Posted August 28th, 2005 by Brian
Filed under: Football

The 2005 Texas Longhorns will begin their season in less than one week against Louisiana-Lafayette. It won’t be long till we find out how this team compares with the nation’s best, we’ll know a lot about how good this team is the following week against Ohio State. But how does this year’s team compare to the Longhorns who went 11-1 and capped the season with a Rose Bowl victory last year? Here are my thoughts…

Offense

OL – Big improvement over last year. Best tackle tandem in the nation and a ton of attitude from the guards. We lose Jason Glynn but [tag]Lyle Sendlein[/tag] should be a very capable replacement.

QB – [tag]Vince Young[/tag] will be better in every facet, depth is much worse and scary as hell. Young must reduce his mistakes. If he can cut his interceptions in half this year (he had 10 last year), the Longhorns’ offense will be tough to stop.

Ramonce Taylor last year versus ColoradoTB – Pretty big drop off overall but I think statistically they’ll still be pretty good. Will they be able to get the difficult yards against the OSU’s and OU’s of the world? I expect big plays out of [tag]Ramonce Taylor[/tag] and [tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] that could really break open some games.

FB – Worse at lead blocking and therefore will be de-emphasized. Still serviceable though. I think the position will be back next year (with Marcus Myers, [tag]Chris Ogbonnaya[/tag], and Michael Houston) and will be more versatile than we’ve seen in the past.

TE – Improved in single TE sets with [tag]David Thomas[/tag] having an All-American season, and improved blocking when [tag]Neale Tweedie[/tag] is in there. Pass-catching threat out of 2 TE sets will be down, especially early in the year as true freshman [tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] gets acclimated.

WR – Up a notch from last year’s group, but that isn’t saying all that much. All the young guys have improved (some obviously more than others, especially [tag]Billy Pittman[/tag]) and the more time a QB and his WR’s get together the better. The additions of a hopefully healthy [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] and a quickly improving [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] could be huge.

Defense

Frank Okam hunts down the Baylor QBDL – A lot better if [tag]Larry Dibbles[/tag] is with us (academic eligibility rumors are swarming) but I’m excited by the idea of a healthy [tag]Rod Wright[/tag] and [tag]Frank Okam[/tag] together. Starting ends should be improved and the backups should be able to contribute to the pass rush.

LB – Big improvement at two spots and an even bigger drop off at the other. More blitzing and more sacks, but fewer turnovers forced unless converted safety [tag]Drew Kelson[/tag] goes INT crazy. You can’t expect to replace Derrick Johnson but overall I think we’ll all be very happy with the play out of these three spots this season.

DB – Corners are improved and safeties will be by the end of the year. Mike Griffin needs experience but he’s got the potential to be better than Phillip Geiggar was last year. We need sure tackling from the entire secondary and to limit our stupid decisions. More pressure on opposing QB’s from the front seven will make their job much easier. Depth is some of the best in the country.

Special Teams

FG/XP – Yikes, everyone has struggled this fall in practice. Whoever is doing the kicking needs to make a few kicks in the early weeks to build some confidence.

Kickoffs – A healthy [tag]Richmond McGee[/tag] should mean more touchbacks and more kicks into the right zone. Better coverage because the overall depth of team means better athletes on the coverage teams. Hopefully all the talk of more emphasis on this facet from the coaching staff wasn’t just lip-service.

Kick Returns – Every kickoff should be exciting with Taylor back there. How much will [tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] provide if teams kick away from Ramonce? Might see one of the younger guys back there deeper into the year. I expect Cosby to make an appearance at one of the return slots sometime early in the season and it’ll be interesting to see what he’s capable of.

Punting – McGee has gotten better every year and there’s no reason that should change. Hopefully he won’t have to do it very often.

Punt returns – Selvin Young back there should mean fewer fair catches and more big plays, but I’ll be worried about his health everytime too. I don’t want Ramonce back there right now, he scared the crap out of me everytime last year. Get him some returns in mop up time so he’s ready to tear it up next year. Anybody think Pittman deserves a chance to show what he’s got?

Final Thoughts

Almost every spot is either improved or equal to the talent we had on the field last year, so overall we should be a better team. You can’t lose guys like Cedric Benson and DJ and expect to hit the ground running the next season, but that doesn’t mean this team isn’t capable of big things. We’re relying on a lot of young talent and have a huge test early in the year, so the success of this team will hinge a lot on how quickly those guys can become ballplayers.

I’ll post my national and game by game predictions later this week.

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