We’ve reached the “Todd Orlando’s playground” portion of the 2018 football schedule. The upcoming slate goes at Oklahoma State, West Virginia, at Texas Tech, Iowa State, at Kansas. All of these teams are built from the Air Raid save for Iowa State and they all want to throw the ball down the field first and foremost...
Texas found a way to win against the Baylor Bears on Saturday. Not just against the Bears, mind you, although elements of the game plan were Baylor-specific, Texas has now firmly established their identity on offense and found some possible solutions on defense as well.
The UTEP game was pretty darn encouraging for Texas, all things considered. The biggest concerns from watching live were the play of Chris Warren (better than it looked on review) and the breakdown on a few UTEP run plays (also not as bad on review).
There’s an art to figuring out how to learn details about different teams at Big 12 Media Days. Coaches are generally fairly cagey, primarily looking to avoid taking damage rather than accomplishing anything particularly positive or God forbid saying something illuminating about the team.
The 2010’s have been a really bad decade thus far for Texas football. The Longhorns have gone 41-35 overall in this decade and only 27-26 in Big 12 play. Humiliating defeats against BYU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Iowa State have littered virtually every season and there hasn’t been much to excite fans other than recruiting and the hope for next season.
Besides the question of how well Shane Buechele will take to starting as a true freshman and handling one of the brighter spotlights in America, there are a few other key questions that will go a long ways towards shaping the 2016 Texas season.
Now that Texas has finally completed the 2016 class with some of the better Baylor recruits (that back in the day would have already been Longhorns) it’s time to talk impact. The first bit of impact that bears mentioning (see what I did there) is what this does to the Baylor program moving forward.
The blitz has always served as a cheat code for defenses that want to rattle a young QB and fluster him badly enough that he falls apart and can’t even execute simple reads and throws. For Shane Buechele to navigate the 2016 schedule he’s going to need particular skills and a knowledge of how the league likes to blitz and attack in order to keep his head above water when opponents throw complicated looks and pressures at him. His ability to do so much may prove to be one of the major themes of the season.
Included in some of the practice reports from Texas’ spring scrimmages and battles has been some info on what the coaches feel will be the strength of this team. When you combine that trickling stream of info with the game film from 2015 and typical growth projections for a young team, you can start to get a picture of what the 2016 Texas Longhorns identity will be.
The play of Texas’ linebackers over the last year, especially in Strong’s 3-3-5 packages, is probably the most frustrating and also the most poorly understood aspect of the entire team. The fact that Malik Jefferson had to play as large a role as he did in 2015 as a true freshman spoke to how devastated the position was by the graduation of Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond.