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Jameson McCausland

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Everything posted by Jameson McCausland

  1. Steve Sarkisian said earlier this week that Texas needed to learn to hate losing more than they liked winning. The Longhorns appear to have taken that message to heart for at least one game as they took out a lot of anger on Rice Saturday evening. Here are some thoughts and takeaways from the blowout win: It’s hard to truly gauge a lot of what we saw considering the opponent, but it should be stated Texas was 26 point favorites according to Vegas. It was expected the Longhorns would win rather comfortably, but this game turned into a route early. Texas came out with a high level of intensity from the opening kickoff and Rice never really had a chance. A week after the Longhorns’ offensive line was whipped in Fayetteville, the unit helped pave the way for a 426 yard rushing performance. Steve Sarkisian appeared to lean more on outside running schemes and was rewarded with huge performances from Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson. Texas pretty much abandoned the outside run at Arkansas, so it will be interesting to see if Sarkisian continues to emphasize the running scheme his lineman and running backs appear to be most comfortable with. Casey Thompson turned in a good performance in his first career start. Thompson finished 15 for 18 for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did toss an interception in the first quarter as he was hit releasing a deep ball. Outside of the interception though, it was a clean performance and Thompson earned another start next week against Texas Tech. Back to the offensive line for a moment. The unit still has major issues when Texas operates a traditional drop back passing game. Christian Jones was beaten badly and called for a holding penalty in the second quarter in addition to the interior of the offensive line allowing a lot of pressure up the middle early in the game. At this point, Steve Sarkisian is going to have to scheme around the weaknesses his offensive line has. Keilan Robinson showed how electric he can be with a 65 yard TD run in the third quarter. Texas is going to need to find a way to get him 5-8 touches a game and utilize his speed. He also had a textbook blocked punt in the second quarter. Defensively, there is not a whole lot you can take away from this game. This was a terrible matchup for Rice, who emphasizes trying to win at the line of scrimmage and running between the tackles. The matchup was made worse when the Owls had to turn to their 3rd string QB before halftime due to injuries. The Texas pass defensive honestly hasn’t been tested too much through the first 3 weeks of the season due to the style of opponents they were playing, but that is set to change next week. Texas Tech is coming to Austin and the Red Raiders are not afraid to throw the ball all over the field. Overall, it was the performance Texas needed after what happened in Fayetteville. The Longhorns dominated from start to finish and now have to turn their attention to conference play.
  2. They were 3 TD’s better than a decent Louisiana team just 2 weeks ago
  3. Texas will attempt to clean up a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball when they welcome Rice to DKR on Saturday night. The Owls enter the contest at 0-2 on the season after opening with a 38-17 loss to Arkansas and a 44-7 blowout loss to Houston. Let's take a look at what to expect from Mike Bloomgren's team: Offense Let's cut right to the chase, Rice is awful offensively. The Owls are a power running team who loves to get under center and run the ball between the tackles. The problem is they struggle mightily to run the ball at all. Against the Razorbacks they averaged a horrible 2.1 yards per carry and improved to 3.5 yards per carry this past weekend versus Houston while only scoring 7 points. Quarterback is a revolving door. Rice brought in Nebraska transfer Luke McCaffrey prior to the season, but he has already thrown 3 interceptions. Fellow QB Wiley Green has thrown 3 interceptions of his own. The duo is combining to complete 48.1% of their passes. If Texas shuts down the running game, the game could get out of hand quickly. Up front, Rice has allowed 6 sacks already on the season despite being a team that has only attempted a54 passes. This should be a game where the Texas defensive line is able to control the line of scrimmage and pin their ears back on 3rd down. Neither McCaffrey or Green are much of a threat to run the ball so they will not have to worry about the QB run. Defense If Rice is to have any shot in this game, their defense is going to have to play nearly perfect and carry them. They held Arkansas in check for about a half in the season opener before the floodgates opened (with an assist from the poor Rice offense setting the Razorbacks up with short fields). They have an experienced defensive line, led by DT Elijah Garcia, who has a chance to be an all-conference type player for the Owls. Garcia will be a good test for the interior of the Texas offensive line that struggled in Fayetteville last weekend. On the backend, safety George Nyakwol is a good player and is someone to keep an eye on. The Longhorns will want to get the passing game in sync with conference play approaching, and they will have a good opportunity to do so with how Rice has looked through the first two weeks. Final Thoughts This game is more about Texas taking a good first step towards correcting a lot of what went wrong a week ago. The Longhorns have a lot to clean up and they likely won't get all the answers they need due to the quality of the opponent, but building some much needed momentum heading into conference play would certainly be ideal. If Texas is able to play a relatively clean game along the offensive line and Casey Thompson is able to consistently move the offense down the field, Steve Sarkisian should walk away from the game pretty pleased. Defensively, Texas needs to minimize the missed tackles and show some signs of life along the defensive line. The spread for for this game is Texas -26.5 so if all goes accordingly to plan, the Longhorns should be emptying the bench in the 4th quarter.
  4. Steve Sarkisian announced during his weekly press conference that he was making a QB switch. Casey Thompson will start Saturday's game against Rice after coming off the bench to lead a pair of scoring drives last week at Arkansas. Sarkisian also said Card will play. On the decision, head coach Steve Sarkisian had this to say: "Well I think Casey has performed well... In the Louisiana game, yeah I think three drives and scores 10 points. Came in against Arkansas, put 14 points on the board. Bottom line is, it's not always about how you execute every play, it's about are you maneuvering the offense down the field to score points. And I think Casey has put himself in a good position to do that." Hudson Card will plays as well, as was mentioned by Sarkisian at today's press conference.
  5. While I wouldn't be surprised if they made a few tweaks along the OL, replacing 4 of 5 starters probably isn't happening. Kerstetter has probably been the most consistent lineman through 2 games. Him and Majors are probably both safe. Christian Jones could probably improve in the run game but his pass protection looks improved from a season ago. Sarkisian and Flood are going to have to decide if they want to sacrifice some run blocking for pass protection. Junior Angilau and Denzel Okafor have been the two biggest liabilities when Texas is dropping back to pass but are also supposed to be their two best run blockers.
  6. We will never know if the outcome would have been different with Thompson, but what we do know is Texas gave up 333 yards rushing. You aren’t winning any football game getting gashed on the ground like that. It makes it worse that a large chunk of those yards came when everyone in the stadium knew the ball was being handed off in the second half.
  7. Let's jump right into it. The performance on Saturday night wasn't pretty in all phases. Offense As I pointed out in the game preview when discussing the Arkansas defense, Steve Sarkisian was well aware of Barry Odom and his reputation as a defensive playcaller. It is widely known that Sarkisian was very interested in potentially bringing Odom to Austin when he took over in January. Despite the familiarity and Sarkisian having faced Odom last year at Alabama, the Longhorns offensive gameplan had to be tossed in the trash several drives into the game. Odom rolled out his 3-down front with speedy LB's and DB's roaming behind the defensive line, baiting Texas to try to establish the run, and the Longhorns took the bait. Texas totaled 5 total yards of offense on their first two drives of the game while trying to hand the ball to Bijan Robinson between the tackles. The Longhorns did not have a drive with more than two first downs until their 11th (!!!!!!) drive. Texas faced 3rd and long repeatedly all night, allowing Arkansas to drop 8 and blanket throwing lanes to receivers. The Longhorns never really got the running backs involved in the passing game and decided they did want to try to move the ball with the short passing game on early downs. This leads into the conversation of how the QB's played. Hudson Card received the start and struggled, finishing 8/15 for 61 yards. It is obvious Sarkisian has drilled into his young signal caller to only use his legs as a last resort. As the Razorbacks rushed 3 and dropped 8, Card never really seemed comfortable taking off and running, instead opting to hold onto the ball and attempt some low percentage throws. Casey Thompson took over late in the 3rd quarter and rushed for a pair of touchdowns while completing 5 of 8 passes for 57 yards. Thompson is much more comfortable using his legs currently than Card and it shows. Texas loses this game regardless of who starts at QB, but Thompson's legs could have certainly allowed Texas another avenue of moving the ball early in the game when nothing was working. To the credit of the Texas wide receivers, the Longhorns had several chances to connect on big plays in the passing game. Xaiver Worthy broke through the secondary several times but Hudson Card was unable to deliver a catchable ball. Joshua Moore also had a time or two where he was behind a defender. Outside of those two, it was a tough day for the rest of the group. Jordan Whittington dropped several passes and did not look anything like the guy who had a big week 1. To say the Texas offensive line played poorly would be an understatement. Early in the game, the line allowed several 3 man rushes to get to Hudson Card. Denzel Okafor and Jake Majors allowed a linebacker to run through the line untouched for a sack on 3rd down during Texas' second drive of the game. As run blockers, they were repeatedly blown off the ball and had to be saved several times by Bijan Robinson. I'm not sure much more needs to be said. Kyle Flood has a lot of work to do with this group. Defense/Special Teams It is safe to say Pete Kwiatkowski never faced the veer and shoot at Washington. Kendal Briles put together a solid game plan and Arkansas rushed for 333 yards while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. As expected, the Razorbacks ran KJ Jefferson a lot and asked him to not be a hero in the passing game. The Texas defensive line had an awful game. They had no sacks, were driven off the ball frequently and failed to stay in their lanes in the running game. Remember at the end of the 2020 season when the Texas offense found a lot of success running outside zone? Arkansas used the same type of running schemes to go up and down the field against the Longhorns. DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer were active early in the game, but once the defensive line wore down they had little impact the rest of the way. Overshown looks like a complete different player and is playing the linebacker position at a solid level. Texas needs more guys to take the same step he took. On the surface, the pass defense didn't seem to be an issue since Texas only allowed 138 yards through the air, but the play of the secondary left a lot of be desired. Josh Thompson and D'Shawn Jamison played okay. Brenden Schooler did not start the game, but saw some playing time early and missed several tackles. Jerrin Thompson started in Schooler's place and had 5 tackles. BJ Foster had the play of the game with an impressive INT, but he still has a tendency to launch his shoulder anytime he wants to tackle someone instead of wrapping up. Hindsight is 20/20, but imagine if Texas retains possession on the muffed punt early in the 1st quarter. The Longhorns would have had the ball inside the Arkansas 5 and in all likelihood go up 7-0. The crowd is taken out of the game early, momentum is on the Longhorns side and the offense sees the ball get punched into the endzone. Instead, a small step out of bounds when attempting to make a recovery cost Texas an extra early possession. Jeff Banks and the coaching staff need to seriously think about using someone else at punter. Cameron Dicker is currently handling placekicking, kickoffs and punting duties and is not off a good start. He is 1/3 on field goals for the season and had a punt blocked last night after bobbling the snap. The Longhorns have two other scholarship punters on the roster. One of them needs to step up and allow for Dicker to focus solely on kicking. What's next? It is back to the drawing board for Steve Sarkisian. It appeared the Longhorns took a good first step last week in beating a solid Louisiana team, but all progress was lost just a week later. The gameplans were not good on both sides of the ball, the players did not perform well and as a result the Longhorns got their butts kicked. Arkansas is improved from where they were a few years ago, but it was a still a game where Texas was favored by a touchdown. Texas will host Rice next Saturday at DKR before conference play starts the following week. Several positions, including QB, appear to be up for grabs. For all the negatives that came out of the performance Saturday night, the one positive is the top of the Big 12 appears to be wide open after Oklahoma. Iowa State was beaten soundly by Iowa in a game where Brock Purdy was benched, TCU found themselves in a nail-biter with Cal, Oklahoma State struggled mightily with Tulsa and Texas Tech barely escaped Stephen F Austin. Texas can still reach many of the goals they have for this season, but a lot is going to have to change from what they showed Saturday night.
