet. Expect Whittington to compete with Smith in the slot.

No. 21 | Troy Omeire FR-RS | 6-3 – 230

The freshman from Fort Bend Austin was an early enrollee and

No. 0 – Tarik Black SR-TR | 6-3 – 217

At outside receiver, Black’s 2020 competition is comprised of junior

already turning heads in workouts with his size, quickness, and competitiveness. Depending on whether Texas lands a graduate transfer, Omeire could see action behind Eagles. Redshirting is not a foregone conclusion.

Brennan Eagles, redshirt freshman Marcus Washington, and freshman Troy Omeire. Texas has receivers like sophomores Josh Moore, Al’vonte Woodard, and Jake Smith who could possibly play a variety of roles, but Herman has showed a propensity for having his outside receivers match the physical profiles of Black, Washington, and Eagles. Eagles is the No. 1 choice for the primary outside receiver spot that typically aligns on the boundary. That means Black and Washington should compete for the receiver position typically aligned toward the field. The first requirement for success for Black is to remain healthy. It has been the biggest issue preventing him from producing at the college level. The second requirement is sure hands. The nature of the route tree and alignment given to the field receiver often has him furthest from the quarterback. If Sam Ehlinger is to make a throw to Black, he needs to be able to reward the senior quarterback. Duvernay’s 2018 didn’t show the same production as his 2019, but evidence of his reliability was present throughout the season. Michigan’s offensive coordinator at the time of Black’s signing, Tim Drevno, complimented Black’s hands. That compliment remains on Black’s official profile on Michigan’s website. “Tarik runs really good routes, has really good hands, and plucks the ball out of the air well, so he has great ball skills, too,” Drevno said. “He really fights to grab the ball out of the air and we just love his competitiveness.” Marcus Washington

2020 Season Preview

21


OFFENSIVE LINE

Derek Kerstetter

O

ne of the most popular football clichés which still exists is

The left side, Cosmi and Angilau, is known. The remaining 4-5 spots

“the game is won or lost in the trenches.” Football is a lot

will be determined whenever the pads come back on. In order of

different from when that cliché was coined. Statements like

seniority …

this pair well with “establishing the run” and “imposing your will.” With the advent of prolific passing offenses, offensive line play still remains a critical aspect of championship football, even if it doesn’t mean running with seven guys in four-point stances. For teams that want to move the ball down the field in chunks through the air, the

No. 78 | Denzel Okafor SR-3L | 6-4 – 315

There are good reasons why Okafor elected to enter the transfer portal. Aside from the circumstances of the pandemic, his redshirt

offensive line has to be able to provide time for the play to develop.

season came two years too late, he couldn’t get extended playing

Texas’ offensive line started strong last year, but performed terribly

the rotation at guard, and had his degree in hand. Why not get play-

in the Red River Shootout. Things continued to slide, and November turned into a nightmare for the unit despite everyone remaining

time at tackle, didn’t show well in his limited opportunities, wasn’t in ing time elsewhere?

healthy for much of the year among the starters.

Okafor eventually took his name out of the transfer portal with en-

Returning three starters in Sam Cosmi, Junior Angilau, and Derek

five linemen, he still brings valuable experience and position flexibility

Kerstetter is a good place to begin for a line, quarterback, offense, and team with major expectations in 2020. Still, it takes five to play, and Tom Herman prefers to have 7-8 he feels comfortable playing in a game.

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couragement to return from the staff. Even if he isn’t one of the top many programs would want on starting O-line, let alone as the sixth man. He’ll contend for whatever position he wants to compete for, but his best value might be continuing to provide a decent safety net for the rest of the line in the event of an injury.

insidetexas.com


Junior Angilau

No. 67 | Tope Imade

The biggest question facing Tom Herman and Herb Hand about the

There is value in college football to having grown men in their early

tion has Kerstetter at center or right tackle. Kerstetter mostly stayed

SR- 1L | 6-6 – 355

twenties fighting for one of the first five spots, or turning into useful depth at a minimum. There’s also value to a fifth-year player who is familiar with the way things are run in a program, and how to dissemi-

offensive line for the upcoming season is whether their best combinaat right tackle all last year save for a few snaps versus Rice when Zach Shackelford left the game.

nate that to other, younger players.

He’s easily Texas’ most versatile lineman, but the decision of where

Imade is a Longhorn through and through. After a head coaching

of others. If the remaining center options jeopardize Sam Ehlinger’s

change, several position switches, and less playing time than he would have anticipated, he’s remained at Texas.

he plays may not be determined by his actions, but by the actions senior year, he’ll be forced to play the position. We anticipate that being the case, assuming the line functions better with Christian Jones at right tackle.

He will be in the right guard battle, and a successful final season would be a fitting reward for someone who has embodied Texas’ culture. If not, his presence still keeps the floor of the O-line past the five starters at a strong level.

No. 52 | Sam Cosmi JR-2L | 6-7 – 300

Although only a junior, any season that improves slightly on the consistency of his previous two should set Cosmi up to hear his name

No. 68 | Derek Kerstetter SR-3L | 6-5 – 293

called in the early portions of the 2021 NFL Draft. Cosmi is a team leader, likely captain, and will be called upon to anchor the left side of the line for Sam Ehlinger and the rest of the offense.

2020 Season Preview

23


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

Jamari Chisholm

Derek Kerstetter Sam Cosmi

Cosmi is battle tested and has won as many snaps as he’s lost versus high profile defensive linemen, including K’Lavon Chaisson, James Lynch, and Ronnie Perkins. Along with grading well in pass protection, Cosmi is also a physical and athletic run blocker. We anticipate the run game threatening the edge more, and likely a passing game that exploits the short and perimeter space Cosmi operates well in. This should be a banner year for Humble native.

No. 70 | Christian Jones FR- RS | 6-6 – 300

Though the roster isn’t deep with tackle candidates, Jones is one of the few that fits that moniker. His high school background and offense resulted in a fairly steep learning curve. Per team reports, Jones is progressing in a timely fashion and should be a serviceable starter at right tackle. He’s retained his athleticism honed on the soccer field and shows a promising physical disposition. For Jones to put a firm grip on becoming a starter and heir apparent

No. 55 | Willie Tyler

to Cosmi, he’ll have to continue improving on the technical side.

SO- RS | 6-7 – 310

After one season in junior college and one season spent redshirting at Texas, Willie Tyler was ready to compete for a guard spot this

No. 74 | Rafiti Ghirmai

upcoming spring. After one season listed at 340, Texas listed Tyler

FR- RS | 6-5 – 296

as having dropped a few pounds at 335, but he clarified earlier in the

After Ghirmai arrived at Texas, Longhorn coaches decided to

spring he was even lighter at 320.

groom a backup or replacement for Shackelford at center. He received some action in the games Texas was able to put second-

Tyler is another guard candidate. He isn’t shedding weight so he

stringers in, but most fans will remember a dismal 2019 spring

looks good on the sidelines. He’ll be one of many competing for play-

game Ghirmai had snapping the ball. Like with many new centers,

ing time at right guard.

that issue plagued him for a time but he’s since improved dramatically in that regard.

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS After two years in Texas’ strength and conditioning program,

early for him to fight for a starting position, but a positive develop-

Ghirmai should be able to handle the physical rigors of the position.

ment on his trajectory would be if he ended up as one of the top

In fact, we’ve heard he’s had some nastiness to him. But center is

6-8 offensive linemen.

such a mentally demanding position, he may need another year of development.

No. 72 | Tyler Johnson FR- HS | 6-6 – 315

Johnson joined Texas’ 2019 class with little fanfare, but he was one

No. 75 | Junior Angilau

of the biggest additions in that class. A top 60 composite player and

FR- RS | 6-6 – 300

Inside Texas’ No. 6 player in his class, Johnson brought a tackle

Angilau spent his first season redshirting after spending most of his

frame and excellent run blocking to Texas with a need to shore up

high school career in a run-centric offense. He didn’t have to wait his

some of his pass pro ability.

turn any longer than that, earning the left guard position and never letting go. This didn’t come as a big surprise. Along with his natural

Johnson, along with Jones, is competing for the starting right tackle

gifts, Angilau is one of the hardest workers on the team.

spot should Kerstetter be slotted at center. If Johnson isn’t able to stick at tackle, he has the capability to play guard and provide a

Angilau will leapfrog over to the left side to help anchor with Cosmi.

stout interior along with Angilau and Kerstetter.

It’s a role he should excel in and it should be one of the better left Like most linemen it was going to take a period of incubation for

sides in the country.

Johnson to reach his ceiling. Johnson represents a high floor for guard and should be competing to start at a minimum this upcom-

No. 76 | Reese Moore

ing season. Like with other young offensive lineman, missing the spring didn’t help his progression.

FR- RS | 6-7 – 295

Moore returned to practice midway through the 2019 season after sustaining an injury. He worked all five positions along the line for the scout team. During his time rehabbing, he lost a lot of weight and needs to work hard to gain it back. Missing spring ball hurts him on the field and at the lunch table.

Look for most of these players to redshirt unless injuries on the line push them into action.

No. 77 | Jake Majors FR- HS | 6-3 – 313 | Projects to Center

No. 65 | Isaiah Hookfin FR- HS | 6-5 – 305

One of three remaining offensive linemen in the 2019 class, Texas held off a late push from Baylor for the tackle. Hookfin arrived in shape and ready to go, proving concerns over his size were unfounded (like they typically are).

No. 77 | Logan Parr FR- HS | 6-4 – 294 | Projects to Guard

No. 77 | Jaylen Garth FR- HS | 6-5 – 285 | Projects to Tackle

Javonne Shepherd’s departure means Hookfin is the lone pure tackle candidate on the roster from the 2019 class. It might be too

No. 77 | Andrej Karic FR- HS | 6-5 – 280 | Projects to Tackle

Join the Conversation www.insidetexas.com 2020 Season Preview

25


TIGHT END

Cade Brewer

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

T

exas missed Andrew Beck in 2019.

of the linebackers he is facing in the Big 12.

After Beck rarely left the field and accumulated 281 yards and

His short stat-line is not only attributable to injury, but in some

2 touchdowns on 28 catches in 2018, Texas tight ends in 2019

cases to the quarterback. Over the last few years, Texas likes to

totaled 13 receptions for 181 yards and a single score. When Cade

surprise opponents with a TE seam play over the middle.

Brewer went down with an ankle injury in late October, tight end became such a weakness for the Longhorn offense that Tom Herman

The surprise hasn’t worked out as often as its fooled defenses

divorced himself from 11 personnel and started to throw an extra

because Ehlinger has trouble finding the right touch on that route.

wide receiver on the field. It wasn’t due to surplus receiver talent so

If he does, both Ehlinger and Brewer probably have a few more

much as a dearth of tight end talent.

touchdowns to their name.

The number of players in the room are normal heading into 2020,

At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, he provides an acceptable blocking

but there was some shuffling of the parties involved. Reese Leitao

presence for Texas’ running game.

moved from tight end to defensive end. Malcolm Epps moved from wide receiver to tight end. Brewer, Jared Wiley, and Brayden

When Brewer was available again for the bowl game versus Utah,

Liebrock remain with new tight ends coach Jay Boulware. There’s

he performed well and was a key part of Texas’ 281 rushing yards.

also a new type of skillset in the room with Jaden Hullaby.

That alone shows how he can be a positive contributor to the Longhorn offense even if he isn’t someone teams have to make note of

Although new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is set to call plays

week after week.

this fall, the tight ends’ role in the offense shouldn’t see too much of a change.

If he can perform the way he did in the bow game over the course of a 12-game season, then Texas might have another Y end up as

While at Oklahoma State, Yurcich’s boss Mike Gundy called his

first-team all-Big 12 (fullback).

tight ends/H-backs “Cowboy Backs.” Their role was a similar hybrid TE/H-back role that Texas labels as “Y,” just with a fancy name for branding.

No. 18 | Jared Wiley FR-HS | 6-7 – 255

The room is a long way away from the disaster situation 2017 was for tight ends. Everyone save Hullaby has some in-game experi-

Wiley’s Texas career began with a bad case of the drops in the

ence, with Liebrock maintaining his redshirt after appearing in just

2019 spring game. As summer turned to fall and the 2019 season

three games. But the room on the whole remains unproven, which

went on, Wiley found himself receiving more and more snaps. He

could be trouble for a head coach who views having one on the

moved ahead of Reese Leitao and started the final two regular

field as a necessity.

season games of the year versus Baylor and Texas Tech.

