Postseason play is always valuable for offering a sense of what the highest level of football looks like in a given year. Texas obviously gave LSU a game earlier this season but it was interesting to watch the Clemson vs LSU finale, which was in some ways an extension of the battle between Ed Orgeron’s new look Tiger offense and Todd Orlando’s sub-packages. There’s a picture emerging of what a modern, National Championship team looks like that you can pretty easily use as a barometer for the Longhorns.
Tom Herman’s biggest decision this offseason was deciding what steps to take on offense. Was he going to overhaul the approach with a hire like Graham Harrell? Tweak things with another power-spread assistant such as Rhett Lashlee? He basically split the difference between those two options when he poached Mike Yurcich from Ohio State.
Texas fans finally got their wish in the 2019 bowl game against the Utah Utes. Star linebacker Joseph Ossai, who’d spent much of the season playing as a nickel or weak inside linebacker, was finally able to play on the edge and produced six TFLs and three sacks in a dominating performance.
The conventional wisdom going into this game was that 11-2 Utah who always plays with a chip on their shoulders was going to pound disappointing, coordinator-less Texas in the Alamo Bowl. The problem with that wisdom was that Utah has feasted on teams that don't have the athleticism or skill of Texas and have been able to live between the tackles. Go watch them against Oregon or USC this year and you'll see something similar to the team that showed up in San Antonio.
Yurcich has been the OC/QB coach (or passing game coordinator) at three stops now in his still young offensive career. He took off at Shippensburg down in Division II from whence Mike Gundy plucked him to be the offensive coordinator for the Pokes. Last year Yurcich left Stillwater after six very strong seasons there and took the job of "QB coach and passing game coordinator" at Ohio State.
The 2020 season will hinge on what Tom Herman does with the vacant offensive coordinator office. This team has a few cornerstone pieces to build around on offense in QB Sam Ehlinger, LT Sam Cosmi (and two other returning starters on OL), RBs Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson, and a deep collection of young skill talents at receiver of which several could breakthrough with a good offseason.
The most important hire Tom Herman will make this offseason will be the offensive coordinator as this team will go as far as Sam Ehlinger and the offense can take them. Whoever takes over on defense will inherit an exceptionally athletic yet positionally limited group that will need a lot of coaching.