  8. Texas opened the Steve Sarkisian era with a solid victory over Louisiana, but now all the attention turns to big matchup in Fayetteville this weekend. The Longhorns have not traveled to Arkansas since 2004 and are not likely to get a warm reception when they trot onto Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday evening. Let's a take a look at what to expect from Arkansas: Offense A familiar face is coordinating the offense in Fayetteville. Longtime Baylor assistant Kendal Briles is in his 2nd year as the Razorback's offensive coordinator and brought the veer and shoot to a program that was searching for an offensive identity. Briles relied on Florida transfer Felipe Franks to operate the offense last year but handed the reigns over to redshirt sophomore KJ Jefferson this season. Jefferson is built very similar to former Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes. Standing at 6'3 245 pounds, Jefferson brings a unique skillset in the running game and isn't afraid to lower his shoulder for extra yards. As a passer, Jefferson leaves a lot to be desired, which forces Briles to be extra careful when calling a game. The arm strength is there, but the accuracy is inconsistent. Jefferson completed 12 of 21 last week against Rice including an interception where he forced the ball along the sideline instead of throwing it away. As with any Briles offense, the Razorbacks will spread out their receivers with wide splits to allow for things to open up in the running game. Redshirt junior Trelon Smith will receive the bulk of the carries. Smith had 22 carries for 102 yards against the Owls and is a shifty back who has good acceleration. Treylon Burks is the clear #1 receiver for the Hogs and clearly was not on the same page with KJ Jefferson week 1, which contributed heavily to the offensive struggles the Razorbacks had. Burks is a true playmaker out of the slot and led the team with 51 catches for 820 yards in 2020. If Texas is able to slow him down, the Arkansas offense is going to be in trouble. Along the offensive line, the Razorbacks start a veteran group comprised of 3 redshirt seniors, 1 junior and a redshirt sophomore. Left tackle Myron Cunningham is a future NFL player who has only allowed 3 sacks in 21 starts. He is well regarded as a pass blocker and will likely find himself matched up with Ovie Oghoufo frequently. Defense A lot has been written about Arkansas DC Barry Odom over the last year. The former head coach at Missouri was connected to the Texas DC opening at one point over the offseason and is highly thought of throughout college football. For the second week, the Texas offense is going to face a defense filled with veteran players. At least 8 or 9 starters on the Arkansas defense will be seniors. One of the few non-seniors will be redshirt sophomore Jalen Catalon, who is among the best safeties in the country. Odom will move Catalon all over the field and he has an excellent nose for the football. Two of the biggest storylines heading into Saturday is the health of DT John Ridgeway and Arkansas being without starting LB Bumper Pool due to a targeting penalty in the second half against Rice. Ridgeway is a graduate transfer from Illinois State who was supposed to fill a big void at NG but was unavailable against Rice. It is unknown if he will play Saturday. Pool's absence in the first half could prove to be big considering the 2020 All-SEC second team member had over 100 tackles a season ago. Final Thoughts The game will likely come down to the ability of the Texas offense to consistently move the ball against the Arkansas defense. If Sarkisian can scheme up some easy passes for Hudson Card and establish the running game early with Bijan Robinson, all the pressure will shift to the Razorbacks. Pete Kwiatkowski would be smart to deploy a similar gameplan to the one he showed against Louisiana: limit big plays, slow down the running game and force the quarterback to beat you through the air. Arkansas is very likely to come out fired up and playing with a lot of emotion considering the history they have with the Longhorns. If Texas is able to withstand the initial surge and limit mistakes early (turnovers and penalties) then they have a very good chance of leaving Fayetteville with a victory.
  9. Catalon is someone Texas wanted badly a few cycles ago. Outside of Bijan, he might be the best player on the field Saturday.
  10. I just believe that eventually Sarkisian is going to need to ride with Card unless it is a true blowout. It is going to accelerate Card’s growth/development which will help Texas maximize what they want to do this season. It did work out yesterday and against some teams on the schedule they can play both and be fine. But against some teams a 16 point lead late in the 3rd quarter is not a time to make a quarterback switch when the starter is playing well. Texas was in control pretty much the whole game yesterday so I believe that’s why Sark felt comfortable making a switch.
