How do you make a disgruntled fan base gruntled? Well, first by finding a Quarterback and then by winning a lot of football games.
It looks like Texas may have finally found the guy they have been looking for since Colt McCoy left after the 2009 season.
It was only a Spring Game, but Shane Buechele looked the best any Quarterback has looked since McCoy used up his eligibility. Now, if they can just win some football games.
Buechele is not going to blow anyone away with his physical appearance. He’s not that typical prototype Quarterback that is 6-5, 235. He is 6-1, 190 and he looks like he’s still waiting for his 16th Birthday so he can get his driver’s license.
But, this kid has his act together. He is hungry, motivated and desperate for information to become a better Quarterback. He makes quick decisions and knows when to dump the ball or to go to the 2nd and 3rd receivers. The ‘it’ factor concept is way over used, but Buechele seems to have it.
The Texas Longhorns being able to throw the ball should open up the run game.
Shane Buechele has not been named the starter just yet. Tyrone Swoopes is the most experienced Quarterback and is going into his senior season. Swoopes is a big, big Quarterback along the lines of Cardale Jones of Ohio State at 6-4, 255. He’s got a great arm and he is a powerful runner. The physical skills are all there, but he makes bad decisions and he was replaced last year by Jerrod Heard.
Heard has a decent arm and is an outstanding athlete and a much quicker runner than Swoopes. Last season, he was a redshirt freshman and he threw for 1,200 yards in Texas plain Jane vanilla offense. Texas fans were not happy, but he also suffered a lot of drops by his receivers and he can still grow into the spot if he puts in the work.
But, the smart money is on Shane Buechele.
Quarterbacks Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick never took a snap in the Spring Game because it was called due to weather. Locksley voiced his frustrations on twitter which is totally understandable.
The possibilities are improving drastically at the Running Back position as well.
Texas can send Running Back D’Onta Foreman at a defense, then they can bring in Chris Warren III. They can then insert Tristian Houston, or Roderick Bernard for a change of pace. That’s something that Texas has not been able to say in years. Foreman is 6-0, 240 and he does not have blinding speed, but he can move and especially well for his size. Chris Warren III is 6-2, 255 and he can also run. Both can punish defenders and wear down a defense which should excite Texas fans.
Kirk Johnson could also be in the mix, but he has been injured.
17 true freshmen played a year ago making Texas the youngest team in the country.
Some of those true freshmen were the best players on the team such as Wide Receiver John Burt, Left Tackle Connor Williams, Right Guard Patrick Vahe and especially Linebacker Malik Jefferson.
After last season’s offensive disaster, Texas coach Charlie Strong made some big changes in his staff firing the old Offensive Coordinators who were also the Quarterbacks coach and the Wide Receivers coach. The Offensive Line coach was also shown the door.
The new Offensive Coordinator is Sterlin Gilbert and he brings a much more up tempo style to Texas which they haven’t seen in a while.
The Wide Receiver corps looked vastly improved in the Spring. Were the new coaches a factor? Possibly, but Armanti Foreman couldn’t catch anything last Fall and he caught every pass he touched in the Spring Game. Foreman, the brother of Running Back D’Onta Foreman, may have lost
confidence in his hands last year. But, he seems to have regained his ball catching abilities in the Spring.
John Burt will continue to be the best, but Foreman, Lorenzo Joe, Dorian Leonard, DeAndre McNeil, Jacorey Warrick and Ryan Newsome have to step up. It’s not always about the Quarterback. Receivers have to make plays on the ball as well.
True freshman Collin Johnson, the son of Longhorn legend Johnnie Johnson and the younger brother of Running Back Kirk, was a highly sought after 4 star recruit out of San Jose, California. Johnson is 6-6, 215 and a future star.
The Offensive Line has been a problem at Texas for years dating back to the days of Colt McCoy and maybe further depending on your viewpoint.
Last season, they started true freshmen Connor Williams at the all important Left Tackle position and Patrick Vahe at Right Guard.
In the Spring Game joining Williams and Vahe were Junior College transfer Brandon Hodges at Left Guard, true freshman Zach Shackleford at Center and senior Kent Perkins at Right Tackle.
Hodges came in last year and was able to redshirt. Shackleford wanted to come to Texas, but they didn’t offer until Texas hired Matt Mattox as their new Offensive Line coach. When they finally offered, Shackleford jumped all over it and he was an early enrollee. Now, he is set to become a 4 year starter at Center.
Perkins was one of the top ranked Offensive Tackle recruits in the country coming out of high school, but has struggled with consistency, injuries and poor coaching.
The Offensive Line looked better in the Spring Game, but they were going against 2nd team and walk on players so it’s hard to get a true grasp of the situation. Notre Dame, in the opening game, will be a much stiffer test.
The difference was obvious immediately in previous year’s Offensive Line play, but again the jury is
The second team Offensive Line even looked much better, but they were going up against starters which could be a really bad thing for the Texas defense in 2016.
Sophomore Elijah Rodriguez was at Left Tackle, sophomore Jake McMillon at Left Guard, and walk-on Garrett Graf was the Center. Right Guard was split between sophomores Alex Anderson and Terrell Cuney. Giant junior Tristan Nickelson was the Right Tackle and he is 6-9, 315.
The very idea that the back up Offensive Line did not look bad against the starting Defensive Line may be a scary thought for the Longhorns.
Senior Paul Boyette Jr and junior Poona Ford will probably start, but neither really distinguished themselves in this game. Sophomore Chris Nelson is the only other scholarship Defensive Tackle currently available.
In the summer, however, Texas will receive an influx of talented recruits led by 4 star Jordan Elliott from Houston Westside High School. Chris Daniels from Euless Trinity, Marcel Southall from Duncanville and D’Andre Christmas-Giles from New Orleans St Augustine are also 4 star Defensive Tackles added to the roster. Gerald Wilbon is a 3 star out of Destrehan, Louisiana and he is also on his way.
Some of these guys will need to step up in a hurry if Texas has any hopes of stopping the running game.
Defensive End looked much better with the emergence of Charles Omenihu. The other Defensive End is called the Fox and Naashan Hughes is the starter there.
Quincy Vasser and Breckyn Hager provide depth here. Plus, injured players Bryce Cottrell and
Derrick Roberson should return some time.
Incoming freshmen Andrew Fitzgerald and Malcolm Roach were not highly recruited. Fitzgerald, however, has quite a motor and looks extremely promising.
The Linebackers are led by freshman All American of last year, Malik Jefferson. However, Jefferson wants to play his more natural Outside Linebacker instead of in the middle.
Texas needs Anthony Wheeler to step up at the Middle Linebacker position and he just may do it. True freshman Demarco Boyd made several plays in the Spring Game and he may be a potential starter inside soon.
Other contributors here include senior Tim Cole, Edwin Freeman, Cameron Townsend and maybe Dalton Santos.
Incoming freshmen Jeffrey McCulloch and Erick Fowler are about as good as they come. Fowler committed to LSU early and switched to Texas on signing day.
The secondary was not great in 2015, but at times they had 5 freshmen playing.
True freshmen Davante Davis, Holton Hill, and Kris Boyd all logged plenty of playing time and even started. These guys all have a year of experience and they are all going to be good.
Safeties Jason Hall and Dylan Haines both return, but watch out for incoming freshman Brandon Jones here. He was one of the best recruits in the country last season and a huge win for the
Longhorns’ recruiting efforts.
Backup Cornerback Antwaun Davis is amazingly strong and he proved that by pumping up 32 reps on the 225 bench press test. That’s unheard of for a Cornerback.
PJ Locke, another true freshman a year ago is the Nickel Back in passing situations. Watch for John Bonney, DeShon Elliot and Kevin Vaccaro at the Safety positions because all of these guys can play. Sheroid Evans is attempting a comeback at Cornerback, or Safety. He is an often injured senior who came to Texas as one of the fastest players in the country.
If the Offensive Line is as improved as they looked in the Spring Game and Shane Buechele is as good as he appears, Texas could be a team to contend with in 2016.
They should have an excellent Offense overall with the running game being much, much better than it has been in years.
Defense will still be young, but they have a lot of talent at nearly every position.
It’s now or never for Charlie Strong at Texas. If he does not have at least a winning season in 2016, the wolves are going to howl like never before.