2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 20 Texas Longhorns
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Texas Longhorns
No. 20: Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns Prespring Status
Charlie Strong built it all back up, and now Tom Herman gets to enjoy the benefits.
The Longhorns whiffed in their last three games – needing to win just one to go bowling – with Strong’s fate all but sealed in the overtime loss to Kansas. The defense couldn’t tackle, the balanced offense couldn’t seem to keep the chains moving, and the team overall had a nightmare of time coming up with a close win after the overtime victory over Notre Dame to open the season. Five of the losses came by a touchdown or less, and now it’s Herman’s job to flip those to wins with a veteran team returning.
D’Onta Foreman might be done, but the rest of the offense returns loaded with eight starters back, including QB Shane Buechele from an attack that finished 16th in the nation in total yards. That defense that had so many problems – finishing 94th in the nation – at least comes back loaded, with ten starters returning.
Texas Longhorns Biggest Issue
Power running. Power defense is a big deal, too, but losing the 2,028 yards and 15 scores of Foreman, and the brute force of the 18-wheeler – Tyrone Swoopes – in short-yardage situations will be a problem early on. Everything is fine if Chris Warren III is healthy again, but the 250+ pounder has to stay in one piece, and he has to prove he can be the workhorse who can carry the offense on a regular basis like Foreman did. Can freshman Toneil Carter be ready to go right away? Can Kyle Porter do more after running for 206 yards? It’ll take a village to replace Foreman.
Texas Longhorns Biggest Positive
Yeah, the defense couldn’t tackle, and yeah, the secondary got ripped to shreds, and yeah, there weren’t nearly enough big plays considering the talent amassed, but at least the experience is strong as any in the Big 12. The top eight tacklers are back and 13 of the top 15 return including almost all of the pass rushing production – getting into the backfield was one of the few things the Longhorn D did well.
Really, Why Are The Texas Longhorns Ranked Here?
This was the year it was all supposed to come together under Strong, and now it should all start to roll under Herman. There’s no real excuse to come up with anything close to the clunker of last year, with way too much experience, way too many promising offensive prospects, and way too much energy coming from the new coaching staff. The expectations are going to be sky-high for an instant turnaround – as they should be.