Texas football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Longhorns, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The Texas Offense
New offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert will try to increase the tempo a wee bit, but it’ll be way too easy to ground and pound as much as possible with a tremendous 1-2 rushing punch of Chris Warren III and D’Onta Freeman bring plenty of power and thump. The ground attack will carry the team, and should be the strength, especially depending on who’s at quarterback.
Tyrone Swoopes is the power-running veteran quarterback option, Jerrod Heard is the dual-threat mobile playmakers, and freshman Shane Buechele is the future who appears ready to roll from the start. All three can play with the possibility of a rotation to utilize all the various skills, especially depending on how the receiving corps works out.
There aren’t any sure-thing stars, but it’s an interesting group of targets with an array of talents to play around with. There’s depth and more than enough players to can fill in the gap when needed, but a No. 1 guy has to emerge.
The line should be the best in the Charlie Strong era, but it’s still a young group that should go through a few growing pains. There’s not much in the way of proven depth, but by the time fall camp is done the starting five should be a positive.
Biggest Key To The Texas Offense
The Longhorns have to be able to complete a forward pass on a regular basis. The running game worked, and it should be the prime mode of transportation again, but the passing attack was way too erratic with just two games with over 162 yards – the loss to Cal and the win over Kansas – and with a mere nine touchdown passes on the season. The idea was to not take too many chances, not turn the ball over, and try to hit the throws that were there to be made, but hitting 55% of the passes were a problem. Texas can’t win the Big 12 title – or even come close to it – with just 1,751 passing yards.
What You Need To Know About The Texas Defense
Remember when the Texas defense used to be an absolute killer? In 2014 it finished 25th in the nation, but last year it was a disaster allowing 453 yards per game and had the biggest problems stopping anyone from running. This year might not be appreciably better if the line can’t stay in one piece. The tackles are thin in the rotation, but Poona Ford and Paul Boyette are two good starters inside. The ends are deeper and with a bigger upside – the pass rush will be strong again after generating 37 sacks.
The Longhorns will play around with the 4-2-5 alignment to combat the pass-happy Big-12, but they can easily switch to the 4-3 without a problem – that’s a very, very good thing. The linebacking corps could be the team’s biggest strength with Malik Jefferson leading a loaded bunch.
If the linebackers aren’t the stars, the corners will be with Holton Hill and Davante Davis one of the Big 12’s best tandems. It’s a strong all-around defensive backfield that’ll be far stronger after a rocky 2015.
Biggest Key To The Texas Defense
Stop the run – finally. In 2009, the defense gave up 1,013 yards and nine scores in 14 games on the way to the BCS Championship Game. Last year, the D gave up 1,137 rushing yards and ten scores in the final four games. If you’re looking for where things have gone downhill for the program over the last several years, this is it. Last year the Longhorns bottomed out allowing 2,630 yards and 21 scores getting pounded on by everyone giving up 200 yards or more in eight games including 395 in the season finale against Baylor. The line should be stronger, but it needs to be dominant.
Texas Will Be Far Better If …
The passing game works at least a little bit. The Longhorns will be able to run without much of a problem, but if things start to crank up when the elite Big 12 offenses start to work, keeping up the pace can’t be an issue.
There has to be a downfield passing attack from time to time after hitting the 300-yard mark twice – let’s just call the 299-yard day against Kansas a 300-yard day – and with just three touchdown passes in nine games outside of the two-score days against Rice, Oklahoma and KU. The attack needs a better balance.
Best Texas Offensive Player
RB D’Onta Foreman, Jr. and/or RB Chris Warren III, Soph. – It doesn’t matter how the quarterback situation works itself out, the running game will carry the load, anyway. The thunder-and-thunder tandem should wear down defenses with the 241-pound Foreman and 255-pound Warren the type of grinders who can crank out long drives and keep the big-time Big 12 offenses off the field. Foreman is the better of the two, but they’ll each get their share of work and should combine to dominate once the offense gets into a groove.
Best Texas Defensive Player
LB Malik Jefferson, Soph. – He was the big-time recruit who helped make last year’s class look decent, and he showed off right away the speed, quickness, and talent to be the leader of the improving defense. He might not be all that big, and he might be a tweener, but he’s got the upside to grow into a dangerous pass rusher if turned loose from the outside. The Longhorns need the interior to be beefed up, and the secondary should be okay, but as long as Jefferson is starting to make more game-changing plays, the D will start making bigger strides.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DT Poona Ford, Jr. and/or DT Paul Boyette, Sr. – Considering how much the run defense has to improve, the Longhorns need to be a lot stronger and a lot tougher in the interior. The depth inside is a concern, but as long as Ford and Boyette can hold up and be better between the hashmarks, the speed on the outside should take care of the rest. Considering the run D allowed 219 yards per game, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
The Texas Season Will Be A Success If …
It’s at least an nine-win campaign. There has to be a massive improvement, and while 8-4 doesn’t excite the masses – nine with a bowl victory – to be realistic, moving up three to four wins will be that next step needed. There are still a few key concerns to expect anything truly special, but the team has to be good enough to come up with enough key wins to start looking the part again.
Notre Dame, Sept. 4 – Last year’s 38-3 loss in the opener against the Irish was galling. The Longhorns couldn’t seem to do anything right, looked outclassed in just about every phase, and all but set the tone for an awful first half of the season. This year, beating the Fighting Irish in the opener could and should create a different attitude from the start after closing out last year with a win over Baylor.
2015 Texas Fun Stats
– Passing Touchdowns: Opponents 24 – Texas 9
– Punt Return Average: Texas 12.1 yards – Opponents 3.8 yards
– Combined 2nd and 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 190 – Texas 133
2016 Texas Season Prediction
What’s going to happen to Texas this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …