2008 Texas Preview - Offense
Texas WR Quan Cosby
Texas WR Quan Cosby
Posted May 20, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Texas Longhorn Offense

Texas Longhorns

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 CFN Texas Preview | 2008 Texas Offense
- 2008 Texas Defense | 2008 Texas Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Texas Preview | 2006 CFN Texas Preview 

What you need to know:
It wasn't always consistent and it had problems at times getting revved up, but the offense quietly finished 13th in the nation in yards and 14th in scoring. Even with huge losses at running back (Jamaal Charles) and in the receiving corps (Limas Sweed, Nate Jones and TE Jermichael Finley), the production should keep on coming with promising replacements at the skill spots and with a strong, veteran line that should be even better after a decent 2007. Conducting the show is the underappreciated Colt McCoy, who's one of the Big 12's better quarterbacks but gets lost in the shuffle. The one big concern is veteran depth. If there are injury problems, a slew of first year players, including several true freshmen, will have to grow up quickly.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Colt McCoy
276-424, 3,303 yds, 22 TD, 18 INT
Rushing: Colt McCoy
114 carries, 492 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Quan Cosby
60 catches, 680 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Colt McCoy
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore RB Vondrell McGee
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Foswhitt Whittaker
Best pro prospect: McCoy
Top three all-star candidates: 1) McCoy, 2) OT Adam Ulatoski, 3) OG Cedric Dockery
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, quarterback
Weakness of the offense:
Veteran depth, experienced running back


Projected Starter
Junior Colt McCoy followed up a shocking first year as a replacement for Vince Young by throwing for 3,303 yards and completing 65% of his passes with 22 touchdowns, but unlike his redshirt freshman season when he threw just seven interceptions, he had a problem with picks. He threw four in the loss to Kansas State, three in the comeback win over Oklahoma State, and went just three games without an interception with the offense hanging up more than 50 points in all of them. The 6-3, 210-pounder showed off more running ability with 492 yards, second best on the team, highlighted by a 106-yard day against Oklahoma State. He's not going to be Vince Young, but he has proven to be a big-time talent who can carry the offense at times. He'll have to do it again this year.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 215-pound sophomore John Chiles was supposed to be the next Vince Young with tremendous running skills and a next-level arm, and while he's a talent who can step in and produce, he's going to have to wait his turn behind Colt McCoy. He saw a little time as a true freshman and completed just one of nine passes for 17 yards while running for 191 yards and two scores. He could be too good of a player to keep off the field.

Most of the noise around sophomore Sherrod Harris has been whether or not he'll stick around. Stuck behind McCoy and Chiles, it would take an emergency for Harris to get any meaningful work, and a knee injury suffered early last year didn't help matters. However, he's the total package with 6-3, 220-pound size, sprinter's speed, and a big-time arm. If he ever wanted to switch positions he's make a whale of a safety, but he'll stick at quarterback.
Watch Out For ... McCoy to cut down on his interceptions. He had to press a bit too much under the pressure of a mediocre line, and with Limas Sweed out of the picture for most of the year. But when he was in a groove, he was tremendous. He'll be more accurate and more careful with the ball.
Strength: Talent. Jevan Snead was a great recruit who saw the writing on the wall with McCoy as the starter and transferred to Ole Miss. He's looking like a future SEC star. Chiles and Harris could start just about anywhere else but are stuck on the depth chart. McCoy is really that good.
Weakness: Passing experience among the reserves. Chiles completing one of nine passes last year doesn't exactly inspire confidence. It's not like Childs and Harris can't play and be great, but they haven't had to do it yet.
Outlook: The situation is fantastic. McCoy is one of the best, most underappreciated quarterbacks in the country, and Childs and Harris are special. The passing game will be efficient, there will be good mobility, and in a league full of great quarterbacks, this could be the best overall situation in the league.
Rating: 9.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
With Jamaal Charles bolting early for the NFL, getting picked up in the third round by Kansas City, there's a big hole with 1,619 yards and 18 touchdowns gone. There will be a rotation trying to fill the void with sophomore Vondrell McGee likely to be the top option going into the fall. The 5-10, 195-pounder doesn't have Charles-speed,
but he's fast enough to be a big home-run hitter and a great nose for the goal line. While he only averaged four yards per carry, but he was third on the team with 297 yards and eight touchdowns. While he wasn't used as a receiver, he needs to get the ball on the move to get his speed into the open field.

Projected Top Reserves: While McGee might be the No. 1 option on the depth chart, 5-10, 195-pound redshirt freshman Foswhitt Whittaker is No. 1A. A Texas high school superstar, rushing for 5,717 career yards, has excellent quickness and decent enough between-the-tackles pop to be used in a variety of ways. He's a big play back waiting to pop.

6-1, 225-pound senior Chris Ogbonnaya has been around forever getting a little bit of work over the last three years, but never cracking through to become a big-time runner. However, he has been a good receiver. He ran for just 66 yards and two touchdowns last season, but the coaching staff trusts him with the ball and used him as a target catching 21 passes for 204 yards. He has seen time as a receiver and a fullback, and he'll get a little more work as a tailback.

The Longhorns don't always use a fullback, but when they do it'll be 6-2, 245-pound senior Luke Tiemann coming in as a blocker. He didn't see any carries last year seeing most of his time on special teams. He has been a defensive end earlier in his career, but he's not a tough, physical blocker when he gets his chances.

Watch Out For ... a steady rotation. No one's expecting any one back to be Charles, but there's a hope for McGee, Whittaker and Ogbonnaya to combine for over 1,500 yards and keep the rushing production rolling.
Strength: Speed and quickness. The backfield instantly gets slower with Charles gone, but the returning trio of backs can move. Really move. Now they need to get the ball in places where they can do something with it.
Weakness: Proven production at this level. Whitaker was an all-timer of a high school runner, but he hasn't done it yet at Texas. McGee was good last year, but he didn't get enough work to be able to rely on him as a steady workhorse. Texas always gets rushing yards, but the 1,619 yards Charles cranked out might be tough to match.
Outlook: With an improved line, a veteran quarterback, and no major expectations, this group should be able to ease into their jobs. However, they need to start producing early on or teams are going to tee off on McCoy and the passing game. At least one of the backs has to prove he can crank out big plays and can keep defenses on their heels. It might take a little while, but McGee and Whittaker will be a great tandem.
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters
This is a young, really young, receiving corps that needs a leader. That's where senior Quan Cosby comes in after finishing second on the team with 60 catches for 680 yards and five touchdowns. A 5-11, 205-pound longtime veteran who was a part of the 2001 recruiting class, but chose to play minor league baseball for the Anaheim Angels, he has been around the program forever and should be the team's No. 1 target now that Limas Sweed and Nate Jones are gone. He has the speed to be a deep threat, but he hasn't been a consistent one as he has always played second and third fiddle. Now he's the man.

Hurt early on last year, but still able to be used a bit on special teams, was senior Jordan Shipley, a 6-0, 195-pound speedy veteran who has good hands and is a good producer when healthy. Staying on the field has been his biggest problem over the course of his career, but when he's fine, he's quick enough to be a dangerous outlet valve finishing fourth on the team with 27 catches for 417 yards and five touchdowns highlighted by a 60-yard play against Oklahoma State.

Taking on the third receiver role will be 6-3, 225-pound redshirt freshman Malcolm Williams. Very big, very fast, he was a Texas state champion-level sprinter, and with next-level upside, his maturation into a steady playmaker could be the key to the passing game. He needs to make teams pay for focusing on Cosby and Shipley.

With Jermichael Finley bolting early for the NFL, there's a big hole open at tight end where 6-3, 240-pound sophomore Blaine Irby has to come through. Used as a fullback and partly as a tight end as a true freshman, he caught two passes for 29 yards and saw time on special teams. He has a linebacker mentality with the hands and athleticism to be used as a regular in the passing game.

Projected Top Reserves: And here come the freshmen. Three key recruits will be expected to contribute right away. 5-11, 175-pound DeSean Hales was a superstar high school sprinter who'll be used on the outside behind Cosby. He was also used as a running back and could end up seeing the ball in his hands in a variety of ways.

Likely to work behind Shipley will be 6-2, 193-pound Antoine Hicks, a phenomenal all-around athlete who was a great track man starring as a sprinter, hurdler, and long jumper. He did everything for his high school team being used as a receiver, quarterback, defensive back, and even a kicker.

