Following Mack Brown’s weekly press conference this afternoon, the 2012 Texas Longhorns pre-season depth chart was released to the public. There are a few surprises on the board, but for the most part, the two-deep is as expected.
In the first of a two-part post, let’s take a quick look at the Longhorns’ offensive depth chart.
Here are a few of my snap observations at each position:
No. 1 David Ash
No. 2 Case McCoy
No. 3 Connor Brewer
Since Mack Brown’s hand was forced it appears that David Ash actually has become the starter for the Longhorns at least in the early going. In the past there’s been an “or” between Ash and McCoy, but this time around there is definite separation. Ash will be taking the first snaps against the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday, September 1st, but you can be certain McCoy will have plenty of looks as well not only on the 1st but in the following few weeks as non-conference play continues.
With Connor Brewer at No.3, it’s possible he may not get redshirted as previously believed, and a redshirt may be placed on the other true freshman signal-caller on the roster, Jalen Overstreet, who was once thought to be a possible WildHorn candidate.
No. 1 Joe Bergeron
No. 2 Johnathan Gray
Word has it that Bergeron has actually achieved some separation and is truly the No. 1 back for the Longhorns, but the fact he can effectively be interchanged with Brown with little talent drop-off makes them 1 and 1a. Both guys will see plenty of action not only in traditional sets, but will also have a chance to run the WildHorn on occasion to see if it again will be a viable option for Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite this fall as it was in 2011.
Johnathan Gray hasn’t necessarily wowed in the way some believed he would, but you also have to figure the Texas staff will find a way to get him involved. The apparent off-field issues Daje Johnson is experiencing may make Gray’s role even bigger if things don’t right themselves post haste.
Jeremy Hills is also on the depth chart at No. 3, but at this point he’s an afterthought and would likely only see looks in the WildHorn formation or the occasional short-yardage situation.
Primary- Jaxon Shipley (H), Marquise Goodwin (Z), Mike Davis (X)
Secondary- Bryant Jackson/John Harris (H), D.J. Monroe/Cayleb Jones (Z), Kendall Sanders (X)
True freshman Marcus Johnson was also listed as a third possibility at X.
The primary tier is no surprise at all. Shipley, Goodwin, and Davis are by far the three most talented wideouts on the Texas roster and should see the majority of the targets for the Longhorns this fall.
The secondary tier, however, is a little more surprising for a few reasons. Sophomore Bryant Jackson enters the fold for the first time on the Forty Acres after some limited, but well-supported hype from early practices this fall. Jackson and John Harris are both big, strong, ball-dominant receivers that could give undersized defensive backs fits in jump ball situations this season.
It also appears that the glowing reviews of Austin-native Cayleb Jones have come to fruition as well. It’s either that, or the inevitable regression of D.J. Monroe has begun full force. There are plenty of guys that will be taking away touches Monroe has gotten by default in the past, and Jones is only one of them.
Kendall Sanders is a bit of the wild-card in this unit, but has shown flashes of brilliance so far in the early going and has impressed coaches with his ability to pick up on opposing defenses and create separation from the line of scrimmage.
No. 1 D.J. Grant
No. 2 Barrett Matthews
Unfortunately for Texas fans who have become accustomed to tight ends with pass-catching ability, that doesn’t appear to be a bright part of the future. D.J. Grant showed some ability to make a big play here and there last season– including one 3 touchdown performance– but certainly isn’t a David Thomas, Bo Scaife, or Jermichael Finley. Neither is Greg Daniels or Barrett Matthews.
Tight ends coach Bruce Chambers will be more concerned with the perimeter blocking ability of the tight ends as Texas continues to use the speed it has available not only at running back but among the wideouts as well to run plenty of jet sweeps, zone reads and quick outs this fall.
The offensive line shook out largely as expected:
RT Josh Cochran
RG Mason Walters
C Dominic Espinosa
LG Trey Hopkins
LT Donald Hawkins
Mason Walters is the outspoken leader of this year’s unit and will be flanked by a center in Dominic Espinosa that has earned heaps of praise from the Texas coaching staff for the level of improvement since his freshman campaign last season. One of the junior college transfers on the Texas roster, Hawkins has the chance to prove to the Texas staff that the JUCO recruiting trails are worth their time.
One thing, in spite of all this, however, is obvious. It’s a thin unit to put it mildly. Any injuries whatsoever to this starting core will cause instant heartburn for Mack Brown.
In our next post, we’ll break down the defensive depth chart.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Kris is also the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.