No. 80 | Cade Brewer

Going from tight end as a junior at Temple High School, to playing quarterback his senior season for the Wildcats, to enrolling early at

SR-3L | 6-4 – 250

Texas always meant a fairly steep learning curve. In his freshman

11 receptions, 159 yards, TD

year, he showed significant progress at the position.

After a freshman season cut short by a significant knee injury and a sophomore season spent behind Andrew Beck on the depth chart,

No one on the roster is like Wiley. Texas coaches thought for a

2019 was Brewer’s opportunity to take over the tight end position.

time he could end up growing into offensive tackle. However, his

He performed decently well, but once again an injury shortened his

improvement over the last few games makes Wiley sticking at tight

season and threw Texas’ 11 personnel reliant offense into a lurch.

end more and more of a reality.

The best ability is availability, and for Brewer to have a successful

Unless Epps surprises whenever the pads come back on, Wiley

2020, he’ll need to be able to play.

will likely start as Brewer’s backup. That will lend itself to plenty of playing time. If he can become half extra offensive tackle, half

Brewer’s strength is his ability as a receiver going back to his days

receiving threat, he’ll provide a huge mismatch problem for oppos-

at Lake Travis. The Y is rarely the first option in the Texas passing

ing defenses. He could be the type of player that justifies Herman’s

game, and the stat-lines over the last three seasons of Tom Her-

penchant for 11 personnel.

man’s tenure indicate that. But Brewer can move quicker than most

2020 Season Preview

27


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

No. 89 | Brayden Liebrock FR-HS | 6-4 – 230

Liebrock took advantage of the four-game redshirt rule last season, appearing in three games. Like Epps, receiving was always his strength. His high school tape offered more evidence of blocking than Epps’ but work in the trenches was something he would need to improve on to see the field. He’ll be fighting with Brewer, Epps, and Wiley for time at Y. Liebrock might be a special teams contributor for the 2020 season before really competing for snaps in 2021.

No. 29 | Jaden Hullaby FR-HS | 6-2 – 217

Though Hullaby is a redshirt candidate, his presence on the roster signals a different type of athlete that can fit at the Y position. Texas ran a handful of 20 personnel sets last season with Daniel Young joining one of Roschon Johnson or Keaontay Ingram. They weren’t run in earnest, and seemed to be like a change-up a young sinker-slider pitcher throws starting his third time through the order. It was there just to show it’s available and make another wrinkle for opposing defensive coordinators to worry about. The last time Herman had a Y with a similar profile to Hullaby was at Houston. Tyler McCloskey was first a linebacker then a fullback for Tony Levine. When Tom Herman and Major Applewhite arrived, Jared Wiley

they moved him to their Y position. McCloskey amassed 37 catches for 390 yards and 5 scores in his two seasons as Herman’s Y, including a score in Houston’s 2016 season-opening win versus Oklahoma. Texas hasn’t quite had someone like Hullaby on the roster. He definitely has the requisite athleticism for the position after playing quarterback for Mansfield Timberview in 2019. How Herman utilizes him going forward will be something to track, but his opportunities for extensive playing time seem limited for 2020.

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2018 TEXAS LONGHORNS

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KICKERS

2018 TEXAS LONGHORNS

Cameron Dicker

Texas head coach Tom Herman places enough emphasis on special

crossbar are all insignificant to the only question that matters: did you

teams to refer to them as “special forces,” where each unit’s designa-

make it?

tion serves as a historical tieback to the United States’ or the University of Texas’ military history.

Sophomore kicker Cameron Dicker made 78 percent of his field goals in 2019, up six percent from his 2018 campaign. However, he

The combined performances of Longhorn special teams weren’t

attempted seven fewer field goals this year, leading to only 14 makes

spectacular throughout the 2019 season, but the individual perfor-

in 2019 compared to 18 last season.

mances put on by Longhorn specialists are worth highlighting and analyzing.

Herman’s fourth down decision making process, jokingly referred to by fans and media as “the binder,” often kept the ball in the offense’s

No. 17 | Cameron Dicker SO-1L | 6-1 – 205

hands rather than on the right foot of Dicker. With fewer occasions to kick, his four misses were magnified. He failed to convert a 49-yarder just before halftime in the season

Placekicking is a binary pursuit. The aesthetic of the ball-flight, how

opener versus LA Tech, a 26-yard attempt following a TCU turnover

many times it careens off the uprights, or by how much it clears the

on a kickoff, a 55-yard kick with the distance but lacking accuracy

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS against Kansas State, and a 42-yard attempt against West Virginia

game. Despite a lower average against the Cowboys, three of Bu-

following a 16-play drive.

jcevski’s four kicks were downed inside the 20.

The biggest miss might be the one that took place in Fort Worth,

Texas’ decision to use Bujcevski on a fake punt run in the early third

though Dicker’s miscues were the least of Herman and the rest of the

quarter against TCU resulted in the sophomore Australian missing

Longhorn staff’s worries from that contest.

the remainder of the regular season. However, there was a limited dropoff between Texas’ scholarship punter and walk-on Chris Naggar.

Despite those four misses Dicker did hit several important threepointers during the 2019 season, including two that altered the course of Texas’ season. The first important FG wasn’t significant in the context of the game, but it put Dicker into a special place in Texas

No. 8 | Chris Naggar SO-1L | 6-0 – 185

longest field goal in program history.

25 punts, 39 yard average, 10 Inside 20, 0 touchbacks, 3 50+ yard punts, 16 fair caught

Later in the season, his services were required for two game-winning

Naggar performed admirably when thrust into the starting role. His

field goals; one a 33-yard attempt to defeat Kansas, the other a 26-

first punt in relief of Bujcevski was a 54-yarder Texas downed inside

yard try to defeat Kansas State. He converted both, salvaging two

the TCU 20. He was called upon 24 times over Texas’ final four regu-

home victories for Texas.

lar season games. His 16 punts at Iowa State and Baylor averaged

history. He hit a 57-yarder versus Rice at NRG Stadium, the seventh-

39.2 yards. His lone miss on extra-point attempts occurred in the final regular season game when Texas Tech blocked his first PAT of the contest. It

In between the end of the regular season and Alamo Bowl, Naggar

would not cause issue in the game.

put his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal. With a degree in hand, Naggar used his opportunity as a showcase to other schools search-

Dicker kicked off all but three times this year, the other two going to

ing for a grad transfer specialist.

Chris Naggar in blowout wins versus LA Tech and Rice. Of Dicker’s 78 kickoffs, 49 of them ended as touchbacks and were not returned.

The combined effort of Texas’ international punting conglomerate

Only one was penalized for going out of bounds compared to four in

resulted in Texas placing 12th nationally in punt return defense. Per

his freshman season. He accounted for two solo tackles with one at

the NCAA, 2019 Longhorn opponents totaled 30 yards on nine punt

TCU and one at WVU.

returns. With only three touchbacks and 30 total return yards, Texas was No. 46 nationally in net punting at 39.09 net yards per punt.

Thanks to Dicker, Longhorn opponents averaged 22.48 yards per return when they decided not to kneel or fair catch to receive the

Texas’ return units put together mediocre seasons, but the punt cov-

ball at the 25-yard line, according to the NCAA. The one blemish on

erage team was one of the most efficient in the nation.

the record of the Longhorn kickoff team was when Josh Youngblood returned a kick 98 yards for Kansas State. There was no sophomore slump for Dicker. Even if he makes peculiar wardrobe decisions, the decision to go to his leg helped Texas score 70 times in 2019. He has yet to have a true #CollegeKickers lackluster moment in his career, and not all college kickers can say that.

No. 54 | Justin Mader SO-1L | 6-2 – 235

Sophomore long snapper Justin Mader has provided consistent snaps to Longhorn punters and placeholders over his first two seasons on campus. A walk-on from Magnolia, he snapped three different game-winning

No. 8 | Ryan Bujcevski SO-1L | 6-0 – 185

32 punts, 41 yard average, 10 Inside 20, 3 touchbacks, 3 50+ yard punts, 13 punts fair caught

field goals over the last two years including the 2018 game winner versus Oklahoma. Most fans don’t recognize the work of the long snapper unless he messes up. This long snapper hasn’t committed an unforced error on any of his 272 career snaps. Mader is a key piece to Herman’s spe-

Before his shoulder injury suffered on a fake punt run against TCU,

cial teams units who has been a remarkably consistent deep snapper

Ryan Bujcevski was on pace to top his freshman punting average of

over his two seasons in Austin.

40.3 by an entire yard. Bujcevski averaged 40 yards per punt in all but the Oklahoma State

2020 Season Preview

31


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DEFENSIVE LINE

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Ta’Quon Graham

Keondre Coburn


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

T

he Longhorn defensive line arguably stands to benefit the most from the addition of Chris Ash to the Texas staff. After three years mostly utilizing a three-man, odd front with directives to allow for other defenders to make

plays, the Longhorn defense will switch to a four-man front in order to let the Dlinemen make plays themselves. Now, “four-man front” does not equal “four players with hands in the dirt.” The strongside end, defensive tackle, and nose tackle will begin plays in three-point stances, while the weakside end or “jack” could start in a two-point stance to allow for the occasional drop into coverage. Tom Herman explained the physical attributes he wants his defensive linemen to have during his April sit-down with Inside Texas. “You want a 310, 320-pound nose guard, which we still do, but our defensive ends were 290-pound guys that were playing the B-gap most of the game,” Herman said. “So you’re still gonna want that 290-pound 3-technique that plays on the edge of the guard. Then our ends are kind of two different ends. What we call our defensive end are bigger, stouter, set-the-point guys like Moro Ojomo at 280 pounds, Marqez Bimage at 275 pounds.” “But then you look at the jack position, which is a pass rush guy that can drop into coverage in some of your zone blitzes, and Joe (Ossai) is kind of prototypical of that. He’s 6-foot-3, 250-255 pounds but really, really twitched up, really athletic.” In simple terms, the switch to a four-man front will create more one-on-one, Olinemen versus D-linemen matchups than in the previous three seasons. Since returning to Texas, Oscar Giles has coached two Big 12 defensive linemen of the year in systems not conducive to defensive linemen. Those accolades played a part in helping him draw composite top 150 players like Alfred Collins, Vernon Broughton, Keondre Coburn and Prince Dorbah to Texas. Other players just outside that top 150 on the roster include Joseph Ossai, Moro Ojomo, and T’Vondre Sweat, who could all see starter snap volume this year. Texas players’ skill sets fit into Ash’s four-man front. That scheme, plus coaching from Giles and associate head coach for defense Mark Hagen, should allow the linemen to impact games more often than in the prior system.

No. 36 | Jacoby Jones

SR-1L | 6-4 – 264 | 14 Tackles A common theme throughout this position preview will be the number of players with cleaner fits in four-man fronts compared to three-man fronts. Jacoby Jones will be the first example of that theme. Jones was listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds on signing day 2019. He played at 275 pounds according to the official 2019 roster, but when the position’s duties call on ends to attempt to occupy two 300-pound or heavier offensive linemen, effectiveness is limited. Even though Herman wanted 290-pound guys to play in the B gap, at times he would ask 270-pounders like Jones to fulfill that role.

2020 Season Preview

35


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS retained a 3-man front.

Joseph Ossai

Graham should still hold a spot in the starting 11. He’s been a serviceable player during his time at Texas. A new scheme could make him more than that. Nahlysis: He’s going to benefit from the new front, as well as playing alongside Keondre Coburn who will often demand double teams. Graham’s athleticism will be more effective the further he slides down the line. Three-tech is perfect for the physically mature senior.

No. 42 | Marqez Bimage

SR-3L | 6-2 – 251 | 12 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack Bimage possesses some of the best strength numbers on the team, including a mammoth 700 pound squat max. Forced to play end in the odd front, Bimage was rarely put in position to use his burst to get by offensive linemen. His best fit wasn’t banging in the interior, but rather playing on the

Many of the things said above about Jones apply to Bimage.

edge. Now listed at 265 pounds, Jones is leaner, and in a better spot to showcase what made him one of the top JUCO defensive ends in

As the offensive line position outlook mentioned, there is a benefit to

2019. He played sparingly in his first year in Austin, seeing a series

having grown men who have been in the program for several years

or two at most per game. With a cleaner fit and more experience,

competing for starting snaps. Either the older, experienced player

Jones may not start but he’ll have more opportunities to showcase

who knows what to do in the role will get the job, or the younger,

his skill.

perhaps more talented player will make his additional talent come to bear.