  11. On a weekend where many preseason top 25 teams were upset or found themselves in nail-biters late in the 4th quarter, Texas did something they haven't done in quite some time: thoroughly beat a quality opponent. No one is going to mistake Louisiana for Alabama or Georgia, but the Ragin' Cajuns entered the season with the most returning production in the country and were coming off a 10-1 season. All the ingredients were there for an upset in Austin, but the Longhorns simply outplayed and out-coached Louisiana. There were a lot of promising signs to open the Steve Sarkisian era. Here are some quick thoughts and takeaways on the 38-18 win to open the season: Offense Steve Sarkisian made it clear all offseason he was going to get Bijan Robinson the ball early and often. Sarkisian kept his promise as he handed the ball to the sophomore 20 times for 103 yards and a TD while Robinson also added 4 catches for 73 yards and a receiving TD. 24 touches is likely right around the number Robinson figures to be every week. It was interesting to see the ways Sarkisian used him in the passing game, including when he lined him up out wide and Card found Robinson for a big gain on a quick slant. Roschon Johnson was Roschon Johnson. He did a lot of the dirty work in 2 running back sets but also had a big 14 yard reception where he leaped over a defender on a 3rd down to move the chains. Keilan Robinson finally saw the field in the 3rd quarter and I bet Steve Sarkisian has some stuff up his sleeve to use throughout the season with #7. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands. There were a ton of concerns at the wide receiver position coming out of camp, specifically around drops and getting in sync with the quarterbacks. For one game at least, the unit stepped up and quieted a lot of the noise. Joshua Moore (3 catches for 17 yards) and Jordan Whittington (7 catches for 113 yards and a TD) showed no signs of being slowed by the injuries they suffered during camp. Freshman Xavier Worthy got involved early with a 34 yard catch and had a nice punt return. Marcus Washington saw a decent amount of snaps as well and had a great block on the Whittington TD. The position group as a whole had no drops and will take some confidence into next week in Fayetteville. Texas ran a ton of 2 tight end sets throughout the afternoon. Cade Brewer played the most snaps and had a 6-yard touchdown on his only catch. Steve Sarkisian said after the game that Jared Wiley was dealing with a shoulder injury, which explained the lack of snaps for the junior. In his place, Gunnar Helm was thrown into the fire and did not look out of place. It was an up and down performance for the offensive line. Penalties were an issue and there were too many times where the Louisiana defensive line was getting significant push on the interior of the Texas offensive line. It was obvious early that Texas wanted to establish outside zone as their bread and butter but the offensive line was just never able to open up the big lanes. Sarkisian and offensive line coach Kyle Flood did do a good job of making some adjustments and not completely ditching the running game despite the lack of early success. They eventually found success as the Louisiana defense wore down. Lastly, we have to touch on the quarterbacks. Hudson Card went 14/21 for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first start. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over and looked comfortable operating the offense. He does not get enough credit for his athleticism and was able to avoid several sacks. His touchdown throw to Brewer was a beautiful throw where he fired it in a tight window. Texas hasn't had a QB with his arm talent in a long time. About halfway through the 3rd quarter, Sarkisian handed the reigns to Casey Thompson. Thompson completed 4 of 5 passes for 41 yards and a TD on a screen pass to Whittington. Thompson also had another nice 3rd down completion to Whittington where he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a good pass on the move. Long term, I am not sure how Sarkisian is going to manage the QB situation. It appears he wants to keep Thompson engaged and not have one eye on the portal, but it is not sustainable to split playing time at QB for the whole season. Maybe they are able to develop a package of plays for Thompson that the they can use situationally, but Hudson Card certainly did not do anything to lose the job in week 1. Defense/Special Teams The Texas defense gave up 358 total yards, but easily 100 of those yards came with the game in hand and the Longhorns getting snaps for the backups. It was a quality performance for Pete Kwiatkowski's group. They controlled the line of scrimmage (76 rushing yards allowed) and were not beat for any backbreaking big plays through the air. Kwiatkowski said before the season the goal is to hold the opponent to under 20 points every week, and so far they are 1 for 1. Texas finished the game with 4 sacks, but the defensive line was unable to get into the backfield as frequently as many expected heading into the game. Ovie Oghoufo had a big sack and looks to be the best edge rusher Texas currently has. The Longhorns will need more push up front as they progress throughout the season. DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer combined for 23 tackles. Both played well. Brockermeyer in particular was a pleasant surprise and Overshown was flying around the field. It was a quiet day for the DB's. Louisiana obviously had a game plan of wanting to control the ball and not ask Levi Lewis to take deep shots. The DB's for Texas had a good day of keeping everything in front of them and tackling, which has been in issue in past years. They will be tested more this upcoming week against Arkansas. One of the biggest moments of the game was Keondre Coburn blocking an extra point to keep it a 21-12 game and then BJ Foster recovering the ensuing surprise onside kick. Sarkisian mentioned after the game that special teams coordinator Jeff Banks had a feeling the onside kick might be coming and alerted Foster. All-around great coaching and execution.
