Thanks to ESPN, College Football Zealots all over the United States got a chance to watch some live college football on Sunday. Unfortunately for Texas, it wasn't quite the outing that they had hoped for. The Texas Longhorns are one of the most storied franchises in all of college football but last year they fell on hard times as they posted their first losing record since 1997 when they went 4-7.
Due to the poor record, Mack Brown flipped his coaching staff and brought in key hires in OC Bryan Harsin of Boise State and DC Manny Diaz of Mississippi State. Coming into this spring game you have to believe that the Longhorns wanted to give their fans some type of hope to grasp onto until football season starts. From where I sat, and you can't draw final conclusions based on a spring game, Texas is going to have a tough time on the offensive side of the football this year.
Texas played four QBs and none of them were very impressive. The top QB for the day was undoubtedly Case McCoy, Colt's younger brother. Case put up good stats (9 of 11 for 124 yards) and was able to move the football on a regular basis. That being said, he didn't look particularly comfortable out there. The returning starter Garrett Gilbert had an awful day. He threw one up for grabs on the first drive that was dropped by the defense but on the next drive he horribly under-threw a pass that was easily picked off by the defense. Gilbert finished 8 for 15 for 76 yards. All four QBs had trouble throwing the deep ball and the majority of their completions were on screen passes, which were very prevalent today for the Longhorns. On one of the drives in the first half the Longhorns broke out some trick plays but besides that one drive the offense was very pedestrian and that's particularly troubling because it was against a Texas defense that was playing very vanilla (on purpose) today.
On defense Manny Diaz wasn't particularly happy with how his unit played as he said "If we come back in August at this same level, we're in trouble". Personally, I think the defense is going to be fine. The issue with Texas last year wasn't the defense. In fact, they led the Big 12 in total defense, allowed the least amount of ypg in the league and finished 5th in the league in scoring defense. The team didn't scheme in this game like they will in the regular season. Diaz likes to dial up a lot of blitzes and we only saw those on a couple of plays during the game.
The spring game is not a time to overreact but the offense for Texas is very concerning to me. The lack of ability for any QB on the roster to throw an accurate pass of over 15 yards (and the accurate ones at 10 to 15 were all only over the middle) is an issue. All of their QBs are young so it's understandable that they are nervous and need time to grow but my concern is that they might not have a QB this season who is ready to be a starter in the Big 12.
Texas will start the season with a very winnable game against Rice but after that they will play BYU and UCLA, two games they are very capable of losing if they don't get solid QB play. At this point Texas is very much a wild-card in the Big 12 and as of right now I'm not ready to put them in my Pre-Season Top 25.