Meet Braden and Zach, aka B & Z, two HD members with some connections to UT athletics who have been put through Chip Brown's journalism boot camp (covering a Junior Day with Chip) ... and who happen to be current students on the 40 Acres. They rub shoulders with athletes on campus and hear stuff that they are now passing on to you in their new weekly column "B&Z Reporting For HD."
In honor of the spring session coming to an end, we thought we’d give our way-way-too-early projections for the two-deep and next season’s schedule based what we saw this spring.
VS. NOTRE DAME… W
Sunday night football featuring two of college football's most storied programs; this is movie material. In a game where we feel the future is going to start to piece together, Shane Buchele steps in and wills Longhorn Nation to a stunning upset of Notre Dame (likely a preseason top 10 team). We believe that this will be Charlie’s signature moment and one that helps solidify his standing with UT.
VS. UTEP.... W
This should be a rout, with both Chris Warren and D’Onta Foreman eclipsing 100 yards.
At Cal… W
First game on the road for SB and one that we feel a little nervous about. A slow first half that shows Texas trailing, but a consistent dose of Warren/Foreman helps the offense overcome a slower passing day and UT comes away with the win.
At OkState… L
Stillwater isn’t a fun place to visit, especially at night. The Pokes return all 5 offensive linemen, which should help Mason Rudolph and the cowboy running game get going against what figures to be a young, thin defensive line. Texas should be able to find success against the Cowboys secondary (their three best corners are graduating), but we feel that this is a game where Texas youth and inconsistency shows; a toss up game that does not go the horns way.
VS. OU (in Dallas)... L
This is another toss-up that found us at odds. You have Baker Mayfield, who will probably be in heisman contention, a fierce running game featuring Samaje Perine, and a stout defense that should give the offense fits. In a rivalry game where you rarely win two in a row, UT drops a close one and starts conference 0-2.
VS. Iowa State… W
24-0. That’s all that the coaches will be preaching to the team leading up to this game. The kids won’t let this one be close and UT rebounds after a slow start in conference play.
At KState… W
Kansas State is annoying and a team that should never actually be good, but consistently takes average talent and makes them look great. Never be surprised by anything Bill Snyder can make happen at home. However, we both believe Texas handles them easily in Manhattan and notches a second straight win against KSU.
VS. Baylor… W
Baylor is always dangerous and they’re always going to put up a lot of points, and Texas will not have the luxury of facing their 4th and 5th string QB. It won’t matter as the student schools the mentor in his own offense. I expect sparks to fly in this game as Baylor has indefinitely filled the little brother void that the SOE left in its desperation to get out of our shadow. Chris Warren and D’Onta Foreman again have huge games, Charles Omenihu dominates, and an all around beatdown ensues.
At Texas Tech… L
In a hostile environment in Lubbock we expect Shane Buchele to commit a few turnovers that are just not going to help you against this high-powered Tech offense. We expect Pat Mahomes to really start to reach his full potential and lead an always dangerous offense to a pretty solid record in the Big 12 (Dark Horse). The running game should be able to have their way with the Tech defense, but additional possession for Mahomes will eventually lead to Texas’ downfall.
VS. WVU… W
Not too concerned about the Mountaineers coming to Austin. We should just simply have the better team and be able to beat them by a few touchdowns.
At Kansas… W
VS. TCU… W
A TCU offense that just lost Trevon Boykin and Josh Doctson does not scare us right now. Maybe by the end of the season they will have found some replacements at those positions, but at that point Shane will have also had 11 games in our offense. We think the culmination of young guys hitting their strides, wanting to finish the season strong, and the home field atmosphere will swing this one in UT’s favor.
For Charlie to stay around his floor is 8 wins. While we’re projecting 9 wins this season we could very easily win as many as 11 or as few as 6. The talent is there, now it is up to the coaches and players to execute a serviceable offense and a stout defense to return Texas to where we belong.
Starter: Shane Buchele
Back-up: Tyrone Swoopes
The stat line from the spring game is extremely impressive, but also misleading. Burt dropped a sure TD, McNeal had the ball ripped from his hands, and Holton Hill made a spectacular play to tip the ball into Bonney’s hands. That being said, Swoopes just has no ability to throw a consistent ball and can never seem to catch a break. The way Buchele carries himself is infectious and we think it’s almost a certainty the starting QB against ND is wearing 16.
Starter 1: D’Onta Foreman
Starter 2: Chris Warren
The Running Back position is good. Like, possibly the best 1-2 punch in America good. The offense is predicated on the ability to spread a defense out and pound the rock, and what better way to do that than with two guys who run sub 4.6 40’s and weigh 230/240 respectively. Texas hasn’t seen this kind of talent in a long time, and with change of pace guys like Roderick Bernard and Kirk Johnson the added versatility will destroy an opposing team’s will to live.
Starters: John Burt, Collin Johnson
Back-ups: Armanti Foreman, Jacorey Warrick*
John Burt and Collin Johnson are long, tall, fast, ball-hawking maniacs who will put on an absolute show every single time they touch the field. Throw in a healthy dose of Armanti Foreman (who balled in the spring game), and this position is going to start showing why Briles’ offense is so scary. I guarantee these mismatches are already keeping defensive coordinators up at night.