  12. Agreed on the scheduling front. Louisiana likely doesn't go 10-1 playing a Big 10 schedule last year but I also think they do much better than the 4-8 record Maryland put together in 2017 or the 5-7 record they had in 2018.
  13. It is officially game week and the Steve Sarkisian era is set to begin Saturday afternoon inside DKR. The Longhorns will be tested right off the bat as they welcome the Louisiana Rajin' Cajuns to Austin. Billy Napier's team returns 20 of 22 starters and is looking to build off a 2020 campaign that ended in a 10-1 record, with the lone hiccup being a 3-point loss to Coastal Carolina. Let's take a look at what the Longhorns can expect when they take the field in their season opener. Offense QB Levi Lewis is the straw that stirs the drink for the Louisiana offense. Lewis is entering his 3rd year as the starter and is very comfortable in Billy Napier's system. He does a good job of taking care of the football and knowing his limitations. The Louisiana coaching staff won't ask Lewis to push the ball down the field often, but they do a solid job of playing to their QB's strengths and knowing weak spots in defenses. The stats show Lewis only rushed for 335 yards a season ago, but Texas will have to account for the QB in the run game. Lewis has the athleticism to make plays with his legs and has good pocket presence. He frustrated defenses often last season with his ability to avoid sacks. The Rajin' Cajuns will be replacing their two leading rushers (Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas) from 2020. Sophomore Chris Smith will be asked to step up in their place after serving more as a gadget player last year. Smith is 5'9 195 pounds and can fly. He will be especially dangerous in the return game. Texas would be wise to kick the ball out of the back of the endzone any chance they get. The RB situation behind Smith is a little murky. Emani Bailey and T.J Wisham should both see playing time, but the duo has only combined for 25 carries in their careers so they are unknowns at this point. Pretty much every notable receiver returns for Louisiana in 2021. Kyren Lacy led the team in receptions and yards last season as a true freshman and will likely emerge as the #1 receiver. Jalen Williams and Peter LeBlanc will also see targets. One interesting note on the wide receiver group as a whole is there does not appear to be many speed burners. The Rajin' Cajuns will look to create 1 v 1 matchups in the passing game and use the physicality of their experienced receivers. Along the offensive line, Louisiana returns all 5 starters and kept Levi Lewis upright pretty much the whole season in 2020. The offensive line unit only allowed 9 total sacks in 11 games. The lack of pressure can be attributed to quality play up front along with the heavy reliance on the quick passing game. Louisiana did have to replace their offensive line coach this offseason after previous OL coach Rob Sale left the program to join the New York Giants. Defense 9 of 11 starters for the Ragin' Cajuns defense will be upperclassman. The strength of the defense a season ago was defending the pass and all 5 starters in the secondary return. The safety duo of Bralen Trahan and Percy Butler is far and away the best in the Sun Belt and both would start at most power 5 schools. The weakness of the defense is defending the run, which surely jumped out to Steve Sarkisian as he was watching film over the last few weeks. Louisiana allowed over 180 rushing yards per game a season ago and almost 4.3 yards per rushing attempt. There is little doubt the Longhorns will look to establish the run early with Bijan Robinson to test the Louisiana defense and take pressure off Hudson Card. Despite the experience returning along the defensive line, Texas should have the advantage in the trenches on offense. Defensive tackle Tayland Humphrey will be a solid test for Jake Major and the interior of the Longhorns offensive line, but outside of Humphrey nothing truly jumps off the screen about the Louisiana defensive front. Final Thoughts This will be the toughest opener Texas has played in a long time. Many will point to Maryland in 2017 and 2018, but the fact of the matter is 2021 Louisiana would have beaten those Maryland teams by double digits. The good news for Steve Sarkisian is he inherits an experienced team that has veterans at key spots. The biggest strength of the team is along the defensive line and Louisiana has traditionally leaned heavily on the running game to set up their offense. The biggest question heading into Saturday is can Texas consistency move the ball on the Louisiana defense? If the answer if yes, then the Longhorns should open the season with a win. If the running game bogs down and Louisiana is able to force a couple of turnovers, it is going to be a nail-biting opening game in Austin.
  14. Helm and Davis both had solid springs as early enrollees and Sanders did not arrive until the summer. The season ending injury to Liebrock will create some interesting decisions the staff will have to make in regards to potential playing time for the freshman TE's. I still believe that Sanders will play this year and the coaching staff will find a role for him in the offense.
  15. A few weeks ago, Steve Sarkisian called the QB competition between Casey Thompson and Hudson Card the closest one he's overseen in his career. After battling it out throughout spring practice and fall camp, the competition appears to have concluded. Sarkisian informed both quarterbacks Friday that Hudson Card would open the year as the starter, as first reported by Horns247. The redshirt freshman will be the first freshman QB to start an opener for Texas since Shane Buechele in 2016. Card was a standout at Lake Travis high school and was considered the 2nd ranked dual threat QB in the country in the 2020 class according to the 247 composite rankings. He played in 3 games in 2020 while taking a redshirt year. Thompson entered the competition with the most experience as he entered his 4th year in the program, but turnovers became an issue throughout the spring and into fall camp. It is unknown whether Thompson will stick around for the 2021 season as the backup or potentially enter his name into the transfer portal. #21 Texas is 7 days away from opening the season against #23 Louisiana and will start the Steve Sarkisian era with Card leading the offense.
  16. The countdown is on as 18 days remain until Texas kicks off the season against Louisiana. After spending the first part of our preview series on the offensive side of the ball, we turn our attention to the defense. Departures DT Ta'Quon Graham (NFL)- 24 career starts, 23 career tackles for loss, 7 career sacks EDGE Joseph Ossai (NFL)- 24 career starts, 30.5 career tackles for loss, 11 career sacks EDGE Marquez Bimage (Portal)- Sat out the 2020 season. Played in 34 career games with 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. EDGE Reese Leitao- 7 career tackles DE Daniel Carson (Portal)- Played in 4 career games The biggest departures will be Graham and Ossai, who both are now playing in the NFL. Ossai in particular was the best player Texas had defensively in 2020 and benefited greatly from the move to the 4-man front under Chris Ash, who deployed him as a stand up edge rusher. Graham was a steady presence in the interior of the defensive line and started alongside Keondre Coburn. Bimage flashed at times in 2019 when given playing time, but opted out of the 2020 season and decided to finish his career at Cal. Leitao also opted to end his playing days early after graduating. Carson was never able to crack the defensive line rotation and is now at Western Illinois. Additions Byron Murphy- #400 ranked player in the country, 50th ranked defensive lineman D.J Harris- #268 ranked player in the country, 20th ranked EDGE player Jordon Thomas- #294 ranked player in the country, 38th ranked defensive lineman David Abiara- #439 ranked player in the country, 55th ranked defensive lineman Barryn Sorrell- #686 ranked player in the country, 87th ranked defensive lineman Ray Thornton- Transfer from LSU Ben Davis- Transfer from Alabama It can be argued whether a few of these guys should be grouped with the linebackers, but for the simplicity of this exercise we will group them with the DL. Pete Kwiatkowski's system has both a X-backer and JACK position, which include DL and LB responsibilities. In terms of the new additions via the high school ranks, Texas did a nice job of adding some late pieces to fill needs in the class both in the interior of the DL and on the edge. Byron Murphy is already earning rave reviews in camp and appears poised to see some playing time as a true freshman at DT. Harris is recovering from a knee injury suffered in high school and is likely headed for a redshirt year, but he figures to factor into the conversation at JACK in the coming years. Thomas is already listed at 273 pounds on the Texas roster and could be destined to move inside as his frame continues to fill out. Abiara and Sorrell were both late additions to the 2021 class after Sarkisian took over. Both are likely headed for redshirt years. Abiara was once committed to Notre Dame and likely fits into conversation at X-Backer. Sorrell will also factor in at one of the edge positions. The big story of the spring was the additions of Ray Thornton (LSU) and Ben Davis (Bama). Both come to Texas from big time programs. Thornton is likely the favorite to start at X-Backer and Davis will see plenty of snaps coming off the edge as well after spending most of his career at Alabama as an inside linebacker. Returning Players Junior DT Keondre Coburn- 22 career starts, 4.5 tackles for loss in 2020 Junior DT Moro Ojomo- 13 career starts, 2 sacks in 2020 Sophomore DT Alfred Collins- 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2020 Junior DT T'Vondre Sweat- 4 tackles for loss and 1 sack in 2020 Sophomore DT Myron Warren- No career appearances Redshirt Freshman DT Sawyer Goram-Welch- Played in 3 career games Redshirt Freshman DT Vernon Broughton- Played in 3 career games Redshirt Freshman EDGE Prince Dorbah- Played in 1 career game Senior EDGE Jacoby Jones- Played in 20 career games, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2020 Despite losing Ta'Quon Graham, the Longhorns return a lot of talent at defensive tackle. Keondre Coburn will be entering his 3rd year as a starter and appears poised for a big year. Ojomo and Sweat have been rotational players the last few years and will look to take another step forward under new defensive line coach Bo Davis. Ojomo figures to get the first crack at starting alongside Coburn after a strong spring. Collins was a borderline 5-star recruit in the 2020 class and flashed major potential as a true freshman a year ago. He is likely in line for plenty of snaps in 2021. Warren, Goram-Welch and Broughton will likely spend the reminder of fall camp fighting to get into the defensive tackle rotation. On the edge, super senior Jacoby Jones is the favorite to begin the season as the starter at the JACK position. The Longhorns will need him to show he can get to the quarterback if the defense wants to reach its fullest potential. Dorbah played in 1 game a season ago while taking a redshirt year and could still be a year away from being ready to contribute. Outlook The interior defensive line is far and away the biggest strength on the Texas roster. Moro Ojomo, T'Vondre Sweat and Alfred Collins would be starters almost any other year, but 2 of the 3 will find themselves as "backups". The term backup should be used loosely because all 3 will still play a lot and all 3 have NFL futures. The biggest question mark will be the production Pete Kwiatkowski able to get from the X-Backer and JACK position, specifically as pass rushers. Ossai was a one man wrecking crew when teams dropped back to pass a season ago. The Longhorns must find a way to replace his production in a league where teams are not afraid to throw the ball. If Texas is able to get consistent play from Thornton and Jones, it is likely Texas has a defensive front that is one of the best in the Big 12 right alongside Oklahoma.
