2012 Texas Preview - Offense
Texas WR Jaxon Shipley
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview & Analysis - Texas Longhorns
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Co-offensive coordinators Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin have all the talent in the world to play around with, but now the production has to come. The biggest strength should be a loaded backfield with the 1-2 rushing punch of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron about to be dominant if the line can get a little more of a push and if the passing game can take the heat off. The receiving corps is full of talent and potential with Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley leading a deep group, but it needs a quarterback to deliver the ball on a consistent basis. David Ash will likely be the main man coming off a solid bowl performance against Cal, but Case McCoy is option No. 1A. The situation needs to be settled as soon as possible with the starter needing to be consistent and careful. The quarterbacks don’t have to bomb away, but they have to move the chains and keep the picks to a minimum.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Malcolm Brown
Passing: Case McCoy
89-145, 1,045 yds, 7 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Malcolm Brown
159 carries, 707 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Mike Davis
45 catches, 609 yds, 1 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore QB David Ash
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Joe Bergeron
Best pro prospect: Junior OG Mason Walters
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Walters, 2) Brown, 3) WR Jaxon Shipley
Strength of the offense: Running Backs, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback Consistency, Explosion
This is about when Garrett Gilbert was supposed to be hitting his stride as the star of the Texas program – instead of battling for the SMU job – but sophomore David Ash appears ready to take his game and the offense to another level. The 6-3, 222-pounder has excellent size, great mobility and enough talent and upside to become the leader of the attack, but he’ll have to be nearly flawless to end the starting quarterback debate. He stepped up in the middle of the season completing 56% of his passes for 926 yards, but he only threw three touchdown passes and eight picks while running for 103 yards and a score. Just when it seemed like he was losing his handle on the job late in the year, he was solid in the bowl win over Cal to set the tone for a good offseason.
Junior Case McCoy might not have the skills of Ash, but he showed last year that he could produce when needed. Saddled with the pressure of the impossible task of living up to his brother Colt’s legacy, he added his own piece to Longhorn lore with an epic 25-yard run leading to the win over Texas A&M. He threw for 356 yards and three scores the next week against Baylor, but he also gave up four picks in the big loss. The 6-2, 200-pounder completed 61% of his throws for 1,045 yards and seven scores with four picks, and this offseason he showed a stronger arm and the potential to air it out a bit more. He’s not Colt, and he’s not Ash, but he’s a baller who’ll battle to make a play.
With Connor Wood transferring to Kansas, the spotlight will be on Connor Brewer and whether or not he can be a part of the mix. In a perfect world the 6-2, 200-pounder out of Scottsdale will redshirt, but the coaching staff isn’t going to sit by and let the quarterbacks be so average again. Brewer wasn’t an elite of the elite recruit, but he’s a great passer and a winner, taking his team to three straight Arizona state titles. He’s accurate with a bomber’s mentality.
Watch Out For … Ash. For all the talk about needing two quarterbacks to produce and for all the thought about McCoy being a part of the equation, Ash is the one who can take the Texas offense to another level. He has been the better of the two in practices and he should take his game up a notch.
Strength: Options. Ash and McCoy might not by Vince Young and Colt McCoy, but they have enough experience and enough talent to be better. They don’t have to carry the offense, but they should be more responsible for cranking up the passing game a bit.
Weakness: Interceptions. The Texas quarterback don’t have to bomb away like other Big 12 quarterbacks do, but they have to keep the chains moving and they can’t make mistakes. The running game and defense can lead the way to wins, but Texas can’t get through another season with 14 touchdown passes, 15 picks and completing 58% of throws.
Outlook: Now that the Garrett Gilbert era is officially done for good, Ash and McCoy should be able to grow a bit more. Ash is a terrific option who could be outstanding if he’s allowed to fight through some mistakes over the next few years, but McCoy will be No. 1A in the mix. Overall the quarterback play has to be better, and it will be.
Unit Rating: 7
It’s not that sophomore Malcolm Brown wasn’t good. The 6-0, 213-pound sophomore led the team with 707 yards and five scores in nine games of work – missing time with a foot injury late in the year - but he wasn’t immediately the be-all-end-all superstar back who many thought would be the next Ricky Williams or Cedric Benson. But it was just one year and there’s still more than enough time to live up to his impossible prep hype. With the size, wiggle, and an unquantifiable trait that makes him look like a potential NFL franchise back, he has all the tools and all the skills, but he needs a little more help from the passing game to take the heat off and he has to stay healthy. When he was right, he was fantastic running for 135 yards and two scores on just 19 carries against Oklahoma State, and followed it up with 119 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas before getting hurt. Make no mistake about it; he’s a special player who should become one of the nation’s most dangerous weapons.
