Texas Longhorns: CFN College Football Preview 2021

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College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Texas season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Texas Longhorns Schedule Analysis
– Texas Longhorns Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 7-3 overall, 5-3 in Big 12
Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian, 1st year (46-35 overall)
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 18
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 14
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 29

Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Offense

Okay, let’s see if this works. Steve Sarkisian wasn’t your normal Alabama assistant coach. While there’s only one man running the Crimson Tide show, the offense took on a whole other level with Sarkisian heading it up as the offensive coordinator over the last two seasons – he had Nick Saban’s full respect with tremendous results.

The guy knows how to make an offense move, former Bama offensive line coach – and Rutgers head coach – new Longhorn OC Kyle Flood is fantastic at getting production out of the front five, and now it’s time to make a great situation better.

It’s not like Texas had issues on offense, averaging 475 yards and 43 points per game. That was great. Now it’s time to do even more with eight starters returning. But …

Sam Ehlinger isn’t around anymore. The heart-and-soul leader during the last few years of the Tom Herman era was great, but there’s hope for Casey Thompson to be even more of a big play performer. The brilliance when stepping in for Ehlinger in the Alamo Bowl – 8-of-10 for 170 yards and four scores against Colorado – showed glimpses of his upside, but redshirt freshman Hudson Card is right there in the hunt for the gig.

Three of the top five receivers are back – led by Joshua Moore, who caught 30 passes for 472 yards and one scores – but there’s a whole lot of talent coming in. Cade Brewer is a solid tight end who’ll get the ball more.

Speaking of getting the ball more …

Bijan Robinson was the team’s superstar recruit, but he only ran 86 times and caught 15 passes. However, he averaged over eight yards per pop, scored six total touchdowns, and turned into one of college football’s most dangerous home run hitters over the final few games of last year. He’s the main running back, but 6-2, 223-pound Roschon Johnson will be part of the rotation, too.

They’ll work behind a line that gets back four of the five starters going into the bowl game, but there’s some reshuffling being done. Jake Majors will stay at center, but Flood and the coaching staff will play around with the configuration throughout the offseason.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Texas Longhorns Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Defense

4. Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The defense needs to be better – and it did improve a bit over the last few years. The tackling got stronger, but there wasn’t enough of a pass rush. There were tackles for loss, but the run defense wasn’t consistent. The D was fantastic on third downs, but couldn’t buckle down in enough key moments.

Pete Kwiatkowski (Washington and Boise State defensive coordinator) and Jeff Choate (Montana State head coach who worked for a time at Washington) get a D with nine starters from the bowl game back, but four of the top five tacklers are gone. No matter what, this group is about to get a whole lot more physical.

The linebacking corps is going to be very interesting very quickly. Leading tacker Juwan Mitchell is leading for Tennessee, but second-leading tackler DeMarvion Overshown is an active playmaker who’ll likely move to the outside, and David Gbenda is a promising option in the middle. However, on the way are former superstar recruits – Ben Davis from Alabama and Ray Thornton from LSU – to push for time.

The defensive front has to be more active at getting into the backfield – Joseph Ossai did most of the work with the linebacking corps helping the cause.

The tackle situation is solid with massive 348-pound Keondre Coburn on the nose and with 281-pound junior Moro Ojomo likely moving from end to tackle. There’s depth and size in this group, but Jacoby Jones has to emerge as a pass rusher on the outside.

The secondary has options, too, with all five bowl game starters returning. However, former Arizona and Oregon transfer Brenden Schooler will bring his wide receiver skills – he caught 12 passes last season for the Longhorns – and talent to the secondary where he’ll likely take over a safety gig.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Texas Longhorns Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Texas Longhorns Offensive Player

RB Bijan Robinson, Soph.
It’s time to turn the superstar loose. He’ll still be part of a rotation with the terrific Roschon Johnson, but the 6-0, 215-pound Robinson will be to Steve Sarkisian’s offense what Najee Harris was to the Crimson Tide last year.

Robinson got in plenty of work early on as he eased into the job as a true freshman, and then came November and … boom.

He ripped off three 100-yard games in the final four, hut Kansas State for 172 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries, and he rolled through Colorado for 183 yards and a score on just ten rushes in the Alamo Bowl.

2. WR Joshua Moore, Jr.
3. RB Roschon Johnson, Jr.
4. QB Casey Thompson, Jr.
5. OT Christian Jones, Jr.

Related

Texas Football Schedule 2021, Analysis, Best & Worst Case Scenario

Best Texas Longhorns Defensive Player

LB DeMarvion Overshown, Sr.
A tall, rangy 6-4, 217 linebacker who rose up and got all over the field to do a little bit of everything last season. He made 19 tackles with two sacks and seven tackles for loss in his first two years as a safety, and then he blew up after taking his talents to linebacker.

