With game week finally upon us, the Texas Longhorns have released their initial two-deep depth chart for the 2013 season in preparation for this Saturday evening’s tilt against the lowly New Mexico State Aggies at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.
In large part, the two-deep held few surprises, but there are a couple of interesting tidbits that are worth a mention and suggest the actual manifestation of what, up to now, had only been rumors:
1. Juniors John Harris and Jaxon Shipley are listed together as interchangeable for Saturday at the “Z” receiver position. This likely has as much to do with Shipley’s lingering injury issues as Harris’ ascent, but there has been more buzz surrounding him following fall practice than at any other time in his career. Will he actually give Shipley a run for playing time in 2013? Doubtful, but we’ll find out.
2. True freshman Jacorey Warrick is listed as the No.2 guy at the “H” receiver slot — typically the slot receiver position — which will most often feature sophomore speedster Daje Johnson. There’s been a logjam of guys battling for this third/fourth receiver slot and it appears Warrick may be starting to separate himself from fellow true freshmen Jake Oliver and Montrel Meander and even sophomore Kendall Sanders.
3. Marcus Johnson is listed on the two-deep at the “X” receiver slot, suggesting perhaps his injury wasn’t as bad as initially suspected. We still don’t see him playing much on Saturday as a precautionary measure to ensure he’s 100% for Week Two as Texas makes a tough trip to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars.
4. Jalen Overstreet is conspicuously absent from the two-deep, but this likely has as much with his ability to play either out of the slot or in the backfield for the Longhorns and isn’t really a source of concern.
5. What is a source of concern is the absence of senior defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey, who started most of 2012. If the two-deep is an accurate representation, redshirt freshmen Hasaan Ridgeway and Alex Norman must have had great camps between them to leap-frog Dorsey on the chart. It’s just as possible there’s something off-field going on here that we have yet to be made aware of, but either way it’s an interesting development.
6. Penn State transfer Anthony Fera is listed as both the starting kicker and punter for Texas, suggesting that his lingering hamstring issues may finally be a thing of the past. As small as this may seem on the surface, in a Big 12 Conference race that promises to be as tight as ever this season, a guy like Fera could be the difference between a few wins and losses.
Saturday night’s matchup is a good early-season test for a Texas team looking to rise back to the 10-win plateau — at a minimum — and help the team evaluate if the initial two-deep will be static, or much more dynamic than we’ve seen over the past few seasons.