The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Texas Longhorns.
No. 20: Texas Longhorns
Spring Practice Starts: March 20
Spring Game: April 21
Texas Longhorns Spring Status
Nothing really changed on the scorecard from 2016 to 2017 other than beating Kansas, but the Tom Herman era got off to a fantastic start for one big reason.
The defense started to tackle.
There were misfires against Maryland and Texas Tech, but other than the TCU game, there were chances to win in the other five losses. It’s still not time to start thinking about the national championship, but Herman just crushed his latest recruiting class to work in around a decent base.
However, last year was supposed to be when the program was back to being a player, and the coaching change messed that up a little bit. Now, the defense has to replace most of the stars in the secondary, LB Malik Jefferson is gone, and so is Poona Ford from the defensive interior.
Losing P Michael Dickson hurts, and not having OT Connor Williams around anymore isn’t great. However, this year is about being deep in contention for the top two at the end of the Big 12 rainbow.
These Longhorns can get there.
Texas Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Quarterback. It’s not a horrible situation. Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger are each good enough to win with if the other parts of the offensive puzzle are in place, but they’re both above-average – the Longhorns could use a star under center. That’s why recruits Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson will get plenty of looks this offseason, too – Herman won’t be afraid to at least rotate in one of the new guys.
Texas Biggest Issue
The secondary. S DeShon Elliott and CB Holton Hill leaving early hurts. The Longhorn secondary picked off 16 passes, but it also had a hard time keeping down the star quarterbacks on the slate. Fortunately, there’s no Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield or Mason Rudolph to deal with this season, but the secondary needs tuning this offseason – and then it has to be better.
Texas Biggest Positive
Third down defense. The biggest difference between the 2017 D and the previous versions? In 2015, Texas allowed teams to convert over 44% of their third down chances. In 2016, offenses converted 38% of the time. Last year? The Texas D clamped down, allowing just 27% of the third down conversion attempts to be made. Only USC, Oklahoma and Kansas converted more than 30%.
Really, Why Are The Texas Longhorns Ranked Here?
The offensive line should be good enough – helped in a big way by landing Rice grad transfer Calvin Anderson – the backfield solid, and the top three receivers are returning. As long as the defense does its job revamping the secondary, the penalties slow down, and that O line is better in pass protection, it’s possible to be a ten-win team.