The 2011 Texas team featured several true freshman on both sides of the ball, many of whom contributed immediately. As a result, the Longhorns were decent — certainly a step up from a disastrous 2010 year — but experienced a growing pain or two in an 8-5 campaign that, at least, ended on a positive note with a Holiday Bowl win over Cal.
Four months later at UT’s spring game, a 35-28 win in favor of team “Texas” over team “Longhorns” for what it’s worth (nothing), that young talent was on display.
The primary focus for Texas has been and will continue to be on the quarterback spot, which has been in question ever since it became clear Garrett Gilbert wouldn’t be the guy to succeed Colt McCoy. David Ash and Case McCoy, as expected, shared the first-team reps with early enrollee Connor Brewer getting the third-team snaps.
McCoy continues to show flashes, throwing for a touchdown and hitting tight end M.J. McFarland down the middle for a nice gain, but Ash still appears to be the more consistent option. McCoy underthrew two passes in the endzone that resulted in interceptions, and almost had a third pick courtesy of defensive back Carrington Byndom.
Byndom, by the way, had a great day shutting down receivers.
The rest of the UT offense is still very young, but the potential is there. Mack Brown has to find a way to get the ball to D.J. Monroe and Jaxon Shipley. Monroe is still a work in progress as the offensive coaching staff tries to figure out how to get the speedy receiver/running back the ball. But Shipley is more of a sure thing. He can make plays in a variety of ways. Shipley’s good enough down the field and in the screen game, so defenses have to respect that. That opens up the WR pass Texas likes to do with him.
Some other observations:
— The O-line is deeper, projected to be sophomores and juniors. That should help tremendously with the running game, which was hit or miss last season.
— In addition to Byndom, Mykkele Thompson had a good day in the secondary. Thompson returned a kick for a touchdown in the second quarter.
— Special teams were a bit hit and miss, and punt returns/coverage was downright bad at times.
— Running back Malcolm Brown wasn’t used a lot, but Joe Bergeron was impressive.
— Linebacker Jordan Hicks was another defensive standout with guys like Alex Okafor sidelined.