Texas Football: 3 underrated UT players who could get more snaps in CFP

Keilan Robinson, Texas football
Keilan Robinson, Texas football / SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY
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It is less than one week until No. 3 Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian battle head coach Kalen DeBoer and the No. 2 Washington Huskies in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.

Texas will face Washington in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA, at the Caesars Superdome on Jan. 1, with the kickoff time at 7:45 p.m. CT.

Texas football can rely on its depth to beat Washington in the CFP Semifinals

Sark and the Longhorns get a rematch of the Alamo Bowl last postseason in the College Football Playoff against a high-powered Washington offense. Texas has the difficult task of preparing for the nation's top passing offense, led by Heisman runner-up and redshirt senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

But Texas has the talent and depth on both sides of the ball to compete with any team in the nation. If Texas comes ready to play on both sides of the ball and gets contributions from players who aren't the main stars and impact players, Sark's squad will be in a good spot to topple the Huskies.

Here's a look at three underrated players for the Longhorns who could get more snaps in the CFP Semifinals on Jan. 1 against Washington.

Morice Blackwell Jr., LB

When junior linebacker Morice Blackwell Jr. made his season debut early in Big 12 play for the Longhorns after returning from an injury he suffered in preseason camp, it was a difference-maker for this linebacker unit. Blackwell is reliable at sam linebacker in coverage and a hard hitter who can come off the edge in the pass rush to give the front seven a boost.

Blackwell was a consistent presence in coverage down the stretch this season for the Longhorns. He was Texas's highest-graded linebacker in coverage in the second half of the regular season, while playing over 75 snaps in pass coverage.

Blackwell's return to the lineup also added valuable depth to the linebacker room for the Longhorns down the stretch this season. He allowed Pete Kwiatkowski and Jeff Choate to have more different looks along the front seven, given the addition of Blackwell's unique skill set at linebacker.

However, while Blackwell has been a key contributor at linebacker this season in Big 12 play, he's only started one game and has only played over 20 defensive snaps in three games. He's in a rotational role at linebacker as he can enter the game when Texas needs a sam linebacker to either blitz the quarterback or drop into coverage.

Given that Washington is such a pass-heavy offense, Blackwell could be needed to play more snaps at linebacker as Texas adjusts to matchup better on defense with DeBoer's spread system. Over 57 percent of Washington's plays on offense are passes, ranking 10th in the FBS (per TeamRankings).

Blackwell is a prime candidate to breakout for the Longhorns on defense in the Sugar Bowl next week.