Last May we discussed how Texas could “build around the Predator” and feature Malik as a main component to the defense. That all came crashing down when Texas didn’t get effective run defense out of the hybrid middle linebacker (or any other LB on campus) and the area where Malik eventually brought value to the team was not one we foresaw.
We probably haven’t put enough emphasis on how good and how important Texas’ offensive line could be in 2017. This might be a legitimately great unit that could make the competition at running back nearly irrelevant and leaning on their play will unquestionably be a big part of Herman’s strategy.
However, Herman has a secret weapon that could really transform Texas from the losing team that took the field in 2016 to a Big 12 contender in 2017; the special teams.
John Bonney was once a fairly well regarded recruit. He was a four-star out of Houston Lamar (DB High?), an opening invitee, and a kid boasting offers from just about everywhere in the nation. At the 2013 Nike SPARQ combine he ran a 4.62 40, a 4.1 shuttle, tossed the ball 41’, and jumped a 34.3” vertical, which puts him amongst the top echelon of athletes even at defensive back.
I’ve enjoyed Herman’s press conferences so far, it’s fairly easy to glean what’s going on in the program and in his mind when I watch them (combined with the inside scoops from Eric, Justin, and Joe). There were a few nuggets in there today and in the Scoop that are helping me to update my understanding of where the program’s at and what the main questions they’ll be looking to answer in the spring will be.
Tom Herman’s first Junior Day was probably the most successful recruiting moment yet for the new regime. In addition to successfully drawing in the “who’s who” of 2018 Texas recruiting, they also made great impressions with many of the state’s elite prospects.
Amidst Texas’ receivers in 2016, Collin Johnson was just one of many players that got some targets and produced in Sterlin Gilbert’s Veer and Shoot offense.
If there’s a criticism to be made of Gilbert’s efforts in 2016 it’s that Texas didn’t necessarily feature Johnson or any other WR in a prominent role within the offense, but then who would Texas have even featured?
The reason the Big 12 successfully produces multiple 1k yard WRs and highly successful QBs every year becomes evident when you take the time to watch every player in a given year joining a Big 12 program, as I’ve done. The state of Texas in particular produces a multitude of talented skill athletes at the WR position.
Todd Orlando used to be a 4-3 guy in his days back at UCONN. He played LB at Wisconsin himself and his defenses used to be defined like much of the rest of the Midwest or Northeast with an emphasis on sound, physical play and “bend don’t break” strategies.
The dreaded transition class has now finally come together for Tom Herman and includes several players that were obviously chosen for their fit and the staff’s comfort level with making the most of their talent. As Herman himself noted, their first class at Ohio State was ranked 5th nationally but only produced three contributors because of lack of fit.
We’ve now examined the foundation of the Herman offense, which is the power and inside zone run game, as well as the basics of the Todd Orlando defense, which are the coverages he uses to structure his schemes. Now it’s time to dive into the Herman passing game.