Texas Longhorns Quietly Prepare Offensive Attack for 2008
This year is already getting crazy, and we haven't seen a down of football yet.
We are currently living in a world where Texas and Baylor have the same number of players on the preseason All-Big 12 Team. Howard Schnellenberger has been videotaped mouthing off about the Longhorns. You almost get the idea that the college football world has moved on and forgotten about Texas.
That would be a grave mistake.
Lost in all the hoopla of the preseason is the fact that Texas has quietly assembled a very talented and athletic group of playmakers on both sides of the ball. This first article is going to focus on the offensive side of the ball, with a defensive article soon to follow.
The Longhorns have one of the most enviable QB situations in the country. Colt McCoy is coming off a year where he amassed 3,795 yards and 26 touchdowns combined passing and rushing. For a sophomore slump, that's all right. Factor in that nine of his 18 interceptions were off tipped balls, and he starts to look pretty promising.
McCoy is finally an upperclassman, and his grasp of the mental aspect of the game is coming together, so look out for a monster year.
Then there's John Chiles. Texas fans have been clamoring for this guy to see the field. He is simply electric with the ball in his hands.
Now it has been made clear that he is still the No. 2 QB, but you can't have a guy this good warming pine on Saturdays. Bring in the infamous "Q Package": Coach Mack Brown has been tinkering with a package involving both quarterbacks seeing the field at the same time, with Chiles lining up at multiple positions in the offense.
Sherrod Harris might be starting by now on some other teams, but with McCoy and Chiles ahead of him, he'll have to wait his turn. He brings a strong arm and excellent athletic ability to the table, but we just haven't seen him enough to fairly pass judgment.
This is an intriguing group of guys fighting for the starting spot. Senior Chris Ogbonnaya has seen limited use, contributing two TDs last season. He brings a veteran's savvy to the position, with a knowledge of blocking that comes with experience. He will most likely be the third down back, although early on he could see more action until the young guys come along.
The primary back duties will most likely be split between sophomore Vondrell "The Bulldozer" McGee and freshman Foswhitt "Fozzy" Whittaker. McGee contributed eight TDs last year and is credited with being a downhill runner. A blue-chip recruit in 2006, we have yet to see his best.
Whittaker is considered the breakaway threat of the bunch. Shifty and fast, he has looked good in camp.
Although there is no definite replacement for Jamaal Charles, each of these guys can contribute, so the ground production should continue this year.
Seniors Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley are the only proved commodities, and Shipley hasn't even been healthy until this year. The young guys are definitely talented and capable: They just need to grow up fast. In camp, Malcolm Williams has stood out, as well as Big Dan Buckner and James Kirkendoll.
As far a TE goes, Jermichael Finley left pretty inconveniently for the Longhorns, but Blaine Irby and Peter Ullman should be able to stand in for him. Both can catch, and both can block. There's also Greg Smith, coming in at 285 pounds as a blocking TE.
The plethora of injuries suffered last year forced unready underclassmen to step in and try to fill the void. That experience gives them confidence heading into this season.
Chris Hall played all five positions last year and has settled in at center for this season. Adam Ulatoski will man the left tackle position. Cedric Dockery, one of the Longhorns' two preseason All-Big 12 selections, lines up at guard. Tray Allen is coming along, and everyone will get on the field in the rotation system the Longhorns employ. This line is deep and should perform well.
That concludes this article, but stay tuned for an upcoming one about the defense. The moral of this story is that, although unproven, this young squad has immense talent, and they understand the expectations placed on them. Don't be surprised if this team puts up a lot of points this season.
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