The college football season can’t come soon enough. With every season comes new faces and possibilities. Who will be the teams to watch out for this season? This will be the second of many posts covering the top 25 teams in the country and will cover the no. 24 Texas Longhorns.
Tom Herman is in his second season as the head coach of the Longhorns after a 7-6 year. It was an up and down season in year one though, as they lost games to Maryland and Texas Tech, but also beat solid teams in Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia. He did ok in year one, but a lot more will be expected of Herman and the Longhorns in year two.
Five starters are back from the offense, that put up 29.5 points per game last year. That ranked them at 53rd in the country. Their rushing offense ranked 95th, while their passing offense ranked 41st in the FBS. Tom Herman is known as an offensive coach, meaning the Longhorns should score more points this season as opposed to last.
The quarterback battle continued through the season last year and really still isn’t decided. Both Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger have plenty of experience under center with Buechele being the more efficient passer and Ehlinger being the more athletic of the two. If one can provide a more steady hand going forward, Herman can rely on them to run his high-scoring offense.
Whoever is at quarterback is will have some tall and talented receivers to throw to. Collin Johnson is 6-foot-6, while Lil’Jordan Humphrey is 6-foot-4. Johnson finished last year with 54 receptions for 765 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Humphrey had 43 receptions for 431 receiving yards and one touchdown. Those two are good outside targets, while Jerrod Heard and Devin Duvernay are speedy receivers on the inside. John Burt is also back as a senior but his most productive year was his freshman season.
The running game will be a little tougher this season, as no running back on the roster is proven. Daniel Young and Toneil Carter will split carries after getting some experience as freshmen last year. Neither has shown a level of consistency yet, so at least one needs to step up this season. They combined for just over 600 rushing yards last season.
Up front, Texas has just two starters back, but they also have a graduate transfer from Rice in Calvin Anderson, who is expected to play well. They allowed 34 sacks last season and will have to do better this season.
If the quarterback situation can be figured out and a running back steps up, this offense has the potential to vastly improve over last year’s unit.
The Longhorns had an elite defense against the run last year, ranking eighth in the country, but struggled mightily against the pass. Overall, they tied for 29th in the country with 29.5 points per game allowed. Producing that good of a defense against the run again will be tough, although they do have seven starters from last season back in Austin.
Poona Ford was a big part of their team’s efforts against the run last year, but is now in the NFL. They’ll have three seniors starting on the defensive line though, who together should help fill Ford’s void. Chris Nelson will play the nose tackle with Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu flanking him. With a three-man front, their task will be to take up blockers to free up the linebackers to make plays.
Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler are the linebackers coming back with the most experience. They, along with Malcolm Roach are a talented group, who will produce.
The secondary is far away from the Texas secondaries that were known as “DBU”. Kris Boyd has the potential to be a really good corner, but the rest of the secondary has questions. They don’t have to be great, but they do need to play better than last season.
This defense is led by a lot of upperclassmen. If the seniors want to go out on a high note, they’ll have to prove it on the field by elevating their games this season.
The Longhorns play Maryland (in Landover,MD), Tulsa (home) and USC (home) in their non-conference schedule. They lost to Maryland last year, but are the superior team and should be favored to win. The game against USC will be tough. Texas has the ability to win all three games, but that’s easier said than done.
Texas may be able to compete in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU lost a lot from last year, while West Virginia only won seven games last year. Texas should outdo some of those listed and move up the Big 12 standings this season. Their big games will be against Oklahoma (Dallas, TX) and West Virginia (home).
Winning eight to nine games is within the Longhorns’ capabilities.
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