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2007 Texas Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 6, 2007


Preview 2007 Texas Longhorn Offense Preview

 

Texas Longhorns

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Texas Preview | 2007 Texas Defense Preview
-
2007 Texas Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Texas Preview 

What you need to know:
This might be the best offense yet under head coach Mack Brown, with one bump in the road: the line. The starting five will be fine, but there's absolutely no depth at tackle. While that's the concern, the skill players will be fantastic with a deep, talented receiving corps that welcomes back the top four targets, Jamaal Charles and a speedy backfield, and Colt McCoy to lead the show. Now a seasoned veteran, McCoy will run more than last year while making more plays on the move. Expect plenty of scoring, plenty of explosiveness, and a top five finish in total offense ... as long as the line holds up.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Colt McCoy
217-318, 2,570 yds, 29 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Jamaal Charles
156 carries, 831 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Limas Sweed
46 catches, 801 yds, 12 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Colt McCoy
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior C Dallas Griffin
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Chris Hall
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Limas Sweed
Top three all-star candidates: 1) McCoy, 2) Sweed, 3) RB Jamaal Charles
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver, running back speed, Colt McCoy
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, backup tackle

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
Before last season began, no one would've believed that sophomore Colt McCoy would complete 68% of his passes for 2,570 yards and 29 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. There was a stretch during the middle of the year when he should've been considered for the Heisman with 19 touchdown passes and two interceptions over a six-game stretch, and then came the Kansas State game, when he got injured on an early touchdown run. Texas then found out how vital he was as it lost to the Wildcats, and lost two weeks later to Texas A&M when he was far less than 100%. While not a runner like Vince Young (who is?), he can certainly move and will get more carries and get on the move far more.

Projected Top Reserves: The backup situation went from scary to solid as redshirt freshman Sherrod Harris showed in spring ball that the transfer of Jevan Snead to Ole Miss doesn't matter. A terrific runner who tore off a big touchdown run in the spring game, Harris is Vince-lite at 6-3 and 219 pounds. However, his passing touch needs a lot of work. Of course, so did Vince's as a freshman.

Also in the hunt for backup time will be true freshman John Chiles, a good, smart runner who's tough up the middle and can make plays on the move. He's a quarterback, but with next-level, sprinter's speed, he might be too good to keep off the field in some way.
 
Watch Out For ... McCoy to be running more. He bulked up a bit to be able to handle more big shots, but that doesn't mean he's going to take off all the time. He'll roll out more, get out of the pocket, and be able to use his smarts to try to give defensive coordinators more to worry about.
Strength: McCoy's accuracy and dangerous backups. With McCoy's entire receiving corps returning, completing 70% of his throws is more likely than not. If the coaching staff wants to change things up a bit, defenses will have to deal with the scary running skills of Harris and Chiles.
Weakness: Backups. Harris might have looked terrific in spring, but Snead was good in place of McCoy late in the year. Harris and Chiles need a lot of seasoning, and they need time. Garbage time. If McCoy gets hurt, there's a bigger drop-off than many might lead you to believe. McCoy is special.
Outlook: After all the weeping and gnashing of teeth, would UT fans trade McCoy for Ryan Perrilloux? A better player than he ever got credit for last year, McCoy has the ability to use all the weapons around him to make the offense explode. He'll spread it out, make better decisions, and come up with an All-America caliber season. In a perfect world, Chiles doesn't see the field until next year, and Harris is brought along for a series or two.
Rating: 9


Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
If it's possible to be a tremendous disappointment and run for 831 yards and seven touchdowns, junior Jamaal Charles pulled it off. Expected to explode after a fantastic freshman season, he wasn't able to become a steady workhorse, ran for only one 100-yard day (against Rice), and didn't do nearly enough to show off his next-level speed. Playing through nicks and bruises was the big issue, so he bulked up to 200 pounds to try to handle himself better in the long season.
He ran the fastest 110 meter hurdle time in the nation as a high school senior tearing off a 13.6, and now he has to find ways to use that speed more.

