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  1. Yesterday, we took a look at what to expect from the Utah offense. Today, we turn our attention to the strength of the Utes’, a defense led by one of the top defensive coordinators in the country. Defensive Line The Utes have one of the best defensive lines Texas has played this season. They are extremely active and have multiple guys who can get after the quarterback. Senior DE Bradlee Anae is one of the top pass rushers in the country and leads the team with 12.5 sacks. Utah enters the Alamo Bowl with the top run defense in the country. The Utes are only allowing 70.3 yards per game on the ground and have received outstanding play from their top 2 defensive tackles, John Penisini and Leki Fotu. Linebackers Middle linebacker Francis Bernard and fellow linebacker Devin Lloyd have combined for an impressive 168 tackles on the season and are stout against the run. Lloyd can play sideline to sideline and can be impressive with his ability to cover space. Defensive Backs Utah will be without several key members in the secondary. Corner Jaylon Johnson, safety R.J Herbert, and safety Julian Blackmon will not be playing in the Alamo Bowl, which should be welcome news for a Texas offense that is getting Collin Johnson back. The absence of Johnson, in particular, will be a tough pill to swallow for the Utes, as the talented corner opted to skip the bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL draft. Even without 3 important contributors, the Utes will still present a good pass defense that will best Sam Ehlinger and the Texas passing attack. Former walk-on Josh Nurse will likely occupy one of the starting corner spots and has played well for much of the season. An interesting player to watch will be safety Nephi Sewell, who only recently became eligible to play late this season after transferring from Nevada. Overall Thoughts There is a reason Texas wanted to kick the tires on Utes’ defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley for their DC opening. Utah has one of the toughest defenses in the country. Although the losses in the secondary will hurt, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Utah still puts together a really nice performance. If Texas puts together an offensive game plan similar to what they showed in Ames or Waco earlier this year, it will be ugly. The Longhorns will have to get creative to move the ball on the ground and find a way to get receivers open in the short and intermediate passing game. If they are able to do that, they will give themselves a chance to win.
  2. Texas will look to finish the 2019 season a positive note with a victory in the Alamo Bowl against a Utah squad that was on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff prior to losing the PAC 12 title game. The Utes will provide a good test for the Longhorns as they begin to close the book on the 2019 season and look ahead to 2020. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Utah offense: Quarterback Senior quarterback Tyler Huntley leads the Utes offense and will enter the Alamo Bowl with plenty of experience under his belt. Huntley has steadily progressed throughout his career and a very good senior season, completing a little under 74% of his passes and throwing for just shy of 3,000 yards. Huntley has only thrown 4 interceptions on the season and does a good job of limiting turnovers. 2 of Huntley’s 4 interceptions came in the PAC 12 championship game against Oregon, which held Huntley to below 200 yards passing. The Longhorns will look to replicate that performance and hope to put the veteran quarterback in some uncomfortable situations. Running Back The best player on the Utah offense will be senior running back Zach Moss. Moss was named the Pac 12 offensive player of the year and has 3-straight 1,000-yard season on the ground. He has racked up 15 rushing touchdowns on the season and also added 2 receiving touchdowns. Moss loves to lower the pads and use his 220-pound frame, but he also has sneaky athleticism and can make guys miss in the open field. Moss will be the one player the Longhorns will have to slow down if they hope to win the game. The Longhorns have been halfway decent against the run for most of the season, and there was likely a heavy emphasis on stopping the run throughout bowl preparation. Wide Receiver Utah loves to spread the ball around to all of their playmakers. Senior Demari Simpkins leads the team with 30 receptions, but 5 other players have more than 15 receptions on the roster. Freshman tight end Brant Kuithe leads the team with 6 receiving touchdowns, and the Utes will surely try to get him involved heavily after seeing the Longhorns struggles against opposing tight ends this season. Offensive Line Left Tackle Darrin Paulo is one of the top offensive linemen in the PAC 12 and should hear his name called during the NFL draft in April. Outside of Paulo, the Utes are a little young along the offensive line, starting a pair of redshirt freshman and a sophomore. Despite the youth, the performance has been well above average. The unit does a good job of opening up holes in the running game and has only allowed 21 sacks on the season. Overall Thoughts This is actually a decent matchup on paper for Texas. The Longhorns have shown they can slow down certain types of offenses similar to what the Utes will show on New Year’s Eve. Interim defensive play-caller Craig Naivar will likely tone down the blitzes and try to key on Moss on 1st and 2nd down, forcing Utah to turn the game over into Hundley’s hands and have him make plays. If the Longhorns are able to do that, they will give themselves a chance to win what could turn out to be a low scoring game.
