Preview 2017: Texas Longhorns

Preview 2017: Texas Longhorns

Big 12

Preview 2017: Texas Longhorns


Preview 2017: Texas Longhorns

Previewing and looking ahead at the Texas Longhorns season – and what you need to know.

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2017 Texas Preview: Tom Herman? You’d Better Be Right
2017 Texas Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Texas Previews: 20162015

What You Need To Know About The Texas Offense

Tim Beck might be the offensive coordinator, but this is the Tom Herman offense. And both coaches will try to make sure the Longhorns achieve Ohio State-like success right away.

No, it wasn’t Beck’s fault the Buckeyes got shut out by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, but the former OSU offense coordinator seemed to take a whole lot of criticism. Now, it’ll be up to Beck and Herman to finally give the Texas O a little consistency for a program that dealt with a revolving door at OC over the last several years.

Getting seven starters back to a Longhorn attack that finished 16th in the nation should help a little bit.

Of course, the main man in the attack isn’t around anymore. The Longhorn ground game has to try replacing 2,000-yard back D’Onta Foreman, meaning bruiser Chris Warren has to try getting and staying in one piece, and there has to be a good rotation around. Four starters are back up front for a young and improving line to help pave the way.

Almost all of the top receiver weapons return for a passing game that should be even more explosive under the new staff. Now the coaches just have to acknowledge what everyone already knows – Shane Buechele is the starter, and he’s going to be terrific.

Biggest Key To The Texas Offense

Owning third downs. It didn’t make any sense. Foreman was the ultimate battering ram who gave Texas several manageable second-and-third down chances. Buechele was accurate, and Tyrone Swoopes was a big-time power option – it didn’t matter. Texas converted a pathetic 36% of its third down tries.

By the way, Houston finished 14th in the nation in third down conversion percentage.

What You Need To Know About The Texas Defense

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s Houston D finished 13th in the nation overall, and fourth against the run.

The Texas defense, did not.

It was the most puzzling fail of the Charlie Strong era. Here was a head coach that cranked out some of the baddest Ds in college football for a long, long time, and his Texas defenses couldn’t tackle a lick.

At the very least, Orlando’s defense will be loaded with experience, returning ten starters and a whole boatload of veterans to work into a rotation. S Dylan Haines is gone, and that’s it.

On the down side, Texas gets so many starters back because a few weren’t good enough to leave early for the NFL. However, nine of the top ten and 13 of the top 15 tacklers are back.

Now they have to be more physical, crank up an even stronger pass rush, and improve the defense that was 105th in the nation in passing yards and allowed close to 32 points per game.

Biggest Key To The Texas Defense

Get nasty against the run. The Texas defense got a little bit of a bad rap. It forced an okay 20 takeaways, it created a decent pass rush, and in terms of the struggling secondary, everyone in the Big 12 gets lit up – and facing Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Cal’s Davis Webb didn’t help the stats. But the run D was way too soft way too often.

Again, to be fair to all the slings and arrows the Longhorns suffered from the angry, the D allowed 135 rushing yards or fewer six times and gave up just 4.1 yards per carry. However, Baylor ran amok, and so did TCU – giving up over 300 yards against each team. In all, Texas allowed 200 yards or more five times.

Under Strong, the Longhorn defense allowed 200 yards or more 17 times. Under Herman and Orlando, Houston allowed more than 156 rushing yards twice in the last two seasons, and one was against the Navy attack last year.

Texas Will Be Far Better If …

The offensive explosion is back. It was easy to keep pounding away with Foreman, but outside of the pop from WR Devin Duvernay, there weren’t enough game-changing big plays. The passing game averaged a whatever 7.5 yards per pass, the kickoff return game averaged a mere 18.4 yards per try, and the punt returners averaged only 6.5 yards per attempt.

Best Texas Offensive Player

OT Connor Williams, Jr. – Williams was already one of the hot names among the NFL scouting circles, but that was at a light-and-active 290 pounds. Now he’s up to an NFL-Franchise-Left-Tackle 320 to go along with his special skills. He’s a technician who’ll anchor a line that could grow into the best in the Big 12.

2. QB Shane Buechele, Soph.
3. C Zach Shackelford, Soph.
4. RB Chris Warren, Jr.
5. WR Devin Duvernay, Soph.

Best Texas Defensive Player

LB Malik Jefferson, Jr. – Okay, so Anthony Wheeler led the team in tackles, and Breckyn Hager came up with two more sacks and led the team in sacks and tackles for loss. But when Jefferson is healthy, he’s the all-around playmaker who’ll be the tone-setter for the defense in the new era.

The signature signing of the Strong regime, Jefferson has added a little bulk to his frame over the last few years and should be even more of a factor on the inside. With his pass rushing skills, he could be used on the outside from time to time when needed.

2. DE Breckyn Hager, Jr.
3. DT Poona Ford, Sr.
4. P Michael Dickson, Jr.
5. NT Chris Nelson, Jr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Shane Buechele, Soph. – The defense needs the lighter tackles to be stronger against the run, and the running game needs a consistent back to count on. But for the Herman era to get off to a rousing start, Beuchele has to be the type of star who can carry the offense by himself though Big 12 shootouts. Or, maybe it’ll be Sam Ehlinger.

Ehlinger was the prize recruit of Herman’s first class, with good size, a great arm, and the moxie to come in as a true freshman and potentially take over the gig. Can he unseat Buechele, who showed off unteachable accuracy at times and good toughness as a freshman? The quarterback will get time to work behind this line – now he has to rock.

The Texas Season Will Be A Success If …

It gets to the Big 12 title game. There’s no honeymoon. There’s no grace period. No, Texas isn’t going to be a better team than Oklahoma on paper to start the season, but with the new Big 12 Championship Game, and with a team loaded with veterans, just finish among the top two after nine conference games. This is the year Strong had been building the program toward.

Key Game To The Texas Season

Sept. 16 at USC – Yeah, duh, the Oklahoma showdown on October 14th is the big one, and beating TCU, Baylor, and/or West Virginia on the road matters, but if Mr. Herman wants to make a splash right away, do it in LA. Herman’s Houston teams made a living on destroying the bigger boys on the slate in non-conference play. Beat USC early on, and consider the tone set.

2016 Texas Fun Stats

– Fumbles: Opponents 24 (lost 10) – Texas 16 (lost 11)
– Sacks: Texas 41 for 299 yards – Opponents 30 for 162 yards
– Net Punting Average: Texas 42.76 yards – Opponents 36.64 yards

2017 Texas Preview: Tom Herman? You’d Better Be Right
2017 Texas Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Texas Previews: 20162015


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