Texas Preview 2006 - Offense
Texas Longhorns
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Texas Longhorns Preview 2006 - Texas Longhorn Offense

What you need to know ... The offense was unstoppable last season averaging over 50 points and 512 yards per game with only one outing (the 25-22 win over Ohio State) with fewer than forty points. The backfield is loaded with talented backs, there's plenty of experience and next-level ability in the receiving corps, and the line will once again be among the best in the country despite losing All-Americans Jonathan Scott and Will Allen. It all comes down to the quarterbacks where Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead will try to combine to take over for the irreplaceable Vince Young. Expect the Longhorns to run, run, and run some more until the new signal-callers get their feet wet.

Returning Leaders
Passing: None
Rushing: Jamaal Charles
119 carries, 878 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: Limas Sweed
36 catches, 545 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OT Justin Blalock
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy and freshman QB Jevan Snead
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman TE Jermichael Finley
Best pro prospect: Blalock
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Blalock, 2) RB Jamaal Charles, 3) G Kasey Studdard
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:

Ryan Perrilloux, where are you? The early departure of Vince Young to the NFL leaves the biggest hole in college football with absolutely no one with any proven experience ready to take over. Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy and true freshman Jevan Snead will combine forces to try to keep the offense moving. Neither will be asked to make big plays early on, but at some point, someone will have to come up with the game-changing play that Young was able to pull out of his hat. Obviously, the faster the light goes on for one of these two, the better.
The key to the unit: Limit the mistakes. The surrounding talent is good enough to win with, so Jevan Snead and Colt McCoy have to do everything possible to keep the chains moving and not throw costly interceptions.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Colt McCoy, RFr.
The scout teamer of last year will likely get the opening snap, but he'll be in a rotation with Jevan Snead right off the bat. He has good size and a good enough arm to get the passing game going. While not the creative runner Vince Young was, McCoy, a star high school hurdler, has more than enough speed to take off and make things happen even though he didn't run much this spring.

Top Backups
- Jevan Snead, Fr.
The true freshman is being given every chance win the starting job. Predictably, he looked like a high school senior throughout spring ball with several mistakes made mostly by being indecisive. He doesn't have the practice experience Colt McCoy has and isn't the same sort of runner, but he's more talented and has more upside.

Running Backs
This is one of the few teams that tailback-by-committee is a positive. Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles will get far more work without Vince Young's 155 carries to rely on. Henry Melton is a powerful back who'll also get more carries. The one downside is the loss of the team's all-purpose running star Ramonce Taylor after issues due to marijuana possession, but there's more than enough talent to pick up the slack.
The key to the unit: Texas will have one of the nation's top five rushing attacks again as long everyone can be effective in a rotation.
Running Back Rating: 9.5

Projected Starters
- Selvin Young, Sr. - 96 carries, 461 yds, 4.8 ypc, 8 TD, 5 catches, 21 yds, 4.2 ypc
A bit lost in the shuffle last season, especially over the second half of the year, Young finished fourth on the team in rushing and was rarely used as a receiver. He's a good-sized speed back who'll play a huge all-purpose role now that Ramonce Taylor is off the team. While he doesn't have the special potential of Jamaal Charles, he's more than good enough to carry the workload.

- Fullback Marcus Myers, Sr. - 4 carries, 5 yds
A part-timer last season after moving over from linebacker, the 6-3, 250-pound senior should be a factor early on. He has the speed and overall athleticism to be used as a receiver and be a big part of the offense, but he'll mostly be needed to block.

Top Backups
- Jamaal Charles, Soph. - 119 carries, 878 yds, 7.4 ypc, 11 TD, 14 catches, 157 yds, 11.2 ypc, 2 TD
Overlooked a bit nationally because he played in the same backfield as Vince Young, Charles had an All-America caliber season as one of the nation's most effective backs over the first half of the year. While tall and thin at 6-1 and 190 pounds, he can pack a little bit of a punch around the goal line and is a bolt of lightning in the open (he ran the fastest 110 meter hurdle time in the nation as a high school senior tearing off a 13.69). Even if he doesn't win the starting job, he'll be an often used number two back getting more than ten carries a game.
- Henry Melton, Soph. - 87 carries, 432 yds, 5 ypc, 10 TD
The huge 6-3, 270-pound thumper became something of a cult hero as a true freshman with his powerful running style and surprising speed. A nearly unstoppable short-yardage runner, he'll be used more this season than just in garbage time.
- Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya, Soph. - 22 carries, 76 yds, 3.5 ypc, 1 TD, 1 catch, 3 yards
Part tailback, part wide receiver, part fullback, the 6-1, 220-pound Ogbonnaya will combine with Marcus Myers in the backfield to add a big ball-carrier and a dangerous target. He's a powerful runner who adds some diversity to the mix.

As crazy as this might sound, there's more NFL talent than college talent here. Limas Sweed, Billy Pittman and Quan Cosby all have the measurables to get scouts excited, but they don't get used nearly enough in the offense. However, they did help to make Vince Young one of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks and should flourish in single coverage with the safeties cheating up to help against the run. Backups Jordan Shipley, Myron Hardy and Nate Jones would be a great starting trio for almost any other Big 12 team. The loss of top tight end David Thomas won't be felt with the expected emergence of receiver Jermichael Finley and top blocker Neale Tweedie.
The key to the unit: Make the quarterback shine. There's enough experience and talent here to help out the young signal callers and pick up the overall offensive slack.
Receiver Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- Limas Sweed, Jr. - 36 catches, 545 yards, 15.1 ypc, 5 TD
Can the 6-5, 219-pound speedster finally break out and become a top NFL prospect? He has way too much talent and way too much athleticism to only have 59 catches in two yards. He's most known for his game-winning grab against Ohio State, he could grow into more of a national star if one of the new quarterbacks can get the passing game going.