  3. Following the regular-season finale against Texas Tech, it became clear that changes were coming to the Texas coaching staff. A few days later, four coaches were relieved of their duties or reassigned to an off-field role. The biggest name to be let go was defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who led a Texas defense that underperformed throughout the 2019 season. Ultimately, Herman did not look far for Orlando’s replacement, hiring former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash as the new Texas defensive coordinator. Ash is no stranger to Herman. The duo won a national championship together at Ohio State in 2014, with Ash serving as a co-defensive coordinator along with current Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell. Following the 2015 season, Ash was hired at the head coach at Rutgers. Ash struggled to find success with the Scarlet Knights, winning only 7 games over his first 3 seasons before being let go 4 games into the 2019 season. Following his firing, Ash reportedly spent time as an analyst with the Longhorns. Now, he will get the chance to call the shots and attempt to turn around the Texas defense. What to Expect from Ash Ash has had a well-traveled career for only being 45 years old. He spent time previously in the Big 12 as the defensive backs coach for Iowa State for 5 seasons from 2002-2006 and returned for an additional season in 2009. Prior to his time at Ohio State, he was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Arkansas. The biggest schematic shift will be the transition Texas will make to a 4-man front. The Longhorns almost exclusively operated out of a 3-man front during Orlando’s time in Austin, so expect to see a lot more defensive lineman line up as true defensive ends, which should allow Texas to pressure the quarterback more frequently without having to bring extra men. Speaking of pressure, the days of exotic blitzes and guys coming from all over the place are likely over. Based on what he’s done at previous stops, Ash isn’t known as a ‘bring the house’ type of coach. His background is in coaching defensive backs, so the expectation should be for the Longhorns to improve in the secondary, which looked lost at times this past season. Tom Herman mentioned in his media session in San Antonio early last week that he wanted to simplify things defensively and feature the defensive line more, and that lines up with what Ash brings to the table. What’s Next? It remains to be seen who Texas will bring in to round out the defensive staff. The Longhorns currently have Jason Washington coaching corners and Craig Naivar coaching safeties. It is unlikely both guys remain on staff considering Ash’s background in coaching defensive backs. The Longhorns will also have to find someone to take over Orlando’s other coaching duty as linebackers coach. Linebacker might be the biggest question mark on the roster heading into next season, so this might be the most important hire Ash and Herman make. Oscar Giles currently serves as the defensive line coach, and of all the 3 coaches still employed on the defensive side of the ball, it appears he is the most likely to be retained. Overall Thoughts It is not known who else was interviewed or was interested in the DC position, so it’s tough to judge the hire without knowing who else expressed interest. The biggest question mark on Ash will be how his scheme will play in the Big 12, which ate Todd Orlando alive after offensive coordinators caught on to his tendencies. Ash’s simple and conservative approach appears more likely to succeed than Orlando’s aggressive approach, but it remains to be seen how Ash will adjust to the amount of high-quality passing attacks he will see. Tom Herman is rolling the dice with another coordinator he is comfortable and familiar with. Considering how this past season played out, he is likely using his one get-out-of-jail-free card, betting Ash will be able to simplify things to the point where the defensive talent Texas has on the roster will be able to out-athlete opposing offenses.
  4. Ash is also likely to coach the DB’s like he has at his previous coordinator stops, meaning it’s hard to envision both Washington and Naivar staying on staff. It’s actually probably more likely that both don’t return versus choosing one.
