Fall camp is wrapping up a lot of the questions and position battles for the 2019 Longhorns. There are a few pieces falling into place that were predictable, such as the offensive orienting to make the senior tandem of Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay the main focus of the passing game. Or Todd Orlando working out how to get B.J. Foster and DeMarvion Overshown on the field by moving Foster to nickel then utilizing the dime package.
One of the big storylines out of fall camp so far is the move of senior wideout Devin Duvernay from the outside “Z” receiver position to the slot “H” spot that was left vacant when Lil’Jordan Humphrey decided to leave school early for the NFL. Over the last few years, vacancies at the H spot have almost served as a reward position for whichever receiver has the best offseason. Other than the X receiver, who also enjoys closer proximity to the QB, the H is the next closest skill player to the QB and also tends to be matched up on nickels, safeties, and linebackers with divided attention.
Texas’ big adjustment on defense in 2018 was somewhat unexpected. The 2017 season was defined by the formation of the “lightning package” and playing with six defensive backs moving around to create the “dirty dime” effect that often clouded both the Texas cornerbacks (bringing them into the run support) and the opposing QB’s reads as they tried to make sense of it all.
Tom Herman has had strong relationships with his quarterbacks in the past but his partnership with Sam Ehlinger could be one of the most meaningful yet. After two years working with Ehlinger as a spot or full-time starter, Herman and his junior QB have been through some fires while attempting to rebuild the Texas football program and put together the first elite offense in Austin since Colt McCoy was on the 40 Acres.
The final quadrant of the 2019 schedule is essentially all the new money teams in the conference. Texas travels outside the state for the second time all year to play at Matt Campbell's surging Iowa State, then takes on Matt Rhule's fixer upper Baylor in Waco, then ends the season with a re-emergent Texas Tech program under new HC Matt Wells and infused with shale cash.
One of the fascinating dimensions to Big 12 Media Days is seeing everyone in person, you're no longer beholden to roster tables but can see up close which teams have size and even physical confidence. I'll never forget showing up at Media Days for the first time in 2014 and noticing how Kansas State's player reps were thick but short, Iowa State's were similar, and the players that Oklahoma and Baylor brought were truly massive and towered over most everyone.
After Texas plays LSU, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma over the course of six weeks, which could be the three toughest games they play all year, things really slow down for the Longhorns. The next three games include a home date with Kansas the week after the Red River Shootout, a road trip to the Fort to play TCU, and then back to Austin to host Kansas State.