Texas Football: 4 Players Who Need to Turn It Around in Spring Practice
Charlie Strong has doled out his fair share of praise to his Texas Longhorns. Others have not been so fortunate, and they need to get things turned out this spring.
With the significant changes Strong has mandated both on and off the field, the presence of a learning curve is inevitable. As long as the vast majority of the team continues to embrace the new culture, the rest of the group will fall in line.
But if these four Longhorns want to capitalize on the opportunity at hand, they need to make that happen sooner rather than later.
QB Tyrone Swoopes
"Both quarterbacks, they're getting better," Strong told reporters in an April 1 press conference. "The thing about David is, he's studying it. He's working at it and each practice he's gotten better and better."
Strong's statement is an affirmation that Ash has the inside track to the No. 1 job, which makes sense because he is the team's most accomplished passer. Shawn Watson's West Coast offense requires the quarterback to make quick decisions and deliver the ball with accuracy, which Ash is better suited toward.
However, Watson was Taylor Martinez's offensive coordinator when he ran for 964 yards as a freshman in 2010. The former Louisville play-caller will adjust in favor of athleticism, but Swoopes has to prove he can move the ball better than Ash.
The spring game would be a great time for him to show out as an encore to last year's breakout performance.
RB/WR Daje Johnson
More so than turn things around, Daje Johnson has to prove he is fulfilling his potential this spring. If he can, the junior is due for a huge 2014 campaign.
It's clear that Charlie Strong sees greatness in Johnson, elaborating on the all-purpose weapon's talents whenever given the chance. The new coach has called Johnson a "very explosive, exciting player" and even went so far as to describe him as "tough," which has to be considered Strong's ultimate compliment.
At the same time, Texas' head coach has coupled each commendation with a bit of criticism. "If he gets the ball in his hands he can score a touchdown or it can go the other way because he may drop it!" Strong joked in late March, later commenting on Johnson's ball security in another press conference.
The message to Johnson is simple: You can have all of the ability in the world, but you have to work on the finer points in order to max out that talent. Now that Joe Bergeron is in danger of missing games due to academic issues, getting Johnson to polish his skill set should be a priority.
S Adrian Colbert
Starting Adrian Colbert, a hard hitter with track speed, at strong safety makes perfect sense for a team that needs physicality on the back end. Yet with just 10 days until the spring game, his name has yet to come up.
Strong mentioned the efforts of three separate safeties in last week's press conference. Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson were each hailed for their efforts, while redshirt freshman Chevoski Collins received a nod for his progress.
As for Colbert, the biggest of the bunch at 6'2" and 202 pounds, there is nothing to indicate he is taking over a spot he has seemed destined to fill. Some light should be shed by the spring game, but it's alarming that he has not taken command of this opportunity.
RB Jalen Overstreet
What has been said about Daje Johnson goes the same for Jalen Overstreet. He has been playing well, but recent events have made his development paramount to the team's success.
Now that Joe Bergeron's status is up in the air, Texas is in danger of starting the season without two of its three leading rushers from the past two seasons. Unless Johnathan Gray's Achilles is healed up by fall, Overstreet and freshman Donald Catalon will be Texas' backup running backs.
This is significant because Malcolm Brown has missed eight games due to injury and cannot be expected to handle 30 carries per game. He needs another back who can share the load and pick up yardage when he is off the field.
Overstreet has reportedly stood out this spring, but he has to close out strong and show that he is ready for a more prominent role.