While Brown was the star of the 2011 class, fullback Joe Bergeron was also a great pickup as an athletic option with the potential to be a nice receiver. Instead of being a blaster of a blocker he turned into a tough, powerful tailback at times ripping off 136 yards and two scores against Kansas and 191 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech before having problems with a hamstring injury. At a rocked up 6-1 and 230 pounds he was an even stronger runner this offseason and looked good enough to challenge Brown for playing time and possibly the starting job. While he finished second on the team with 454 yards and five scores averaging 6.6 yards per carry and now should be ready to do far more.
6-0, 202-pound senior Jeremy Hills has mostly been a special teamer so far and ran a little bit getting 162 yards on 35 carries. An inside runner who can provide some between-the-tackles option, he’s not necessarily a power back but he’s tough. He’ll combine in a backup role with senior D.J. Monroe is back after averaging 6.9 yards per carry with 326 yards and a touchdown. With his speed and hands, the 5-9, 175-pounder will likely work more at receiver.
On the way is top recruit Johnathan Gray, a talented 5-11, 202-pound dominant force setting the record for the most rushing touchdowns by a high school player with 205 with 70 - 70 - in a season. The 2011 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year was unstoppable at the highest of Texas high school levels and will be given every shot early on to see time.
While Bergeron will see a little time in a fullback role to get in the backfield at the same time as Brown, 5-10, 238-pound senior Ryan Roberson will work as a true blocker and a special teamer. He isn’t going to get any carries and he only caught two passes for 12 yards, but he’s extremely strong and should be solid at opening things up.
Watch Out For … Bergeron. Brown is the marquee name and star who should be the main back for the ground game for the next few years, but Bergeron isn’t all that far off. He was terrific this offseason and should combine with Brown to give Texas the Big 12’s toughest tandems.
Strength: Talent. Just when it seems like Brown is a special talent with transcendent skills, in comes Gray. Bergeron could carry the ground game by himself and there are several more decent talents who can work in the rotation.
Weakness: Passing game. Defenses have been able to load up the house to stop the run, and while Texas still had a good year on the ground, it could’ve been better. Until David Ash and/or Case McCoy start to hit on ore deep plays, the backs aren’t going to have too much room to move.
Outlook: The talent is undeniable and the potential is there for a fantastic rotation. If Bergeron can stay healthy and is as good as he’s been over the offseason, and if Brown can be just a little bit stronger, all of a sudden the Longhorns are loaded with one of the most talented and deepest backfields in the country. Now the promise and potential have to equal production.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Can Jaxon Shipley stay healthy? He showed tremendous promise and potential last season with 40 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns despite missing a few games hurt. He lit up Iowa State for six catches for 141 yards and a score and came up with four grabs for 121 yards against Baylor. At 6-1 and 190 pounds he has good size and, like his brother, tremendous athleticism who can be used as a runner and a punt returner. Unstoppable in high school he caught 203 passes over three years and has No. 1 receiver ability at the X.
Because Shipley missed a little bit of time, 6-2, 188-pound junior Mike Davis finished as the team’s leading receiver with 45 catches for 609 yards, but he only came up with one score. One of the nation’s top receiver recruits when he came in, he has size, deep threat speed and great hands at the Z, but he’s not a scorer. He showed he could be a go-to guy with ten catches for 80 yards against Oklahoma State, but his only 100-yard day came against Rice with three grabs for 115 yards.
At 6-4 and 216 pounds, Miles Onyegbule is a huge target who showed off nice promise as a true freshman making four catches for 51 yards. While he wasn’t a superstar recruit by Texas standards, he has the tools with good athleticism and speed to go along with his size. He’ll fight to get the starting job at the H position, but he’ll have to battle with John Harris a strong 6-3, 211-pound sophomore with the potential to be a matchup nightmare. Along with his size he has excellent deep speed, but he didn’t show it off catching just two passes for 13 yards before getting knocked out for the year with a foot injury.
Working in the rotation with Shipley at the outside X will be senior Marquise Goodwin, one of the team’s fastest players and best athletes. At 5-9 and 177 pounds he’s not all that big, but he has Olympic-level leaping ability and track star wheels. Unfortunately, his warp speed hasn’t always translated to the field outside of an 80-yard play against Baylor while finishing the year third on the team with 30 catches for 372 yards and a score averaging 12.4 yards per play. Also fighting for a spot is another speedster, DeSean Hales, a promising recruit who has never lived up to the hype. The 5-11, 175-pound senior has the deep speed to be used as a field stretcher – he was a superstar high school sprinter – but he’s a reserve.
