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The amount of firepower on the offensive side of the ball at Texas has skyrocketed this offseason.
The comparison in talent from 2021 to now is day and night. However, even with all the new added pieces, whether it be Quinn Ewers, Isaiah Neyor or Agiye Hall, there are still major questions that remain about the new look offense.
Some of you be asking how there can still be questions surrounding an offense that on paper has the potential to be the best in the country, but that’s not what wins football games.
Steve Sarkisian needs to figure out a way to maximize and utilize all of his playmakers, something that he seemed to struggle with in 2021. Every week he was having to answer why certain players weren’t getting as many touches.
This is not to say that the offense will not be worlds better, as they will surely see a boost in their total offensive ranking which was at No. 47 in 2021, but there are are some holes that could still be addressed.
Let’s discuss a few questions surrounding the Texas offense in 2022.
Who will be the quarterback?
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Texas is hosting arguably the most intriguing quarterback battle in the country, as Hudson Card looks to fend off former five-star and No. 1 overall recruit Quinn Ewers. Whoever is at quarterback will have a plethora of weapons to get the ball to unlike last season when it was essentially just the Xavier Worthy and Bijan Robinson show.
It is fair to say that the offense’s ability to be dynamic or transcendent depends on who wins the job, as Card seemed to struggle with pushing the ball down field last season and Ewers is renowned for stretching the field vertically.
However, Card is in his second season and seems to have taken major strides, while Ewers is still overcoming the learning curve of being in a new system. It is also fair to ask if the Longhorns will have the same quarterback the whole season, or if there will be another situation like last season where Card wins the job bit gets yanked and replaced at the first sign of struggles. This quarterback battle could end up deciding the fate of the season for Texas, and Longhorns fans will surely be tuned into the spring game to see who looks the part.
Will the offensive line hold up?
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In 2021 the offensive line struggled so much at times that the Longhorns turned to what seemed to be hockey line changes, where they would practically trot out a whole new line between plays. All the new toys at receiver and an elite stable of running backs will be extremely irrelevant if the offensive line is unable to improve.
Based on rumors surrounding the team, the offensive linemen currently on campus and have been at Texas for a few years now have essentially peaked. This leads me to wonder if the offensive line will be freshman heavy, as the Longhorns did just sign their best offensive line class ever, or will Texas look to the portal for some experienced help.
It seems unlikely that Sarkisian would want to have an offensive line made up of freshman, especially since only one has enrolled early. The transfer portal will also likely see an influx of offensive linemen after spring ball is said and done, so that is a very viable option. Whatever Sarkisian decides, he knows that the offensive line needs to be better than what it was last season.
Will the transfers make the impact they are expected to?
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The new additions to the offense have been the talk of the offseason. The Longhorns got a new quarterback in Ewers, new receivers in Isaiah Neyor and Agiye Hall, while also adding an experienced tight end in Jahleel Billingsley. Ewers has the most pressure on him, as he is expected to be the savior of Texas but in reality is still only a freshman learning the system. The fate of the program is on his shoulders in the eyes of many, but we have yet to see him play meaningful snaps and don’t know if he will live up to the hype.
Moving on to Neyor, he was once viewed as someone who could be the Robin to Worthy’s Batman, but he has shined enough in the offseason that Texas may be working with a two Batman scenario. He is expected to be an absolute star for Texas based off his one strong season at Wyoming, and he does seem like the surest bet of all the transfers to find success right away. This would be a great change of pace for Texas, who has taken in nothing but flops at the receiver position from the transfer portal up to this point.
When it comes to Billingsley and Hall, it seems fair to question if they will have the impact that Texas fans hope they will. Billingsley has an ample opportunity to start and be the best tight end, as the Longhorns lost both Jared Wiley (TCU) and Cade Brewer (graduation), but we are apparently in the midst of the Ja’Tavion Sanders coming out party. The former five-star has widely been regarded as one of the standouts of spring and may be hitting his stride. Sarkisian utilizes two tight end sets often, but with all the mouths to feed on offense it could be very likely that the tight end is forgotten about a bit.
Hall on the other hand has amazing potential, and also offers the receiver of the future for Texas as there is a chance that they will lose both Jordan Whittington and Isaiah Neyor after this season. His biggest issue, and the reason that he is a Longhorn to begin with, is the fact that he struggled with maturity and waiting his turn at Alabama. Even though he has a relationship with the staff at Texas and is a former highly touted recruit, it does not mean that he will automatically get touches right away. There may not be a lot of touches available for him right away, which is where his maturity comes into question as early on in the 2021 season he was expressing his frustrations with not playing. If he can buy into the fact that he may not be one of the main receivers for Texas right now, but will be in the future, he will find success. However, if he shows frustration at not getting as many touches as he would like, and continues the off the field antics, who knows how long his time as a Longhorn will last.
Will all three or four running backs be utilized more?
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Time and time again Steve Sarkisian explained to the media in 2021 that they needed to figure out ways to get Roschon Johnson, Keilan Robinson, and possibly even Jonathon Brooks more involved in the offense. However, it seemed that he struggled to fit some of them into the game plan all season. Texas likely has the best stable of running backs in the country headlined by Heisman candidate Bijan Robinson, and if used correctly the Longhorns could have the best rushing attack in the nation.
Sarkisian or maybe even Stan Drayton seemed to forget about the other two guys at times last season. Even when assuring that there would be designed plays to showcase Keilan Robinson’s speed or Johnson’s power, the offense was vanilla until the end of the season when Bijan Robinson went down with an injury.
Texas stumbled onto gold with using Johnson as a wildcat quarterback, and Keilan Robinson has consistently shown he has elite speed. If Texas can find a way to get each of these two guys at least 10 touches a game without taking them away from Bijan Robinson, the offense will be lethal. Perhaps we may see some of Brennan Marion’s “go-go” offense, which utilizes two running backs at once, or maybe there will be more of an emphasis on getting the others involved, but whatever it is the ball needs to be in the hands of each of the Texas running backs.