- Billy Pittman, Jr. - 34 catches, 750 yds, 22.1 ypc, 5 TD
Pittman exploded into the team's most dangerous big-play receiver last season earning second-team All-Big 12 honors after leading the Longhorns in receiving yards. While he can be consistent, he's mostly needed to stretch the field and come up with big plays in big games. His three 100-yard games were against Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

- Tight end Neale Tweedie, Sr. - 2 catches, 49 yds, 1 TD
At 6-5 and 265 pounds, he has the size to go along with good hands. Now the former defensive end has to try to replace leading receiver David Thomas and be a reliable target. Jermichael Finley will likely be the top receiving tight end, but Tweedie will be better thanks to his blocking skills.

Top Backups
- Quan Cosby, Soph. - 15 catches, 270 yds, 18 ypc, 2 TD
Cosby was one of the jewels of the 2001 recruiting class, but he chose to play minor league baseball as an outfielder for the Anaheim Angels. He scored 42 touchdowns as a high school senior and got a little bit of staring experience last year as well as on special teams as he grew into a more prominent role as last year went on. He'll be used early on in three-wide sets and could end up seeing time on the outside.
- Jordan Shipley, Soph.
Shipley has looked like a next-level caliber star in practices over the years, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy. He has great speed and an acrobatic ability to make impressive catches at the Z behind Billy Pittman. He's the all-time leading receiver in Texas high school history with
with 264 catches for 5,424 yards.  
- Myron Hardy, Soph.
The former running back has good size and excellent speed. He spent last year on the scout team after catching one pass as a true freshman. He's fast enough to grow into a top deep threat on the outside X position.
- Nate Jones, Jr. - 9 catches, 67 yds, 7.4 ypc, 1 TD
A nice backup over the last few years playing mostly in garbage time, the 6-2, 195-pound Jones will see a little action in three-wide sets playing behind Quan Cosby. He can step into one of the other receiver slots if needed.
- Tight end Jermichael Finley, RFr.
Can he transfer what he did in practice to game action? One of the stars of spring ball, the 6-5, 220-pound receiver/tight end still could stand to get a little bigger and needs to grow into a better blocker, but he should be a nice fill-in for the lost receiving production of David Thomas with good deep speed and great hands.

Offensive Linemen
The line loses All-Americans Jonathan Scott and Will Allen, but has more than enough returning talent to be among the best front walls in America thanks to the return of tackle Justin Blalock, center Lyle Sendlein and guard Kasey Studdard. This is Texas we're talking about, so there are more than enough talented players ready to fill in the holes and provide strong depth. Can this group allow a mere 14 sacks and pave the way for 275 rushing yards per game? No, but it's not going to drop off too much, if at all.

The key to the unit: Guard Cedrick Dockery has to shine on the right side so Justin Blalock can stay at tackle without any concerns..
Offensive Line Rating: 9.5

Projected Starters
- OT Justin Blalock, Sr.
If he's not the nation's best offensive lineman, he's not far off. A rock at right tackle over the last three seasons, the 6-4, 335-pound senior could play guard if needed but will make millions as a top 15 draft pick next season on the outside. The 2005 CFN First-Team All-American should've/could've left a year early and have been a first round selection this season after a brilliant year.
- OG Cedrick Dockery, Soph.
Dockery could end up being a key backup if Justin Blalock ends up playing guard, but he has enough experience to shine as a starter after serving as Will Allen's backup last season. He's the brother of former Texas star and current Washington Redskin, Derrick.
- C Lyle Sendlein, Sr.
Center was the one concern on the line going into last season. All the 6-5, 315-pound Sendlein did was turn into an All-Big 12 performer who got better as the year went on. While he's able to play guard, he's too valuable as a center and too good a quarterback for the line.
- OG Kasey Studdard, Sr.
One of the rocks on the line over the last three years, the 6-3, 305-pound senior has started 25 straight games seeing time at both guard and center. He has earned All-Big 12 honors over the last two seasons growing into a technically sound blocker. He's a punishing run blocker with a high motor.
- OT Tony Hills, Jr.
The former tight end spent last year as a back up behind Jonathan Scott at left tackle. Now he'll get the first shot at the starting job and is expected to quickly be a steady all-around producer with good size and tremendous athleticism.

Top Backups
- T Adam Ulatoski, RFr.
Depending on where Justin Blalock plays, the 6-6, 300-pound Ulatoski could end up starting at right tackle. He spent all of last year on the scout team and showed more than enough potential to grow into a reliable starter. He still needs time as a pass blocker, but there's no questioning his run blocking.
- T Brett Valdez, Sr.
Versatile enough to play anywhere on the line, the 6-4, 305-pound Valdez will push for time on the left side behind Tony Hills. He mostly played last year at center and saw a little action at guard. He's a mauling run blocker with decent athleticism.

- C Dallas Griffin, Jr. 
The main backup center over the last few seasons, Griffin bulked up a bit adding ten pounds to get up to 285. He's a pure center with more than enough experience to step in and be fine, but there's a big gap in run blocking ability between him and starter Lyle Sendlein.

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