  5. Texas will wrap up the regular season at DKR on Friday morning against Texas Tech. The Longhorns are attempting to stop the bleeding from a 2-game losing streak, while the Red Raiders will use this matchup as their de-facto bowl game with an actual bowl game out of sight. Texas Tech is led by first year coach Matt Wells, and while the record hasn’t been pretty in year 1, he does have some solid pieces to work with. Let’s take a look at what to expect from Texas Tech. Offense Texas Tech suffered a big loss earlier in the season when starting QB Alan Bowman went down with an injury. Luckily for Wells and offensive coordinator David Yost, backup Jett Duffey had a good amount of experience and has played well in his place. Fans may member Duffey having a career day against Texas in Lubbock last season, throwing for 4 touchdowns and over 400 yards. Duffey is also a very capable runner, which is something to keep in mind when considering how Texas has performed against dual-threat quarterbacks this season. SaRodorick Thompson has carried the majority of the load at running back for all the Red Raiders all season. Thompson has 680 yards on the ground with 11 touchdowns. Ta’Zhawn Henry is a speedy back who is utilized heavily in the passing game, but he is currently banged up and it is not known if he will play Friday. The Texas secondary will have their hands full with several extremely talented Texas Tech receivers. 6’6 TJ Vasher leads the team in receiving touchdowns with 6 and is a nightmare in the red zone. Duffey’s favorite target out of the slot is Dalton Rigdon, but he is also battling an injury and is questionable. Regardless of his status, expect to also see Erik Ezukanma and RJ Turner be involved in the passing attack. Defense The primary downfall for Kliff Kingsbury was his inability to field a defense that could complement his high powered offense. The Red Raiders have continued to struggle defensively throughout Matt Well’s first season and it centers around their pass defense. The Red Raiders have been shredded through the air at times this season, which is not a recipe for success in the Big 12. Eli Howard is the primary pass rusher to pay attention to, and he has a team-high 4.5 sacks. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks is another really good player who is having an All-Big 12 type of season with 20 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. If Texas is able to slow down those two guys, it should really allow for the offense to open up and the Longhorns should have their way with the Texas Tech defense. As mentioned above, the Red Raiders have not been good against the pass. Zech McPhearson is a transfer from Penn State who occupies one of the starting corner spots. Demon Smith holds down the other spot. Both players are decent but have a tendency to give up big plays when facing good receivers. Overall Thoughts This has the makings of a game that could turn into a shootout. Texas has seemingly shown significant improvement defensively the past few weeks, but the Red Raiders have a lot of weapons offensively and Todd Orlando’s history against mobile quarterbacks should be concerning for Longhorn fans. If Texas corrects whatever has been plaguing the offense the past two weeks, they should win this game, but it is impossible to know how the Longhorns will respond with the way this season wrapped up. The post Know Your Opponent: Texas Tech appeared first on HornSports. View this article on HornSports
  6. Yesterday, we broke down a dangerous Baylor offense. Today, we turn our attention to a Baylor defense that will likely look to replicate what Iowa State did to the Longhorns a week ago in Ames. Defensive Line Baylor has two very good players along the defensive line in James Lockhart and James Lynch. Lynch leads the team in sacks with 8.5 sacks and is extremely impressive rushing the passer. Lockhart is solid as a pass rusher as well, so Denzel Okafor and Sam Cosmi will likely have their hands full for much of the game. Linebacker The Bears suffered a huge loss earlier in the season when middle linebacker Clay Johnston went down with a season ending injury. Fortunately for Baylor, their other linebackers have picked up the slack in Johnston’s absence. Blake Lynch has seemingly been at Baylor forever and has finally found a home at linebacker after playing receiver earlier in his career. Sophomore Terrel Bernard has stepped into the middle linebacker role after Johnston’s injury and leads the team in tackles with 83. Defensive Back The Bears will flood the field with a lot of athletic defensive backs. Jameson Houston may be their most talented corner, but Raleigh Texada has experience and plays extremely well at times. Chris Miller and Grayland Arnold played well against Oklahoma and do a nice job of limiting big plays on the backend. If Collin Johnson is out again, the Longhorns will be forced to rely heavily on Devin Duvernay in the passing game. Baylor does have a tendency to let guys roam the middle of the field at times, so it might be a good day to feed #6. Overall Thoughts Overall, this will be one of the best defenses Texas plays this year. The Bears held a very good Oklahoma offense in check for much of the game before they just ran out of gas. If Texas’ run game performs anywhere close to how they performed against Iowa State, the Longhorns are in trouble. Sam Ehlinger will likely have to carry the Texas offense considering how stout the Baylor defensive front is, but may end up being a blessing in disguise considering the success Texas has found throwing the ball.