Veteran Barrett Matthews doesn’t look like a prototype tight end at 6-2 and 235 pounds, but he’s a nice receiver even though he caught just two passes for nine yards. Mostly a blocker so far, he has the all-around talent and the potential to do more, while it’s just a question of time before 6-6, 245-pound redshirt freshman M.J. McFarland takes over the gig. A phenomenal receiver with prototype size, he runs like a smaller player and has the smarts and ability always be in the right spot at the right time as a route runner.
Watch Out For … Davis. There’s a general feeling that he’s a terrific receiver who’s just waiting to break out. It might be a case that he could become a much, much better pro with a good quarterback throwing his way, and with the improvement of Ash and McCoy should come a bigger year from Davis.
Strength: Veteran options. Davis, Shipley and Goodwin are all talented veterans who know what they’re doing, while veteran D.J. Grant is a former receiver who can be used in two tight end sets after making 13 grabs for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Texas isn’t hurting for wide receiver talent.
Weakness: Tight end. McFarland looks he’s right out of central casting and he should be good, but he has to prove it first. It’s not like the tight ends are going to be a problem, but there isn’t anything to count on right away.
Outlook: There are more than enough targets to make the passing game better, but can someone get them the ball? On sheer talent there’s no excuse for the Longhorns to not come up with a huge season with a frightening blend of depth, skill, speed and size, but that didn’t translate into much of anything last year. This is a unit that should be absolutely dominant, but it can’t be unless the quarterback play is stronger.
Unit Rating: 8
Three starters return to the line, but are there any real all-stars? Junior Mason Walters is one after starting every game at right guard following a good freshman campaign. The team’s best pure run blocker, he’s a massive 6-6, 315-pounder who could work at center if needed – and it’s where he might end up as a pro prospect. An honorable-mention All-Big 12 performer, he’s as close to an anchor and a star as the line has.
6-6, 285-pound sophomore Josh Cochran had a good first season as a seven game starter over the second half of the season at left tackle. While he’s not massive, he has a good frame and a nice wingspan and feet as a good pass protector. While he’s tall and rangy, he’s physical and extremely strong.
Cochran is able to move from the left side to the right with the addition of Donald Hawkins, a 6-5, 310-pound JUCO transfer from Northwest Community College earning All-America honors. While he might not have been the team’s top recruit, he might be the most important with the right size and pass blocking ability to plug in and dominate from Day One.
Anchoring the middle again will be sophomore Dominic Espinosa, a prospect for somewhere in the interior before taking over the starting center job and starting all 13 games. The 6-4, 298-pounder is versatile, quick and smart. This will be his line to lead for the next three years, while 6-6, 310-pound junior Garrett Porter is a good backup who can work at either guard spot or center.
6-4, 298-pound junior Trey Hopkins isn’t a massive left guard, but he’s a good veteran who started all 13 games last year at right tackle but will kick inside with Cochran moving over. A great all-around blocker, he has seen time at guard and has the strength to be more than sound in a new full-time role. Adding more size to the equation is 6-3, 313-pound redshirt freshman Sedrick Flowers, a big blaster who can see time at either guard spot.
Watch Out For … Cochran. Oklahoma State seemed to have him but Texas got him. The Longhorns almost never go the JUCO route – they never have to – but even rarer is to get an instant starter at left tackle. If he’s as good as advertised the line could be terrific.
Strength: A veteran starting five. It’s a near-perfect situation. Not only is the Texas line experienced, but it’s also very young without any seniors among the projected starting five. It should be a good line as is, but the best might be yet to come.
Weakness: Depth. It’s Texas, so there are more than enough tremendous high school résumés to fill in the gaps if needed. While the coaching staff is making sure lots of players are getting lots of quality practice reps, there will be problems if a rash of injuries strike.
Outlook: The line didn’t get a whole lot of credit for doing a nice job for a mediocre offense. It got a decent push throughout the year for the ground game and it did a nice job in pass protection considering the quarterbacks were inexperienced and mobile. If the starting five can stay healthy this will be a plus as the season goes on, but it’s not going to be a major strength until 2013.
Unit Rating: 8
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2012 Texas Defense |
Texas Depth Chart