Texas Football: 5 Longhorns Who Will Shine in Up-Tempo Offense
Speed kills, and with the up-tempo offense the Texas Longhorns are transitioning into, they will have plenty of it to go around.
Since Colt McCoy moved on to the NFL, the 'Horns offense has been marginally explosive, moving from the spread to a power running game to a motion-heavy look and now back to the spread. The 2012 season gave a glimpse of what could be possible, but this upcoming season could have special written all over it.
Although edge-burners like D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin are gone, the Longhorns have plenty of speed scattered across their roster. Many of those players have already secured a place as one of the offense's top playmakers.
Texas has had great success with a spread offense in the past. But with a new group of players, who will stand out?
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As long as the quarterback can deliver, receiver Jaxon Shipley should excel in this offense. He's simply a guy who gets open and catches everything.
As if the last name were not enough, Shipley has the best pair of hands on the team to go with the best route- running ability. So if Ash can take command of the offense, grasp the playbook and understand the smaller nuances of the game, Shipley should have every opportunity to shine.
If Texas is to mimic the quick-tempo passing offense that Colt McCoy perfected, Shipley could end up being the 'Horns top option through the air.
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Daje Johnson averaged 11.5 yards per catch as a true freshman, even with the likes of D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin demanding attention as well.
But as Monroe slowly became phased out of the offense, Johnson assumed a role that should be expanded this season. He is one of the team's best performers in open space.
Johnson's straight-line speed has been well-documented, and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite knows exactly how to get the ball into the hands of his best playmakers.
Johnson figures to be one of them.
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Proving to be more than serviceable during his freshman season, Johnathan Gray should be just that and more in 2013.
Gray's versatility as a runner and receiver in the screen game will be vital to a Texas offense that will look to establish some early rhythm as it tries to iron out the wrinkles during the early portions of the season.
The sophomore caught 11 passes for 151 yards last season, and with limited experience coming out of the receiving corps, Gray could see his looks in the passing game increase as well.
An interesting thing to note is that the Colt McCoy-led Texas offense did not have the running potential that today's Longhorns program offers, With Gray leading the charge, Texas has a good opportunity to have a very balanced game plan.
A virtual unknown, Kendall Sanders could slip into Marquise Goodwin's role on offense. He's a wing-footed athlete who can explode in space.
A sophomore, Sanders is competing with Cayleb Jones and Marcus Johnson, as well as a number of upperclassmen (Bryant Jackson, John Harris) for position on the depth chart, a battle that will heat up before the season opens in the fall.
There probably is no smart money on any one receiver in the bunch. But Sanders offers the most athleticism despite being quite raw.
Time will tell if he is to take the leap. The opportunity is definitely there.
Colt McCoy capped off a fine junior season with a come-from-behind win over Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. All of this came in an up-tempo, spread offense that featured Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby out wide.
David Ash hardly has those celebrated names as targets, but Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should provide plenty of weaponry for the junior quarterback.
Operating in his second full season as the full-time starter, Ash is expected to make big strides in an offense that is quarterback-friendly and caters to Ash's athleticism. If the Belton product can improve his decision-making and understanding of the nuances of an up-tempo offense, Texas could be on the cusp of a special season.
Much of it will ride on Ash. No. 14 will be expected to answer the bell.