Projected Top Reserves: Texas does a lot of different things with its formations and doesn't always use a true fullback. When it does, it'll be a combination of 235-pound Luke Tiemann and 215-pound redshirt freshman Antwann Cobb. Cobb is a tough runner with excellent power and wide receiver speed. In other words, he's not exactly a bruising blocker. Tiemann is a former defensive end who'll make his biggest impact on special teams. He'll never see the ball.

Backing up Charles will be 6-1, 225-pound junior Chris Ogbonnaya, who got a little bit of work over the last two years with 158 yards and two touchdowns and eight catches, but the jack-of-all-trades, master of none, will finally get more carries and get the ball in his hands more. He's seen time as a wide receiver and a fullback, and now he's settled in at tailback.

Joining the backfield will be redshirt freshman Vondrell McGee, with the hope he can be another Selvin Young. With tremendous speed, the 200-pounder is a breakaway threat who needs to get the ball on the move as much as possible. It's possible he could be a third down back.
 
Watch Out For ... Charles to live up to his promise. He has All-America talent with the size and speed to become a first round NFL draft pick if he can stay healthy. If he's able to get 200 carries, he could be unbelievable.
Strength: Speed. If Charles, Ogbonnaya and McGee aren't the fastest trio of backs in the nation, they're in the top five. They can really move.
Weakness: Production. Alright, so Texas was 34th in the nation in rushing averaging 163 yards per game, so it's hard to dog the ground game too much, but for all the talent, all the speed, and all the skills, the backfield should be doing more. Selvin Young isn't around to fall back on anymore.
Outlook: There's million dollar speed in the backfield, but it has to steady yards to keep defenses from using everything in the bag to stop the passing game. Charles will have some wow moments and will crank out several big games, but can he last? Ogbonnaya and McGee have to prove early on that they can play. Until then, the backfield is a question mark.
Rating: 8

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
The Longhorns were loaded last year, and the top four receivers return. The leader and star is 6-5, 219-pound senior Limas Sweed, who seems like he's been around for 13 years. He's big, fast, and almost certain to be a top 50 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Now he has to play like it. Oh sure, he led the team with 46 catches for 801 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 17 yards per catch, but his production fell precipitously over the final five games of the season, and was nowhere to be found in the loss to Texas A&M with just one catch for 14 yards. He's not the next Roy Williams, and there are other great receivers around him taking away work, but he's good enough to be more of a difference maker in big games, like he was against Nebraska with eight grabs for 119 yards and a touchdown.

The team's second leading receiver last year was junior Quan Cosby, a 5-11, 200-pound veteran who was a part of the 2001 recruiting class, but chose to play minor league baseball for the Anaheim Angels. While he has the speed and talent to be a top deep threat, seeing single coverage in three-wide sets, he's more of a steady possession receiver averaging 11.7 yards per grab on 45 catches with two touchdowns. He picked up the slack late in the year when Sweed started to fall off.

Number three in the mix, but good enough to be extremely dangerous when he's not paid attention to, is senior Billy Pittman, an excellent deep threat at the Flanker, or Z. He caught 35 passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 13 yards per grab, after averaging 22.1 yards per catch in the national title season. He had a hard time finding a consistent role last year, but he still had a nice year.

The star in the making, who everyone's been waiting to explode, is sophomore tight end Jermichael Finley, who caught 31 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Now up to 236 pounds on a 6-5 frame, he has NFL athleticism, nice hands, and wide receiver deep speed. He's not exactly a dominant blocker, but he should be better now that he's bigger.

Projected Top Reserves: Splitting time at the Z with Pittman is junior Jordan Shipley, a reliable reserve who made 16 catches for 229 yards and four touchdowns, and ran seven times for 110 yards. Quick enough to see time as a kick and punt returner, he gets the ball in a variety of ways, His key is staying healthy.

6-2, 195-pound senior Nate Jones would be a starter for many teams, but has a hard time finding work in the Longhorn receiving corps. He only caught 13 passes for 153 yards last season but three went for scores.