Nahlysis: Such an odd thing to sign him only to grow him out of his fit. He was sold on playing the edge but never had the chance to in the

Bimage portends to more than just depth as one of those grown men.

previous defense. He should be an impact player relative to snaps.

He should contend for starter or second-string snaps at the strongside end position with Moro Ojomo.

No. 49 | Ta’Quon Graham

Nahlysis: Bimage was much more disruptive than the box score sug-

Graham played end last year weighing around 300 pounds, the

It’s no coincidence this occurred with Todd Orlando played his end

SR-3L | 6-4 – 294 | 31 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks weight near Herman’s preferences for both 4i and 3-technique. He played sparingly his freshman year then found a home at 4i his

gests versus Texas Tech in the last regular season game of the year. outside of the tackle. Finally in the proper role, Bimage, like Jones, should flourish relative to his snaps.

sophomore season. He entrenched himself as a starter along with Malcolm Roach last year, and should have a solid grasp to start at 3-technique in 2020.

No. 46 | Joseph Ossai

He played in all 13 games, but amassed just 31 total tackles, includ-

No Longhorn player stands to gain more from the switch in defensive

ing some games with just one or two. Graham obviously possesses

philosophy than Ossai. Because of his talent, Ossai was deployed

plenty of strength, but again, one versus two is a tough matchup for

all over the field last season to help put out small fires rather than

any D-linemen. As an interior D-linemen, he might still face some

utilized to rush the passer.

JR- 2L | 6-4 – 253 | 90 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 2 INT

double-teams but he’ll see them at a far lower clip than if Texas

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS Ossai led the team in multiple defensive categories including tackles,

Cosmi, but Vaughns is a player who should provide valuable depth

TFL, and sacks. Since he won’t be playing in the middle of the

this year. There’s some upside here.

defense this year, he might see his production on the stat sheet dip slightly, but should have more of an impact on the game playing off the tackle’s shoulder as opposed to off-the-ball.

No. 88 | Daniel Carson

Though there are several players on the roster that profile to the jack

Carson has yet to break through in his two seasons on campus. He

LB position, Ossai is unquestionably the best. He’s on the team’s

is one of several players who could be deployed at both end and

leadership council and could be a captain. He’s well respected, and

3-technique, but numbers may dictate he remain inside. He is one

he might be the best player on the defense. This is a big season for

of several competing for snaps behind Graham.

SO-1L | 6-4 – 276 | 1 Tackle

Ossai and he’ll be in a position to truly capitalize for the first time in his career.

Nahlysis: He was always an assembly line take. We’ll see how he

Nahlysis: He’s the Vitruvian Man for Jack OLB. Chris Ash had to be shaking his head when he saw how Ossai was used last year.

looks to quality control when the pads come back on. He isn’t out of place at Texas but was going to take some time to develop.

No. 93 | T’Vondre Sweat

No. 81 | Reese Leitao

SO-1L | 6-4 – 348 | 9 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 1.0 sack

JR- 2L | 6-4 – 248

Sweat was listed at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds on signing day in Decem-

Leitao now appears in the defensive line preview after a previous

ber of 2018. He’s now listed at 335 pounds. He played in every

cameo in the tight end outlook. The staff decided to move the 6-foot-

game last season, and recovered a fumble versus Texas Tech.

4, 245 pounder from the offensive side of the ball to the defense His stature suggests jack LB, as he’s too light currently to play any other defensive line position. With the jack LB depth behind Ossai being limited to Byron Vaughns and a walk-on (until Prince Dorbah arrives), Texas needed additional bodies at the position.

He has prototypical nose size, but the presence of Coburn limits his path to starter snaps there. However, Sweat is versatile enough at his size to be able to compete with Graham for snaps at 3-technique. An interior duo of Sweat and Coburn would total 685 pounds. That’s a lot of man to move in the middle.

Leitao played some defensive end in high school, even earning offers at the positions, so the position won’t be totally new to him. However, his switch to defense appears to be one motivated by depth concerns rather than the talent of the Jenkst product.

No. 50 | Byron Vaughns SO | 6-4 – 225 | 14 Tackles

Vaughns saw plenty of time on special teams last season. As injuries piled up for Longhorn defenders, Vaughns received snaps spelling Ossai and in Texas’ specialty pass defense sub package. Like Ossai, Vaughns will play a position that not only fits his skill set, but will also utilize it. He should be Ossai’s primary backup at jack when the pads come on.

T’Vondre Sweat

Nahlysis: Being stuck behind Ossai is like Marqez Bimage

being stuck behind Sam Ehlinger or Sam

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS Sweat should see plenty of snaps between the two positions,

Coburn’s backup at nose tackle in 2019, despite being listed 60

depending on his own level of endurance and when Coburn is on

pounds lighter at 280 pounds. Now, as Herman’s quote above al-

the field.

luded to, he’ll be asked to play defensive end.

Nahlysis: They should probably just rotate Sweat and Coburn and

Ojomo accumulated 13 tackles with 2.5 TFL in his attempt to be a

Graham and Ojomo. Sweat is going to be good versus the pass

penetrating nose tackle. His quick step was effective, but he often

and run. When we mention the networks do a terrible job of identi-

just wasn’t quick enough before one or two large men got a hold of

fying players spinning from SDE to IDL, Sweat immediately springs

him. A switch outside that allows both he and Coburn to remain on

to mind. If you can’t identify it, you can’t value it. Now your ranking

the field should play into the skill set of both and benefit the posi-

is off.

tion group. Of the options at defensive end, Ojomo is most likely to see his

No. 98 | Moro Ojomo

name first on the depth chart. Bimage and Jones could compete

SO-1L | 6-3 – 276 | 13 tackles, 2.5 TFL

with him, but when the head coach mentions you first in discus-

Along with Ossai, Ojomo may see the most drastic change in

sions, it means something.

how he’s deployed in Ash’s scheme. Ojomo served as Keondre Nahlysis: I think he ends up at 3-tech. He isn’t as disruptive as an edge player as either Bimage or Jones. Have him rotate with Graham this year then wreck shop in 2021.

No. 99 | Keondre Coburn

SO-1L | 6-2 – 348 | 26 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks No matter what type of defense Texas runs, Keondre Coburn is going to be the nose tackle. Coburn took over for Chris Nelson following a redshirt year in 2018. He’s become a fan and locker room favorite thanks to his affinity for Texas. Plenty of players might have to try two or three positions to figure out where they fit bet in Texas’ defense. Coburn knew as soon as Ash was hired he would be playing 1-technique. Texas fans are familiar with what elite defensive tackle play can provide for a defense. Coburn should have the ability and opportunity to have a standout season as the starter at the nose. Nahlysis: He’s a bouncy bowling ball with a very uncommon motor for his body type. Thanks to depth, he shouldn’t feel the need to take snaps off.

No. 45 | Peter Mpagi FR-RS | 6-5 – 260

Mpagi dealt with a heart issue later in the season. At his Keondre Coburn

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press conference on the first national signing day, Herman said the plan was for Mpagi to take classes during


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS the spring semester. On March 30, Herman listed Mpagi as one of several players who would not be able to participate in a hypothetical game the following day.

No. 92 | Myron Warren FR-RS | 6-2 – 290

Warren is one of several players in the battle to provide depth at

Mpagi’s recovery is the primary concern, but he was always a candidate to have a longer developmental curve. Nahlysis: The new front certainly suits him better as he should hold

3-technique. Nahlysis: He turned heads as a scout teamer. Athletic kid. He has a chance to be a valuable player over time.

265 pounds rather than 285. Hopefully he can be cleared to play. Playing at Texas was a childhood dream of his.

No. 91 | Sawyer Goram-Welch FR-HS | 6-2 – 295

No. 45 | Vernon Broughton FR-HS | 6-4 – 290

Broughton, an early enrollee, signed up to play for Todd Orlando’s defense. Now, in year one in Ash’s defense, he’ll compete for snaps on the edge.

Goram-Welch should spend 2019 redshirting and preparing to play an interior defensive line role. Nahlysis: A clear redshirt candidate. Assembly line prospect but not necessarily a project. Get him physically mature and see where he can help the most.

He may not see a ton of time early, and he could move inside as he gains more strength over the years, but he is a player who has the talent and size to be able to play in the trenches during his freshman season.

No. 32 | Prince Dorbah FR-HS | 6-3 – 220

Though he spent his high school career playing 4i for the Highland Park Scots, Dorbah will play in Texas’ jack LB role upon his arrival

Nahlysis: 5-star. I expect them to keep him at defensive end as

on the Forty Acres. He’ll contend with Leitao for third on the depth

long as they can. The goal should be to keep him as sleek as

chart behind Ossai and Vaughns.

possible without starving him. Texas has plenty of options for the interior, but defensive end isn’t quite as deep beyond 2020.

Dorbah could be the beneficiary of the four-game redshirt rule if he does see playing time this year. As Scipio Tex mentioned, anything past that and Texas could be facing serious issues on defense.

No. 95 | Alfred Collins FR-HS | 6-5 – 305

Nahlysis: Similar to Ossai right down to the position he played in

Collins did not enroll early but is in a similar situation to Broughton.

high school. That teaches these guys how to grapple versus the

He should find himself competing on the interior when he steps on

run and deal with double teams.

campus as opposed to starting on the edge. Now in the correct position, we can see the full complement of Nahlysis: 4.9-star. He’s going to be a big problem. He should be

traits come to the fore. Dorbah actually has better change of direc-

the elite version of Sweat, who is going to be good in his own right.

tion than Ossai, though he doesn’t possess as much length. Great

Like Broughton, I’m not sure Collins has much familiarity with the

fit, he’s going to be a good one in time.

demands of dedicated Strenght adn Conditioning. These guys are nowhere close to being maxed.

Join the Conversation www.insidetexas.com 2020 Season Preview

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LINEBACKER

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insidetexas.com DeMarvion Overshown


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

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he 2020 linebacker room is down its best player from the 2019 team. Joseph Ossai is playing “jack LB,” but the responsibilities of the position fall more in line with that of a

defensive end than of a linebacker. An advantage the 2020 linebacker corps may have over the 2019 squad is the man leading it. This site opined often last year that Todd Orlando the linebackers coach hurt the efforts of Todd Orlando the defensive coordinator. Orlando has been replaced by Coleman Hutzler, who spent the previous four seasons with Will Muschamp at South Carolina. Hutzler has already drawn positive reviews while at Texas, keeping in mind the team didn’t take the field for a single spring practice. The prospects of the position may not be as promising as those of the defensive line or backfield, but there are still good players at Hutzler’s disposal. At the same time, there are several players who will test Hutzler’s ability to develop after the previous linebacker coach struggled in that department.

No. 6 | Juwan Mitchell

JR-1L | 6-1 – 230 | 37 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks Mitchell is the best returning off the ball linebacker from last year’s squad. His return was jeopardized with a brief flirtation with the transfer portal, but he eventually withdrew his name and returned to the team. He was once again in the news when he voiced his frustrations regarding the social climate. From what we gather, Mitchell’s unrest isn’t specific to Texas. At this point we’re assuming

Juwan Mitchell

he’ll be in burnt orange and white this fall. Last year, often playing by Ossai’s side, Mitchell performed capably in his first season of P5 football. He found himself in the rotation for

Overshown is currently listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. From watching

snaps at Mac early along with Jeffrey McCulloch and Ayodele Ad-

him last year, it’s obvious he’s not afraid to throw his weight around.

eoye. As McCulloch’s snap count waned, Mitchell’s and Adeoye’s rose. Mitchell will compete with Adeoye for the starting Mike position under new defensive coordinator Chris Ash and projects to be a linebacker who can handle the responsibilities of the position most Big 12 offenses hunt via matchups.

Sometimes that works to his detriment as he missed the four games due to injury last season. He was limited in other contests. Improved tackling instruction could help mitigate that issue. As a safety, coverage responsibilities should be less of an issue for Overshown than for other linebackers. His main learning curve will be if he can diagnose at the line of scrimmage. If he’s able to do that, he’s a strong contender the be the starting Will linebacker come preseason camp. The staff is very excited with his potential as a blitzer.

