2014 Texas Longhorns Orange White Spring Game Breakdown: Offense

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Some thoughts on yesterday's action...

The defensive breakdown will be coming soon, so let's limit commentary to the offensive side of the ball.

Scheme

We stayed mostly vanilla, but the fingerprints on the offense don't require a crime lab to decipher.  Shawn Watson looked an awful lot like our offensive coordinator and I saw a lot in our offense reminiscent of his days at Colorado, Nebraska and Louisville with Joe Wickline's blocking philosophies intermingled liberally.

We saw a heavy use of waggles, bootlegs, the screen game, power running, opportune deep play action on running downs and more tight end involvement than we've seen in a while.  Either Watson has a great natural feel for the screen game or he's dialed in on Bedford's tendencies, because pretty much everything we did in that phase of the game was fruitful.  We haven't seen a legitimate RB screen game here since the Harsin interlude and I welcome its return.  The goal line screen calls were fun to watch.

The new Texas offense does a lot to create opportunities for the QB and receivers to exploit defenses looking to stop the run, but without QB play, we're going to have a distinctly grind-it-out, 1990s era ball control feel. Where are Bobby Pesavento and Joe Ganz when you need them?

QB

Texas started pretty aggressively on offense, giving both QBs plenty of rope to hang themselves and Swoopes managed to tie a noose and hop up on a chair while carving "Brooks was here" on a wooden beam Shawshank style.

Onyegbule began promisingly with some accurate easy throws and a pair of strikes to Montrel Meander (one caught for a long gain, one lost in bluebonnet pollen) but the law of averages caught up as he threw a pick six to Mykkele Thompson, a stat-padder to Josh Turner and fumbled on an option play.  Props to him for competing in a tough situation, but it's fair to say he's not currently a viable piece in the depth chart.  A summer of throwing will do him good.

Tyrone Swoopes was awful early, sailing most of his throws over the heads of open receivers or beyond fingertips on sure play-action touchdowns, finally capping it off with a WTF ball thrown directly to walk-on safety Dylan Haines.  He also didn't evidence any real understanding of his protections, failing to account for free backside blitzers with the RB releasing play side.   See the Dalton Santos sack for one example.  That's troubling.

After an extensive ass-chewing by Strong and Watson, Swoopes got it together enough to nail a prayer Hail Mary throwing 55 yards across his body and then have a solid second half (including a gorgeous over-the-shoulder 44 yard TD to Shipley) against a 2's defense that was starting to wear down.  The statistics are pretty meaningless to me - I was looking for command of the offense, accuracy, overall poise and the ability to connect on open throws.

I can't give him a passing grade, even with the late rally.

Swoopes is best on pre-determined throws, simple waggles and bootlegs where he doesn't have many options to muddy his decision-making or adjust protections.  While that's encouraging, it's not the basis for a real offense against above average or good defenses and kneecaps a promising group of receivers who can do things after the catch.  His accuracy is questionable and he puts his OL and WRs in the hole with some of his attempts at improvisation.  On the plus side, Swoopes isn't going to be easy to tackle and he has undeniable arm strength.  It's tough to project growth in a product this raw - it all depends on your personal opinion as to the angle of his projected line.  The next data point on the graph plot won't be until August.

Max Wittek and Jerrod Heard will probably improve this depth chart.  But that's a relative statement.

RB

Malcolm Brown pounded the rock (20-82-2), eventually wearing down the 2s and showing the same tackle-breaking ability he demonstrated against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl and his freshman season, a skill often missing through large swathes of 2012 and 2013.

Jalen Overstreet had a solid game, gouging the #1 defense early on cutbacks (his early 22 yard run was Marcus Allenesque), demonstrating quick feet and good vision.  Overstreet isn't breaking tackles yet, but that will come as he learns to drive through contact and lower his pads.  Right now, he needs a clean initial hole or a backside opportunity to be effective - he's not going to turn 2 yards into 5 yards like Brown can.

Counting on a healthy Gray and a returning Bergeron isn't a sure thing.  I hope Brown is ready for a potentially big load and that Donald Catalon comes in ready.

WR/TE

Impressed with the potential and depth at WR.  It would be a shame if we can't exploit this improved unit with good QB play.  It may be the key to the 2014 season.

A hat tip to the staff for realizing that Jaxon Shipley can do more than run a 8 yard stop route or quick slant.  Given a little time, Jaxon will separate on double moves and progression routes - his ability to disguise his breaks and accelerate from stop-start is NFL quality.  He traumatized poor Bryson Echols and his 6-95-1 stat line could have easily been 8-160-2 with a couple of better throws by Swoopes.

Montrel Meander isn't a complete receiver, but he showed good hands, an ability to win deep balls outside of the hash, used Quandre Diggs on an out and up route...and forgot to look for the football.  He may have a niche role now, but I like his future here.

Daje Johnson caught the Hail Mary and wasn't otherwise meaningfully employed.  Probably a message there.

Marcus Johnson had a modest stat line but he showed his speed and the player that dominated most of Spring training and flashed in spots last year should be expected to make a major leap in 2014 with some solid QBing.

Kendall Sanders and Jacorey Warrick showed great quickness and reliable hands.  Sanders is beginning to run discernible routes now.  If he can combine reliability and comfort with his physical ability, he'll be a major asset with the ball in his hands.

John Harris has a physical skill set that's a great complement to his quicker peers and could help us to move chains, convert in the red zone and set the edge in the running game, but the fact that he caught a 22 yard touchdown is obscured by the fact of when he caught it.  Playing with the third team with walk-ons.  He's deep in the dog house.

Geoff Swaim made two excellent catches on boots where the TE was a primary option.  Begin the ticker tape parade. He's pretty clearly our starting TE, particularly given his ability to set the edge in the running game and operate as a H-back.  Didn't watch Whiteley or MJ MacFarland enough to have an opinion.

OL

Up and down, but that's what I expected.  Too much inexperience, too little time to develop their skill sets and minimal unit cohesion.  True freshman Alex Anderson is on our two deep at OG with Kent Perkins out.  That's a nice testament to Wickline's evaluation abilities, but a pretty stark commentary on the development of our interior OL behind Hopkins, Walters et al over the last few years.  We weren't recruiting offensive tackles  and not developing a surplus of guards.  Odd.

The 1st team OL played better than the production level suggested given the early play from the QB position, but they also had some assignment busts and are still learning to play Wickline's way.  Wickline wants movement  and push on the play side above all and too many times our guys seemed to be satisfied with stalemates or creating a pile. That's not going to cut it on power runs.  I have no doubt that a lot of the assignment stuff will get corrected, but we're going to see a lot of movement on the depth chart and by position over the summer and in the first half of the season.

The 2nd team OT's really struggled in protection.  Camrhon Hughes looks the part and is aggressive in the running game, but he's a statue on 3rd and 7.   We need Estelle and Harrison eligible.

Dominic Espinosa has continued his improvement after a solid 2013.  We'll see if the internet ever catches up.

Let's hear your thoughts.

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