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Texas Spring Game – Longhorns Still A Work In Progress

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Charlie Strong debuted his Longhorn football team Saturday at Texas’s Spring Game and for those in attendance there were a few answers in regard to how good his team will be. Strong’s Horns look to be led by a stout defense which registered eight sacks and three interceptions, with one returned for a score.  The defensive line was led by the play of tackles Desmond Jackson (my Defensive MVP with six tackles and two sacks) and Malcom Brown. Defensive end Cedric Reed was also sharp registering two sacks. Safety Mykkele Thompson made a nice grab on a Miles Onyegbule pass which he returned 36 yards for a score. At linebacker, Demarco Cobbs looks like he’s ready to come back and make an impact. Cobbs missed last season with a knee injury but was all over the field making eight tackles.

On to the position every Longhorn fan has questions about—quarterback. Senior David Ash was out with a fractured foot giving true sophomore Tyrone Swoopes a chance to stake his claim on the Horns’s quarterback position. His first series included a sack, delay of game penalty and an interception by defensive back Dylan Haines. After starting two-of-nine for nine yards, Swoopes seemed to get into rhythm after hitting running back Malcolm Brown on a short screen, which ended up as a 20-yard gain. He wasn’t perfect as he eye-balled receivers, lacked accuracy on his throws and stuck mainly with his first progression.  What Swoopes did do was display enough as a passer to show that there has been some growth to his game. His best pass was a beautiful seem route to wide-out Jaxon Shipley who was double covered but still able to grab the 44-yard pass for a score. Swoopes also benefitted from a bit of luck when he heaved a pass deep into the end-zone which was caught by wide receiver Daje Johnson as time ran out in the first half.  Swoopes finished the game 17-of-30 for 229 yards with three scores and one interception.

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The running backs were led by senior Malcolm Brown (my Offensive MVP) who rushed for 82 yards on 20 carries with two scores. Brown looks like he is ready to continue building off of a strong second half performance last season. Sophomore Jalen Overstreet rushed for 69 yards on 17 carries, with a long of 22 yards but also fumbled once. The sophomore showed a nice ability to bump his runs outside with the speed to turn the corner. Jaxon Shipley led the receiving corps, hauling in six catches for 95 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman Montrel Meander is a name to watch at wide receiver as the 6-foot-3 speedster made a nice 30-yard catch early in the game.

Another added bonus for Charlie Strong came after the spring game, as 3-star defensive back Keivon Ramsey pledged his commitment to the Longhorns. The 6-foot-1, 170 pound cornerback is ranked as a top 50 prospect at his position. USC transfer Max Wittek was in attendance, making that three trips to Austin but has yet to make his decision to transfer to UT official.

Areas of concern for Texas include an offensive line that is trying to replace three starters. The unit looked suspect in its pass protection, allowing eight sacks. Charlie Strong must also find a replacement for All-Big 12 kicker Anthony Fera. Junior Nick Rose made one of two field goal attempts, hitting a 40-yarder while missing a 55-yard kick. The biggest area of concern is still at quarterback but after his first spring game as Texas’s head coach, it seems as if Charlie Strong will have a decent amount of talent to work with in his quest to rebuild his Longhorns into Big 12 title contenders.

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