•  Register
3

2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #22 Texas

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 3, 2017

#22 Texas Longhorns

2016 Recap:
Another lackluster year for the talented Longhorns as they finished 5-7 and missed an opportunity to play in a bowl game. Texas had to win 1 of their last 3 games to be bowl eligible and couldn't get it done. The defense has been a huge area of concern for Texas in recent years and after finished 94th overall it was more of the same in 2016.


Coaching:
A new sherrif is in town after firing Charlie Strong. Texas has pinned their hopes on Tom Herman who was 22-4 in his two years leading the Houston Cougars after being the guru running the offense for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Texas remains one of the most visible jobs at the NCAA coaching level so booster and fans will want to see progress quickly.

 

Offense

Shane Buechele burst onto the scene as a freshman last year and performed admirably for a freshman. Herman has been quick to point out he will not automatically be named the starter for this season but it's hard to see Buechele sitting out when looking at how he performed and the tool set he brings to the table. Sam Ehlinger is a highly regarded player and is the only other viable option at the position. Chris Warren III has plenty of experience and he is nerarly as much of a load to tackle as the departed D'Onta Foreman. Connor Williams is an All-American and looks like a player who could declare early foer the draft evebn though he is only set to graduate in 2019 class. Collin Johnson and Armanti Foreman lead a receiving corps that is short of superstar talent but is loaded with solid performers and a great blend of size and speed.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Connor Williams OT 2nd Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate).

                                       Patrick Vahe OG 3rd/4th Round 2019.


Defense

The defensive line is loaded with individual talent but getting them to play effectively as a unit will go a long way in dictating success for 2017. Chris Nelson and Poona Ford are both standouts along the line and will lead a group that is deep and quick. Texas and their traditional 3-3-5 sets will send linebackers at you in waves. Malik Jefferson will man the middle and if he leaves a year early he look slike he could be first round talent for the NFL. We should see Texas go between a 3-3-5 and a 3-4 set as it will all be about getting pressure on the quarterback as the secondary is untested. If Texas gets some big contributions in the back and stays healthy the defense could complete a turnaround for 2017.

Best Draft Prospects: Malik Jefferson LB 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate).               

                                       Chris Nelson DT 3rd Round 2019.


Special Teams:

The kicking game was a nightmare so Texas goes to the JUCO ranks with new incoming player Joshua Rowland. As far as punting (which Texas did plenty of) there are no troubles with Michael Dickson as the junior could theoretically leave school as a junior and try to move into the NFL.  Jerrod Heard will do the bulk of the returns, another area where Texas was thouroughly whipped in 2016.


Schedule:

The Longhorns start with a pair of very winnable home games before going into The Rose Bowl to face USC before the Big 12 season begins. It doesn't matter what the standing show before October 14th, if Texas performs well in the Red River Rivalry game with Oklahoma then the season may already be considered an improvement for Herman and the Longhorns. Baylor, TCU and West Virginia will all be late road games so the schedule is not exactly a pushover for Texas.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

The overall outlook is a bit murky because the schedule is one of the toughest in the nation and we are looking at how Tom Herman fits into the Texas culture in his first season. The talent will always be at Texas regardless if they are winning 10 games a year or 2.

 

DJ Boyer