Today we'll take a look back at the Orange-White scrimmage from Saturday at Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Game MVPJaxon Shipley, otherwise known as Tyrone Swoopes' security blanket. At least he was on Saturday by hauling in six receptions for 95 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown grab from the sophomore quarterback. Shipley could have had at least one more touchdown had Swoopes' accuracy been on point. He had his man clearly beat on an inside post in the first half that Swoopes overthrew from 23-yards out. If all goes well, Shipley should be a first-team All-Big 12 performer this season.
Offensive Player of Game Not Named ShipleyYou've got to go with Malcolm Brown who ran like a man-possessed. It didn't start out well, with him slipping on his first carry of the game. But he was a wrecking ball the rest of the time rushing 20 times for 82 yards and an 11-yard score. He also had two receptions for 26 yards, including a 20-yard dump down from Swoopes that he took to the house.
Defensive Player of GameThis was tough given how impressive Texas' defense looked at times, which it should have going against the second-team defense. However, I'll go with a combination of Demarco Cobbs and Malcom Brown. If there was any concern that Cobbs might have lost some of that speed after missing all of 2013 with a knee injury, Cobbs, you can put those questions to rest. He looked like his old self in tying Caleb Bluiett with a team-high eight tackles. He also had one pass breakup. Brown, who should be a high-round draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, played like it against an inferior offensive line. He collected five tackles, including one tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hurry.
Unsung Defensive Player of the GameHow about the job Bluiett did off the edge for his second consecutive eye-opening performance in a spring game? I don't think Bluiett is just a glorified practice player either. He should be able to do some things in the rotation along with Shiro Davis, who also played extremely well. Bluiett had two sacks and one pass breakup while beating starting offensive tackle Desmond Harrison pretty badly at times.
Stat of the GameEight. The number of sacks Texas had, which could either be viewed as a very good thing for the defense or a big concern for the offensive line. It appears to be a mixture of the two. Bluiett and Cedric Reed each had two while Desmond Jackson, Dalton Santos, Hassan Ridgeway and Peter Jinkens each had one.
Biggest concernWithout question it's quarterback. As Charlie Strong said after the game, this team will go as far as the QB will take them, and that won't be very far if Tyrone Swoopes plays like he did in the first half. Sure, he ended the game with a respectable 17-of-30 for 229 yards and three touchdowns (with one interception). But he did that against the second-team defense, and was an cover-your-eyes 8-for-18 for 115 yards, one TD and an INT in the first half. His first throw of the game was intercepted by walk-on Dylan Haines and he missed a few potential touchdowns to Shipley. But those inefficiencies can be worked on over the summer months, and a more refined Swoopes should return this fall. Whether that will be good enough to earn the starting job remains to be seen but the position will look entirely different the next time the team steps out on the practice field. David Ash should be healthy from his fractured left foot. Five-star Jerrod Heard will be enrolled and USC transfer Max Wittek, who was at the spring game, could be enrolled too.
Kicking questions solved?One of the biggest questions surrounding this team heading into the fall is who is going to fill the shoes left by All-American kicker Anthony Fera. The answers to that question started to come into focus on Saturday with Nick Rose at place kicker and Will Russ at punter. Rose, the only kicker to attempt a field goal, missed a 55-yarder despite the kick having plenty of distance, but made a 40-yard FG. Russ, who didn't see any game action as a junior, averaged 43.3 yards on his three punts and landed two inside the 20. Michael Davidson also showed consistency with his two punts that averaged 43.5 yards per game.
New Boundary Corner?Sheroid Evans will factor into the DB rotation when he returns this fall from injury. But when he does he'll have to take playing time away from Bryson Echols. The former high school All-American at DeSoto had a solid performance with six tackles and a team-high three pass breakups. He may have had the hit of the day when he blew up Kendall Sanders on an attempted bubble screen. He worked with redshirt freshman Antwuan Davis on the second team. Duke Thomas and Quandre Diggs, not surprisingly, were the first-team defensive backs. But Echols could be in line to play CB when Diggs goes to nickel.
OL concernsThe offensive line wasn't as polished as I figured they would be. Center Dominic Espinosa and left guard Sedrick Flowers looked good. But Harrison left a lot to be desired at left tackle, as did Kennedy Estelle at right tackle. Taylor Doyle was solid but not dominant at right guard . Joe Wickline will get these guys moving cohesively in due time, but it might not be this group that he puts out for the first regular season game. Kent Perkins, who missed the game due to injury, should be included with the first-team when he returns for fall camp.
Speed, speed and more speedBetween Cobbs, Jinkens and Naashon Hughes, the Longhorns have some exceptional speed at linebacker. Especially the second unit with Cobbs and Hughes, who teamed up with Santos. That speed will only get better when this unit adds Jordan Hicks and Tevin Jackson to the mix this fall.
Players that missed gameThere were 14 players who missed today's scrimmage including Ash, Evans, Hicks, Jackson, Perkins, RB Joe Bergeron, DT Paul Boyette Jr., TE Greg Daniels, LB Deoundrei Davis, FB Alex De la Torre, RB Johnathan Gray, S Erik Huhn, WR Jake Oliver and LB Kendall Thompson. All but Bergeron (personal) missed the scrimmage due to injury.