It’s always a guessing game when it comes to the Spring game. And it’s tough to judge too much as the game was played the #1 offense vs the #2 defense and the #2 offense vs the #1 defense.
Chris Nelson and Malcolm Roach looked like the real deal out there today. Nelson had his way with guys like Alex Anderson and Jean Delance today and Roach took care of Patrick Hudson and Denzel Okafor on multiple occasions. The entire first team DL was impressive as the defense was almost in a 2-4-5 scheme, with Ford and Nelson had their hands on the ground, Roach and Naashon Hughes were standing up on the edge and could blitz or drop in coverage, Jefferson and Wheeler were the other LB’s, and Boyd, Hill, Locke, Jones, and Elliott at DB.
As I said in the beginning, it’s tough to judge very much from today as it was the 1’s vs 2’s but it’s hard not to agree with the statement that QB Shane Buechele extended his lead over Sam Ehlinger in the “QB battle”. The Sophomore finished 22-39 369 yards, 3 total TD’s and 1 INT on an overthrow. Buechele and the first team offense did have some struggles in the redzone today.
RB Toniel Carter was the only scholarship RB who played today and he looked better than I expected. Outside of a fumble (that wasn’t called) he had a really good day. Coming out of HS he was known for his burst, and he showed that today along with his ability to make people miss. He also looked good catching the ball out of the backfield and made one play that really caught my eye that was when a blitzing Erick Fowler comes up the middle and Carter really held his own in pass protection.
DE Charles Omenihu was one of the lone bright spots for the #2 defense. He has been passed by Malcolm Roach this Spring, and while I don’t think he takes his spot back he can provide some very solid depth at DE. He had numerous stunts where he would come inside past the NG and was in Buechele’s face.
Another one of the bright spots of the #2 defense was DB Chris Brown. Right now one of the teams best DB’s is nickel PJ Locke and he has the nickel spot 100% locked down. But I expect Brown to jump right into that spot in a few years after he’s had a really good spring and had the biggest hit of the day on RB Toneil Carter and an INT off Shane Buechele.
I know just about everyone has been talking about him all Spring, but WR Collin Johnson backed it up today with 2 TD catches and a few other big plays. It’s obvious him and Shane Buechele have put in a lot of work together in the offseason. Another guy that had arguably the play of the day was Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Who out-jumped Kris Boyd and DeShon Elliott for a TD. He and Johnson are one heck of a redzone duo.
Reggie Hemphill-Mapps looked good. If he has a good fall camp he could end up being the #4 WR for this team. He won’t pass Devin Duvernay as the starter in the slot but the WR’s rotate a lot so he will see the field. He’s a guy that’s quicker than he is fast. So on the short routes in the slot he can be very good and get open fast. He had 2 drops today so if he can keep those down he could end up being a security blanket type WR in 2017.
Josh Rowland finished 3-4 on FG’s today and missed just left on a 49 yard FG. P Michael Dickson looked great. Armanti Foreman and Jerrod Heard were the two guys catching punts today.
Not going to jump to any huge conclusions after the game, but once the RB’s are back, it look like Texas has a lot of quality depth across the board. Two spots I’m not fully sold on in terms of quality depth is OL and CB. On the OL you have your big 4 in Williams-Vahe-Shackelford-McMillon. Outside of that there is a lot of questions, neither Patrick Hudson nor Denzel Okafor looked great with the 2’s and have been up and down in the Spring, I don’t think Alex Anderson is a very viable option and I wouldn’t be shocked if Jean Delance’s redshirt is used this year. Elijah Rodriguez is a solid guy that can play multiple spot and JP Urquidez looked solid in his time with the 1st team at LT late in the game. Coach Warehime just needs a few guys to take the next step in 2017. At CB outside of the Big 3 of Davis-Hill-Boyd there is a big drop off the guys like Eric Cuffee and Donovan Duvernay.
Expect to hear more from Gabe this week as he’ll do some more X’s and O’s breakdown from the game.