Starter: Deandre McNeal
Back-ups: Lorenzo Joe, Jake Oliver
This is where Texas needs someone to step up, as there was no clear starter emerging from the spring game. McNeal is one of our personal favorite players (he just has a certain finesse to him) so he gets the nod right now, but this position is wide open. We’re also secretly rooting for Jake Oliver for no reason other than he's fun to watch.
Starter: Caleb Bluiett
Back-up: Andrew Beck
Bluiett and it’s not even close. He’s more athletic, loves to hit, and figures to be a leader on this side of the ball. Honestly, we expect Bluiett to play a large role in this offense and become a fan favorite this season.
Starter: Connor Williams
Back-up: Jean Delance
Connor Williams is a future NFL starter. Not much else you can say.
Starter: Brandon Hodges
Back-up: Denzel Okafor
This is another position that remains open. Hodges is significantly better, yet his tendancy to play up high and inability to move his feet during pass pro will have Mattox looking for a longer term answer. Okafor might not start against ND, but we expect him to take over this position mid-season. If that were to happen our Offensive Line would feature two freshman and two sophomores, which is thrillingly scary.
Starter: Zach Shackleford
Zach is the real deal and is poised to be the starter for the foreseeable future, but the fact a walk-on was working with the second team at the SG does not bode well for the team if anything were to happen to Shack. Look for Texas to sign a true center product in this year's OL recruiting class.
Starter: Patrick Vahe
Back-up: Terrell Cuney
Vahe returns, but this position is very thin. Pray no one sustains injuries this year, because we could be in trouble if the wrong guy goes down.
Starter: Kent Perkins
Back-up: Tristan Nickelson
Kent Perkins is a warrior and you have to respect his willingness to play out of his natural position. Tristan Nickelson is a serviceable back-up.
Starter: Charles Omenihu
Back-ups: Andrew Fitzgerald, Quincy Vasser
Charles Omenihu is our pick to be the breakout player on this team, and someone we cannot wait to watch this season. When we first started following recruiting with Higs our freshman year this is the guy we followed on twitter. His personality is as massive as his frame, and being a 3 star prospect never sat well with him. As for Andrew Fitzgerald, aka JJ Watt 2.0, we believe he will see extensive action this fall. The future at DE is one of the brightest on the team.
Starter: Breckyn Hager
Back-up: Naashon Hughes, Erick Fowler, Malcolm Roach
The day Breckyn Hager learns to channel his reckless playstyle and play assignment football is the day this defense can reach its full potential. An absolute terror off the edge with a first step that turns heads, Hager is our pick to be the starter against ND. However, if Hager never does have that “lightbulb” moment he will be passed up for someone who is willing and able to be an every down player and slide into a pass rushing specialist role.
Starters: Poona Ford, DCG
Back-ups: Paul Boyette, Jordan Elliot
Poona is a really solid player, but he won’t be able to anchor this defense alone. Big men need a natural compliment to punish opposing offenses for a double team, and we believe that Deandre Christmas-Giles is Poona’s guy. DCG is elite, and when you look at the guys coming along with him (Jordan Elliot, Marcel Southall, Chris Daniels, and Gerald Wilbon) the talent is certainly there. Hopefully at least two guys can emerge from this group of 5 to become prominent contributors.
Starter: Malik Jefferson
Back-up: Tim Cole
He’s the face of the program and everyone's favorite player for a reason. If Strong succeeds at UT it will be because of what Malik started.
Starters: Anthony Wheeler
Back-ups: Ed Freeman, Jeffrey McCulloch
As our friend Chip has noted, Wheeler has been the best linebacker this spring. That’s not a knock against Malik, rather high praise for a guy who has always been a physical freak. The LB group is deep and one where multiple guys will see action depending on the team and matchup. Expect the Shark to make some noise early.
Starter: P.J. Locke
Back-up: Kris Boyd
What a spectacular pick-up P.J. Locke has turned out to be. His smart play and athleticism make him a very attractive Nickel option. Kris Boyd, who is just too good to keep off the field, will see extensive action at this position and might even be the starter. The secondary is the deepest position on the team, and UT’s claim to DBU is as strong as ever.
Starters: Holton Hill, Davante Davis
Back-ups: Kris Boyd, Antwuan Davis, Sheroid Evans
Holton Hill is great. Davante Davis might even be better. There are 5 guys at corner who could start at almost every other school in the big 12, and while Hill and Davis will be the starters and see the most PT, Boyd, Evans and Antwuan Davis will all get to see the field and make their fair share of plays. We are really praying for Sheroid to ball out this fall and expect him to contribute substantially.
Starters: DeShon Elliott, Dylan Haines
Back-ups: Kevin Vaccaro, Jason Hall, Brandon Jones
Fan favorite Dylan Haines is going to start for sure. His experience and ability to diagnose plays is essential to the team's success, and even though he can be extremely irritating his knack for being in the right place at the right time is an added bonus. Beside him either Jason Hall or DeShon Elliott will start, but we believe Elliott brings the most to the table to compliment Haines. Add in the contributions of Vaccaro and Jones and prepare yourself to see an absolutely stalwart secondary.
What do you guys think? What are your projections for next season, and the 2-deep heading into the Notre Dame game? Let’s discuss!