  7. With their hopes of a Big 12 championship all but gone, Texas will have to find other motivation as they finish up the regular season. The Longhorns will play their final road game of the season in Waco on Saturday against a Baylor team coming off a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma. The Bears are unlikely to be feeling sorry for themselves though, as a win over the Longhorns clinches a spot in the Big 12 title game for Matt Rhule’s squad. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Baylor offense: Quarterback Junior Charlie Brewer is the engine that makes the Baylor offense go. The Lake Travis product has had a very good season and is one of the top quarterbacks in the Big 12. Brewer has tossed 18 touchdowns on the year compared to just 5 interceptions while also adding 9 rushing touchdowns. Brewer has gone through stretches this season where he has struggled, but overall he does an excellent job of distributing the ball to Baylor’s playmakers and making plays with his legs when he needs to. Oklahoma did a nice job in the second half last week of crowding throwing lanes and jumping routes, something the Longhorns will have replicate if they hope to slow down Brewer and the Baylor offense. Running Back John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty will basically split touches in the running game. Both backs are averaging just over 6 yards per carry and have registered 4 touchdowns. Junior Trestan Ebner will also see some time at running back. Ebener is sort of a jack-of-all-trades for the Bears, lining up in the backfield and at receiver. He is very explosive and has the ability to take it the distance anytime he touches the ball. Wide Receiver Another week, another dangerous receiver the Texas defense will face. This week, it is Denzel Mims. The senior over 750 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season, including a 2 touchdown performance last week against Oklahoma. In addition to Mims, the Longhorns will also have to keep an eye on Tyquan Thornton (613 yards on the season) and RJ Sneed (386 yards on the season. Offensive Line The Bears are led by two seniors upfront on the offensive line, center Jake Fruhmorgen and guard Sam Tecklenberg. One time Texas commit Xavier Newman occupies the other guard spot. The unit as a whole has been good in the run game and serviceable in the passing game. Brewer is having to scramble around a little more than he would hope, but the Baylor coaching staff also does a nice job of masking any issues by getting the ball out quickly to negate any protection breakdowns. Overall Thoughts It’s tough to know what the mindset of Texas will be heading into Saturday’s game. The Longhorns pretty much have nothing to play for now and that can be a dangerous thing. The Texas defense has shown signs of life over the past few weeks, but the Bears are well-coached and will surely have a good game plan. If Texas shuts down the run early and forces Brewer to do it all himself, they will give themselves a good chance of hanging around for much of the afternoon.
  8. Yesterday, we focused on an Iowa State offense that can be dangerous. Today, we turn our attention to a defense with several good players, especially at linebacker. Defensive Line The Cyclones are likely to show both 3 and 4 man fronts. The one player to watch along the defensive line is nose tackle Ray Lima. Lima was a first-team All-Big 12 member a season ago and has continued to impress this season. In the past, Zach Shackelford has found his hands full with guys like Lima, so Shackelford will have to win at the point of attack for the Longhorns to have success running the ball. Against the pass, the Cyclones have struggled to get pressure at times, especially in their 3-man front (sounds familiar?). They rank in the middle of the country in terms of sacks per game and are often bringing some of their talented linebackers on blitzes to create chaos. Linebackers Iowa State is very strong at linebacker. Mike Rose and Marcel Spears are two of the most talented linebackers in the conference. Spears leads the Cyclones with 70 tackles while Rose ranks 3rd with 58. Spears, in particular, is extremely dangerous and is having an all-conference type season. Middle linebacker O’Rien Vance is in his first season as a full-time starter and leads the team with 6.5 sacks. Defensive Backs The Cyclones start a pair of sophomores at corner in Datrone Young and Anthony Johnson. Both will surely have their hands full with Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay. Safety Greg Elsworth was the 2018 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the year, and he has followed it up with a solid 2019. The Cyclones will mix up coverages frequently and try to force Sam Ehlinger into some decisions he wishes he had back. Overall Thoughts Texas came out with some wrinkles offensively against Kansas State, and they will have to continue with the unpredictability this weekend. The offensive coaching staff for Texas has shown in the past they will abandon the run if they aren’t able to establish a rhythm early. The best scenario for Texas is they are able to get chunk yards on the ground early in the game with concepts outside of their bread-and-butter. If they are able to do that, then the entire playbook will begin to open up.