No. 31 | DeMarvion Overshown

JR-2L | 6-4 – 217 | 18 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 INT How Overshown adjusts from playing safety to playing linebacker will be the biggest test of Hutzler’s developmental abilities. Luckily for Overshown, he played a modified version of the position last year on passing downs alongside B.J. Foster. Now, he’ll be asked to do it

No. 40 | Ayodele Adeoye

SO- RS | 6-1 – 250 | 45 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT Adeoye started 10 games last year, but aside an interception at West Virginia, didn’t have a significant impact in the games he played.

almost every down.

2020 Season Preview

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS on special teams, and potentially fight for some snaps outside of garbage time with Jaquess being one of the best candidates.

No. 13 | Marcus Tillman, Jr. FR-RS | 6-1 – 240 | 1 Tackle

Tillman’s film from Jones High School in Orlando, FL showed him playing in a variety of roles on defense, but he excelled playing as a true off-the-ball linebacker. He displayed ball skills, coverage ability, and great athleticism. He looked like a great fit for Big 12 defenses, and Orlando does deserve credit for landing the Florida product in the quietest recruitment of the cycle. Tillman found himself on special teams in the first four games of the year, and even received a few regular defensive snaps. He injured his knee against Oklahoma State and was knocked out for the remainder of the year. He maintained his redshirt. On June 11th, Tom Herman said Tillman was “on track” and would be Ayodele Adeoye

full-speed by July. Despite being under the radar, he seemed perfectly suited for playing linebacker in the Big 12. It could take some time

Herman heaped high praise on Adeoye after he signed with Texas,

for him to get up to full playing speed, but once he does he could see

calling him the “best high school middle linebacker I’ve seen in a

snaps at either of the two linebacker spots on standard downs.

long, long time.” Some of that may have been surrounding the late circumstances of his recruitment and the late push Herman had to stave off from Oklahoma, but it’s still a descriptor he applied to Adeoye. So far, his ability to translate what made him a great prospect at IMG Academy has not translated to the Big 12.

No. 33 | David Gbenda

FR- HS | 6-0 – 220 | 1 Tackle Gbenda’s track times in high school showed athletic promise, and his fall camp drew positive reports. However, he shifted to running

Still, with his experience, he’ll be a leading candidate for starting at Mike. In Orlando’s system, he played both Rover and Mac, so rotating between Mike and Will shouldn’t be an issue for him. If he is able to show more fluidity, he might be able to perform in Ash’s defense. At a minimum, he is an experienced depth player who will know where he’s supposed to be.

No. 57 | Cort Jaquess

JR-2L | 6-1 – 239 | 5 Tackles While other walk-on-turned-scholarship-players are included in this outlook, Jaquess is the only one who has appeared on a meaningful standard down defensive play after he started the Alamo Bowl. Some of that may have had to do with San Antonio being his hometown, but he earned that start and performed well in his time against the No. 11 team in the country. Jaquess received some attention this spring for his Home Depotinspired home gym with buckets full of concrete and 2x4s, but that shouldn’t be the only thing he is remembered for this year. He’s a good reminder that a former walk-on can perform up to a scholarship level and increase the quality of depth. Look for Jaquess and the other walk-on or former walk-on LBs in this outlook to be mainstays

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inside texas

back amid a crisis at the position early in the season before eventually returning to the defensive side of the ball. He played special teams, and even started a game as part of the season-long rotating door at linebacker, but maintained his redshirt after his start against Kansas. Gbenda should compete with Overshown for the Will linebacker spot, where his athleticism will best be utilized. He has experience playing the position, so his learning curve may not be as steep as Overshown’s. He also is just a redshirt freshman still in the early stages of his development. However, how he plays in the upcoming season will be more evidence of Hutzler’s teaching ability. Like Tillman, Gbenda has a bright future.

No. 41 | Jaylan Ford FR- HS | 6-2 – 223

No. 47 | Luke Brockermeyer SO-1L | 6-3 – 226

No. 35 | Russell Hine JR-1L | 6-2 – 205 insidetexas.com


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CORNERBACK

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inside texas

Jalen Green

insidetexas.com


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

T

wo storylines concerning Texas’ defense dominated the leadup to the 2019 season: where would Joseph Ossai play, and who would replace Kris Boyd and Davante Davis at corner?

While Ossai ended up playing a variety of roles, it’s arguable the second question never received a definitive answer. Texas tried five different starting combinations at cornerback last year. Some of the changes came as a result of trying something new, others a result of injury. There were some great performances, namely the bracketing of Tylan Wallace versus Oklahoma State and D’Shawn Jamison’s two interception game at West Virginia. But on the whole, the unit struggled with some of the basic tenets of playing cornerback. Chris Ash and Jay Valai now have the responsibility of maximizing the talent assembled by Tom Herman, Todd Orlando, and Jason Washington over the past few recruiting cycles, headlined by a 2018

No. 9 | Josh Thompson

JR-3L | 6-0 – 198 | 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL Although it came at the expense of a foot injury and lost season, Thompson’s extra year of eligibility after a redshirt year should set him up to be one of the top four corners In 2020. Nickel just didn’t work out for Thompson. He had the athletic ability, and some of his pre-injury plays highlight that, but at times it appeared his head was spinning. Perhaps with more time and improved coaching it would have worked out for him there, but this staff prizes his athleticism and raw speed at corner. One of the fastest players in the Longhorn program should benefit from the ability to showcase his long speed in press-quarters, but time spent away from playing the position may hamper his ability to move to the top two on the depth chart. Thompson provides a valuable roster piece as an experienced player and good program guy who keeps the talent level of the position high when starters need a break.

class that included Jamison and Jalen Green. (Anthony Cook has moved to nickel, or ‘spur’ in Ash’s system). Green, Jamison, and the other corners will play in a press-quarters system that asks them to win one-on-one matchups against some of the best receivers in the nation. Their success or failure will be instrumental in determining the fortune of not just the Texas defense, but the rest of the program.

No. 3 | Jalen Green

JR-2L | 6-1 – 197 | 30 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 5 PBU In Orlando’s defense, corners often had the responsibility of playing the edge on run plays. Boyd and Davis were great in that role. When Green tried to do the same against Oklahoma State, he dislocated his shoulder. He gets credit for being game. Green missed three games as a result but returned to the corner rotation and started the Alamo Bowl. Green is one of the toughest players on the team, but even if the mind is willing, the body has to be able to go too. How well that shoulder holds up will say a lot about Green’s season. He has yet to live up to his No. 1 ranking in the 2018 IT 100, but there were plenty of flashes of elite corner play last year. Athleticism was never the question, learning the ins and outs as he switched from high school quarterback to college corner was the unknown. Green’s development will be one of Valai’s biggest tests. If Green plays to his talent level, it will serve notice that Texas hired a developer. This would also pay dividends in recruiting.

No. 5 | D’Shawn Jamison

JR-2L | 5-10 – 184 35 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR Jamison was recruited as a defensive back, but necessity led to him playing on the offensive side of the ball in 2018. He returned to corner for the 2019 season, and, even after a one-year hiatus, was likely the best at the position. Jamison started nine of the final ten games last season. He didn’t start versus Kansas State, but ended up making a game-saving pass breakup against the Wildcats that proved to be his most important play, if not his most exciting. He led the position group with three interceptions, and gave himself an excellent chance of earning a starting corner spot entering 2020. If that was Jamison after one college offseason at cornerback, his prospects with another offseason at the position with a perceived upgrade in technical coaching bodes well for the Houston Lamar product. Height may be a slight concern, butAnthony who better to learn how Cook to combat those disadvantages than from the 5-foot-9 Valai?

No. 4 | Anthony Cook

RS-FR | 6-1 – 197 | 24 Tackles, 1 TFL After portal flirtations, the former blue-chip corner recruit is back with the program. That’s good news for Texas, because Cook was the main source of competition for Chris Adimora at spur. If Cook had chosen another destination, the spur depth chart would look mighty thin. Cook started six games and played in 11. His season had a nice

2020 Season Preview

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS particularly good hands. He could break passes up, but sometimes struggled with hauling those passes in for interceptions. That can be improved, and Texas fans should know that corners can make an impact on the game without catching everyth… anything on their side of the field, right Rod Babers? Watson II may not ascend to the top of the depth chart in 2020, but with the switch to press-quarters and Texas’ normal rotations, he will see plenty of time on the field this season against some of the country’s best wideouts.

No. 24 | Marques Caldwell

RS-FR | 6-1 – 197

Caldwell rotated between safety and corner under the previous defensive staff. This season, Caldwell could see some late game action.

D’Shawn Jamison

He will likely be a part of some special teams, but don’t look for him to contend for regular defensive

flourish in the Alamo Bowl where he recorded six tackles, but Chris Ash chose to move him inside to spur once he arrived at Texas.

snaps at this point in his career. As a bigger corner, it’s still possible Caldwell will end up at nickel/spur or safety.

It’ll be quite a change for a player who thought he would spend three years at Texas playing cornerback. However, there is evidence Cook could have knack for the responsibilities of the position. In the 2018 game at Kansas, Cook played middle linebacker situationally to spy

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on Pooka Williams. He recorded two tackles and a pivotal sack. He’ll

No. 21 | Jahdae Barron

have to compete with Adimora, but the position is much better served

FR-HS | 5-9 – 195

with Cook on the roster.

No. 19 | Kitan Crawford

No. 2 | Kenyatta Watson II

FR-HS | 5-9 – 195

FR-RS | 6-1 – 184 | 6 tackles, 1 PBU

It appeared Crawford would be Texas’ lone corner take after the staff

Texas wisely maintained Watson II’s redshirt last year, as he often

missed on Ennis Rakestraw on the eve of signing day. Crawford is

was fourth or even fifth on the cornerback depth chart. Still, he played

an athletic take who will need some technical refining. He has lead

a decent amount of special teams and received some regular snaps

corner potential but a one-person corner class would have been sub-

with the defense.

optimal.

Like any true freshmen, Watson II had his ups and downs. One of his

Barron’s decision to get out of his letter of intent to Baylor and instead

opportunities on the field came in Morgantown, where he struggled to

attend Texas was a gift that fell in Ash and Valai’s lap. Both corners

find the football in the air and surrendered a late touchdown. It was

are unlikely to see much, if any playing time this season, but their

encouraging to see his play just a few weeks later improved.

presence on the roster helps mitigate what could have been a huge issue should Texas see any early NFL declarations from the position.

The main knock on Watson II entering college was he didn’t have

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SAFETY

Caden Sterns


2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS

I

n 2019, the safety room was Texas’ most talented group on the defensive side of the ball.

No. 39 | Montrell Estell

JR-2L | 6-1 – 196 | 27 tackles, 1 INT

Caden Sterns was set to build on a freshman All-American season. B.J. Foster was going to use hard-hitting physicality near the line at

Estell was thrown into action versus Oklahoma State with a tough as-

nickel. Chris Brown provided a veteran presence with a knack for

signment in bracketing Tylan Wallace. It was a role he performed well

contact. Tyler Owens and Chris Adimora were young prospects who

in as Wallace was held to five catches for 83 yards and no scores,

showed promise but needed some refinement.

his second-lowest yardage output of the season. Estell even brought down an interception versus the Cowboys.

Then injuries struck Sterns, Foster, and Brown in cascading fashion. The constant was Brandon Jones, who now suits up for the Miami

He held onto the starter role for one more game, and his fortunes

Dolphins. The variables varied, the young prospects played before

were nowhere near as good. Estell and the rest of the Longhorn

they had time to get the refinement they needed, and the defense

secondary allowed TCU’s Max Duggan to turn in one of his best

suffered as a result.

performances of his freshman year during a 37-27 loss.

