Monday, August 30, 2010
Longhorns shake up the depth chart
By ESPN.com staff
Texas released its depth chart Monday for Week 1 against Rice, and the biggest change falls in line the Longhorns' offensive shift in the offseason -- a move to establishing a more effective downhill running game.
Junior Cody Johnson, a certified rumbler at 5-foot-11 and 251 pounds, hopped over the front-runners in the spring, Tre' Newton and Fozzy Whittaker to become the Longhorns' starter, leaving Newton and Whittaker behind to share No. 2 duties. Coach Mack Brown says both will play and get carries.
"Fozzy and Tre' didn't do anything differently, it's just the power Cody brings to us, and he can pass protect, he can catch the ball, run routes out of the backfield," Brown said. "With the power running attack that we're looking at right now and downhill runs, he's just a real load when he runs down straight ahead."
Johnson dropped from 256 pounds this spring to 251 for fall and lost 5 percent of his body fat, impressing Brown, who made it clear that the emphasis on the running game was in pursuit of balance, rather than a wholesale identity shift.
"It's funny, we scored 40-something points a game last year, and the only thing people wanted to talk about, they didn't want to talk about Colt [McCoy] being up for the Heisman for two years, the question marks were about the running game," Brown said. "We don't care. We want to run the ball well when we want to run it, but we're not going to line up and run the ball every time. We've never said that. What we want to do is be able to run it when we want to run it, but if there's nine, 10, 11 guys on the line of scrimmage, we're going to throw the ball, because we can't beat the teams we need to beat being one-dimensional. And that's what was the problem last year. We were so pass-oriented, that we lost our ability to consistently run it, and if the quarterback was having a bad day or getting hurt, we had trouble moving the ball."
Brown added that Texas would keep its uptempo style.
Elsewhere on the depth chart, Barrett Matthews parlayed an impressive spring into a starting spot at tight end, and relegated Greg Smith to the H-back spot, ahead of former running back Chris Whaley. Alex Okafor shifted from defensive end to tackle, providing a spot for true freshman Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the nation's top recruits in 2010, to occupy the No. 2 defensive end spot behind Eddie Jones.