  9. Texas kept their Big 12 title hopes alive by a thread last week with a close win against Kansas State. With three conference games remaining, the Longhorns will likely need to win out to make the conference championship game. This week, they face an Iowa State coming off a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Cyclones offense: Quarterback Brock Purdy remains at the helm for the Cyclones after an impressive freshman season once he took over as the starter. Purdy currently leads the Big 12 in passing yards and has also added 7 rushing touchdowns. It was surprising to see Skylar Thompson not have more designed runs last Saturday, but Matt Campbell will surely test the soundness of the Texas defense by letting Purdy loose on a few runs. As a passer, Purdy is accurate and has done a nice job of spreading the ball around to his weapons on the outside. Running Back It has become increasingly obvious that the most talented back on the Cyclone’s roster is freshman Breece Hall. Hall leads the team in carries 99 for 585 yards and 7 touchdowns. He had 110 yards rushing last week against Oklahoma and has gone over 100 yards in 3 of his last 4 games. Wide Receiver/Tight end Iowa State has perhaps the most underrated receiving unit in the Big 12. Leading receiver Deshaunte Jones has 56 receptions and is very dangerous in space. Texas can not afford to let him operate with grass in front of him in the screen game. Tarique Milton is averaging over 20 yards per reception and also is extremely dangerous in the return game. The biggest mismatch for Iowa State will look to exploit is TE Charlie Kolar going up against what has been shaky linebacker play at best for Texas. The Longhorns have not dealt with a true all-around threat at tight end all season aside from Thaddeus Moss with LSU. Kolar leads the Cyclones in receiving TD’s with 6 and he may be the player that is causing Todd Orlando to lose sleep this week. Offensive Line Last week, Texas faced 5 redshirt senior starters along the offensive line for Kansas State. This week, it will be 4 redshirt senior starters. Right tackle Bryce Meeker and left tackle Julian Good-Jones are both impressive players who move well. As has become a staple at Iowa State since Matt Campbell took over, the Cyclones are physical at the point of attack and force defensive linemen to work hard. Overall Thoughts The argument could be made for Brock Purdy to be considered one of the best passing quarterbacks in the Big 12. Texas has shown in previous weeks they can find ways to slow down an opposing teams rushing attack, but they have yet to find an answer on slowing down teams through the air. One week is unlikely to change anything, but if Texas is able to get a turnover or two and slow down Hall on the ground, it may be enough to squeak out a win in Ames.
  10. Following a big win at Purdue on Saturday night, Texas returned home to the Frank Erwin Center to face off against Cal Baptist. Despite a sluggish start and a rough shooting performance from deep, the Longhorns used a strong defensive performance to pull out a 67-54 victory. The win moves Texas to 3-0 on the young season and drops Cal Baptist to 2-1. Throughout the first half, the Longhorns allowed Cal Baptist to hang around thanks to a poor shooting performance from 3-point range. The Longhorns began the game 2 for 14 from deep and finished 6 for 24 overall. The poor shooting performance combined with a strong close to the half by Cal Baptist had the Longhorns going into the locker room clinging to a 26-22 lead. The second half was much of the same story, with the Lancers hanging around and trading punches with the Longhorns. A 3-pointer by Ferron Flowers with 7:23 remaining in the game pulled Cal Baptist within 3 points at 50-47. It ended up being the closest the Lancers would get the remainder of the game, as the Longhorns closed on a 17-7 run to close out the win. Jericho Sims paced the Longhorns with the first double-double of his career. The junior registered 11 points and 11 rebounds. Courtney Ramey led all scorers with 19 points and added 6 rebounds. The only other Longhorn player to record double figures was Andrew Jones, who chipped in 11 points off the bench. Texas will return to action on Friday when they host Prairie View A&M at 7:00. The game will air on LHN.
