A Player to Watch:
The 6-foot-6, 212-pound freshman has put on a show this spring. He high-points the ball, runs well, is a natural pass-catcher - and did we mention he's 6-6, 212?
Johnson is special. He's already locked up a starting outside receiver spot. Enjoy your first chance to see No. 85.
All eyes will be on incoming freshman Shane Buechele.
Is the entire weight of the Longhorn Nation on his shoulders?
If so, is that fair at this point in his career?
Shane checked in as one of the top signal callers in the country and backed it up on the biggest stage vs other top-tier quarterbacks at the Opening.
He has a very high football IQ, which is an absolute must in this offensive system. It’s about quick AND correct reads with the ability to deliver the ball with a tremendous amount of accuracy.
What I like most about Shane is he is never satisfied with his performance on the field. He is always striving to be the best player he can be on and off the field.
He can’t do it alone; he must have players such as Collin Johnson, John Burt, Chris Warren and Foreman remain healthy throughout the season. His biggest challenge is the internal clock he must play the game with and stay away from negative plays. He must utilize the sidelines and slide to avoid hits during the season.
I think this one is a no brainer: Shane Buechele.
Can a true freshman actually win the starting job? If so, what does that mean for the future of the position?
A lot has been made of the QB battle between Buechele and Swoopes, but we have yet to see either of them in action under Sterlin Gilbert's new offense. Everything I have heard about Buechele is he has turned heads throughout spring practice, but I want to see it for myself.
I believe Buechele has all of the talent to be successful in this offense and the spring game will be the first time to see just how far along he has progressed.
Who Needs to Step Up?
Hodges has been working as the first-team left guard throughout the spring, replacing Sed Flowers from last year. Hodges, a JUCO transfer who redshirted last year, is a better athlete than Flowers. But Hodges' technique still breaks down too much. He can play too high and gets knocked backward. When his mind is right and he keeps his pads low, he is effective. Coaches want to see consistency.
Defensive end Charles Omenihu is on the clock. O came in at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds. He is roughly 260-pounds today. O has been a menace throughout the spring practices/scrimmages, and it’s vitally important for this defense to establish a consistent pass-rusher coming off the edge. I love his length, motor, and ability. I am expecting Charles Omenihu to step up in his second season with the Longhorns.
I'm going to stick with the quarterbacks and say it's time for Tyrone Swoopes to step up. Swoopes has been getting a lot of snaps with the ones on offense, but why? Is he truly a different QB than he was last year? Or is this just a matter of experience that gives him the edge over his competition?
Swoopes is going to be a senior this season. And while he has experienced a lot of ups and downs during his time in Austin, there's no excuse for him to not step up. He was given a clean slate, just as everyone else, so I'm eager to see what he will do with that clean slate when the lights turn on.
The Biggest Concern?
Defense Front Seven
Even though there's talent, you want to see the defensive front coming together.
Is Charles Omenihu (No. 90) the new strongside defensive end over Bryce Cottrell (No. 91) and Quincy Vasser (No. 92)?
Who's better at Fox end - Naashon Hughes (No. 40) or Breckyn Hager (No. 44)?
How is Malik Jefferson (No. 46) advancing as middle linebacker?
Will Anthony Wheeler (No. 45) be the new weakside LB?
Is DT Chris Nelson (No. 97) ready to move into the starting lineup alongside Poona Ford (No. 95)?
The wide receiver position is long ways away from being where they need to be. Outside of John Burt, Texas has incoming freshman Collin Johnson, who will be a superstar, but outside of those two Texas lacks superior wide receiver talent and it’s a major concern in my opinion.
The defensive line is one of the bigger concerns on this team. While there are clearly talented guys at the position, the lack of depth is a serious concern. Sure Texas has plenty of freshmen to use once they get on campus, but it is not always the best strategy to rely on true freshmen to make an impact if they did not enroll early. This will remain an area of concern until the freshmen show up at fall camp and show what they are truly made of.