Posted April 3rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football, Spring Football

Receiver Malcolm Williams may be the most important offensive player in 2009. (MB-TF.com)

Receiver Malcolm Williams may be the most important offensive player in 2009. (MB-TF.com)

The spring game comes around Sunday just in time to help with detoxing off of football season. After Sunday football junkies only have the draft and Mel Kiper’s hair to look forward to. We all know the familiar faces: [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag], [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag], etc. But what about the guys who didn’t play as much last year but will be counted on in 2009? Here is a list of guys you need to watch in the spring game.

  1. [tag]Christian Scott[/tag] – The Longhorn defense played the majority of the snaps last year with five defensive backs on the field. Last year, Will Muschamp used two safeties and three cornerbacks in the nickel defense. This year Muschamp is trying to use Earl Thomas’ cover skills to get three safeties on the field in the 4-2-5. Having three safeties on the field will help in run support and with blitzes. Most feel Scott is just too good to not have on the field, but if mental mistakes and inconsistency rear their ugly head Muschamp will have no choice but to bring a Curtis Brown or Deon Beasley off the bench. I think it is safe to assume Thomas can handle the slot, so it will be up to Scott to make the formation work.
  2. [tag]Ben Alexander[/tag] – The defensive line was hit hard in departures this offseason. Guys like Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller, and Aaron Lewis are working out for pro scouts. The only guy up front with significant experience on the defensive line is Lamarr Houston. Alexander is entering his senior season and he knows it is his time to shine. If not now, when? By all accounts the big guy has lost some weight and added some quickness. The coaches had moved Houston, a former defensive end, to the nose tackle position to start the spring, but with the emergence of Alexander, who is a more natural one technique, Houston can move back to his more familiar three technique.
  3. [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] – Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’m holding out hope McGee lives up to the hype he had coming in. People forget McGee had a great freshman year as the short yardage and goal line guy. He showed great explosion in the Tech game that year when he was in for a hobbled Jamaal Charles. Flash forward to now and the Longview native is entering his junior year after not even getting a snap in the bowl game. This spring is huge for McGee. Cody Johnson had been emerging as the starter before he went down with a hamstring injury and Foswhitt Whittaker is injured again. That leaves McGee and two second year guys who haven’t been counted on yet. McGee was hurt at the beginning of the season, but he had begun to emerge before the Fiesta Bowl fiasco. If he can get his burst back, he may get his job back.
  4. [tag]Sam Acho[/tag] – Quietly Acho has cemented himself as the starter at the strong end position this spring. The junior has a nose for the ball and has shown he can get to the quarterback as well. Eddie Jones may get a look on that side when he recovers from his injury, but he’ll likely play at the quick end when Kindle is playing outside linebacker. Acho is a smart and hard working player who wasn’t overly hyped coming into the program, but has made plays ever since he showed up. The concern with Acho is at the point of attack. Texas received great play from Henry Melton at the power end last year, and Acho going to have to step up to prevent any drop off.
  5. [tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag] – I love me some Keenan Robinson. His skill set is perfect for Muschamp’s defense and the type of offenses used in the Big 12. Robinson can play all three downs as an outside linebacker in the 4-3 and as a middle guy in Texas’4-2-5. With his speed the sophomore would appear to be a great blitzer as well. Kindle will play some outside linebacker so in certain formations Robinson will likely be on the bench, but he is setting himself up to be an impact player for this defense. We will begin to see how he is used Sunday.
  6. [tag]Malcolm Williams[/tag] – The only thing missing in Texas’ aerial attack last year was the deep threat. Quarterback Colt McCoy’s strength is the intermediate passes and for the most part that is where Texas will concentrate, but a guy like Williams has to be given at least two opportunities a game to make a big play down the field whether he is covered or not. The sophomore has proven he can beat people deep, just look at the offense when Williams replaced Quan Cosby in the Texas Tech game. Greg Davis dialed up one fly pattern for Williams in the Fiesta Bowl and he beat Thorpe Award winner Malcolm Jenkins. Colt McCoy didn’t get the ball out there, but hopefully it had to do with not having the timing McCoy has with Jordan Shipley or Cosby. With an offseason without Cosby or Shipley Williams and McCoy should be on the verge of building a great report. Williams can get deep on anybody and a few shots down the field in the spring game would be a good sign.
  7. [tag]Ahmard Howard[/tag] – Someone needs to step up at tight end, and Howard needs to be that guy. Blaine Irby most likely needs another offseason to get ready and DJ Grant hurt his ankle. That leaves Ian Harris who has a history of stingers, Greg Smith who is a converted offensive lineman, and Howard. Neither Smith nor Howard is going to strike fear in defenses as a receiver but Howard at least gives Greg Davis that option. With Smith on the field last year Texas declare they were running the ball or using max protection. Howard will allow Texas to be more flexible. With the talent at the wide receiver position Texas will go to a four or five wide if no one will step up. Mack Brown wants to focus on running the ball, but he may have to abandon it all together if no one steps up at tight end.
  8. [tag]Britt Mitchell[/tag] – Starting right tackle Kyle Hix is missing the second half of spring to get healthy. In his place Mitchell has been impressive. Tray Allen has been Texas’ third tackle, but he is being cross trained at guard this spring. That leaves Mitchell in line to be the third tackle and the possible starter at right tackle when Adam Ulatoski leaves (Hix will likely move to the left side). Mitchell has been playing with the ones and will do so on Sunday. He faces some of the best past rushers in the nation every day in practice and has held his own. The junior has flown under the radar in terms of hype, but if he can have a solid spring game he’ll set himself up to contribute next year to a possible national championship team.
  9. [tag]Alex Okafor[/tag] – Mack Brown hasn’t always been eager to give true freshman real playing time, but nobody can stop talking about the talent of the Pflugerville native. The guy is tearing up practice at a time he should be worrying about Prom. His first step is probably faster than everyone on the roster not named Sergio Kindle. A defense can never have too many pass rushers, especially in the Big 12. It is unlikely Okafor will redshirt so expect a good number of snaps if he keeps this up.
  10. [tag]Aaron Williams[/tag] – Chykie Brown is a near lock to man one corner back position. The other spot will be manned by Aaron Williams, Deon Beasley, or Curtis Brown. Right now it looks like Williams is in line to be the starter. He is the youngest of the group, but the sophomore probably has the most physical upside. The former McNeil star is also a solid tackler and a smart football player. If the Earl Thomas in the slot experiment doesn’t work, Williams will likely move to the slot. That would leave Beasley or Brown to battle it out for the other corner spot. My money is on Curtis Brown in that one. Where Aaron Williams plays seems to be more of an appropriate question than if Aaron Williams plays so watch out for him on the slot or on the edge. A secondary of Thomas, Blake Gideon, Scott, Chykie Brown, and Williams would be mighty salty to say the least.
  11. [tag]Antwan Cobb[/tag] – The fullback position has been practically erased from Davis’ offense in the last few years. And while some see it as scheme it really has to do with not having any bodies for the position. People are quick to forget what Ahmad Hall did for this offense in 2005. Many of the Longhorns running woes can be attributed to not having a dependable lead blocker at full back. Cobb’s strength is probably catching the ball out of the back field, but when he is healthy he is more than a capable and willing lead blocker. Texas has said they want to take more snaps under center, and with a fullback who can catch out of the backfield on the field Texas would have options they haven’t had in a few years. It will be telling how many snaps Cobb gets in the spring game.
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1 Comment

  1. reply to  #1

    coffee bags

    helpful post.

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