  11. The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, with Kansas State checking in at number 16. A big reason for the Wildcats’ success has been a defense with tons of veterans and starting experience. Let’s look at what to expect from the Kansas State defense: Defensive Line The Wildcats will operate primarily with 4 down linemen who have done a nice job of getting into opposing backfields. Defensive end Wyatt Hubert leads the defense with 4 sacks and fellow defensive end Reggie Walker is a senior who was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team. Inside at defensive tackle, seniors Trey Dishon and Jordan Mittie are solid. Dishon, in particular, has been impressive this season thus far. Kansas State has one of the most underrated defensive lines in the Big 12 and it will be interesting to see how they match up against a Texas offensive line that has not played to their potential over the past month. Linebackers As is usually the case with any Kansas State defense, they boast extremely active linebackers who know their assignments and rarely beat themselves. Elijah Sullivan anchors the defense at middle linebacker and is having a good year. One area of concern for the Wildcats will be the quarterback running game. Jalen Hurts had a very productive day on the ground against the Wildcats a few weeks ago, scoring 3 rushing touchdowns. Defensive Backs Kansas State received bad news earlier this week when head coach Chris Klieman announced starting corner AJ Parker would miss significant time with an injury. Parker’s injury means a heavy burden will be placed on Walter Neil Jr. to play a key role in slowing down the Texas passing attack featuring Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay. Free safety Denzel Goolsby leads Kansas State in tackles and is one of the top safeties in the Big 12. Overall Thoughts Similar to their offense, the Kansas State defense is well-coached and does not beat themselves. They will force Texas to sustain long drives, which ironically has been the offensive identity for Texas for much of the year. The Longhorns have had 2 weeks to prepare for the Wildcats, so they will likely implement some wrinkles that haven’t been seen yet this year.
  12. Texas looks to get back in the win-column when Kansas State comes to Austin Saturday afternoon. The Longhorns currently sit at 3-2 in Big 12 play and face a must-win if they hope to stay alive for a berth in the conference championship game. Let’s look at what to expect from a good Kansas State offense: Quarterback Junior Skylar Thompson is in his first year as the full-time starter for the Wildcats and should be no stranger to Texas fans. Thompson led a spirited second-half comeback in last year’s matchup in Manhattan, putting Kansas State within striking distance in the 4th quarter in a game where the Longhorns ultimately squeaked out a win. Despite a coaching change, the Kansas State offense has continued to do a lot of the same things that made them successful under legendary coach Bill Synder. Thompson does an excellent job of taking care of the football and excels as a runner (10 rushing touchdowns). He is completing just over 60% of his passes and has only thrown 1 interception all season. Considering Texas’ struggles in defending the quarterback run, it would be surprising if Thompson didn’t end up with close to 20 carries on Saturday. Running Back Graduate transfer James Gilbert currently leads Kansas State in rushing with 558 yards, but the senior did not record a carry against Kansas last week and appears to be nursing an injury or is in the doghouse. In Gilbert’s absence, junior Harry Trotter carried the load with 20 carries. Senior Jordon Brown also figures to be in the mix and receive a handful of carries. Wide Receiver Dalton Schoen has seemingly been at Kansas State for a decade, but the senior is still going strong and leads the Wildcats with 389 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. The Longhorns have shown a tendency to struggle with the top receiver of an opposing team, so slowing down Schoen will likely be one of the top priorities for Todd Orlando on Saturday. Redshirt freshmen Phillip Brooks and Malik Knowles are the only other receivers who have recorded more than 10 receptions. Offensive Line In typical Kansas State fashion, the Wildcats will start 5 redshirt seniors along the offensive line. The unit is led by left tackle Scott Frantz, who is among the best tackles in the Big 12. The Wildcats do not allow a ton of sacks and run the football extremely well. In addition to Frantz, center Adam Holtorf is another very good player who has started over 30 games in his career. Overall Thoughts Kansas State shocked Oklahoma a few weeks ago behind a huge offensive performance from Skylar Thompson, who rushed for 4 touchdowns. They used a ton of misdirection runs and James Gilbert ran for over 100 yards. As stated previously, Texas has struggled mightily to stop the quarterback run, so expect a heavy dose of designed runs and zone reads to keep the Longhorn defense on their heels.
