The College Football season is coming at us at full speed now, and there isn’t anything we can do to stop it. Not that we’d want to stop it if we could. I will be doing a breakdown of our #23 team this year, a controversial pick, the Texas Longhorns.
Record: 5-7 (3-9 in Big 12)
We all know the story of Texas last year by now. They won an instant-classic season opener against Notre Dame, and a memorable line capped it off: “Texas is BACK folks!” That statement was a bit premature though. They proceeded to have another losing season including a loss to Kansas, which sealed the fate of former head coach Charlie Strong. But now, with Tom Herman at the helm, there is a lot of optimism swirling around Austin, and he has set the expectations high for himself in his first year.
Passing: Shane Buechele, 2958 yards, 21 TD’s, 11 INT
Receiving: Armanti Foreman, 420 yards, 3 TD’s
Rushing: Chris Warren III, 366 yards, 3 TD’s
Tackles: Breckyn Hager, 65 tackles
Sacks: Malik Jefferson, 6.5 sacks
Interceptions: Edwin Freeman, 2 INT
All Stats via sports-reference.com
The offense is undoubtedly taking a hit losing 2000 yard rusher D’Onta Foreman to the NFL, but they will be fine as long as they can stay healthy. Chris Warren has been injury prone in his career so far at Texas with a knee injury last year and a concussion in fall camp this year, but he is an NFL talent if he can stay on the field. Shane Buechele has reportedly made massive strides in his game this offseason, and should be more than capable of leading this Herman offense next year. The receivers are incredibly deep and talented, but a few still need to prove themselves in game. The defense is the hardest part to predict about this team. The past few years they have been awful which was shown most in the shocking performance against rival Oklahoma last year giving up 672 yards, a school record. But the defense returns enough talent and key pieces to give fans reason for optimism and hope for improvement. The consensus top player on this team next year is OT Connor Williams. He is being projected as a first round pick in 2018 and Pro Football Focus ranked him as one of the best players in all of college football last year.
BIGGEST STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS
Texas’ biggest strength this year will be their Wide Receiver corps. They return 3 out of 4 leading receivers and 18 out of 21 TD’s caught. The group includes a 6’5″ monster in Collin Johnson, a couple of speedsters in Devin Duvernay and John Burt, converted QB Jerrod Heard, and seniors Dorian Leonard and Armanti Foreman, all of which have 750+ yard potential. With solid QB play, we could see four or more of them break 500 yards next year.
Their biggest weakness, until they prove themselves, is the secondary. They allowed 258.5 passing yards per game last year (105th in the FBS), and lost arguably their top performer in Safety Dylan Haines. The corners and safeties have potential though, boasting five different four star players that are projected starters, and four players that were ranked in the national top 150 coming out of high school. If they can figure things out this secondary could be scary, but for now, they remain a weakness.
Week 1: vs Maryland WIN
In the first game of the Tom Herman era, the horns will come out hot and stay that way, running away with this one early.
Week 2: vs San Jose State WIN
San Jose state is a below average group of 5 team, and we are projecting Texas to be an above average Power 5 team. You see where this is going.
Week 3: @ USC LOSS
This game will tell fans all they need to know about Texas and Tom Herman. USC will have one of the best teams in football, and Texas will come out trying to prove themselves. They will come out of the gates hot and keep it close, but ultimately it won’t be enough.
Week 4: @ Iowa State WIN
Texas has struggled in Ames in the past, but the second year Quarterback Buechele will settle in quick and Texas should run away with this one. But if they can’t pull away, they could be on upset alert
Week 5: vs Kansas State WIN
The defense finds themselves in this game, and forces the Wildcats into a few uncharacteristic turnovers, leading to another home win.
Week 6: vs Oklahoma (in Dallas) LOSS
Oklahoma is returning Heisman finalist Baker Mayfield and may other pieces that could quite possibly lead to a playoff run. Herman loses his second game in burnt orange in a close one against Oklahoma.
Week 7: vs Oklahoma State LOSS
Oklahoma State is going to have one of the best offenses in the nation, and will hit Texas’ secondary hard. Though the group will improve, OSU’s passing attack will overwhelm them in their second straight loss.
Week 8: @ Baylor WIN
Texas stops a potentially dangerous losing skid here at 2 by beating a struggling Bears team. The defensive pieces aren’t there for Baylor to stop Texas enough to win.
Week 9: @ TCU WIN
Texas hasn’t beaten TCU since 2013 and is 1-4 since they rejoined the Big 12. The Longhorns will come out angry in this game, coming for the senior class’ first win against TCU.
Week 10: vs Kansas WIN
Last year’s insane upset will not happen again. Simple as that.
Week 11: @ West Virginia WIN
By this time in the season West Virginia has felt the effects of losing 8 defensive starters and realizes that Grier id far from a perfect fit for their offense. Buechele takes over this game against a limping Mountaineers squad.
Week 12: vs Texas Tech WIN
With no Patrick Mahomes and virtually no defense, Tech poses not much of a threat to anyone this year, Texas included.
Projected Record: 9-3 (7-2 in Big 12)
This is better than I expected to give Texas, but the back half of their schedule sets up favorably for a strong finish. Watch for them in the Big 12 title game if they can win one of either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State in back to back weeks.
INSTANT IMPACT RECRUITS
The biggest new name on this roster is Gary Johnson. The JUCO Linebacker is a previous high school track state champion and shows great instincts in his film. It will be hard to keep someone of this talent off the field at all this year.