University Of Texas Spring Game

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University Of Texas Spring Game
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Spring practice officially came to a close on the forty acres as the Horns held their annual Orange/White game in Austin. As it has been in the Mack Brown era, expectations are as high and wide as Bevo himself with the Horns on everyone's shortlist of teams for this years NC. Texas was perhaps one dropped INT in Lubbock a year ago from a NC shot in 2008 and with most of the squad back in 09 most notably Sr. QB Colt McCoy an early Heisman frontrunner and media darling it's easy to see why some are calling this a "NC or bust year for the Horns." Of course conventional wisdom says that pre-season hype amount to nothing as far as where teams will end up in January and before Mack & Co. book there tickets for the NC there are many question marks surrounding the team that need to be answered come fall.

Top Question marks: 1) Depth on DL 2) Establishing a running game 3) TE position 4) backup QB 5) Developing young wideouts

Offense

QB's - Colt McCoy is Colt McCoy. Proven playmaker, leader, and Heart&soul of the team. Keeping him healthy was the biggest priority, mission accomplished. The backup QB position however is up for grabs. John Chiles, last year's backup asked to be moved to WR full time leaving the door open for Sherrod Harris to make a name for himself. If the Spring is any indication, he is definitely not the answer. Sherrod struggled with his reads and accuracy throughout the day. If he doesn't show sig. improvement come fall the door will be wide open for heralded freshman Garrett Gilbert, a 5 star recruit out of Lake Travis to take the backup role. Gilbert has massive potential, can make all the throws and has been heralded as the next great thing on the 40 acres. I would personally love to see Sherrod improve so Garrett can have the luxury of redshirting and getting acclimated to the offense while learning from Colt in the process so he can be ready to take the reigns in 2010.

Grade: B

RB's - Perhaps the biggest job for Greg Davis, Mack&co. will be to find a reliable RB to take some of the pressure off Colt in the running game. Last year Colt led the team in rushing which is a nice luxury to have but not ideal as far as balance and trying to keep the Heisman hopeful as fresh as possible throughout the long haul of the season. Vondrell McGee and Fozzy Whittaker shared duties on Sunday, both showing some good things. Fozzy has a nice burst and is a nice little skat back broke off some nice runs. McGee is more of a downhill runner, not the surest of hands however but does a decent job in pass protection. Neither really separated themselves from the other nor do they look like the every down back the coaching staff is looking for. Hotshot freshman Chris Whaley a 6'3 255 pounder from Madisonville is a beast and could be that back come fall but judging on the players in the spring, this is still an area that needs improvement.

Grade: C+

TE's - In recent years Texas has thrived off the TE. When Blaine Irby went down early in the season last year this suddenly became a weakness for the Horns, and remains to be. Ahmard Howard and Greg Smith are both blocking TE's and neither did much in the spring game. Texas hopes to have Blaine back in the Fall which would be a huge lift for the Horns as Colt likes to find that TE in the middle. Freshman Barrett Matthews projected as the no. 2 TE in the nation by rivals is a very athletic kid with sure hands who could boost the position in the fall as well. As of right now, this remains a position perplexed.

Grade: D

OL: This will be if not the best than one of the best OL unit's in the nation in 2009. All but one starter from the line is back from 08 and Texas is nearly 2-deep at every position. Led by Sr. T Adam Ulatoski a pre-season All American G Charlie Tanner Michael Huey T Kyle Hix and C Chris Hall could all be All big 12 selections. The line is excellent in pass protection and are extremely agile and athletic, mesh well in run blocking schemes as well. Colt will have all day to pick apart defenses next year which is a bad omen for big 12 defenses. Definite luxury for the Horns.