  13. Big pickup for Texas https://hornsports.com/index.php/2019/08/16/commitment-spotlight-xavion-alford/
  14. When it comes to defensive back recruiting, the Longhorns have had the luxury of getting to be very selective following their historic haul in 2018 that included Anthony Cook, D’Shawn Jamison, Jalen Green, BJ Foster, Caden Sterns and DeMarvion Overshown. For the 2020 class, the Longhorns have looked both inside and outside the state of Texas for quality corners and safeties, including Lufkin S Jerrin Thompson. Thompson has been on Texas’ radar for a while, but an offer in late July really put the Longhorns in strong position and showed how much Texas was interested. It turned out to be a mutual interest, with Thompson shutting down his recruitment and pledging to the Longhorns. Thompson is a highly sought after prospect from east Texas. The Longhorns fended off TCU, Baylor, Arkansas and Oklahoma State for the 16th ranked safety in the country, according to the 247sports composite rankings. Thompson took official visits to TCU, Arkansas and Oklahoma State, but ultimately committed to Texas without using an official visit. Film Analysis Player Information Name: Jerrin Thompson Position: S High School: Lufkin City & State: Lufkin, Texas Measurables Height: 6’0 Weight: 180 40-yard time: 4.61 Shuttle: 4.20 Hudl http://www.hudl.com/video/3/8438527/5ba14a7923474e05608ead1f Three Best Traits: Range – His 40 time may not pop off the page, but it appears Thompson plays faster than his testing times may show. He has great instincts for a safety and diagnoses plays extremely well. He has the range to make plays while the ball is in the air and puts himself in good position frequently. Physicality- One of the biggest things that stand out on film is whenever you see a prospect stand out on special teams. For Thompson, he flashed multiple times without even being involved as a return man. He is not afraid to lay the wood and throw a block to help a teammate. Defending the run- There is little doubt about Thompson’s ability to willingly play around the line of scrimmage and attack. He takes good angles and rarely takes himself out of plays with poor decisions. Three Areas for Improvement: Big hits– One of the biggest things that stand out on Thompson’s film is he loves to hit. He isn’t afraid to get low, pick up his defender and drive him into the ground. While he is no doubt a presence for receivers going across the middle of the field, he will have to make sure he becomes a reliable tackler in space. Coverage– While he does a nice job finding the ball in the air, Thompson will need to continue to develop as a cover man. While he shows the ability to create turnovers, he will have to continue to improve his technique to the point where pass breakups begin to become INT’s. Positional fit- Thompson is another guy who could end up at multiple positions down the road. The coaches will have to figure out where his skill set will best be utilized. If he adds a few pounds, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see him fit in at nickel long term, especially with his skill set from a physical standpoint. Nickel is one of the most demanding positions in the Texas defense because of what they are asked to do in both the run and pass game, and someone like Thompson may end up being a good fit. Summary Texas may have been offered Thompson later than many of the other schools recruiting him, but it is easy to see why they turned up the heat. Thompson profiles very well for the type of player the Longhorns covet in the secondary. He is very rangy and athletic while also possessing the ability to strike in the run game. In terms of position fit, he will likely end up stick at safety or move to nickel, but regardless, the Longhorns will be getting someone who has a mean streak to his game. While he has some cleaning up to do in pass coverage, he already does a good job of breaking on balls and finding them while they are in the air. Final Verdict Thompson will join a loaded secondary on the 40 acres, especially at the safety position. This will likely allow him to get his feet wet for the first year or two before he is asked to be a major contributor on the defensive side of the ball, but he is likely to see the field on special teams almost immediately. The addition of Thompson gives the Longhorns another quality safety prospect who has the capability of making a major impact by the end of his time on the 40 acres.