Chris Ash replaces Craig Naivar as the coach for the safeties. The

Estell is part of the group of players outside of Sterns, Brown, Foster,

previous defensive coordinator’s inability to coach his own position

and Adimora fighting to determine the rest of the safety depth chart.

group caused the entire defense to suffer. Ash has more talent on

He likely profiles to field safety and has a good chance at being the

paper to work with in his position group than his predecessor had

second-stringer behind Sterns.

with his. One of Ash’s most important tasks whenever the pads come back on will be to install proper tackling techniques in addition to the regular

No. 7 | Caden Sterns

JR-2L | 6-1 – 207 | 59 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sack

defense. From there, it’s determining how to play the right combination of players from what could again arguably be the most talented

Sterns was the first Longhorn true freshman to start the first 13

position group on the defense.

games of his career since Blake Gideon. He was named a freshman All-American, first team All-Big 12, and the Big 12 Defensive Fresh-

No. 15 | Chris Brown

SR-3L | 5-11 – 187 | 46 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1 INT

man of the year in 2018. Save interceptions, Sterns matched his freshman production in 2019 despite an injury plagued season that cost him four games. In those

Brown’s years spent waiting his turn and developing paid off last

four games he missed, every Texas opponent topped 30 points. No

season when was named a starter over Sterns for the first game

Texas opponent scored over 24 following his return.

versus Louisiana Tech. He delivered punishing hits and played well until a forearm injury against Oklahoma sidelined him for a handful of

If Sterns considers himself a three-year player with lofty NFL Draft

games. He returned versus Iowa State and remained in the starting

aspirations, his production must remain on its ascending trajectory

lineup for the rest of the year.

and he must be able to be a mainstay at field safety and not the bench. Sterns was one of the most exciting players on Texas’ 2018

His story of perseverance goes all the way back to his days at Elsik

team. There’s no doubt he can be the same on the 2020 team, he

High School. He remained patient redshirting in 2016, playing special

just has to remain on the field.

teams in 2017, and getting limited action in 2018 before becoming a defensive mainstay in 2019. In 2020, he should continue to be a mainstay at the boundary safety

No. 25 | B.J. Foster

SO-1L | 6-2 – 210 | 34 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT

position. While Brown plays with physicality, an improvement in his coverage ability would solidify his game. His competition for the role

In a traditional defense, Foster is a fantastic boundary safety. He has

is yet to be determined.

some coverage limitations, but possesses a combination of nastiness, athleticism, and pass-rush ability few other defensive backs

Brown also goes to show that while talented freshmen are exciting,

have.

there is tremendous value in players who remain in the program, progress each season, and see the field as the best versions of

Those abilities allow him to also thrive in modern defenses charged

themselves during their fourth and fifth year in the program.

with defending spread passing attacks. Foster’s best position could be a “positionless” player who is asked to do several different things

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2020 TEXAS LONGHORNS size and speed missed several assignments that lead to TCU scores. DeMarvion Overshown made the switch to linebacker and is listed as such on the official Texas website. Owens’ name has been associated with a similar switch, but it hasn’t quite been made official. Still, Owens can be used similarly to Foster in a “positionless” role. If not, he should be in the competition for boundary safety snaps so as to limit the liability he currently is in coverage.

No. 11 | Chris Adimora SO-1L | 6-1 – 214 | 10 tackles Adimora found his way onto special teams units early in his career. When injuries quickly piled up, he found

Chris Brown

himself on the field for important defensive series as the nickel.

in a series or in a single play.

That position demanded plenty, but Adimora held up decently well for a true freshman including a nice

The problem with this ability for the 2019 Texas defense was that the

flourish against Utah in the Alamo Bowl.

positionless position was the so-called “supernickel.” It required elite ability in order to cover the range of mundane assignments. Foster

Ash sees Adimora playing a similar role in his defense as the spur,

was good at it, but considering the other structural problems of the

and the California sophomore right now is the leading candidate to

defense around him, being good at it often wasn’t good enough.

take the first snaps at the position. The “there was no spring football” caveat remains, and his competition for those starter snaps isn’t quite

Foster will offer competition for Brown at boundary safety, but

determined. If the flashes become his consistent play, then Texas

Foster’s talent is obvious. If Brown sticks in the starting lineup, how

could have a perfect fit for the spur in the 2020 defense.

does Foster find his way into the starting 11? So far, spur doesn’t sound like it has been toyed with, and Foster’s presence in the safety preview as opposed to the linebacker preview should be an obvious signal. If he remains at boundary splitting snaps with Brown, it might be his best fit, but Texas is better served finding a place for him on the field as opposed to swapping snaps with Brown.

No. 4 | Xavion Alford FR | 6-0 – 190

No. 28 | Jerrin Thompson FR | 6-0 – 190

No. 44 | Tyler Owens

SO-1L | 6-2 – 205 | 8 tackles

Like the other young defensive backs, Alford and Thompson could find themselves on special teams this season. However, their development would be better served with a four-game redshirt.

In limited appearances, Owens made some great special teams plays. Most, however, will remember him for his subpar performance

Alford has good athleticism, but his best attribute might be his

in a starting role versus TCU.

high football IQ. Thompson is a sure tackler and unafraid to come downhill. Both, however, would benefit from redshirt strength and

The Texas secondary was depleted by injuries and the freshman

conditioning.

whose five-star status was based mostly on his elite combination of

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Kraken_Texas_mechanical.indd 1

5/19/11 2:17:09 PM


2020 SCH by

Ian Boyd

photos by Will Gallagher

2020 Season Preview

52


CHEDULE Game 1 UTEP Ausitn, TX Sept. 12 Game 2

Texas Tech

Lubbock, TX

Sept. 26

Game 3 TCU Austin, TX Oct. 3 Game 4 Oklahoma Dallas, TX Oct. 10 Game 5 Baylor Austin, TX Oct. 24 Game 6

Oklahoma State Stillwater, OK

Oct. 31

Game 7

West Virginia

Austin, TX

Nov. 7

Game 8

Kansas

Lawrence, KS

Nov. 21

Game 9

Iowa State

Austin, TX

Nov. 28

Manhattan, KS

Dec. 5

Game 10 Kansas State

2020 Season Preview

53


2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

T

he 2019 Texas schedule was one

quarterback T.J. Goodwin while hoping his

Overall this roster is devoid of developed,

of the more fortuitous set-ups the

6-foot-5, 205-pound frame can hold up if he

upperclass talent. They were 0-12 the year

Longhorns have had in some time. They

carries the ball 15 times a game. Most of

before Dimel arrived and are in much worse

only had to leave the state of Texas twice,

the main weapons from last year are gone

shape even contextually within Conference

including the bowl game, and from the

although they have some young receivers

USA than the teams that Bill Snyder and

beginning were encountering a down Big

who received some experience last season.

Dimel inherited at the turn of the last

12 that lacked many high level passing and

Given the lockdowns and altered offseason,

decade.

receiving combinations. The best receivers,

I’m not sure if the infrastructure and system

Tylan Wallace and Ceedee Lamb, lacked

will be in place on offense to allow for

high level passers and the best passers,

much growth. Compounding problems, the

Sam Ehlinger and Brock Purdy, lacked

offensive line room is stocked with a lot of

either a topline outside receiver or the

younger guys.

WEEK 2

2019 RECORD | 4-8

I thought year one had the potential to

opportunity to play against Texas.

shake out favorably for Texas Tech’s first Defense is a touch more interesting. They

year head coach Matt Wells. He was able

Normally in the Big 12 you have to be

took in nine JUCO transfers on that side of

to bring in some transfers to fill holes in

ready to outscore teams in games played

the ball in their 2020 class. That includes a

the Red Raider roster and inherited Alan

in the 40s. With so many talented young

pair of 1st team all-conference Kilgore J.C.

Bowman after a promising freshman

quarterbacks and receivers returning, this

defensive linemen. Some of their better

year. Wells’ future has always hinged on

will again be the case in 2020, though

defenders from a year ago also return.

uniting Bowman and other in-state spread

hopefully not against the Kansases of the

Praise Amaewhule is a rising redshirt

prospects to offensive coordinator David

world.

sophomore who made a few plays last

Yost, who’d just turned Jordan Love into

year and he might be a good challenge for

a first round draft pick at Utah State and

Yet despite the blown opportunity of 2019,

whoever wins the right tackle job. They also

propelled Wells to Lubbock.

the 2020 schedule isn’t a murderer’s row

run the inverted Tampa 2 “Flyover defense”

either. Texas has to travel outside of the

that Iowa State invented. This should

Instead Bowman was injured again

state three times -- with two visits to Kansas

provide good practice for the offensive line

early in the year and Wells’ defensive

and a trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma to end the

and quarterback to diagnose and attack

schemes, which are akin to Todd Orlando’s,

season.

that structure.

unsurprisingly failed to make a steady transition from stopping Mountain West

WEEK 1

2019 RECORD | 1-11

Texas faces the Miners just before a bye week to heal up and prepare for a trip to K-State and the Red River Shootout. UTEP should offer an extra bye week for the Horns. The head coach is Dana Dimel, and he’s gone 2-22 in El Paso over the last two years. You would best know Dimel as the offensive coordinator for the second Bill Snyder run. His best offenses featured the quarterback as a major component to the run game. The Miners attempted that last year with former Longhorn Kai Locksley but generated less than impressive results. Now they’ll likely turn to Cy Falls

54

Derek Kerstetter (68) and Junior Angilau (75)

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

offenses to holding up against Big 12 spread attacks. They had some truly embarrassing defensive performances that included TV cameras catching Wells yelling obscenities at defensive coordinator Keith Patterson on the sideline. Patterson was unable to channel those expletives into fuel for his defenses, despite fielding what turned out to be a first round talent in linebacker Jordyn Brooks. The Red Raiders went 2-7 in league play and 4-8 overall. For this coming year, Bowman is healthy and ready to give things another go and Jett Duffey has left the program in anticipation of losing the job. Wells tried to hire back his old pal Todd Orlando when Texas fired him, but Orlando only agreed for a short period before bailing to head west when USC made the same offer with a much better roster and compensation. The 2020 Red Raiders will be able to pair Alan Bowman with their top wideouts from a year ago but have to replace both starting tackles and tight end Donta Thompson. The whole unit is disjointed and unbalanced. Their strongest returning component is an interior O-line lead by guard and former 4-star recruit Jack Anderson. Their best plays in 2019 were a power-read play-action play and inside zone runs to returning running

Daniel Young

still have defensive end Eli Howard, who

who started last year after transferring

is a solid pass-rusher, and their other top

in from Penn State. With Jeffers and the

returning player is outside linebacker Riko

linebacker transfers the Red Raiders are

Jeffers. If those two can generate a pass-

basically locked into 3-3-5 personnel which

rush this unit will have a chance. To replace

limits how much they can help the secondary.

Brooks they brought in JUCO transfer Krishon Merriweather, who had 153 tackles

On top of that, Matt Wells has been married

at a Kansas JUCO last year, and Michigan

to a zone-blitzing philosophy that has yet

State back-up linebacker Brandon Bouyer-

to find purchase in the Big 12. Their roster

Randle.

and scheme hinges on attacking opponents with the front six and asking the secondary

back Sa’Rodrick Thompson.

The Michigan State linebacker competition

to hold up behind them. Well the front six

in a given year is generally pretty stiff so

may or may not be worthy of that focus and

David Yost made the most of their situation

there’s a good chance that Bouyer-Randle

we’ve seen this secondary repeatedly fail

is a quality player. Any time you can get

to withstand that kind of stress. Add to the

a Big 10 inside linebacker that narrowly

challenges of teaching zone blitzing in a

lost a job, that’s typically a win. It’s hard to

shortened offseason and you have a recipe

make 150 tackles if you have no idea what

for another terrible Tech defense.

in 2019 and shouldn’t be counted out from doing the same this year if Bowman is back and healthy. The Red Raiders don’t have any dominant dimensions to their game right now. They possess a lot of overall competencies that could keep them competitive up until they face defenses that are strong enough as units to swarm their strong spots, or who have athletes that Tech can’t match up against. Over on defense, Jordyn Brooks is moving on and so is defensive tackle Broderick Washington, an underrated lineman. They

you’re doing so reasonable minds should assume Merriweather will be solid as well.

Texas struggled with the Raiders’ spread

The challenge for the Red Raiders will be

offensive competency last year but

getting the newcomers up to speed in a new

eventually hit the gas on offense and just

defense on a short offseason.

blew Tech away at home. They should be able to do so again without great difficulty,

Tech’s secondary could be boosted by the

even if the Red Raiders are extra explosive

move of Adrian Frye (five interceptions, 10

at home in year two under Yost.

break-ups in 2018) back to cornerback from safety. He’ll start opposite Zech McPherson

2020 Season Preview

55


2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

WEEK 3

2019 RECORD | 5-7

There’s a wide range of opinions on the 2020 TCU Horned Frogs. It was thought after the Frogs’ strong 2017 that you just couldn’t keep Gary Patterson’s squad down for long, but subsequent 7-6 and 5-7 seasons in 2018 and 2019 have told a different story. In the last four seasons, the Frogs are 29-23 overall and 18-18 in the Big 12 despite an 11-3 (7-2) record in 2017 that’s looking less like the standard and more like a blip. Despite his reputation, Patterson’s teams have struggled mightily of late with high level spread teams bringing either vertical play-action or zone-option tactics against his 4-2-5.

game to help protect his defense. Duggan is

all that talent Patterson shook things up

as dangerous as most anyone they’ve had

in the offseason by bringing back Doug

in that scheme. He has some breakaway

Meacham to call plays and hiring Jerry Kill

speed and ran a 4.58 at a SPARQ event in

to serve in an off-field role as the “head

high school. The big issue in 2019 wasn’t

coach of the offense” to free up Patterson to

the skill or athleticism of the offense but

focus on defense. Meacham and returning

the line, which collapsed after Lucas Niang

quarterback coach Sonny Cumbie were the

went down with injury, and the overall skill

initial pairing that sparked TCU’s offensive

and design. The interior of their O-line will

explosion in 2015 but this time they’ll both

return from 2019 and they added tackle T.J.

answer to Kill.

Storment from Colorado State as a grad transfer, who was a good run blocker on film.

That’s a lot of turnover and change for a program built on development that already

The big need from Meacham and Kill isn’t to

missed bowl practices. On top of all that,

improve the TCU run game but to introduce

there was the pandemic that cut short spring

more effective pass game constraints to stop

practices. TCU did add its first ever 5-star recruit during the summer when

Lincoln Riley has basically picked up where Art Briles left off in torching his units and the Frogs have yet to defeat Oklahoma since the Sooner coach first joined the program in 2015. The 2019 Frogs only lost to Oklahoma 28-24 but the closer margin by the Sooners was a result of Jalen Hurts throwing a pick6 on the TCU 7, then launching another full field drive to the Frog 7 only to fumble. Oklahoma piled up 366 rushing yards and 511 total yards. The 2019 Frogs edged out Texas 37-27 thanks to four interceptions by Sam Ehlinger and a series of ill-conceived 3rd down blitzes by Todd Orlando that yielded big plays to TCU on their game-winning drive. The 2020 team is actually in rebuild mode after losing receiver Jalen Reagor (1st round), cornerback Jeff Gladney (1st round), nose tackle Ross Blacklock (2nd round), offensive tackle Lucas Niang (3rd round), and safety Vernon Scott (7th round). The also lost six other major contributors including running backs Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. After their failure to

56

even achieve bowl eligibility despite fielding

Patterson signed North Shore running back Zach Evans. The Frogs actually already had a pretty promising backfield between Daimarqua Foster, Darwin Barlow and sophomore quarterback Max Duggan, but now there are big expectations for the Evans era. TCU has been pretty heavily geared around the zone-read for the last few years, presumably due to Patterson’s insistence on Sam Ehlinger

having a run

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

opponents from loading the box. Duggan throws a pretty good deep ball but the passing game was clumsily designed and poorly executed a year ago. Explosive slot Taye Barber is back but to make the spread run game concept work TCU will need to get him in space and surround him with other reliable pass targets. This would be a good game for Texas to play aggressive press-quarters and park the safeties within close range of the run game until Duggan and the passing game prove they can force them to backpedal. Patterson’s defense is what tends to concern Texas fans. They shut out the Longhorns in 2017, in 2018 they worked out how to shut down the tight zone run game but Sam Ehlinger threw for 255 yards and Shawn Robinson turned the ball over to Texas multiple times. In 2019 Texas had a plan to toast TCU’s favorite quarters/cover 1 hybrid coverage that has been a favorite way for Patterson to balance outnumbering the run game with staying sound over the top. Weak safety Ar’Darious Washington is a phenomenal coverage safety but his drops in this scheme weren’t deep or wide enough to allow him to make a play on the opposite hash. Texas built a 17-10 lead and then Patterson adjusted, moving to straight man coverage and shading safety help to Devin Duvernay. From there things came apart with Ehlinger throwing two interceptions (from that point) and Orlando’s otherwise solidly positioned defense re-enacting the charge of the light brigade in the game’s crucial moments. There are now two proven ways to get after TCU’s defense barring a major offseason adjustment by Patterson. One way is with regular vertical shots against his secondary. Patterson’s 4-2-5 was designed to allow him to use speed and detached units to swarm the run game.

Jacoby Jones

He prefers to leave one or both cornerbacks

There’s a chance that despite a shortened

on islands down the sideline. Gladney is

offseason that Patterson and his reworked

gone now though and while highly touted

staff will be able to organize a very young

this offseason, field safety Trevon Moehrig

team into an athletic and explosive unit on

doesn’t hold up well to being isolated down

both sides of the ball but it’s more likely that

the field in the passing game. The new

they’ll continue to be mired in mediocrity for

young cornerbacks for TCU should be

at least another season.

tested regularly and Moehrig as well if the Frogs leave him exposed in space against someone like Jake Smith.

Sam Ehlinger

WEEK 4

2019 RECORD | 12-2

The other way is with spread-option run schemes. Both Oklahoma schools ran wild

UT’s annual date with the Sooners in

on the Frogs in 2019 because TCU would

October would be important even if

try to contain quarterback keepers with their

Oklahoma hadn’t held a death grip on the

defensive ends, leaving their sub-220 pound

Big 12 conference since hiring Bob Stoops in

linebackers to hold up in the interior gaps.

1999. As it happens, Oklahoma has won the

The offensive tackles and tight ends, freed

last five Big 12 championships and 12.5 of

from blocking the defensive ends, would

the 24 titles the league has awarded since its

bear down on them and blow open big holes.

inception in 1996.

If the Frogs try to adjust with their own take

For Texas, achieving the right outcome in

on the 3-down, flyover style of defense that

Dallas is the ultimate benchmark for when

they’ve flirted with a couple of times in recent

the Longhorns can truly claim to be the top

seasons, they’ll be smaller and vulnerable

football power in the region.

to Texas’ normal downhill zone schemes (assuming improved tight end play).

There is no longer a season-ending rivalry

2020 Season Preview

57


2019 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

game against a puffed up little brother on the

phenomenal spread-option quarterback in

The big question marks everyone mentions

slate to help restore pride.

Hurts, they weren’t able to get as much value

with Oklahoma are whether they have

out of their best spread-option play, the GT

enough talent at receiver and if redshirt

The 2019 Oklahoma Sooners were a touch

counter-read. Their tackles were beat up

freshman Spencer Rattler is REALLY going

overrated. They coasted on a reputation built

much of the year and struggled to get the

to be able to maintain the standard that Riley

by a big performance against Texas and then

pulls right. But Riley and offensive line coach

has established at quarterback in Norman.

a parting of the Red Sea in league play.

Bill Bedenbaugh didn’t just throw their hands up in defeat, they drew up some other gap

On the former question, the concerns about

They narrowly scraped by a Baylor team

schemes that featured the guards and built

wide receiver are probably overblown. Yes

quarterbacked by an increasingly beat-up

a power run game with an interior line that

CeeDee Lamb is off to the Cowboys, yes

and situationally unaware Charlie Brewer,

went:

Trejan Bridges will be suspended for five

barely overcame Jalen Hurts turnovers against TCU and Iowa State, faced an Oklahoma State team missing Tylan Wallace and Spencer Sanders, and were finally obliterated by LSU in the playoffs.

games and Jadon Haselwood tore his ACL, Marquis Hayes: 6-5, 344 pounds - 4-star recruit from Missouri Creed Humphrey: 6-5, 307 pounds

and Marshall to fill out their wide receiver depth chart to a functional level.

- 4-star recruit from Oklahoma Tyrese Robinson: 6-3, 330 pounds

Their favorable draw, facing many of

they had to summon transfers from UCLA

- 4-star recruit from DFW

the league’s better teams at their worst

However, the Sooners return H-backs Brayden Willis and Jeremiah Hall from 2019, Y receiver/flex tight end Austin Stogner,

moments, combined favorably with Jalen

All three of those guys return, along with

and still have Charleston Rambo and Theo

Hurts having the toughness and durability to

2019’s starting tackles (Erik Swenson and

Wease waiting in the wings. This team will

handle getting 22.5 carries per game during

Adrian Ealy) and then some rising talents

likely spend most of their time in the 21

the stretch run and Big 12 championship.

like redshirt freshman Stacey Wilkins. The

spread sets, playing with Stogner and one of

offensive line will be extra potent in the

the H-backs like they did with Dmitri Flowers

The 2020 Sooners are going to be pretty

power run game and potentially closer to

and Mark Andrews in 2017, and requiring

different.

2017 or 2018 in terms of executing GT

only two wide receivers at a time.

counter, pass protection, and anything One of the more impressive aspects of

else that involves fielding athletic offensive

Beyond that, Rambo was open an awful lot

the 2019 team was that while they had a

tackles.

in 2019 whether Hurts looked his way or not, and the power run game is going to give Riley a lot of options for how to get receivers like him running free off play-action. As for Rattler, he was a 5-star recruit for a reason. His high school film showed a guy with great touch and arm talent throwing down the field from the pocket or on the move. Every insider-y account I’ve heard from Norman suggests that he will be a massive upgrade over Hurts in making on time deliveries from Riley’s vertical passing menu. If you think his performance playing the part of an arrogant teenager in a Netflix series is a basis for hope that he won’t be a capable QB1 under Riley’s direction surrounded by burners like Rambo and a power run game, recalibrate your Sam Ehlinger

58

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expectations.


2019 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

Cotton Bowl

The Oklahoma defense is another matter,

Perkins (6-foot-3, 247 pounds), Jalen

go the other route, lining up in four and five-

The 2019 Sooner defense was powered

Redmond (6-foot-3, 278 pounds), and LaRon

wide sets that challenge Oklahoma’s ability

down the stretch by having NFL athleticism

Stokes (6-foot-4, 276 pounds).

to disguise their coverages and stunts and

across the defensive line, in the middle with

create matchups against their diminutive

linebacker Kenneth Murray, and then great

In other words, this defense is undersized

coverage outside by cornerback Parnell

most everywhere on the field and doesn’t

Motley.

have players that can match up in 1-on-1

Oklahoma’s defensive design is still their

matchups if/when those come down to sheer

achilles heel. It’s designed to generate quick

size.

outcomes (punt or score) with pressure. They

They’ll be retooling the unit after losing nose tackle Neville Gallimore to the NFL,

secondary.

swarm the run, play the safeties within a 10-

defensive end Ronnie Perkins for the first five

They chewed Texas up in 2019 with press-

yard shell, and play press coverage outside.

games (including this one), Kenneth Murray

quarters coverage (mixed with cover 3) that

You have to attack their structure with

to the NFL, and then Motley to graduation.

stymied the Longhorn’s young receivers

spread formations, vertical shots, tempo, and

and wasn’t tested enough with recently

flexed out tight ends and backs that don’t

While the Sooner secondary could be deeper

returned Collin Johnson. Up front Texas had

allow them to disguise and attack with the

in 2020 after returning 4/5th of the starters,

a stunningly bad day handling Oklahoma’s

linebackers or force you to thread needles

they have some weak spots. In particular,

5-1 “bear” fronts. Defensive coordinator Alex

between the hash marks.

their cornerback trio appears to be the 5-foot-

Grinch’s pressures from that look repeatedly

10 Davis, 5-foot-10 Tre Brown, and then

freed up their jack and middle linebacker on

Meanwhile, you can force the Sooners to

5-foot-9 Brendan Radley-Hiles at nickel. Both

stunts and overwhelmed the Texas offensive

run on offense and limit their efficiency if you

returning safeties can walk upright under a

line.

commit to play conservatively in coverage

six foot limbo pole, as can the more highly

even as they pick up first downs on the Texas tried to handle this defensive style with

ground. It’s a risky venture to play the run

a transparent 21 personnel look that would

short-manned but if you’re scoring quickly

Their defensive scheme is designed to

bring Devin Duvernay into the backfield as a

they will get frustrated by an inability to

disguise the looks and then swarm the run

running back where he was obviously only

match you with their own passing game.

and create 1-on-1 matchups for athletic but

ever going to swing wide at the snap or take

Especially with a green quarterback who’s

undersized defensive linemen like Ronnie

a handoff on a sweep. In 2020 they need to

going to be more confident throwing deep

rated reinforcements waiting in the wings.

