What You Need To Know About The Texas Offense
– Offensive coordinator Tim Beck needs to find more pop. The Longhorn O wasn’t bad – averaging 399 yards and 29.5 points per game – but the line wasn’t great, the running game sputtered, and in the high-powered Big 12, the passing attack was just okay.
The much-maligned quarterback play has to be stronger.
Sam Ehlinger is fine. He led the team with 1,915 yards and 11 scores, and ran for a team-high 381 yards – that’s a problem; more on that in a moment – but he threw seven interceptions and hasn’t progressed into the star he was supposed to be when the Tom Herman era got rolling.
Shane Buechele is fine. He was a bit more accurate than Ehlinger, and more reliable in key situations, but he’s not mobile enough and he’s never been able to grasp the gig and make it his own.
Cameron Rising was a nice recruit out of California, but the coaching staff has to pick a lane between Ehlinger and Buechele and go. Fortunately …
– The receiving corps is going to be great. There isn’t a lot of star power, but Collin Johnson has the upside to become something special after leading the team with 54 catches for 765 yards and two scores.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, John Burt, and Jerrod Heard – who only seems like he’s been around since the Fred Akers era – form a dangerous supporting cast around Johnson.
The passing game will spread the ball around, but as long as Johnson is the No. 1 man on a consistent basis, the O will move. However …
– Oh yeah, the running game. Injuries were a problem, but the attack just didn’t work. Daniel Young managed to lead the backs with just 373 yards and three scores, and Chris Warren barreled for six touchdowns, but no one took over the job. Despite playing one extra game, the 2017 Longhorns ran for over 1,000 fewer yards than the 2016 version and averaged around 1.3 fewer yards per carry.
Enter Tre Watson, a do-it-all back at Cal who comes in as a grad transfer. The 5-11, 205-pounder only played in two games last season, but he’s a good receiver and knows what he’s doing. Now he needs the line to help.
Losing left tackle Connor Williams isn’t a plus, but the Longhorns should be able to hold serve, getting Rice grad transfer Calvin Anderson in one of the biggest free agent signings of the offseason. He needs to be stronger in pass protection, but the talent is there to rise up into an all-star to work around.
Patrick Vahe is good enough at one guard spot, Zach Shackelford is a leader and veteran at center, and there’s a nice blend of new recruits and promising young players to round out the rest of the line. Now this group has to be far better in pass protection after finishing among the Big 12’s worst in sacks allowed.
Biggest Key To The Texas Offense
No, really. Find a quarterback and stick with him. Both options took some big pops last season, but the real problem was the lack of any semblance of consistency.
Neither one could find a groove throughout the season, with Buechele taking target practice in wins over Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas, but couldn’t do much of anything against Missouri in the bowl game and sputtered in the loss to TCU.
Ehlinger’s running was the difference in the win over Kansas State and helped keep the team in the Oklahoma loss, but he got beaten up a bit.
One of them has to take the job by the horns, and health luck has to play a role in this, too.