New Beginnings for Texas Football

Tom Herman (Will Gallagher/IT)
Tom Herman (Will Gallagher/IT)

I am ready to see this Longhorn Football team put back together into units that have a chance to get better with each game they play. With Tom Herman’s arrival, it’s time to build the puzzle with all these pieces.

I want to see Brandon Jones in the games at safety. It will take a solid spring practice by the 6-foot-0 192-pound former 5-star in HS. He blocked punts and covered kickoffs for the most part in 2016 while Texas couldn’t even figure out what to do in its secondary and got embarrassed by OU, Cal, and OSU.

The other safety should be Jason Hall, who will be a senior. He made some big hits this last season and should be dependable.

At cornerback – John Bonney, Kris Boyd, and P.J. Locke finally had some solid games against Baylor, West Virginia, and Texas Tech.

The two linebackers for Texas should be Malik Jefferson and Malcolm Roach with Jefferson backed off specifically assigned to the zone read keep by the QB if the opponents offense features such action. Roach at 6-foot-0, 263 will bring his energy and hitting power to the Longhorn defense that is needed.

Upfront there is a good group to stock the four positions – Poona Ford, Chris Nelson, Charles Omenihu, Chris Daniels, Jordan Elliott, and certainly there are others that can be developed for such heavy duty.

The Texas defense was a mess this last season and never developed an identity – either playing zone or man with one free safety.

Players were in and out of the game on defense so often that I felt like they never got comfortable with what they needed to do to stop their opponent’s offense during the game.

Too many subs in and out by Texas last season created instability. Players would make solid plays and then head for the sidelines??

The 3-4 defense is good enough for Alabama and adjusts well to modern day offenses. Two coverages are enough and can be designed easily. Man-to-Man with a good free safety like Jones is a good starting spot with a 2-deep zone disguised like the man free look can give offenses fits.

With Chris Warren returning at the running back position and a proven offensive line, the Longhorns will still be able to pound the football. Up front – Center Zach Shackelford, guards Patrick Vahe and Jake McMillon, tackles Connor Williams and Tristan Nickleson have proved themselves and will continue to get better.

Wide Receivers are numerous and talented – Armanti Foreman, Devin Duvernay, Collin Johnson, and Jake Oliver are as solid a group as exists in College Football.

The Quarterback position will depend on how much Coach Herman wants a running threat like he had in Greg Ward at Houston. For that reason I would think Jerrod Heard would move back to compete with Shane Buechele. Valuable defensive players like Breckyn Hager, Holton Hill, Edwin Freeman, and Anthony Wheeler will figure in the ball games and compete for starting spots in the Spring and 2-a-days of August.

Texas has the best punter in CFB in Micheal Dickson returning and should look to recruit a field goal specialist.

I watched this football team and supported Coach Strong and his staff but this could be an unusual group in 2017 if they are allowed to play in a system that allows them to be comfortable with their assignments and play with their hearts and head.

One of the reasons Coach Strong’s team didn’t play well on the road was the constant shuffling in and out on defense and poor structure in the secondary.

Malik Jefferson and Breckyn Hager team up on the tackle. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Malik Jefferson and Breckyn Hager team up on the tackle. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Coach Strong has recruited extremely well which Coach Herman and his staff can get a head start on a successful season in 2017 unlike previous coaching hires at Texas.

It was a great hire by Mike Perrin and President Fenves; they didn’t sit back and wait for a vote. The fourth quarter of the TCU game showed the players had given up. They let the Horned Frogs run all over them in Austin and proved Texas needed a change.

Yes, I realize Perrin and Fenves had already talked to Herman before they met with Strong on Saturday morning but the lack of fight, lack of pride displayed versus TCU sealed the deal for me.

So once again we Longhorn fans endure another losing football season. For me it will only make winning that much better.

I hope Coach Herman follows Mack Brown’s lead and reunites with former Longhorn football players – it would be of help to him.

Let’s face it; Coach Strong wasn’t comfortable with this presence on Longhorn Network – it is a big part of the job and the the whole Athletic Department benefits by the cash that comes from that agreement and it is a big part of the job. If for no other reason it allows parents to keep in touch with their sons – interviews after the games, the mid-week TV reruns.

Next season Coach Herman’s Longhorns will face USC in California which will be a huge test as well as Baker Mayfield’s return at Oklahoma in Dallas.

Lord willing I plan to be there. The Big 12 Championship game will be of benefit to the conference. Having it at AT&T Stadium is a great reward for fans and players.

Just remember Alabama went through several coaches before Nick Saban.

Texas took a chance on a young coach that was at the University of Washington in 1957 and knew the Longhorns needed to compete with the Oklahoma Sooners as well as the rest of their league. He didn’t let them down.