Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Texas
2008 Texas Offense
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2008 Texas Depth
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2006 CFN Texas
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.
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
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Foswhitt
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.