2020 Season Preview

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

tight ends coach and replaced him with his polar opposite, Joe Wickline. Wickline is a clear step up from Bell in terms of detailed and experienced instruction. His last unit was the 2018 West Virginia line that was quite good. Holgorsen interestingly didn’t bring him along to Houston though so Wickline took 2019 to rest up before getting the call to try and mold this Bear unit. This will be crucial as the 2019 line was unable to protect an already reckless Charlie Brewer or open up a consistent power run game. New offensive coordinator Larry Fedora will be aiming to build a smashmouth spread offense in Waco that builds on the same power run + RPO dimensions that both Art Briles and Matt Rhule relied on in their own

Keaontay Ingram

fashions. The best feature of Baylor’s 2019 offense was boundary receiver Denzel Mims,

than orchestrating long, multi-play drives. For all his faults, Hurts could finish drives when he held onto the ball in the red zone with his

WEEK 5

2019 RECORD | 11-3

prioritizing stopping the Oklahoma passing game almost never get the job done, certainly not when they have a passer like “tha Rattler” behind center. K-State won this game by playing old school Tampa 2 and defending the run with five in the box and their middle linebacker bailing deep at the snap.

Matt Rhule got out when the getting was good, that much is obvious. He left behind a senior quarterback with multiple known concussions, a defense faced with replacing nine starters including James Lynch, and a schedule that will take the Bears on the road to Norman, Austin, and Ames. Dave Aranda has an awful lot to figure out and not a lot of time in which to sort through

Texas will be lucky to face a somewhat young team that will miss Ronnie Perkins, Trejan Bridges, and Rhamondre Stevenson for the first five games of the year. While the potential rematch in December would matter more for the season, Texas will be advantaged in this game and really need to seek wins over Oklahoma whenever they can be had. If Herman slips to 1-5 against the Sooners the team may not make it to a rematch against a tough Big 12.

things. Many of his hires and the overall investment Baylor is making into the football program portend a positive future, but 2020 is likely to be pretty rough. The returning pieces for the Bears include some of the biggest question marks, starting with the offensive line. All five prospective starters are returning starters from their units over the last two seasons. The most fascinating dimension to the team is that their O-line had been coached by former high school coach and first time college assistant Shawn Bell. Aranda moved Bell to

60

touchdowns, usually on RPOs or play-action. The Bears still have talents at receiver

power running. Rattler ain’t that guy. Teams that try to outscore them without

who caught 66 balls for 1020 yards and 12

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such as Tyquan Thornton (782 yards, five touchdowns) and Josh Fleeks who flashed big potential before injuries sapped Brewer’s ability to hit him down the field. The Bears may have some talents that can help stretch the field and clear the alleys for the run game but whether or not any of them can command bracket coverage in the boundary like Mims is another matter. There’s also the question of whether Brewer can stay healthy enough to deliver them the ball and what would happen at quarterback if he can’t. Baylor’s rise in 2019 was really powered by the defense, which flipped to the 3-2-6 “flyover D” model Iowa State developed. They were fast and hard-nosed in the defensive backfield and capitalized on having a line of James Lynch, Bravvion Roy, and James Lockhart that could mount a credible pass-rush without blitzing. In emulation of Iowa State, they’d park athletic but big Blake Lynch (6-3, 230) at nickel


2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

linebacker to take away perimeter screens while covering him up over the top with

WEEK 6

convince Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace, 2019 RECORD | 8-5

both of whom are probably the best at their

converted cornerback Grayland Arnold and

position in the conference, to come back

safety Chris Miller.

for their senior seasons. Spencer Sanders This is the most talented Oklahoma

is perhaps the most physically gifted

All of those guys are gone now, leaving

State team I’ve seen under Mike Gundy

quarterback in the league and will now enter

the Bears with a talented roster picked and

since the 2011 team that won the Big 12

year two as a starter. The line defending him

developed by Rhule but short on game

championship. That squad had the strong-

returns both starting tackles and adds former

experience in either the flyover scheme

armed, elder statesman Brandon Weeden

All-B12 guard Josh Sills as a grad transfer

or Aranda’s own zone-blitz designs. The

throwing to Justin Blackmon or handing

from West Virginia. Overall, it’s a loaded

Bears will be adding edge-rusher William

off to Joseph Randle behind a strong line

offense.

Bradley-King from Arkansas State and thus

developed by Joe Wickline.

either moving away some from the flyover D

The defense though is the distinguishing

scheme or trying to find four-down methods

he defense was quite good thanks to

factor for this team. We’ve seen OSU

for getting into that setup like West Virginia

pass-rusher Jamie Blatnick (eight sacks),

field lots of great offenses over the

has found.

tackle Nigel Nicholas, and future first round

last decade but few great defenses.

cornerback Justin Gilbert (five interceptions,

Linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez and Amen

The two remaining starters from a year ago

10 pass break-ups). They haven’t had

Ogbongbemiga each had 100 tackles last

are explosive inside-backer Terrel Bernard

anything quite like it on both sides of the ball,

year and are models for what modern Big 12

(112 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks) and

until now.

linebackers should look like.

The 2020 Cowboys somehow managed to

Rodriguez is an ultra-quick converted safety

cornerback Raleigh Texada. Everyone else emerging on the roster is a former 3-star recruit chosen by Rhule for their athleticism and growth potential that likely needed that full offseason to develop under Rhule’s direction, much less in a new system. Texas was shut down on offense in the 2019 road game against Baylor’s defense and really struggled to block James Lynch. Against a Bear defense breaking in new starters and forced to bring pressure in groups of four and five rather than three, that task should be easier. The Baylor offense wasn’t overwhelming in 2019 and did most of their damage against Texas with some power run schemes from 12 personnel that the Longhorn defenders didn’t know how to line up against. Unless Wickline works serious magic and Charlie Brewer comes back healthy and remains so, the 2020 Bear offense should be easier to limit. Look out for the Aranda Bears down the line but the scenery isn’t favorable to them in 2020.

Joseph Ossai

2020 Season Preview

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

who makes the Cowboys difficult to attack

them apart with a few key throws and drives,

throwing. Caden Sterns lined up directly over

in the passing game. Ogbongbemiga is

but the Cowboys will have a stouter and

Wallace (until he left the game with injury)

an above average athlete as well but he

more disruptive defensive line in 2020 and

and ensured that he couldn’t get behind the

translates that into creating negative plays

return most everyone from the defensive

defense working off play-action.

with the blitz and had 15.5 tackles for loss

backfield.

A solution in 2020 could be more difficult

and five sacks.

because of the inevitably increasing The main challenge will be for Ehlinger and

skill of Spencer Sanders combined with

Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles decided

the offensive line to pick up and block Ford

the inevitably increasing capacity of the

to borrow from Iowa State’s defense and will

and Ogbongbemiga and avoid Rodriguez

Oklahoma State offense to make the most of

play three deep safeties before the snap that

darting to pick off hot routes.

Wallace and Hubbard.

The biggest threat from Oklahoma State

In this game as much as most any other, the

He also moves his “leo” weakside end/

is managing all of their threats on offense.

right approach for Texas will be to bracket

linebacker hybrid to different positions before

Any given play could feature strong-armed

everything deep with the safeties and match

the snap, kinda like Will Muschamp did with

Sanders flipping a deep out to Tylan Wallace

routes underneath with the linebackers,

Sergio Kindle back in 2009.

against an isolated cornerback or running a

forcing the Cowboys to make consistent

then move around into different alignments.

zone-option scheme with Chuba Hubbard.

gains in the run game and finish drives with

He usually blitzes to create a 4-down front

Any of those options are potential home-runs

touchdowns in the red zone.

but he’ll do it off the edge or inside. By the

for the ‘Pokes, you can’t afford to leave any

end of the year they’d settled on 6-3, 230

of them with space in which to work.

pound freshman Trace Ford for this role and

As sturdy as the Cowboys look overall, they still aren’t immune up front to getting

he’s a more explosive athlete than Oklahoma

Most of the secondary would close pretty

whipped from time to time by D-linemen of

State has tended to have in recent seasons.

hard on OSU’s zone running game, including

the caliber of Keondre Coburn or Joseph

the cornerback on Sanders if he saw

Ossai. You can’t stop a unit this talented,

the Cowboys running option rather than

only contain them to field goals or hope to kill

Ehlinger worked it all out in 2019 and took

drives with turnovers. Getting through this final stretch in position to play for a Big 12 championship, perhaps in a rematch against one of these teams, could hinge on Longhorn D-line play. That’s where Texas has real advantages against their opponents and in colder weather games played in November and December that’s where those guys can thrive. Texas needs to be in great form throwing the ball by this point, picking up strength in the trenches on both sides, and forcing teams to contend with the Longhorns’ superior size and athleticism in the box. If things instead hinge on winning with skill on the perimeter, Texas is in better shape than in previous seasons but Iowa State and Oklahoma State won’t be overawed or

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overmatched.

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

WEEK 7

2019 RECORD | 5-7

strong freshman year. Things will hinge on

started games in 2019 and added Arizona

whether they can find a top-line tackle to

starter Scottie Young as a grad transfer.

anchor the offensive line or not.

They have a 3-2-6 design that, unlike what

Neal Brown is a coach to watch for the

Texas ran in 2019, is intended to keep a

future. He took over a completely rebuilding

On defense this team is a fascinating unit

West Virginia team last season and lost one

that will have a lot of dangerous weapons

of his only good offensive pieces, guard Josh

to build around. They have some “Flyover

Sills, first to injury and then to transfer to

defense” elements but can also get into a

The Mountaineers use their safeties as part-

Oklahoma State. He’s an Air Raid guy who’s

4-down front to make the most of their talent

time inside linebackers but they prioritize the

connection to Mike Leach dates way back

on the D-line.

pass and try to protect them with 4-down

to 1998 when he was a wide receiver for the

dominant edge player on the edge.

fronts.

pirate at Kentucky. Much like Dana Holgorsen, Brown came to understand the value of mixing in the run game to create opportunities to throw with RPOs and play-action. Unlike many other Air Raid coaches, he’s also shown a real knack for fostering a complete culture that produces strong special teams and defensive units. He earned the West Virginia gig largely due to terrific defenses at Troy with his right hand man, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. By all accounts he’s also shown a knack for marshaling West Virginia’s boosters and football community to get “all the musket balls back in the box.” Sam Cosmi

They weren’t able to get the offense going in year one. As I suspected when Oklahoma

That unit includes the Stills bros (Dante and

In 2019, Texas was in bad shape for this

recruited Hurts to campus, Austin Kendall

Darius), who tortured Texas last year, as well

contest coming off the Oklahoma State game

wasn’t very good and his transfer to West

as Alabama transfer Vandarius Cowan who

with a lot of injuries in the secondary.

Virginia didn’t help them replace Will Grier.

also had a sack against UT last year before

They also took in Bowling Green transfer

getting injured and missing the rest of the

They scrapped their previous packages

season.

and played a 3-3-5 more similar to Iowa

Jarrett Doege, the younger brother to Seth

State’s defense with Joe Ossai as the nickel

Doege, whom Brown coached back in the

Cowan is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound “bandit”

linebacker. Austin Kendall threw for 367

early 2010s when he was the offensive

linebacker/end hybrid that will likely clean

yards at 8.0 ypa and three touchdowns but

coordinator at Texas Tech for aspiring

up next season chasing down quarterbacks

also threw four interceptions and Texas

senator Tommy Tuberville. Doege was better,

flushed by the Stills bros.

played the run well with Brandon Jones

freshman Garrett Greene may prove to be better still.

serving as the middle safety. Behind that front four I’m betting that returning starter Josh Chandler holds down

The ‘Horns won 42-31 largely on the strength

This season they’ll have a more established

inside-backer while they surround him with

of their run game. West Virginia created

offense headlined by Alabama transfer and

six defensive backs.

major problems for Texas’ pass designs and

third-year starter T.J. Simmons and then redshirt sophomore Sam James fresh off a

zeroed in on many of their passing plays The Mountaineers return four safeties that

while Darius Stills inflicted three tackles for

2020 Season Preview

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

read on the backside with a lead blocker or potentially pull the ball and fire a pass if his receiver was getting a 1-on-1 outside on an option route. Texas didn’t have great answers for this play, even though Herman was clearly aware of the challenges and even though you can find instructional videos by Brent Dearmon online explaining this play. The Jayhawks will notably lose NFL left tackle Hakeem Adeniji and also solid senior quarterback Carter Stanley. However, they have another talented athlete coming up in the ranks named Earl Bostick Jr. to plug in at left tackle. Kansas has tended to opt for the strategy of building left tackles out of raw, lanky athletes coming out of high school. That’s allowed them to send twice as many Moro Ojomo (98) and T’Vondre Sweat (93)

loss. However Roschon Johnson ended up wearing them down with 21 carries for

23-yarder late that sealed the deal. West Virginia’s new staff has shown a real knack for gameplanning opponents and they’ll have a deeper, fuller roster in year two. This is a dangerous game and Texas is fortunate to be playing it in Austin rather than Morgantown, although they’ve lost consecutive home games to the Mountaineers (2016, 2018). This game will be a strong test of whether Texas’ new staff has them executing a sound

WEEK 8

2019 RECORD | 3-9

contest like this with the sort of haphazard gameplan that characterized many of the efforts in 2019, the 2020 Mountaineers can beat them.