  17. He can likely be grouped in with Daniel Young. I wouldn’t expect either guy to contribute much but you never know.
  18. Fall camp has officially kicked off, and we continue our series previewing the 2021 Texas Longhorns by turning our attention to the running back position. Departures Keaontay Ingram (Portal)- 1,811 career rushing yards, 11 career rushing TD's After flashing big time potential his freshman season, Ingram was never able to put all the pieces together to become the dominant running back many expected him to be. Injuries plagued him throughout his career and his 2020 season ended following an ankle injury against Oklahoma State. Ingram's injury opened the door for Bijan Robinson to receive more touches and the true freshman took full advantage, cementing himself as the lead back heading into 2021. Ingram opted to press the reset button and head west to USC. Additions Jonathan Brooks- #359 overall player in the country, #24 ranked RB Keilan Robinson- Transfer from Alabama; sat out the 2020 season With Ingram's departure, Steve Sarkisian and Stan Drayton looked to the portal for someone who could provide an immediate impact at the RB position. Sarkisian found the perfect fit in Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson, who he was familiar with from his time has the offensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide. Robinson opted not to play in 2020 due to concerns about Covid-19, but appeared in 8 games as a true freshman in 2019 and scored a pair of touchdowns while rushing for 254 yards. It is doubtful he will carry a heavy load for the Longhorns this year, but he is likely in line for a handful of touches per game as Sarkisian looks to utilize his elite speed. Brooks joins the RB room after a decorated high school career at Hallettsville where he scored 70 total touchdowns as a senior. He is likely headed for a redshirt year but has the potential to make a big impact down the road. Returning Players Sophomore Bijan Robinson (2020 stats)- 86 carries, 703 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns Junior Roschon Johnson (2020 stats)- 80 carries, 418 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns Senior Daniel Young- Opted out of the 2020 season Bijan Robinson certainly lived up to the hype he had coming out of high school and enters 2021 as the clear number 1 back for Texas. Sarkisian has made it clear he is not afraid to give Robinson up to 30 touches in a game if the situation calls for it. The sophomore will also see an uptick in receptions as Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Kyle Flood have a history of getting running backs heavily involved in the passing game. Johnson enters his 3rd year at the running back position after originally arriving on the 40 acres as a quarterback. He has shown to be a physical runner his first two seasons and could carve out a role as a short yardage back this year. Daniel Young is back on the team after opting out of the 2020 season. He is the biggest unknown in the RB room. Young saw significant playing time in 2017 but saw his playing time decline in 2018 and was pretty much only played special teams in 2019. Similar to Johnson, he is known for his power and ability to get tough yards. Fumbling issues and staying healthy have been big question marks. How he performs in fall camp will likely determine if he is in line to receive any meaningful carries this season. Outlook Running back is easily one of the deepest positions on the Texas roster. Bijan Robinson receives the majority of the hype (deservedly so), but the type of players Texas has behind him is equally as impressive. If Keilan Robinson picks up where he left off in 2019, the Longhorns will have 3 running backs they can feel comfortable handing the ball to in any given week Steve Sarkisian will likely look to lean on the running back unit early in the season as he breaks in a new QB, but he has to feel good about what he has at his disposal to make life a little easier for Casey Thompson or Hudson Card.
  19. As expected, the SEC has officially extended invitations for Texas and Oklahoma to join the conference. The news comes following a meeting with all 14 presidents, who all voted in favor of offering membership to the Longhorns and Sooners. The only thing left for both schools to do is to accept the invitation. That will happen Friday during separate Board of Regents meetings the schools have scheduled. Things have moved quickly since the news leaked last Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma had been discussing joining the SEC. On Monday, the presidents formally informed the Big 12 that they would not renew their grant-of-rights agreement after it expires in 2025. The invitation for Texas and Oklahoma is to begin play in their new conference in 2025, but it is expected that both schools will attempt to make the move earlier, perhaps as soon as 2022.
  20. We take a brief break from 'Texas to the SEC' talk and continue our position preview series with kickoff against Louisiana just 43 days away. Let's talk about the tight ends: Departures Malcolm Epps (Portal)- 3 catches for 42 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2020 Epps began his college career at wide receiver but was moved to TE prior to the 2020 season. He was used a red-zone target a handful of times throughout last season, but was never able to carve out a consistent role. He went through spring practice with the new coaching staff before opting to enter the portal and transfer to USC. Additions Ja'Tavion Sanders- #12 overall player in the country, #1 ranked ATH Juan Davis- #542 overall player in the country, #34 ranked TE Gunnar Helm- #663 overall player in the country, #34 ranked TE The Longhorns added some talent to the TE room from the 2021 class, headlined by Ja'Tavion Sanders. The Denton Ryan standout played DE and TE in high school, but will start his career on the offensive side of the ball. He has a chance of making an immediate impact and could see the field early this fall. Davis and Helm were both early enrollees who participated in spring ball. Both flashed during the spring game but are likely headed for redshirt years. Returning Players Sr Cade Brewer (2020 stats)- 15 catches, 169 yards and 2 TD's Jr Jared Wiley (2020 stats)- 9 catches, 166 yards and 1 TD Rs-So Brayden Liebrock (2020 stats)- 2 catches for 11 yards Texas will have plenty of experience returning as they welcome back Cade Brewer and Jared Wiley. Brewer will be entering his 5th season in the program and has 22 career starts. He appeared to drop some weight over the winter and looked more athletic throughout the spring. Wiley saw his snaps increase as the 2020 season progressed and has shown a lot of potential as a pass catcher. The big question with the junior will be if he is able to hold up in the run game and when he is asked to stay in for pass protection. If the answer to those two question are yes, then Wiley could be in for a big year. Liebrock is a little bit of a wildcard at the position. He battled injuries in 2020 but came to campus known for his pass catching ability. With a strong fall camp, he could be in line for role as a pass catching TE in Steve Sarkisian's offense. Outlook Several months ago, Sarkisian mentioned that tight end was one of the most important positions in his offense. Texas will be in 11 and 12 personnel the majority of the time on offense, so it makes sense that a premium will be placed on the position. Lucky for Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Kyle Flood, this is probably the deepest the Longhorns have been at TE in quite a while. The expectation is Sarkisian's system will be more tight end friendly, allowing both Brewer and Wiley to fit into roles that maximize their skillsets. Liebrock and Sanders are both likely to provide positive contributions as well, setting the table for what could be a productive year from the tight end room.