Grade: A+

WR: With Quan off to the NFL and Jordan Shipley sitting out spring practice while rehabing from shoulder surgery, Colt has had an opportunity in the spring to build rapport with an immensely talented and deep young wr corps. Timing was a bit off during the game which is to be expected in the spring but the potential of this group is off the charts. From Malcom Williams a 6'4 speedster who showed flashes of brilliance last year this guy has the potential to be an All_American with his size and speed, to Brandon Collins also a big contributor last year had some monster games vs. Missouri, Oklahoma and others actually had the best day out of the bunch, to James Kirkendoll who also took some punt returns, newly converted WR John Chiles perhaps the best pure athlete on the team to other young guys showing potential like DeSean Hales, Dan buckner, and Phillip Payne these guys have all the tools to be among the best in the nation. Throw in a healthy Jordan, a veteran saavy qb in mccoy with an experienced OL this group is downright scary. All these guys are athletic, can catch and make plays all over the field. Still some timing issues but this bunch has the potential to be among the best in the nation. Should be very fun to watch.

Grade: Spring performance: B Potential: A+++

Defense

DL: Depth on the DL was a major concern for DC Will Muschamp heading into Sunday. With the departures of Brian Orakpo a 1st team all american, Roy Miller and Aaron Lewis it's not difficult to understand why. Lamarr Houston is a beast in the middle and is the only remaining starteer from a year ago. This is Texas However, and we tend to rebuild nicely. To Muschamps delight the Unit looked Strong and Athletic, actually holding there own vs an OL among the nation's best. Sergio Kindle, sat out the spring game which left froom for Freshman Alex Okafor a True Freshman and early enrolee to stand out in a big way, actually looking dominant at times. Reminds me alot of Tim Crowder from the NC squad who went on to be a 1st rd pick in the NFL. Dude is big, strong, and fast. Along with Sam Acho, Ben Alexander and Kheeston Randle in the middle played about as well as you could ask. This might actually be a position of strength again this year. Still could develop a few more guys for overrall depth but the potential is awesome, alot of the credit goes to muschamp for developing these guys. DL was perhaps the biggest surprise on Sunday.

Grade: B+

Linebackers: the backers played well and will also be a position of strength, the defense as a whole looks awesome. Jared Norton, Keenan Robinson, and Rod Muckelroy all return from last year. The depth here to is nice with Dustin Earnest, Emmaunel Acho, and true freshman Tariq Allen all showing promise on Sunday. Norton and Muckelroy are absolute studs with Keenan as athletic as they come.

Grade: B+

Secondary: Wow. Equivalent to the OL the secondary is as deep and talented as there is in the nation. Hands down. I will go out on a limb and say that this will be the best on the 40 acres in the Mack Brown era. There's just not a Weakness and all are interchangeable with little to no dropoff in athletecism and ability. The biggest question will be how to utilize them all at once. Chykie Brown, Deon Beasley, Aaron Williams, and Curtis borwn could all start at ANY TEAM in the Country. They are THAT GOOD. This is the Deepest I have ever seen at Texas which is saying something ( Nathan Vasher, Quentin Jammer, Rod Babers, Mike Huff, Michael Griffin, Tarell Brown, Aaron Ross, list goes on and on all in the NFL now) I was literally astonished at the length, cover skills, and ball saavy of the bunch. At safety Earl Thomas looked like the best player outside Colt on the field. Guy has a nack for the football, even had a pick six on Colt that he took to the house. Blake Gideon was all over the field as well the other safety and S christain scott was making play after play while he was in. Nolan brewster had a pick and looked great in coverage as well.. Wow. Look you can say what you want but I know Texas football. This Secondary is Loaded! Will be tons of plays to go around this year

Grade: A+

In conclusion, while there are still some question marks going into next season the skies the limit for this Texas team. Years have made me wiser than in the past and I will stay modest as I know lot's can happen in a football season. I will say that the last time I was this excited for a football season to start was in 2005 when we went on to hoist a NC trophy. will it be the same in 09? Time will tell but i can assure you that there won't be a team we face on our schedule that we shouldn't be favored to win. Including that big one in Dallas. God bless and Hook 'em horns.

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