Five Things We Learned

What can you take from the Longhorns' Spring Football Jamboree? Read more below.

1) It appears that quarterback Garrett Gilbert was the front-runner heading into the Orange-White game.

Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said that the Longhorns would have "a pecking order" heading into the spring game. After the game, it was hard to find any scenario where Gilbert wasn't No. 1 in the pecking order. Out of the four quarterbacks to play (not counting John-Paul Floyd, who came in to run out the clock on the final possession), Gilbert was the only one not to spend a possession with the No. 2 squad. Gilbert had four possessions, all with the Texas (or No. 1) team. By comparison, Case McCoy and Connor Wood each had four possessions, with both players getting two apiece with the No. 1s and No. 2s. David Ash only received two possessions, with Longhorn coach Mack Brown apologetically stating that the scrimmage just ran out of time. Both of Ash's possessions came on the No. 2s. As for who leads after the game, the coaches were quick to point out that the battle would likely be decided by summer workouts and fall camp.

2) Texas's receiving corps looks much deeper than a year ago.

The Longhorns received plays of 16-plus yards from Mike Davis, Desean Hales, Darius White and John Harris, all of whom figure to be a part of the rotation come opening day. And let's not forget that key players like Chris Jones (injury), Marquise Goodwin (track) and Jordan Shipley (not enrolled yet), players who will probably also factor in this fall, didn't play in the scrimmage. With Malcolm Williams weighing in at 240 pounds and figuring to see some time at H-back, it's a good sign that the Longhorns have plenty of bodies. Keep an eye on Hales, who had a big spring game for the second year in a row, leading all receivers with six combined catches for 66 yards. Brown said after the scrimmage that the staff loves the way Hales is able to operate in space, a key component in the new offense.

3) What once was a concern at defensive end now appears to be a strength.

Oh hey, there you are Alex Okafor. The junior, who started eight games a year ago at defensive tackle, stands 6-foot-5 and weighs more than 260 pounds. That caused coaches to call him an imposing figure. But he's far from a player who just looks great getting off the bus. Okafor followed up a strong spring with four sacks in the spring game, dominating the No. 2 offensive line. Jackson Jeffcoat, the most proven player at defensive end, notched a sack of his own. And Reggie Wilson had 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks as part of the No. 2s. As a group, the four ends combined for 16 tackles, nine in the backfield and 7.5 sacks.

4) That's impressive, but it was hard to tell anything with a patchwork offensive line.

Arguably the biggest story of the spring was the inability to put together two full offensive line units. Only seven scholarship linemen participated in every spring practice, while only eight were available for the spring game. Because of that, it's tough to fault the second team for finishing with minus-36 yards rushing, and both the first and second team lines gave up too many sacks (10 in total). Still, discounting the yardage lost for sacks, the first team's runners averaged 5.5 yards per carry and pounded in for three touchdowns on the day. That's progress, especially when the team's leading returning rusher, Cody Johnson, is splitting time between running back and fullback, and the team's potential top runner, Malcolm Brown, has yet to hit campus.

5) There's a long way to go.

One of the most exciting parts of the spring game is getting to see the players of the future, and for the most part, they didn't disappoint Sunday. True freshman Quandre Diggs had the hit of the game, laying out a 235-pound Ryan Roberson on a pass play. Another early enrollee, Chet Moss, had a key sack of Gilbert that forced the No. 1s into a field goal. And second-year players were in key positions all over the field, from Demarco Cobbs making a pair of stops in the backfield to Bryant Jackson nabbing the game's only interception. Wilson's impact was already mentioned, while defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey had a combined 1.5 stops in the backfield. Both starting cornerbacks were just freshmen a year ago. But while the future is bright, it also shows why the Longhorns might not be ready to make a big jump this year. Cornerback Adrian Phillips is a tremendous talent, but he allowed walk-on Patrick McNamara to get inside of him on an easy slant route for a touchdown. There will be growing pains, to be sure, but the Longhorns are a way off from fielding another national title contender.

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