  15. One of the biggest recruiting developments for Texas came just prior to the start of June, when stud North Shore RB Zach Evans released a top 5 that did not include the Longhorns. Long before the Evans news though, it was thought the Texas coaching staff was really high on Salpointe Catholic (AZ) RB Bijan Robinson. Currently, it appears the plan is for Texas to possibly take 2 running backs in the 2020 class, so the Evans news did not stop the Longhorns pursuit of the fellow 5-star RB. Texas' pursuit of Robinson was considered a bit of a roller-coaster. Texas the final official visit Robinson used, and many assumed he would end up in burnt orange. Following his official visit, there were rumblings the talented back was headed to Ohio State. Robinson never pulled the trigger though, and Texas was ultimately able to fend off the Buckeyes to gain his commitment. Robinson is ranked as 4th best running back in the country and 22nd best prospect overall, according to the 247 composite rankings. The Arizona native chose the Longhorns over Ohio State, UCLA, Michigan and USC. Film Analysis Player Information Name: Bijan Robinson Position: RB High School: Salpointe Catholic City & State: Tucson, AZ Measurables Height: 6’0 Weight: 200 40-yard time: 4.50 Shuttle: N/A Statistics 2017: 189 rushing attempts, 2023 yards, 26 TD’s- 8 receptions, 136 yards, 3 TD’s 2018: 170 rushing attempts, 2400 yards, 35 TD’s- 10 receptions, 153 yards, 1 TD Film http://www.hudl.com/video/3/7796018/5c2c7ef90dc125053ce4aa92 Three Best Traits: Elusiveness – The first thing that sticks out when you turn on the film is his ability to make people miss. He routinely makes defenders miss in the open field while also possessing the ability to put his foot in the ground and get upfield for extra yards. Versatility- It was impressive to see Robinson run the ball out of a variety of formations and in a variety of ways. His high school offense operated out of the shotgun, pistol, I-formation and even some Wing T. Robinson was able to get the ball on stretch plays, sweeps, misdirection plays and between the tackles. This should allow his transition to the college level to be a lot smoother as opposed to being a one-trick pony. Physical Player–A lot of star high school running backs have the ability to run circles around their competition, so the next thing to look for is if they are willing to lower the shoulder and run through someone. Robinson shows that ability. He is more than willing to lower his shoulder to get through a defender. His physicality also shows in his willingness to pass block. Three Worst Traits: Developing as a pass catcher– This is something most high school running backs have to continue to develop at the next level. Robinson only had 10 receptions a season ago, so it remains to be seen how good he can be in that regard, especially with how frequently Texas likes to involve running backs in the passing game. Maintaining good ball security – This really goes hand in hand with his elusiveness. Robinson loves to put his foot in the ground and go against the grain, often times switching the ball in his hands or leaving him susceptible to big hits. As the defenders get bigger and faster, he will have to be careful and make sure his ball security is superb. Straight line speed- Robinson is not likely to be the type of player to take a jet sweep 80 yards to the house. The elusiveness he possesses will allow him speed to play quicker at the college game, but it remains to be seen if he can be the type of guy to win a footrace against a DB who has an angle on him. Summary Bijan Robinson possesses all the tools to be a superstar running back. Spend 2 minutes watching his film, and it is easy to see why he is one of the most coveted rushers in the country. His elusiveness is the number one thing that stands out on his film. He routinely turns what should be a 5 or 10 yard gain, and somehow finds a way to break free. What makes it more impressive is his ability to make people miss without spending much time running east-west. When he comes face to face with multiple defenders, he puts his foot in the ground, makes one move, and is off to the races. He can run through or around defenders with ease. He looks natural with the ball in his hands, which could help him to develop into a decent pass catcher after not catching many balls at Salpointe Catholic. His acceleration and burst help him play faster than what his 40-time or straight line speed may say. The biggest question mark for Robinson once he gets on the 40 acres will be his ability to maintain his elusiveness once the holes get smaller and the defenders get quicker at the college level. If everything falls into place, he will have the opportunity to be a workhorse back for the Longhorns and have multiple 1,000+ yard seasons. Final Verdict Texas went to Arizona last cycle for a couple of really good players in WR Jake Smith and TE Brayden Liebrock. The addition of Robinson will only help the Longhorns as they continue to go to Arizona for quality prospects in future classes. Robinson's skillset should allow him to make an impact the minute he steps on campus, which is something the Longhorns will really need as they look to build quality depth at the running back position.
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