Open Post | Tuesday, December 31st

Closing Out the 2020 Class
– CJ Vogel

With 17 players signed in the 2020 class and eight set to enroll at the beginning of the semester, it’s time to check in on where the Longhorns will divert their attention to in the final two months of the cycles.

Current Class:

  • QB – 2
  • RB – 2
  • WR – 2
  • TE – 0
  • OL – 4
  • DL – 2
  • LB – 2
  • CB – 1
  • S – 2

Quarterback – I think it’s rather obvious that the Longhorns are done at the position with Hudson Card and Ja’Quinden Jackson signed. Card will be on campus in January with Jackson set to rehab with the team over the summer.

Runningback – Texas got their guy with 5-star Bijan Robinson and added a flex up-back in Jaden Hullaby as well. The RB room will be rather crowded next season, but that hasn’t stopped the staff from tossing out more offers to 2020 runningbacks.

Texas recently offered Jahmyr Gibbs and Corey Wren, both are backs out of Georgia. While Texas may not be going all in for either, it does show they are at the very least exploring new avenues at the position. Perhaps it means Hullaby will be moved to LB?

Wide Receiver – The WR class has been a trip. It was set up great with Quentin Johnston in the fold, but his flip and signing with TCU leaves Texas in a bind at the position heading into the final stretch. Troy Omeire and Dajon Harrison are prototypical big body and slot WRs respectively, but another WR needs to be added.

Texas will likely wait until the new staff is in to make a real move at any remaining prospects, but one that has caught my eye is current TCU commit Caleb Medford. Carthage’s Kelvontay Dixon is firmly in the mix as well and could very easily join the mix soon.

Tight End – Jared Wiley and Brayden Liebrock were two guys Texas was very high on last cycle which made the decision to pass on a TE this cycle rather easy. Again, however, Hullaby could be on the move and be used as a flex tight end.

Offensive Line – Texas got their guys and got their guys early in the 2020 cycle. Logan Parr, Jake Majors, Jaylen Garth and Andrej Karic makes for heck of a class. With the 2021 class loaded all across the line, all lines lead to Texas being done at the position.

Defensive Line – At one time the DL was a strength of the class, then decommitments from Van Fillinger and Princely Umanmielen left Texas starving for depth at the position. Our Super K has noted things may not be completely out of things for Princely with the move to a 4-down line which bodes well with Texas desperately needing edge rushers.

Alfred Collins is down to Baylor, Oklahoma and the Longhorns with a decision coming closer to NSD2. If Texas can land both, this DL class has the opportunity to be very, very special. At the very least, Princely is a must-add with a flyer down the road also likely.

Linebacker – One of the biggest head scratchers of the cycle has been the approach to the LB position. Texas was able to flip former Utah commit Jadan Ford which gives a little bit of breathing room at the position, but with previous classes not producing, the position is still bare.

At the moment there isn’t much movement at the position and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Chris Ash look to the JuCo ranks to get another body in the room.

Cornerback – Like the defensive line, the cornerback spot has been hit hard with attrition with Joshua Eaton and Ethan Pouncey dropping out of the class. At the moment, Kitan Crawford is the only cornerback commit in the class, and while very talented, Texas really needs to add another guy for the class. With CB being a spot that can make or break a defense, having bodies competing in healthy competition is key, especially in the Big 12. Look for the Longhorns to try for two more defensive backs in this class.

Safety –  It’s been talked about for some time how stacked the safety room on campus currently is, and the 2020 class is adding two more studs with the arrival of Xavion Alford and Jerrin Thompson. I wouldn’t anticipate much movement on the safety front for the remainder of the 2020 class, keep in mind Tyler Owens and Chris Adimora will be fighting for time next season as well.

At the end of the day, the 17 signees Texas currently boasts will definitely grow by the 2nd National Signing Day period. Defensive line, corner and wide receiver are all areas that should see an increase by at least one body.


Quick-Hitters | Ash Pouring Over Film & Players Sent Home
– Super K

***Spoke to a source over the weekend who tells me that Chris Ash is a machine watching film.

One of my knocks on the previous staff is I felt like there wasn’t enough scouring the country for players.

Perhaps I’ll write a separate post about that. But for now, just wanted to note that I was happy to hear that Ash is tearing up the film room and apparently has allocated times for staff members to watch film. All staffs do that obviously, but not everyone is vigilant about it.

***Inside Texas is reporting that two non-starting players were sent home.

We can confirm. They are both on the defensive side of the ball and to be honest when I heard the names, I was a little surprised.


David Gbenda and Bryon Vaughns Sent Home
– Will Baizer

As we reported earlier this week, Texas sent home two players last night due to a violation of team rules.

Texas officially announced that Freshman linebackers David Gbenda and Byron Vaughns have been sent home from the Alamo Bowl for a violation of team rules.

Unfortunate news to hear this close to game day, but not a crucial loss for the defense.


TFB Bowl Week | Texas – Utah
– Gabriel

This week we all remember the Alamo, Bowl that is. Texas comes into this game after a disappointing season where the team suffered a collapse, mostly do to a combination of injuries, youth, and the competitive gauntlet that the Big 12 is. During the season, Texas began with very good production on the offensive side of the ball and a caving defense once injuries hit. When the defense began returning to good health, it was the offense’s turn to perform badly. Losing Collin Johnson the second half of the season didn’t help any, that’s football. Tomorrow’s game will be interesting in that Utah won’t have their complete 2019 team on the field and you know what, who cares? After the run of bad luck Texas had, I couldn’t care less if another team is missing starters. Will it impact the game? In short, yes. Will Texas fans care if it all results in a win, no. I’ll keep this short because neither of these teams do anything very interesting nor do they do things very different, well, except for maybe the Utes on defense.

Defense

Utah Run Game – This is by far the biggest issue for Texas. The Utes are physical up front, have good backs, and will run the quarterback. At this point, with this much time off, the hope is the game slowed down for the young Texas linebackers. Texas will likely have to stick with their Dime personnel to combat the tight end-centric run game of the Utes (similar to Texas). They will also be served best by getting numbers to the ball in a hurry and to do that you’ll likely see a combination of their ‘quarters-based’ and some single-high safety coverage principles, as both keep nine to eight defenders in the box respectively.

KISS – Texas fans may begin to see more inkling of keeping things simple for the players. Now, it won’t always work out. Today’s offenses, the good ones, are too good to prevent any and all efficiency and big plays. What you’re looking for are the two to three extra stops per game that weren’t occurring when the defense was at its worst. On the plus side, the Utes offense isn’t as advanced as the offenses Texas sees in league all season. Where the Utes differ is in their personnel. It will be difficult to stand up to the mature ‘bigs’ on the Utes’ offensive line. Texas will need to attack with speed to stifle the Utes’ run game, then cover with numbers on the back end when late down and long distance situation arise. Can they do it? I think so, though it will take as good an effort as we’ve seen thus far this season (yikes).

Offense

Run & Pass-Pro – This is where things get interesting for Texas. Utah has a mature front, big older Polynesian defensive tackles and some good ends. It’s very likely Texas won’t find much room up front. The strength of this Texas team became passing, at least until they faced the better defenses in the league. In the Utes’ case, they have a very capable defense thought they’re playing without starting safeties (yikes). This is very important because the Utes played a lot of ‘man-free’ coverage this season, meaning they played man-coverage with safety in the box and a free safety in the middle of the field. This will likely force the Utes to pressure more, taking more risks to shut-down the Texas run-screen game. Texas will need to block well against said pressure when they need some play-action or drop back concept success.

Get Vertical – I joked on Twitter that Texas should scheme in some RPO Choice concepts for Duvernay and only do that! I kid of course, though the point I’m making is this. Whether they decide to stick to man-free or try to play more conservative, attacking the safeties, mainly to the field and in the seam will likely yield some big plays, as Duvernay can get open deep or break short and into space under a retreating safety. Play aggressive with this and it also helps anything run to the same side perimeter because it will likely leave the backer or the corner in the lurch and Texas receivers can win against those guys, hello Eagles. Back to the first point, none of this is possible if Texas gets whipped up front.

Screen Change-Ups – Texas is pretty good at running screens. What they’re not good at is varying the type of screens run. Hopefully they tinker with some Stack and or Bunch alignments while also throwing off of screen action. Again, this keeps the defense from cheating against the basic Bubble.

Tight End & Motion – To ease some of Texas’ blocking woes, using motion will help get the offense into more favorable blocking angles. Motioning the tight end and or a Slot receiver will flip strength pre-snap and allow Texas more initiative attacking interior gaps and finding cutback lanes. Again, there won’t be much room but it’s Tom and Herb’s job to create creases for the backs. They can do this by altering the surface before and after the snap, anything to slow delay reaction from the ends and linebackers while the offensive line focuses on initial blocks against Utah’s big defensive tackles.

That’s most of what I have. Utah is a basic team much like Texas is. Where they have been better this season is in the current stage their talent is in. Bowl season tends to be different as it is well-displaced from the season’s struggles and allows for more players to be healthy. I think Texas will compete well against an incomplete Utah team. Of course, much of it depends on how well the offense handles the Utes front. If they show well against them early, it’s a very good sign. Let me know what you think in the comments.