Texas Football Pinning Bowl Hopes on Freshmen?


Is Texas football turning to the 2015 class to save the season?

Was anyone else a little surprised to see a large number of freshmen hit the field for Texas football against Kansas?

Is anyone redshirting this year?

Each week it seems like these guys keep earning more and more playing time. In the Kansas game we saw more of Kirk Johnson and DeShon Elliott than we have all season. Granted, the game got out of hand in the second half so Charlie Strong had the opportunity to give some guys a chance to play.

Besides Johnson and Elliott, we have seen the emergence of Ryan Newsome on offense. He has that Daje Johnson explosiveness that makes the offense a little more dangerous when he is in the game.

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Texas’ use of true freshmen definitely bodes well for the future. Players like Johnson, Newsome, John Burt, DeAndre McNeal, Chris Warren, Patrick Vahe and Connor Williams give the offense a solid base for 2016, when the pressure will really be on Strong to produce a winner. Last year it was D’Onta and Armanti Foreman along with Lorenzo Joe who gained valuable experience that carried over into the 2015 campaign. The Foreman brothers have been an integral part of the offense while Joe has become the receiving corp’s best blocker.

On the defense side of the ball the secondary has been taken over by the freshmen. Holton Hill, Davante Davis, Kris Boyd, PJ Locke and Elliott have all seen significant snaps at certain points in the season. Malik Jefferson has been a stalwart at linebacker, while Anthony Wheeler has filled the void left by injuries. Breckyn Hager has overcome a lower leg injury to see the field against Kansas. Charles Omenihu is also contributing.

The youth movement has its advantages, especially since this is a rebuilding year. You can’t discount game experience. And that, says Tyrone Swoopes, will benefit these guys down the road.

“I think it’s a really good thing because most guys don’t get that opportunity as a true freshman to go out there and play,” Swoopes said at Tuesday’s press conference. “In the years to come they will be experienced and almost anything that comes at them they won’t be surprised by it, so I think it’s really good they are getting experience now.”

With bowl aspirations in question, Strong knows that getting these guys on the field now is the best way to prepare them for next season. And if a bowl game is in Texas’ future, Strong doesn’t have to worry about the freshmen playing scared.

“It used to be a time when those guys were all redshirted, which we don’t have many,” Strong said on Monday. “We done played most of them. So now those guys have played and they’re really locked into it, so you don’t have to worry so much when you get to a bowl game that this guy can play.”

This current group of freshmen has been exciting to watch. They’ve also had their freshman moments. Every team experiences the up and down play of young players. What gives Longhorn fans hope is that the experience gained this year will make this group that much better. It’s smart of Strong to get the guys who are ready onto the field for game reps that can’t be duplicated at practice. The 2016 season looks promising.

It will look even better if the 2015 season ends with the freshmen carrying Texas to a bowl game.

Until then, keep the Texas football program handy because you never know when another young guy will break the huddle. The future is now.