#28 Texas Football 2015 Preview

Texas Longhorns

Overall Rank: #28
#4 Big 12

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Coach Charlie Strong’s first season at Texas could have gone better. But still the Longhorns won six games and went to a bowl. It may not be what Texas fans are hoping for, but it is the first step in the rebuilding process. The next step will be to win nine or ten games and prove that this team can beat the better teams in the Big 12. Last year the best team Texas beat was West Virginia at home. Getting a win over a team like Baylor, TCU or Oklahoma would go a long way.

2014 Record: 6-7, 5-4
2014 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Arkansas (L 7-31)
Coach: Charlie Strong (6-7 at Texas, 42-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Wickline
Defensive Coordinator: Vance Bedford

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Johnathan Gray, RB, 637 yards
Passing: Tyrone Swoopes, QB, 2,409 yards
Receiving: Marcus Johnson, WR, 313 yards
Tackles: Dylan Haines, S, 86
Sacks: Hassan Ridgeway, DT, 6.0
Interceptions: Dylan Haines, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: OL Sedrick Flowers, K Nick Rose

Key Losses: RB Malcom Brown, WR John Harris, WR Jaxon Shipley, LB Jordan Hicks, LB Steve Edmond, DL Malcolm Brown, DL Cedric Reed, DB Quandre Diggs

It was the Texas defense that kept the Longhorns in the bowl hunt. The line is loaded with experienced talent, like tackles Desmond Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway, and a bevy of youngsters ready to step up. Sophomores Poona Ford and Naashon Hughes are a couple linemen to watch. There are more issues at linebacker where Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond need to be replaced. Once again Texas has plenty of superb young talent, most notably freshmen Ed Freeman and Malik Jefferson, but Peter Jinkens, Dalton Santos and Tim Cole have much more experience. Safeties Dylan Haines and Jason Hall will lead the secondary. Cornerback Duke Thomas picked off three passes a season ago and should emerge as the team’s top cornerback. At the other corner spot there is a bit of a concern after Sheroid Evans injured his knee in the spring. However, like everywhere else on defense, Coach Strong has younger options who could take over.  

The Texas offense was painful to watch at times last season. They were held to ten points or fewer against BYU, Baylor, Kansas State, TCU and Arkansas and ranked dead last in the Big 12 in passing offense and second to last in total offense and scoring offense. Quarterback Tyrone Stoops, who threw for 2,409 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, should do better in the new spread attack where he can use his legs more often. But Swoopes is being pushed by redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. Both could play this fall. Without John Harris and Jaxon Shipley, the Longhorns have no proven wide receivers. They also struggled on the line last year and most of the help comes in the form of unproven freshmen. The running backs have talent though, led by Johnathan Gray, who rushed for 637 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014. Sophomore D’Onta Freeman is a bruiser who got his feet wet last season and redshirt freshman Donald Catalon could be the best of the bunch sooner or later.

The Bottom Line:
It is still early for Coach Strong at Texas, but this is an important season. The offense must start looking better and the wins need to come pretty soon too. For the offense to take a big step forward, somebody has to be much more efficient and effective under center, whether that be Swoopes or Heard. Of course the schedule is going to be tough in the Big 12, but the Longhorns play Iowa State, Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech in a four game stretch late in the year. By then, this group should be ready to beat those teams. But the key will be beating a team like TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State or Baylor and proving that they have the talent to compete with the best the Big 12 has to offer.

Projected Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 137.4 (98th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 199.9 (88, 10)
Total Offense: 337.3 (110, 9)
Scoring Offense: 21.4 (106, 9)
Rushing Defense: 164.3 (59, 6)
Pass Defense: 184.2 (11, 1)
Total Defense: 348.5 (25, 2)
Scoring Defense: 23.8 (31, 3)
Turnover Margin: -0.23 (81, 6)
Sacks: 3.08 (11, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (80, 5)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#11 Malik Jefferson
#70 Anthony Wheeler
#81 Kris Boyd
#87 Chris Warren
#95 Holton Hill
#151 John Burt
#161 Patrick Vahe


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