Texas had to face the Jayhawks fresh off a bye week last year. The Jayhawks spent their extra week promoting FCS wunderkind Brent Dearmon to offensive coordinator and installing more of his RPO offense. Tom Herman warned media all week of the challenges of facing a team that was changing their coordinator and system in a bye week. That proved quite prescient, especially against a beat up and reeling Texas defense, and the Jayhawks did a ton of damage off this concept:

and better philosophies, it shouldn’t matter.

They’d come out in 21 personnel from the pistol with a tight end and Les Miles’ son Ben (now a 242 pound sophomore) at fullback. They had a few variations on the play but edge player to lead for the quarterback and they could attach route options for the receivers. So the quarterback could execute a zone-

64

MacVittie. Kendrick is a crafty, 5-10, 185 RPO and option game. MacVittie is his polar opposite, a less mobile, 6-5 and 225 pounder who didn’t even take care of the ball terribly well at the JUCO level. Then they’re bringing in a true freshman from California named Jalon Daniels. This kid is a live-armed athlete at 6-0, 206 that is a near lock to be the quarterback before the season is over and isn’t a bad bet to run things in the opener. The skill talent for Kansas is actually very good. If they get quarterback right then they have the potential to be pretty dangerous,

Miles would often arc around the unblocked

If Texas is executing sound fundamentals

transfers in Miles Kendrick and Thomas pounder who’s better than hopeless in their

approach that allows them to simply outtalent teams in the Big 12. If they go into a

10 years as Texas (2 to 1). At quarterback, Les Miles has a few upperclassman JUCO

121 yards, supplemented by a couple of Sam Ehlinger touchdown runs including a

offensive linemen to the NFL over the last

inside texas

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as the Longhorns found in their 50-48 shootout win last season. Receivers Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson Jr. had 831 and 727 yards respectively last year and both return. The Jayhawks also have at least one more year of eligibility for lightning quick running back Pooka Williams, who has not failed to


2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

rush for 1,000 yards in his college career despite playing for Kansas.

for 697 yards and seven touchdowns a year

WEEK 9

2019 RECORD | 7-6

Kansas’ defense is a mess and unlikely

ago. The Cyclones will also put another 6-6, 250

to improve too drastically after losing NFL

The Cyclones are a different sort of team

pound tight end named Chase Allen on the

athletes in cornerback Hasan Defense and

than the rest of the Big 12. Matt Campbell

field regularly and move either of them all

edge-rusher Azur Kamara. Les Miles is

is ahead of the curve among Midwestern-

over the field. They’ll also mix in 6-7, 280

rebuilding the roster carefully, refusing to use

based coaches in working out how to

pound bludgeon Dylan Soehner, who has a

the transfer portal or JUCO ranks for quick

translate Midwestern football rosters into

pair of working hands and above average

fixes but instead building a depth chart from

winning strategies in the spread era. The

quickness. Honestly, I think he should have

young players.

key is that they’ve worked out how to make

long ago been put to work solving their

the most of having big linebackers and tight

problems at offensive tackle but he’s useful

ends.

as a tight end as well.

but they have reached the standard “this

Campbell’s 2019 offense found something in

Their 2019 team was exceptional at

team can give you a shootout if you’re not

the run game down the stretch with freshman

running shallow cross plays and throwing

ready to play” level that characterizes the

running back Breece Hall, but quarterback

to whichever of Kolar or slot receiver

rest of the Big 12.

Brock “pump fake” Purdy ultimately lead the

Deshaunte Jones would break free and open

league with 475 passing attempts (454 for

over the middle.

They need more time and full offseasons to make his vision for the program materialize,

All three of these teams are likely at that

Ehlinger).

level, save perhaps for Baylor who have a

In 2020 that scheme will feature the even

wide beta depending on how their fall camp

What’s more, the Cyclones chucked the ball

more explosive Tarique Milton in the slot in

goes and the health of Charlie Brewer. All

around regularly from 11, 12, and even 13

place of the departing Jones while asking

three of these games should be the sort

personnel packages. Charlie Kolar is the

JUCO transfer Xavier Hutchinson to run

that Texas should now expect to win by

key to their big personnel, spread passing

adjustable routes outside against man

comfortable margins if they take care of

attack. He’s a 6-6, 250 pound redshirt junior

coverage when teams focus their safeties on

business during the game week and show

tight end from Oklahoma that caught 51 balls

eliminating the crossers.

up on Saturday. Each of these three teams have some talent, some promising features, and also first or second year head coaches trying to build something on a shortened offseason. Tom Herman needs to have a 3-0 stretch before the final quarter of the season where Texas will face the other serious Big 12 conference contenders. Texas’ 2020 schedule concludes with Gary Patterson’s TCU Horned Frogs coming to Austin, the Iowa State Cyclones doing likewise, then a road trip to Stillwater to play the Oklahoma State Cowboys. This will probably prove to be the toughest threegame stretch of the entire season and it will come against three of the teams most likely to also be jockeying with Texas for position to secure a place in the conference

Joseph Ossai

championship game.

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

The interesting quirk to their version of the

give them fits in the run game and rushing

On offense they plugged away with a power/

3-down “flyover” defense that everyone has

the passer they could edge out the Cyclones.

play-action attack and relied on quarterback

stolen is that they’re playing it as a true 3-3-5

Skylar Thompson and a roster full of run-

with a real linebacker in the nickel position.

blocking bludgeons to convert key situations.

That player for them is 6-3, 240 pound

WEEK 10

Thompson had 114 carries for 405 yards 2019 RECORD | 8-5

at 3.6 ypc with 11 touchdowns and while

Ohioan Mike Rose. Because he has a strong

he wasn’t lethal in the passing game (2315

safety and the middle safety behind him in

yards, 7.8 ypa, 12 touchdowns) he only

either direction, the Cyclones can ask Rose

Our own @Scipio Tex’s sense of Kansas

to devote his attention to patrolling the flats

State heading into 2019 was that they

threw five picks.

and eliminating perimeter screens and quick

had a roster of mostly athletically limited

It was an overall formula similar to what

passes.

upperclassmen that were hard to fashion

drove Texas’ success in 2018. They even

into Big 12 contenders unless you were

managed to beat Oklahoma in a shootout,

It’s a useful trick because so many teams,

a purple wizard with tactics and overall

much like the Longhorns had done the year

including and particularly Herman’s Texas,

strategy designed to win within those exact

prior.

love to create two-man RPO games

parameters.

involving an inside run or a quick toss to an

The obvious challenge for K-State heading

explosive slot. But with the 240 pound mobile

That was a good summation of the Wildcat

into 2020 is that they graduate five seniors

linebacker out wide, it’s hard to block and

2019 roster, but new head coach Chris

that made up most of the starting offensive

make any headway on the screens, while

Klieman and his staff proved capable of

line (they return All-B12 left guard Josh

the Cyclones would use one or both of the

mimicking Bill Snyder’s illusions.

Rivas).

middle and boundary safeties to outnumber

The Wildcats defended the pass pretty well,

the run game.

buckled down on 3rd down with some sub-

Klieman’s long term strategy for K-State

packages, and avoided having to defend

here is to recruit lanky midwesterners

Iowa State is a good dark horse team to win

the red zone very often where they could be

and then pack on muscle so that athletic

the entire conference. Their offensive skill

overmatched.

6-5/250 pounders become monstrous 300

talent is improving with Hutchinson and rising sophomore Sean Shaw (6-6, 212 pounds) emerging outside while the inside is loaded with water bug Milton and a collection of big tight ends. Breece Hall ran for 897 yards in eight starts as a freshman and made their run game and passing game better. Then there’s pump fake Purdy, who’s as good a quarterback as you’ll find in the Big 12. On defense they return seven starters and get some of their better players like defensive end Jaquan Bailey and middle safety Greg Eisworth back healthy after injury-hampered 2019 campaigns. The only real question is the offensive line. They were only decent here in 2019 and graduated four starters. Campbell’s recruiting and development here will be put to the test with multiple redshirted new starters from his own recruiting classes getting plugged in across the line. If Texas’ defensive line can

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Caden Sterns

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2020 LONGHORN SCHEDULE

pounders, but that’s not going to help the Wildcats replace five seniors in year two. The Wildcats have a few Texan prospects, a senior walk-on center, and a local JUCO transfer to mix in and might be okay but it’s certainly an area of concern. K-State’s skill talent around Thompson should be drastically improved. Last year the Wildcats had to bring in multiple grad transfer running backs just so they could build a functional depth chart after Snyder left them a single walk-on transfer in the running back room (the less magical Harry Trotter). Now they have some talented young guys that redshirted a year ago and will no longer rely on former walk-on and Longhorn torturer Dalton Schoen at receiver but will instead turn to DFW product Malik Knowles and some raw burners like Joshua Youngblood

Keaontay Ingram

(three kick return touchdowns in 2019). This offense is designed to take some shots

who was a capable deep dropper in Tampa

Malcolm Roach, Ta’Quon Graham, and

to smaller burners off play-action and this

2 at 6-0, 210 pounds, and Justin Hughes

Keondre Coburn were able to feast against

year they’ll have more speed to use in that

who was expected to anchor the unit in 2019

the vaunted K-State O-line. UT is hoping that

pursuit.

before he was lost for the year with an injury.

we see a similar dynamic for the entirety of

They also brought in a grad transfer tight

The pass-rush returns top defensive end

end. Offensive coordinator Courtney

Wyatt Hubert (seven sacks in 2019), rising

Secondly, Sam Ehlinger was executing high

Messingham lives to create mental confusion

senior tackle Drew Wiley, who flashed

level RPO reads that allowed him to see

for opponents playing in multiple formations

last year, and then adds some JUCO

through Kansas State’s disguises about

with two or even three tight ends on the field

reinforcements in classic K-State fashion.

who was dropping down to support the run,

the 2020 season.

and he threw for 263 yards at 9.1 ypa while

and leaking them out into pass patterns on play-action. The mission of the offense was

On this side of the ball, despite losing

opening easier rushing lanes. Keaontay

to take their time on offense and control the

defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to

Ingram had one of his best games, turning

clock, limiting snaps and time for opponents

Michigan State, they have the pieces and

16 carries into 139 yards at 8.7 ypc and two

and helping to protect their defense and

knowhow to craft another unit that can

touchdowns. The trench warrior Wildcats

keep the score down.

defend the pass and clamp down on 3rd

were crushed on their own terms.

downs. If they’re even better than a year ago The Wildcat defense helped their own cause

that shouldn’t be surprising either.

K-State will have to change up their plan for the 2020 game and there’s a chance

by defending the pass well and getting off the field on 3rd down. From that unit they

Texas beat K-State in 2019 for two reasons.

that their emphasis on winning up front on

return 4/5ths of the secondary, including

First, the Wildcats’ love of using multiple tight

both sides of the ball will draw even worse

cornerback A.J. Parker, who missed the

end sets allowed Texas to play defenders

returns against Texas lines that will be more

Texas game last year and is one of the best

on the edge, in contrast to spread sets that

experienced, talented, and better deployed

at his position in the league.

forced the Longhorn edge players wide.

this season.

Much like we saw against Georgia or Utah, The linebacker corps returns Elijah Sullivan,

with Texas defenders turning the ball inside,

2020 Season Preview

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Profile for Inside Texas

Inside Texas 2020 Season Preview  

The 2020 season is still in doubt due to Covid-19. We provide and insiders look at each position as well as a schedule preview of the revis...

Inside Texas 2020 Season Preview  

The 2020 season is still in doubt due to Covid-19. We provide and insiders look at each position as well as a schedule preview of the revis...

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