The most difficult formations for Texas’ opponents to defend in 2022

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The Texas Longhorns will win games by creating matchup problems in 2022. They have built a team to exploit any opponent’s deficiencies.

Football is a chess match, and Steve Sarkisian is starting with more pieces than most of his opponents this year.

Each of his offensive weapons brings varying abilities to the table. Tarique Milton, Brenen Thompson and Jordan Whittington should rack up yards after catch with their elite speed and quickness. Xavier Worthy, Isaiah Neyor and Agiye Hall are dangerous home-run threats as downfield targets.

At tight end, Ja’Tavion Sanders and Jahleel Billingsley have exceptional athleticism and catching ability for their position.

Texas’ four running backs are all difficult to bring down. The group has strength, speed or a combination.

Let’s look at which formations will bring out the best from Texas’ skill positions.

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12 personnel: One running back, Two tight ends

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

I am a big proponent of playing as few tight ends as possible. However, Ja’Tavion Sanders and Jahleel Billingsley are not your typical tight ends. Texas can play both players in the slot or bring them inside.

If opposing defensive coordinators opt to play an extra linebacker that forces them into coverage mismatches with the tight ends or Bijan Robinson. If they decide to play small, they risk potentially bringing 200-pound or lighter defensive backs into run fits. Either way, a linebacker or defensive back could be in for a long day.

10 personnel: One running back, Four wide receivers

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If Troy Omeire can get healthy, Texas possesses seven receivers who cannot be guarded one-on-one. Xavier Worthy and Isaiah Neyor presumably should seldom if ever leave the field. Jordan Whittington figures to see multiple snaps in the slot. Four wide formations gives Texas the opportunity to get Agiye Hall, Tarique Milton and Brenen Thompson more snaps.

With the offensive line still growing this season, Texas may need receivers to get open within a couple seconds. Four wide formations with this receiving corps’ speed could negate a pass rush and likely get Agiye Hall or Brenen Thompson wide open.

11 Personnel: One running back, One tight end

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman

Eleven personnel is not flashy, but it marries Texas’ strong receiver room with its unique play making ability at tight end. Texas could conceivably use this personnel grouping often, with Jordan Whittington or Tarique Milton frequently used in presnap motion. The Longhorns also retain the ability to block, which some assert Ja’Tavion Sanders is doing well this offseason.

10 Personnel: Five wide

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Splitting Bijan Robinson out is another way Texas can pick on defenses. Robinson has great hands, but might be the most dangerous player in the nation in the open field. The downside of five wide formations is they all but telegraph that you’re going to pass. The upside is, if defenses cannot defend your five receivers it doesn’t matter if they know what is coming.

20 Personnel: Two running backs, No tight ends

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Two running back sets are another effective tactic against some opponents. Any time Texas can bring its vocal leader Roschon Johnson on the field is a largely positive move. Johnson will likely see quite a few snaps this season. The downside of the formation is the absence of both Ja’Tavion Sanders and Jahleel Billingsley. The formation could still be a good change of pace to keep defenses on their toes.

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