Orlando and Hand discuss depth at LB, DL, and OL

Texas o-line (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas o-line (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas DC Todd Orlando and OL coach Herb Hand were available to reporters Wednesday night. Texas has yet to release a depth chart for its matchup against Kansas State, who presents an offense unique to the Big 12.

Depth was on display at several points against TCU, specifically along both the offensive and defensive lines. Both Orlando and Hand spoke about depth at various positions, including who occupies those spots on the depth chart.

LINEBACKER

With the speedy Alex Delton likely starting at QB for the Wildcats, that will likely result in the KSU offense looking more like the KSU offenses of years past. Texas likes to be in nickel, but with Delton’s limitations as a passer, there could be an opportunity to see Texas trot out four linebackers in certain situations.

Right now, Texas’ F-Backer is played by a defensive back, usually PJ Locke or Josh Thompson. If an actual linebacker needed to play the spot?

“If we had to play with them, it would go down to either Cameron Townsend, or we can take a guy like Breckyn Hager and we can play him up,” Orlando said. “We’ve got some flexibility in our package because of what we did in fall camp.”

Townsend could occupy the F-Backer spot, but the option with Hager standing up would put the best athletes on the field for the Longhorns. Against a QB-run centric team, a DL of Omenihu-Nelson-Graham with McCulloch-Johnson-Wheeler-Hager behind them in LB roles seems like the smartest way for Texas to use four LBs should the situation require it.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The performance from the second DL group of Ta’Quon Graham, Gerald Wilbon, and Marqez Bimage has been impressive for the Longhorns in 2018. Bimage was credited with a forced fumble against TCU, and Orlando praised the sophomore from Brenham when asked about him.

“A guy like Bimage, he’ll give you everything he has,” Orlando said. “That’s the part that you need in terms of those type of guys.”

Texas’ first DL has seen most of the action, but Orlando is trying to be smart in their usage because of the length of the season. It’s also because of the quality of his second DL. “They deserve to get the reps, and I feel like they’re playing solid,” Orlando said.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Calvin Anderson’s shoe fell off on a play early in the third quarter.

“If something goes wrong with somebody’s equipment and you’re in the middle of the drive, you know the helmet comes off, somebody’s got to come out for a play so we call it the helmet plan,” Herb Hand said Wednesday.

Denzel Okafor raced onto the field to take Anderson’s spot until he could put his shoe back on his foot, then raced back off the field when the starter was ready to return.

Hand was asked about the depth along the offensive line. Zach Shackelford returns to practice this week, but Elijah Rodriguez and Derek Kerstetter have performed well along the interior while the junior center was out. That duo’s solid play is a result off Hand cross-training both during training camp.

“You can create depth with a fewer amount of players,” Hand said. “Those guys have repped there, so we knew what we had and what we were going to get with them.”

Hand said Wednesday that the three healthy third-year OL all have different roles they are able to back up. Okafor “has played all four besides center.” Tope Imade has repped at both guards. JP Urquidez has repped at both tackles.

“All those guys have played multiple positions,” Hand said.

With Patrick Hudson still working his way back into physical activity, and the freshmen OL utilizing a redshirt, the starting five plus versatile depth provided by Shackelford, Imade, Okafor, and Urquidez gives Texas a top nine ready for whatever situation it may face.