Thursday, April 21, 2011
Spring superlatives: Texas
By David Ubben
The eighth in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12: The Texas Longhorns.
Strongest position: Pass-rushers
Key returnees: Keenan Robinson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Acho
Key losses: Sam Acho, Eddie Jones
Analysis: Sam Acho was the best of the bunch last year, but Texas is loaded with young talent up front that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Robinson and Emmanuel Acho are budding stars who both were in the backfield plenty last year, and Jeffcoat showed potential to be the best defensive end in the league last year before being slowed by an ankle injury.
He should be much better this year and likely the most disruptive pass-rusher on the team.
Okafor, though, switched to defensive end from defensive tackle and drew rave reviews all spring, capping it with a five-sack performance in a spring game. Yes, it's a spring game, but still. He was impressive and constantly disruptive. Texas has a young secondary and a developing offense, but if the Longhorns bounce back in 2011, the front seven will be a big reason why.
Weakest position: Skill positions
Key returnees: WR Mike Davis, QB Garrett Gilbert, RB Fozzy Whittaker, RB Cody Johnson
Key losses: WR James Kirkendoll, WR John Chiles, RB Tre' Newton
Analysis: Texas has a lot of work to do here, but may rely on new faces heavily next year. Gilbert didn't show much last year, but he didn't have much help, either. He now has to win his job back, and there's no guarantee that will happen.
At running back, Whittaker and Johnson haven't shown much game-breaking ability or consistency, and they'll be seniors this year. Running back D.J. Monroe is the biggest home-run threat of the group, but a lack of playbook knowledge and pass-blocking acumen kept him off the field last year. In its spring game, though, Texas showed a strong intent to get him the ball in space. When that happens, he can make plays. Freshman running back Malcolm Brown also brings loads of expectations with him to fall camp.
Davis could blossom into a star this year at receiver, but he needs help from his quarterback. Darius White looked good at the spring game, but Texas also needs receivers like DeSean Hales and Marquise Goodwin to be more consistent. Malcolm Williams didn't do it, and as a senior this year, Texas' biggest target looks like he'll spend more time at H-back than he will at receiver.
More spring superlatives: