Posted September 4th, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Can Dan Buckner be a weapon as a flex tight end?

Can Dan Buckner be a weapon as a flex tight end?

Texas won’t need career defining games from the likes of [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag], [tag]Jordan Shipley[/tag] or [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag] in order to win Saturday’s game. But for some of the players on the roster the first game of the 2009 season is more important. In the season’s first game there are several new names and veterans to keep an eye on who could play critical roles throughout the 2009 season.

1. [tag]Vondrell McGee[/tag] – The junior is getting the opening day start for the second year in a row. An injury early in the season made the Longview natives sophomore season less than spectacular. The Longhorns don’t want McCoy to lead the team in rushing again, and McGee appears to be the top candidate to handle the load. A big game Saturday makes him the clear first team running back. A subpar game keeps Texas’ number one question unanswered.

2. [tag]Dan Buckner[/tag] – This might shock many, but if Buckner shows up big on Saturday the tight end concerns may be on the way to being over. The sophomore isn’t a true tight end, but if he can control the middle of the field as a receiver he gives the Longhorn offense a wrinkle many didn’t believe they’d have in 2009. If Buckner can just hold his own as a blocker, Texas’ offense becomes multiple, and the running game will flourish.

3. [tag]Keenan Robinson[/tag] – Robinson we’ll get his shot at becoming an impact player this Saturday. In limited action Robinson has shown the ability to make plays. In the spring, Robinson showed the ability to play the pass as well as the run. He also can blitz. If Robinson can play smart, and hold his own against the run, I think he becomes the clear starter at the strong side linebacker position. His ability against the pass will keep him out there in nickel packages alongside [tag]Roddrick Muckelroy[/tag].

4. [tag]Emmanuel Acho[/tag] – Really, Robinson and Acho could switch positions on this list. One of them, if not both, needs to step up and prove in a real game situation that they are ready for big time college football. Maybe the opponent on Saturday won’t allow a concrete answer, but a good showing will at least calm the nerves of the Texas faithful. Acho is as intelligent as they come, and has above average pass rushing abilities. What keeps him behind Robinson in my mind is his lack of big play ability. If he proves me wrong, Acho won’t leave the starting lineup for years to come

5. [tag]Kheeston Randall[/tag] – We all know what [tag]Lamarr Houston[/tag] can do when he is healthy. Not many around the program are as sure about the other defensive tackles. [tag]Ben Alexander[/tag] will get some snaps, but he doesn’t offer the athleticism that Randall does. The sophomore was heralded coming in, and it is time to prove why. Texas won’t face many teams that are going to ram it down their throat, but an up the middle pass rush is the best way to disrupt timing quarterbacks like Sam Bradford and Taylor Potts. The Longhorns need another three technique to step up, and if it isn’t Randall the next person in line is a true freshman.

6. [tag]Christian Scott[/tag] – I truly believe Will Muschamp wants [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] to play the slot when the Longhorns are in the nickel defense. With Thomas at the slot Texas doesn’t give up anything in the run game, and it allows the Thomas to blitz. The only way this can happen is if another safety steps up. Scott has the more raw ability than anyone in the secondary except Aaron Williams. He has played so well that he might replace [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag] in the starting lineup even when they’re not in nickel. The knock on Scott is his work habits and attention to detail. If he proves to be a smart player, Scott has the chance to emerge as one of the best players on the team.

7. [tag]John Chiles[/tag] – This is a huge game for Chiles in my opinion. How much, or how little, the former quarterback sees the field will illustrate the overall plans the Texas coaching staff has for him this year. There is little doubt Chiles is one of the most explosive players on the roster with the ball in his hands. But he has to be behind his teammates in route running ability. The fact he was a quarterback will help him with mid route adjustments and identifying coverage. But the Longhorns are loaded at wide receiver, so Chiles is going to have to do something special to earn more snaps.

8. [tag]Tray Allen[/tag] – The word is the big man may play both ways this Saturday. I’m not sure if that means the experiment at defensive tackle is going better or worse than expected. But if Allen does go both ways, a good showing at one or the other could determine his future on the 40 Acres. If he struggles on both lines, Allen may end up being the biggest bust in Mack Brown’s Texas history.

9. [tag]Garrett Gilbert[/tag] – I almost put [tag]Sherrod Harris[/tag] here instead but I’m not sure he even sees the field. I am positive that true freshman Gilbert will see the field though. Texas has too many eggs in his basket not to throw him out there early in the season to see if he can handle it. A good game Saturday more than secures Gilbert the role of backup quarterback. Struggles on Saturday will lead to concerns about Texas’ lack of quality depth behind [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag]. Like it or not, Texas is one freak play away from having a potential national championship season riding on the arm of a true freshman. If he can’t handle it against Louisiana Monroe, when will he?

10. [tag]Charlie Tanner[/tag] – The clock is ticking for Tanner. And the man waiting for the time to run out is [tag]David Snow[/tag]. Frankly, Snow is too good to not be on the field. On paper, Tanner is the weak link on Texas’ offensive line. It may be a waste of time debating starters along the offensive line because of Texas’ desire to rotate the group, but the fact that Tanner is above Snow on the depth chart does raise eye brows. If Tanner slips up too much he may even lose snaps to true freshman Mason Walters.

11. The kickers – It has not been announced yet who will be the kicker for Texas. Both [tag]Ryan Bailey[/tag] and [tag]Hunter Lawrence[/tag] have performed well. Word is [tag]Justin Tucker[/tag] has also performed well when given the opportunity. Right now it appears to be a game time decision, but logic suggests both kickers will get work in what most would assume will be a one sided affair Saturday. It may not be who does anything spectacular that secures the job; it may very well be the first kicker that misses will lose the job. If one misses a kick or two, and the other goes perfect, the starting kicker will be decided. If they both struggle, or both go perfect, next week’s starter will be another game time decision.

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  1. reply to  #1

    eduard_k

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