  21. Texas added their 15th commit of the 2022 class Wednesday afternoon when Denton Ryan DB Austin Jordan pulled the trigger in favor of the Longhorns. The Denton Ryan product is ranked the 196th overall player in the country and 10th ranked safety, according to the 247sports composite rankings. Jordan had previously released a top 3 of Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Jordan could profile to a number of different spots in the secondary, but his biggest upside might be at safety. He joins a defensive back class that already includes Bryan Allen Jr. and Jaylon Guilbeau. Terry Joseph and the rest of the Texas coaching staff will continue their pursuit of Denver Harris and Bryce Anderson in hopes of rounding out one of the best defensive back classes in the country.
  22. We continue our series previewing each position group for the 2021 season. Today, we turn our attention to the offensive line. Departures Sam Cosmi (NFL)- 34 career starts, 21 of them at Left Tackle Reese Moore (Portal) Willie Tyler (Portal) Kyle Flood will have to find a way to fill a massive hole left behind by Sam Cosmi, who was a 3-year starter for the Longhorns. Cosmi anchored the Texas offensive line for the last 2 years and was a 2nd round pick by the Washington Football Team. The departures of Moore and Tyler were not a total surprise as both didn't see much playing time last year. Additions Hayden Conner- #391 ranked player in the 2021 class, 29th ranked OT Max Merril- #1086 ranked player in the 2021 class, 9th ranked OT Connor and Merril are both headed for a redshirt year. Herb Hand did not have a good year from a recruiting standpoint, but he did improve the Longhorns overall depth the last few years which will allow Flood to redshirt most freshman lineman moving forward. Returning Players Jake Majors (R-Fr)- Played in 3 career games with 2 starts Tope Imade (R-Sr)- Played in 8 career games Derek Kerstetter (Sr)- Played in 46 games with 37 starts Andrej Karic (R-Fr)- Played in 3 games with 1 start Christian Jones (Jr)- Played in 23 games with 10 starts Logan Parr (R-Fr)- Redshirted last year Tyler Johnson (R-So)- Played and started in the Alamo Bowl last year Isaiah Hookfin (R-So)- Played in 1 career game Rafiti Ghirmai (R-Jr)- Played in 13 career games Junior Angilau (R-Jr)- Has played and started 22 career games Jaylen Garth (R-Fr)- Redshirted last year Denzel Okafor (R-Sr)- Played in 48 career games with 14 starts Despite losing Cosmi, Texas will be returning 6 players with starting experience and have several more who could make positive contributions for a unit looking to take a big step forward in 2021. Christian Jones is the favorite to take over at LT entering fall camp after spending the majority of his time at RT a season ago. Jones has a high ceiling but will need to develop more consistency after struggling at times in 2020 against good pass rushers. The biggest wildcard of the group will be Derek Kerstetter, who is returning for a 5th season and has played all over the offensive line in his first 4 seasons. Kerstetter spent last season at center but could be moved to a guard spot or RT with the emergence of Jake Majors. Wherever Kerstetter ends up will cause a domino effect on the rest of the unit. If Kerstetter ends up at RT, it likely leaves Tope Imade and Denzel Okafor in a battle for the RG spot. Kerstetter at RG opens the door for Andrej Karic to claim the RT spot. The Southlake Carroll product flashed in the final few games of 2020 when he received extended playing time. Junior Angilau likely has a firm grasp on the LG spot. Outlook As a unit, Texas has to be better at protecting the QB than they were in 2020. The Longhorns OL struggled mightily against teams like Oklahoma and Iowa State who were strong along the defensive line and at linebacker. Sam Ehlinger was able to mask some of the issues with is scrambling ability, but Steve Sarkisian will be asking his QB's to stay in the pocket much more frequently which will place more of an emphasis on keeping either Hudson Card or Casey Thompson upright. Another important factor will be Bijan Robinson, who will make the jobs of the offensive lineman easier. If Flood can get the offensive line to be an above average run blocking unit, the Longhorns should see plenty of success running the ball. The expectations for the unit as the whole should be higher despite losing their best player. The Longhorns have depth at all 5 positions and Flood is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. If Christian Jones to take the next step in his development and Kerstetter shows that he is the same player at guard or tackle that he was pre-injury, Texas should field one of the better OL units in the Big 12.

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