Behind Finley is 244-pound junior Peter Ullman and 210-pound redshirt freshman Josh Marshall. Marshall is a big wide receiver who happens to be playing tight end, he's not going to block anyone, while Ullman is a blocker who won't get any passes his way.
 
Watch Out For ... this to be among the best receiving corps Texas has had in years. Considering some of the talent that's gone through Austin recently, that's saying a lot. This group has everything with size, experience, speed, and NFL skill.
Strength: Experience. With the return of the top seven wide receivers/tight ends, Texas returns 186 catches for 2,536 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Weakness: Overall consistency. This might be looking for a problem that isn't there. With so many good targets, it's next to impossible for any one receiver to get into a rhythm. While that's not always a bad thing, it would be nice if Sweed, even though he scored 12 touchdowns, could explode every game. Again, nitpicking.
Outlook: The receiving corps is loaded with veterans, and several, like Cosby, Finley and Shipley, will be back next year. The coaching staff is understandably excited about this group that should make the offense fly. Now everyone has to play up to potential and talent level and take the overall production to another level.
Rating:
9.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
There are big question marks, and it starts on the inside needing to replace all-star Justin Blalock at right guard and talented Kasey Studdard at left guard. Back at one spot will be junior Cedric Dockery, who started the first six games of last year with a knee injury. He's 6-4, 320 pounds, and a tough run blocker. His versatility will be a key, when he's back and 100%, allowing the coaching staff to play around with the other starting guard spot. He'll likely start on the right side with sophomore Chris Hall starting on the left. While the 6-4, 295-pounder is built like a tackle, and could end up being a key backup there, but he saw most of his time last year at guard. He won't be a devastating run blocker, but he's athletic.

At center, for Lyle Sendlein, will be senior Dallas Griffin, a longtime backup who's been waiting his turn for the last two years. While not the typical Texas behemoth up front, he's a 6-4, 285-pound athlete who shouldn't have any problem making all the line calls. A three-time Academic All-Big 12 performer, he's been around long enough to step in and be fine.

The starting tackles are set, and they'd better be with major concerns with the depth. 6-8, 300-pound sophomore Adam Ulatoski stepped in at right tackle when Blalock moved to guard and was solid. With the build and the size to play guard, he's a great run blocker who'll grow into an all-star once he sees a little more time.

On the left side will be 6-6, 305-pound senior Tony Hills, a former tight end who grew into an all-star. Now he's the team's top tackle option with excellent athleticism and good toughness. He'll be the one the team runs behind; he's great on the move.

Projected Top Reserves: The Longhorns were set at tackle with massive redshirt freshman Roy Watts and sophomore J'Marcus Webb ready to play big roles, but they transferred after spring ball sending the line scrambling for reserves. All of a sudden, 6-5, 310-pound Tray Allen, the team's top recruit this year, becomes fast-tracked to be a backup at one of the spots. He might be more suited for guard right away, or even the defensive line, but that all changes now.

The backup guards are in better shape. If Dockery ends up starting on the left side, 6-4, 295-pound sophomore Charlie Tanner will start on the right. Mostly a special teamer so far, he's a smart, athletic guard who could move to tackle if needed.

Behind Griffin at center will be 6-3, 310-pound redshirt freshman Buck Burnette, who brings more size to the middle and the versatility to possibly be moved to guard.
 
Watch Out For ... more movement. This is a big line, but it's not full of massive 325-pound beef-eaters you might think the Longhorns would have. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The line is athletic and should be great in pass protection and helping out the running game down the field.
Strength: The starting five. It's Texas. The offensive line will always be great, and the starting five should grow into a strength as the season goes on.
Weakness: Tackle depth. Uh oh. It's Texas. It always has good offensive linemen, but now there are major question marks if Hills and/or Ulatoski get hurt.
Outlook: It's Texas. It replaces great offensive linemen with other great offensive linemen. Now, the incoming freshmen have to get long looks all through fall camp to provide some depth, and everyone has to cross their fingers that there isn't a rash of major injuries.
Rating: 7.5

   

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