We’ve spent a good deal of time discussing Herman’s schemes as well as the various players he’s inheriting and how they can be best deployed in his attack. However, we’ve mostly glossed over the play of the foundational pieces to the 2017 attack. That’d be the offensive line, featuring Connor Williams (23 starts), Patrick Vahe (19 starts), Jake McMillon (five starts), and Zach Shackelford (nine starts).
When Texas either strongly targets or signs a quarterback, I like to deep dive into his high school film. There’s obviously only so much you can tell from watching highlights, after all. You can see movement skill and some of where a player is at in terms of fitting into a scheme and team concept but it’s a very partial picture. With other positions I don’t worry about that as much, but quarterback is such a cerebral position that I want as close a look as I can get.
It might be strange to discuss Texas tight ends so much since there’s a decent chance that Texas will spend half or more of their offensive snaps next season without one on the field. That said, Herman clearly wants to make them a priority within the offense and some of the targets on the board for this next recruiting class (Mustapha Muhammad and Malcolm Epps for instance) are potential game-changers.
Texas really only utilized two blitzes in the spring game. When you consider the wide world of disguises, stunts, pressure combos, and back end coverages in Orlando’s playbook it’s easy to understand why both the first and second team offenses would be in such sorry shape against the defense in the spring. They each struggled some against the two blitzes that they saw in the spring and it’s easy to see them getting overwhelmed facing Orlando’s full arsenal.
The 2017 Orange and White game might have featured some vanilla schemes on offense and defense but they still put enough on tape to make some features of the Longhorn identity discernible and to put the fear of God into the rest of the Big 12.
It’s like 80 degrees right now in southeast Michigan, probably made for a nice day at the Big House where the Wolverines were holding their spring game. I’ll get out and enjoy myself in a moment, probably fire up the grill, but I was content to sit inside for the afternoon and watch Herman’s squad go at it.
What the spring game shows us are the bare bones of a team, who’s at the top of the pecking order, what the most basic formations and calls are, and how well the team knows to execute those calls.
Tom Herman and his staff are going to have a fun summer brainstorming workarounds to some glaring issues in their 2017 offense. Texas fans are no stranger to the concept of a unit featuring many great talents but lacking cohesiveness or identity that can elevate supporting players but this staff definitely is and they’ll be hard at work to find solutions this offseason.
When Dave Aranda took his crafty and thoroughly modern defensive scheme from Wisconsin to LSU it seemed a potentially terrifying combination. The only question was how long it would take for Aranda’s more complex, protection-busting schemes to connect with an athletic LSU roster that had been successful in a different system for some time.
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.