Texas Football: Gearing Up For The Season


Texas football is just around the corner. Are you ready?

With the season opener at Notre Dame now just a little more than a week away, it’s time to really start gearing up for the season.  After weeks of scanning the internet for any little nugget of information I could find, I’ve come up with a list of things that I’m both excited to see and fearful of.  Let’s run them down.

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I’m Excited to See:  Tyrone Swoopes

Yes  I know, when last we saw young Mr. Swoopes he was stinking it up in season ending blowout losses.  He looked lost and dejected and Charlie Strong was none too pleased.  All reports are that Swoopes has been money in fall camp and I’m excited to see the new look Swoopes.

Much like David Ash before him, Swoopes was done no favors by the previous staff, whose inability to groom and develop quarterbacks was their Achilles heel.  Although Swoopes did look downright horrid at times last year, there were several shining moments that hint at his potential.  Fans have notoriously short leashes and Swoopes did nothing at the end of the year to earn the benefit of the doubt, but having a full offseason to work under Shawn Watson and given an offense better suited to his skillset should help.

I’m fearful of:  The two quarterback system

I don’t disagree with Charlie’s decision to use both quarterbacks in the opener.  Jerrod Heard can’t be redshirted again and with no experienced backup on the roster, getting Heard snaps in a real game is not only advised, it is necessary.

The thing I fear is what usually happens when you have an unsettled starting quarterback and a promising up and comer and that is the yo-yo effect (see: Spurrier, Steve).  It won’t do either quarterback any good if they both start looking over their shoulder, fearing that any little mistake will result in getting the hook.  Whether it’s Swoopes or Heard, Charlie Strong needs to pick a starter and stick with him.  Using Heard as a change of pace quarterback with a set package is fine as long as everyone understands his role.

I’m excited to see: The Freshmen

Especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Charlie Strong has been busy rebuilding the talent base at Texas and his vision is clear.  Reports out of training camp have been glowing and LB Malik Jefferson flashed during the spring game, further whetting our appetite for offensive destruction.  It is always fun to see youth served, especially if they can ramp up the excitement on the field.

I’m fearful of: Freshman mistakes

This group reminds me of Will Muschamp’s first defense in 2008.  The secondary that year featured four future NFLers (Earl Thomas, Aaron Williams, Curtis and Chykie Brown) and an eventual four year starter (Blake Gideon).  Their talent was obvious and they made their share of plays, but they also gave up a fair share too.  Like that unit, this one could and should grow into a beast by next season, but they will give up big plays this year.  How many could determine how far this team goes.

I’m excited to see:  The new offense

I have come to love the spread and I felt that moving away from it was a mistake.  Getting back to a spread offense could be just the ticket to open things up this year.  Give Charlie Strong and his staff credit, they saw the writing on the wall and moved to bring the right pieces in to make the new offense click.  It should be more fun than watching last year’s unit and their Keystone Cops routine.

Texas football is almost here!

I’m excited to see: The return of the Texas running game

2007 and counting since the last time a Texas running back topped 1,000 yards.  Though the running back by committee approach that Texas has utilized since 2008 has been effective at times, I long for the days of having a stud back that can carry the load.  This year is Jonathan Gray’s last chance to show what he’s got and I’m pulling for him, but I’m more interested to get my first look at Chris Warren III, who by all accounts could reestablish the Texas tradition of hard running, slobber-knocking powerbacks.

I’m fearful of: The offensive line

The O line was a major contributor to the mess last year, which is to be expected when one of your starters was a reserve defensive lineman when camp began.  I trust in Joe Wickline and his reputation for building O lines, but this line is a long-term rebuild and I’m just not sure that this unit is where the team needs them to be yet.  Specifically, the likelihood of starting two true freshman concerns me.  If Rice was the opener, I’d have no problem, but throwing two rookies in against Notre Dame?  Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe certainly represent the future, but I’d actually feel better about Marcus Hutchins drawing the start in game one.

I’m excited for: Enthusiasm

It was about a split second after a limp-armed Colt McCoy got up off the Rose Bowl turf that the spark that was Texas football in Mack Brown’s glory years was snuffed out.  We’ve all been waiting for it return.  The new blood, excited and confident bordering on cocky, promises to rejuvenate a program that has spent too many Saturdays sleepwalking through games.  We’ve heard a lot of big talk and false bravado since then, but I want to see a team that honest to goodness can’t wait to take the field and kick some butt, week in and week out not just once or twice a season.

I’m fearful of: Cockiness

Confidence is a good thing as long as it is checked.  Apparently some of the new guys are not lacking confidence and are quick to let others know how confident they are.  That can quickly turn to cockiness if not contained and cockiness leads to sloppiness and mistakes.  This team hasn’t earned the right to be cocky yet.  There are enough extremely good teams on the schedule and enough match-up nightmares looming to provide some truly humbling beatdowns if this team isn’t on their game.  Will the team’s newfound confidence be shaken if Notre Dame lays a beatdown on them early?

I’m still convinced that Steve Patterson made the absolute right hire in Charlie Strong.  I’m on board with his plan and all signs look good.  Any fan with a realistic eye must realize that the day Strong was hired Texas was looking at a minimum three year rebuild. (Don’t tell Red McCombs that)

I would say that he’s right on schedule.  This Longhorns team is talented but young and we should all expect some rough days ahead, but the on-field product should be better than the 2014 model.  I definitely would not want to be one of the teams on the back half of the schedule and that includes Baylor.  This is likely to be a fierce opponent by the time mid-October rolls around.

That being said, the schedule is front loaded, so a 2-4 start is not out of the question at all.  At best, this is probably an 8-4 team and 6-6 is likely.  That wouldn’t sit well with the notoriously impatient Big Cigars in Austin, but it is the reality.

The best news of all is that in nine short days, we’ll all start to find out exactly what this Longhorns team is made of.

Next: Hall, Haines Anchor Secondary