With a 6:30 PM kickoff and a crowd of about 35,000 people, I must say it appeared to be a very nice turnout in Austin on Saturday evening for the Texas Longhorns football spring game. I truly believe that over the next few years, that these spring games are going to start being held in the evening and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few schools shell out some serious money for entertainment purposes. In the end, the white team beat the orange team 23-13 and coach Herman appeared to have the orange team players and coaches running (for punishment) after the game. Anyhow, there was plenty of action on the field in this game and for those who weren’t there or simply don’t have the LHN channel (many of you don’t), here are my takeaways from the Texas spring game Saturday night. Just to let you folks know, this article is mostly going to be based off the first half, where most of the starters got all the reps. In the second half, walk-ons and some of the guys further down the depth chart got most of the action.
On my notes from the game, it appeared that Sam had a total of 6 series in this game and he was able to put together 3 scoring drives (1 TD & 2 FG) which isn’t bad at all. He started off the game with a nice drive that was highlighted by a 44-yard pass to Devin Duvernay that led to a FG. That was followed by three straight 3 and outs before Ehlinger seemed to get his mojo back. In the 5th series, Sam was still a bit shaky as he under threw a wide out and then over threw TE Reese Leitao. However, he did manage to find WR Lil’ Jordan Humphrey a few times on the drive that eventually led to a TD run by Humphrey. Sam closed out his spring game with a few passes to guess who? Lil’ Jordan Humphrey once again before Joshua Rowland hit a 50-yard FG before the half ended. Overall, it was a spotty performance by Sam, but he didn’t throw an interception or take any sacks (touch sacks). He had one mistake when he dropped a snap inside his own 25-yard line which could have been costly. Ehlinger ended the game going 13 for 22 for 151 yards to end the day.
Much like Ehlinger, Buechele was also spotty in this game. He started his first two series going 3 and out before putting a nice drive together. In his third series, he was able to hit WR Collin Johnson twice and once of those was a TD pass off a nice scramble. He didn’t do much in his final two series before closing out his day going 12 for 21 throwing for 130 yards as well as a TD pass. However, he was sacked 3 times behind a shaky offensive line and had a few big misses on some deep passes. In the end, both guys (Sam and Shane) didn’t really separate themselves much. It’s still clear that this offense is much better suited for Sam Ehlinger even though Shane is the more polished passer.
This is a group that was paper thin on Saturday. They wore black jerseys, so they could play for both teams because they weren’t able to have a decent rotation if they were split up. The guys that mostly hit the field on Saturday were Zack Shackelford, Patrick Vahe, Patrick Hudson, Elijah Rodriguez, Derek Kerstetter, Tope Imade and Denzel Okafor. There were probably a couple more that did see some action but overall, this game format was the toughest for the offensive line. You could tell that this group was worn out at times and they struggled creating space for the backs and protecting their signal callers. Overall Tom Herman felt good about the first unit but whenever they started mixing and matching, problems started occurring. Don’t forget that Rice OT Grad Transfer Calvin Anderson will help as well as JUCO OL Mikey Grandy who sat out with a head injury. Those two could very well wind up starting for this offense when the season starts.
I honestly don’t even need to talk much about this defense. DC Todd Orlando is one of the best in the country and there is plenty to be excited about for Texas fans on this side of the ball. Top to bottom, this defense could be the best defense in the entire Big 12. On Saturday, guys who stood out to me were some of those edge rushers on the defensive line. Malcolm Roach, Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu really had strong performances and I fully expect them to do the same once the season rolls around. These three guys should be the leaders in terms of sacks and should cause plenty of havoc for offenses. Some key guys who didn’t suit up Saturday for the defense were LB Gary Johnson, DT Chris Nelson and DBs Caden Sterns and P.J. Locke. Even without them, the defense showed a solid performance in this game.
Other Key Notes
WR Lil’ Jordan Humphrey- Has to be my MVP for the entire spring game. He caught 7 passes for 100 yards and even had a few carries at RB on Saturday. He is a guy to keep an eye on during fall camp and will most likely play a key role in this offense when the season comes. After the game, Tom Herman said “I think you’ll see some wildcat stuff with him.”
WR Collin Johnson- Much like Humphrey, he showed why he is the number one WR in the offense. He had two spectacular catches that made my jaw drop and rounded out the day with 91 receiving yards. Expect to see plenty of passes his way this year.
Other QB’s- After watching both Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson, I think the clear cut third string QB will be Cameron Rising. He has a nice arm and is much bigger than I expected. Thompson is probably going to be redshirted this year but at least Texas finally has some scholarship guys behind the Buechele and Ehlinger.
Running Backs- Both Toneil Carter and Daniel Young didn’t do too much in this game. It’s hard to really point the finger anywhere besides the offensive line right now. Until that unit gets straightened out, it’s going to be tough sledding for these backs. Also, 4-star RB Keaontay Ingram will be on campus this summer to help.
Kicker Joshua Rowland- Not often we talk about kickers, but Texas has needed one for awhile now. After years of horrible field goal kicking, it was nice to see Rowland put two through the uprights yesterday. He hit one from 29 yards and hit one from 50 yards that looked like it could have been good from 55.