Post Spring Game thoughts: offense

Lil'Jordan Humphrey (Will Gallagher/IT)

Lil’Jordan Humphrey (Will Gallagher/IT)

The offense focused on the passing game because of the paucity of healthy running backs and the staff’s desire to get Buechele and Ehlinger as many live fire reps as possible. Probably also to gauge how successful Orlando’s defensive installations were. And you might as well throw it around for the fans and recruits on hand.

There’s a lot of offensive variety housed under the term “spread offense” and the most noticeable difference in this version to the previous Briles installation were evident today in the passing game:

1) Check downs to RBs and clear outlet throws
2) Route diversity
3) More selective use of tempo

QB

All three of those differences should be good news for our QBs. For Buechele, #1 and #2 are particularly helpful.

I understand people who wanted to see Sam with the 1’s, but let’s consider realistically what this staff is trying to do. We’re trying to win 9 games, sign a killer 2018 class of DBs and WRs and establish some program momentum for a school that has been wandering the Sinai for seven years.

We’re trying to finish the year ranked. You do that by reaffirming the QB with game experience and some ability. If he throws away the job, then explore other options.

Buechele looked fairly comfortable in the offense and 22/39/369/2/1 is a very productive stat line. Drilling deeper, it was of interest that he started hot, cooled a bit when Collin Johnson wasn’t as readily available in the 2nd half and he pressed or held the ball a few too many times. We also held back most of our offense, obviously. I saw a player that can get us to our 2017 goals.

Ehlinger’s actual play was better than his stat line (10/31/148/1 TD/0 INT). He’s a better pure thrower than I expected and I saw several money throws in tight spaces (sometimes too tight) despite bad OL play and some WRs who betrayed him with a bad route or poor finishes. Very much the game, talented player I expected.

The obsession with starting shiny true freshmen gets old for me.

RB

Carter was put into the enviable position of running behind the 1st team OL and being the workhorse. He was productive, despite coughing up the football near our goal line. I like his abilities as a pass catcher. He ran for what the play was blocked for and I wasn’t blown away by his pure running ability. He looked like the guy I saw on tape in HS. Given that he should be in HS, that makes sense.

WR

Collin Johnson is the best player on the team. He should score double digit touchdowns this year – certainly if we can convince other teams to start Eric Cuffee. He finished with 8-117-2 TDs, but he did most of his damage in the first half before the coaches removed him and/or doubled him to see what the rest of the offense could do. Can he elevate our starting QB the way OU WR Dede Westbrook did for Baker Mayfield? I bet we’ll give him that chance.

This is the deepest, most physically imposing group of WRs I can recall at Texas, but a lot of them lack soft skills: route running, football IQ, awareness, reliable hands. We need a little less combine warrior and more reliable dude. I’m starting to see what Herman means when he talks about their lack of toughness.

Reggie Hemphill-Mapps is a sneaky glider who was good at finding space (5 catches, 84 yards) but he also had two drops and lacks physicality. LJ-H had some dazzling moments (35 yard TD from Ehlinger) along with a couple of balls he didn’t fight hard enough for and some busted routes. He’s a game blocker though. Right now, he’s still a better athlete than receiver. Let’s see how the screen game suits him this Fall. I suspect very well.

I really like what Dorian Leonard (4-68) brings to the fold and while he may seem duplicative in role to the superior #9, I think he can do enough over the middle to get heavy play and move chains for us while having just enough downfield ability to work single coverage deep.

Devin Duvernay and Jerrod Heard each had a big gainer and were otherwise quiet. Perhaps purposefully. Heard needs to block with more pride. Armanti and Burt both saw light action.

I thought Davion Curtis showed some reliable attributes running with the 2s.

TE

Nope.

OL

I didn’t break them down individually, but the first team unit largely had their way against an outmatched #2 defense. Connor Williams did get beat on a McCullough spin move and the coaches will use that as a burr in his jockstrap to keep him pushing. I’m interested to see what they look like in our base running game running downhill, but I may have to wait for the Maryland Terrapins on September 2nd to see our fully glory.

If there’s a bit of drama on the OL, it’s whether or not the coaches prefer McMillon or Shackleford at center.

The 2nd OL looked awful, but that’s because our 1st DL appears to be pretty good and even Orlando’s scaled down version of stunts and blitzes is a lot to handle for a unit with their inexperience. I like the longer term prospects of several of these players and people need to recognize the age/experience curve of OL. OL is also a position where a unit breakdown makes everyone look terrible, even if several of the players would be fine if they were surrounded by our 1’s.