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.
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.