In recent years, a scheduling stretch that pitted Texas against Oklahoma State at home before taking them on a tour of Waco and Ft. Worth would be a trip through the valley of death for the Longhorns. In 2017, that probably won’t be the case.
This is the big one, the biggest game on the schedule almost every single season for the simple reason that Oklahoma is the only other program in the Big 12 with Texas’ resources. Since A&M, Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri left the league you’d have figured that this game would only grow in importance but…Texas hasn’t made the most of their new place in a weakened league.
When I read practice reports or staff quotes I’m looking for hints that will answer that question.
The way the spread offense works is really pretty simple. You space out your players, attack different areas of the field, and then hit opponents where they yield numbers or leverage. Or if you have an elite feature to your offense, you pound them with it repeatedly unless they shut it down.
Craig Naivar, Todd Orlando, and Tom Herman are big fans of the safeties they found waiting for them on campus at Texas. The unit that was perpetually filled with superior athletes that couldn’t edge out sticky-fingered Dylan Haines under Charlie Strong but is now finally stocked with multi-year veterans with diverse skill sets.
Obviously one of the big changes that Mack Brown brought to the recruiting game was snatching up juniors early after the season ended before they were even seniors. That required some projection on the part of the Texas staff, but projection is already the name of the game and they could at least work off a year of varsity film + camp work to get a sense of what a kid might become at Texas.
Texas’ reward for going into the Coliseum to take on Sam Darnold and the USC Trojans is a weekend off to recuperate and assess before conference play. They then draw a Thursday night game in Ames, which has been a troublesome place for Texas this decade. Then they get another weekend off before entering the gauntlet portion of the schedule against K-State, Oklahoma, and then Oklahoma State in successive weeks.
This is one of the big ones for Tom Herman in year one even though a pure “win or lose” metric probably won’t be the standard for what Texas needs to accomplish in the premier non-conference game. The Longhorns need to avoid an embarrassing blowout like they endured in 2015 in South Bend while a surprising victory like the 2016 triumph over the Fighting Irish would be more likely to prove a reliable omen.
If I were to offer a scouting report on the 2017 Texas Longhorns I’d suggest that they might be vulnerable to a run game supplemented with option elements, pace, motion, and multiple formations. Texas’ ability to fit the run consistently and with good fundamentals in their new scheme is far from proven, after all. I’d also suggest a “bend don’t break” defensive approach pair with aggressive assaults on the right side of the line. That worked out pretty well for opponents in 2016 and while Texas is likely to be improved overall, those weaknesses are still worth probing.
Our X’s and O’s guru, Ian Boyd is holding a Texas Football Q&A today at 10:00am. Ask him about the schemes and philosophies of the Tom Herman-led program, offense and defense, and more. JOIN US.
One of our favorite offseason topics every year is the numbers and allocation of the precious 85 scholarships. Where Texas should load up with talent? Where do they skimp on numbers? What kinds of talents make for the best classes and bring about future success? The fact that Texas regularly outperforms most of their competition in recruiting and yet doesn’t have much to show for it doesn’t quite get as much scrutiny as whether X or Y player/savior is likely to fax in his letter.