Bringing in even more size is the top prospect among the new recruits, Dan Buckner, a 6-4, 213-pounder with great hands and next-level upside. However, he's not a speedster like Hales or Hicks; he's a big, strong, physical receiver.

Working along with Irby at tight end will be 6-4, 240-pound sophomore Josh Marshall, a big wide receiver who happens to play tight end. He didn't get any catches last year, but he has the combination of size, athleticism and quickness to potentially be a go-to target in two tight end sets.
Watch Out For ... the freshmen. Cosby and Shipley are fine, and they've been around long enough to know the offense in and out, but the new guys need to shine for the passing attack to blow up.
Strength: Speedy upside. It might take a few hundred mistakes and a lot of growing pains, but Hales and Hicks are going to burn their share of corners before their careers are over, and Buckner and Williams could be tough, big targets to deal with.
Weakness: A scary No. 1. One of the freshmen will someday be the main man, but for now it's Cosby, who's good, but won't keep defensive coordinators up at night. Losing Nate Jones and Finley, not to mention Sweed, takes away some sure-thing weapons.
Outlook: There's a nice mix if serviceable, reliable veterans in Cosby and Shipley with some promising stars in waiting. How fast can the young guys show up and star? That'll be the key to the passing game.
As is it'll be a good corps, and it has the potential to be terrific with the right breaks.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The line gets back four starters with the strength on the right side. 6-8, 310-pound junior Adam Ulatoski
battled through injuries and spent the off-season trying to get over a knee injury, but when he's right he's a solid run blocking tackle who's improving as a pass protector. He stepped into a spot as a freshman and is expected to get better now that he has 17 starters under his belt.

Returning at right guard is 6-4, 320-pound senior Cedric Dockery, who appeared to be back to form after missing the second half of 2006 with a knee injury. While he wasn't dominant, he was excellent for the ground game earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. With his experience, size, and strength, he should be even better.

The most versatile player up front is 6-5 300-pound junior Chris Hall, a center who has seen time at all five spots. He did a little of everything last season starting out at right guard, moved to left guard, stepped in at right tackle when Ulatoski was hurting, and saw time late in the year at center. Athletic, he should be great once he settles in at one spot.

The fourth returning starter is 6-4, 300-pound junior Charlie Tanner at left guard. A smart, strong, mauler of a run blocker, he started in nine games last year rotating with Hall at times through the middle of the year. Mostly a special teamer for the first part of his career, he improved by leaps and bounds and became solid over the last month of the year.

Replacing Tony Hills at left tackle will be 6-7, 320-pound sophomore Kyle Hix. A nice recruit who stepped in right away as a key backup as a true freshman, and started against Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, he has a great combination of tools with great size, decent feet, and long arms able to keep defenders at bay. He'll grow into a good one over the next three years.

Projected Top Reserves: With Chris Hall so versatile that he could move around on the line if injuries string, 6-3, 320-pound sophomore Buck Burnette should play a big role after seeing time in every game last year, making his biggest impact on special teams. He got a couple of starts in the middle late last year and more than held his own, and if needed, he could step in at guard.

6-5, 315-pound sophomore Michael Huey has a bright future at one of the guard spots. One of the few backups with any experience, he saw time right away as a true freshman playing in every game as a special teamer and at guard. He'll start out behind Dockery on the right side.
Watch Out For ... the true freshmen. They won't step in and start unless there's a rash of injuries, but tackles Mark Buchanan and Luke Poehlmann need to get their feet wet early on or there might have to be some shuffling at some point.
Strength: Experience and run blocking. It helped to have a back like Jamaal Charles who was shot out of a cannon with the slightest crease, but the line really did do a solid job of paving the way for the ground game, especially late in games. Expect more of the same from the big, veteran group.
Weakness: Veteran depth. Burnett and Huey are excellent backups who'll see time throughout the year, but the line will be counting on several untested prospects to form a rotation. Overall, this shouldn't be a problem as the season goes on.
Outlook: This was supposed to be a relative weakness last year, at least compared to past Texas lines, and while it had problems at times in pass protection, it was rock-solid for the running game. While there might not be any sure-thing first-team All-Big 12 talents, there are four really good returning starters with Hix on his way to being more than just serviceable. Other lines like Oklahoma's and Oklahoma State's will get all the love, but this one will turn out to be excellent.
Rating: 8.5


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