The last of the 10 commandments warns us not to covet, but a six week long summer deep dive on every Big 12 roster in preparation for the Thinking Texas Football Texas Longhorn and Big 12 football preview has made me
even more of a sinner.
I’ll repent after this post. For a lot of things. As you’ll learn soon enough.
The premise is simple.
If college football had conference wide free agency and the richest bidders with the deepest pockets (ahem...us) could sign the league’s best with a generous salary cap, which five players on opposing rosters would you money whip that would guarantee us a conference title. And a little playoff run to boot.
The choices are determined by Longhorn need as much as individual excellence, but like the NFL draft, sometimes you need to take the best player available even when you like your current guy.
Warning: there are Sooners.
OT Orlando Brown - Oklahoma Sooners. Meet our new junior right tackle. All 6-8, 345 pounds of him. The 2nd best offensive tackle in the league is a dominant run blocker and high level pass protector by simple virtue of the fact that he can’t be bull rushed and he knows how to use his length and wingspan in his pass set to make edge rushers take routes to the passer that Waze could never endorse. He has started for Oklahoma since his freshman year (26 starts) and surrendered only a single sack last year.
Impact: His addition means the Longhorns now have the best OL in the league by a mile and quite arguably the best in college football if Shack is healthy and Vahe progresses. It also strengthens the interior by allowing Denzel Okafor to cross train at guard. Our QB will set his pocket time by sundial.
DE Dorance Armstrong - Kansas. Did I just covet a lowly Jayhawk? Yes, I did. The Longhorn killers boast the Big 12’s best edge pass rusher and the 6-4, 245 pound Houston native racked up 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss last year for a Jayhawks defense that didn’t offer him much help. Armstrong played DE in Lawrence, but he’ll play B-Backer for Todd Orlando, who will turn him into a Tyrus Bowser clone off of the edge and a disruptive presence in the flats on zone blitz looks. Armstrong has a knack for quick, disruptive pressure.
Impact: With Roach on the backside, Ford and Nelson inside and Armstrong coming off of the edge with a cadre of adept blitzing linebackers and safeties, the Horns now boast the best pass rush in the league. They’ll be able to get solid pressure with honest numbers and withering pressure with dishonest numbers.
We’re only two players in and Texas has dramatically improved at rushing the passer and preventing our passer from being rushed. Kind of crucial in the ‘ol Big 12.
The next three are really just piling on in hope of having an offense that can average 50 points per game...
TE Mark Andrews - Oklahoma. The league’s best (flex) TE is a 6-5, 255 long strider with great hands and excellent ability to separate downfield (he averages over 16 yards per catch in his career). He’s too fast for LBs and too big for DBs. Our staff knows exactly who he is - he hit Houston with a 64 yard touchdown catch before they started paying special attention to him. He played most of last year with an injured AC joint in his shoulder and it seriously hampered his production. Still, he has 14 touchdown catches in only 50 career receptions - a remarkable 28% of his catches cue up Boomer Sooner. Hearing the Eyes of Texas will be more like it.
Impact: A healthy Andrews will be a 700 yard, 10 td TE. Think Tyler Eifert for the Bengals. While he isn’t a physical in-line blocker, he’s effective blocking against smaller personnel that defenses are forced to play to cover him and he’s athletic enough to do some H-back stuff. His added dimension in the Longhorn offense would be a force multiplier and watching Andrews and Collin Johnson in the red zone would be amusing to say the least.
WR James Washington - Oklahoma State. The Wortham, TX native is a stud, but why on earth would I ink a WR to an existing Longhorn team strength? Because overkill is fun. The league’s preeminent deep threat has already exceeded 1,000+ yards twice in Stillwater, racking up an impressive 1380 yards on nearly 20 yards per catch in 2016. He’s a powerful receiver (6-0, 205) who can’t be knocked off of his stride in coverage and routinely puts corners on his hip and owns them in tight quarters. He’s a fantastic skill complement to Collin Johnson and Mark Andrews and the Bad Choice-Worse Choice options he’d present in coverage to opposing defenses would be enthralling.
Impact: Lining him up in a set along side Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay with our new shiny TE guaranteed linebacker or single safety coverage is patently unfair. Don’t forget about Connor Williams and Orlando Brown guaranteeing a clean pocket.
I’m trying to put 70 on the scoreboard and let the strength of my defense - the pass rush - take over.
The last player is...
QB Baker Mayfield - Oklahoma. I’m such an asshole sometimes. Stop it. Hear me out. The native Austinite has accumulated 76 touchdown passes and only 15 interceptions in his last two years as a starter. He’s also mobile enough to punish defenses with his feet the way Herman likes, even if he’s unable to avoid 40 year old cops when he’s shit-faced. Was he propped up by Westbrook, Mixon, Perrine? Sure. And he’ll now have better talent at Texas.
Is he douchey? Deeply. But he can be our douche.
You have no idea of the power of the dark side. Take my hand. Join me. We will rule together.
I can’t defend this on an emotional level. And you can argue for Jesse Ertz (we could run option and limit the value of our amazing receivers!) or Will Grier (he played six games at Florida!) or Mason Rudolph (he’s really good, but do you really want to see him in zone read?
Also, he won’t elicit the unhinged reader comments Mayfield will), but you’re just rationalizing.
Impact: Texas now has a legitimate QB three deep, Ehlinger redshirts, Buechele becomes the most competent back-up QB in college football and Mayfield throws for nine million yards to a ridiculous group of receivers behind an OL made of granite.
The Texas running game is also made effective simply by virtue of the quality of the OL and threats outside. Everyone on the internet pronounces our RBs special for their ability to run through massive holes against six men in the box and the LA Rams GM drafts all of them in the 1st round.
Who wants to play?