Speedy and tough on the weakside, he made 60 stops with a sacks, eight tackles for loss and two picks with seven broken up passes, highlighted by his 11-tackle, one interception game against Oklahoma. He’ll have more size around him to be able to roam free.

2. DT Keondre Coburn, Jr.
3. CB D’Shawn Jamison, Sr.
4. DT Moro Ojomo, Jr.
5. CB Josh Thompson, Sr.

Top Incoming Texas Longhorns Transfer

LB Ben Davis, Sr.
At the very least, the expectations are for the former five-star superstar get for Alabama to blow up with the move to the Longhorns. He didn’t do much for the Tide with just seven tackles and a sack in his two years, but with his size and athleticism he’s exactly what the linebacking corps needs.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Texas Longhorns Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Texas Longhorns Biggest Key: Offense

Will Texas start doing more to control the ball and the clock? Alabama with Steve Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator certainly struck quickly and had a whole lot of flash, but it also managed to maintain control to slow things down a wee bit after getting a lead. The Tide kept the ball for almost 31 minutes per game.

Texas kept it for about 31 minutes a game in 2019, but last year it struggled to convert on third downs, wasn’t quite consistent enough over all, and only had possession for 27:48 per game.

The Longhorns have a solid D, but it won’t be 2019 Alabama. The coaching staff isn’t going to let the O go 100 miles per hour, although it’ll be tempting at times.

Texas Longhorns Biggest Key: Defense

Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone wants to force takeaways, but it’s insane how much it mattered to Texas over the last few years when it forced multiple turnovers.

Again, yeah, yeah, yeah – come up with three takeaways and you probably win, but it’s more than that. The Longhorns were feast-or-famine last year, coming up with three or more turnovers in five games going 4-1 – the crazy game with Oklahoma was the outlier. The D came up with just two takeaways in the other five games.

Texas lost the turnover battle three times and dropped two of those games including to TCU and Iowa State.

By the way, Texas is 12-1 since 2016 when it comes up with three or more takeaways.

Texas Longhorns Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Casey Thompson, Jr. or Hudson Card, Soph.
This is a veteran team that has a chance to get to the Big 12 Championship if everything breaks right. It’s going to take a huge year from the quarterbacks – and the staff that knows how to coach up quarterbacks – to do it.

Sam Ehlinger was better than he ever got credit for. He threw 94 touchdown passes, ran for 33, was the definition of gutty, and did everything possible for the program over his four seasons at the helm.

No, he didn’t get the job done when it came to winning Big 12 championships and getting the Longhorns into the College Football Playoff, but he won plenty of big games.

Thompson and Card are extremely talented and ready to take over.

If spring ball was any indication, it’s Thompson’s gig going into the season. However, Card was a big recruit with the mobility and high end passing skills to get more of an honest shot with the new staff in fall camp.

Texas Longhorns Key Game To The 2021 Season

at Iowa State, Nov. 6
If Texas really is good enough to be Texas right out of the gate for the Steve Sarkisian era, this is a two game season. It has to beat either Oklahoma or Iowa State and both games are away from Austin.

Obviously the base will demand a win over the Sooners, and obviously that’s a neutral site game, but the Iowa State has to go to Norman. The Longhorns lost the last two years to the Cyclones, and that’s just not the way things are supposed to work.

Lose to OU? Okay, it might be the preseason No. 1 team and definitely top five. Iowa State might be preseason top ten – or higher – but the balance of Big 12 power can’t be partially residing in Ames.

Texas Longhorns Schedule Breakdown & Analysis

2020 Texas Longhorns Fun Stats

– Punt Return Average: Opponents 9.1 yards – Texas 3.1 yards
– Sacks: Opponents 23 for 143 yards – Texas 17 for 123 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:12 – Texas 27:48

NEXT: Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Texas Longhorns College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

The slide stops now.

Texas was a superpower of superpowers in the 2000s under Mack Brown, but the unofficial end of the great area came early in the BCS Championship loss to Alabama in Pasadena to end the 2009 season. Colt McCoy got hurt, Bama won and went on to dominate college football even since, and Texas just sort of faded into the background.

Ever since beating Nebraska in that epic ’09 Big 12 Championship, Texas has gone a pedestrian 78-71 with a grand total of zero Big 12 championships and as many College Football Playoff appearance as you have.

Since 2009, five Big 12 teams have won the conference championship. That means Texas – TEXAS! – has been sitting in the lobby with Kansas, and Texas Tech, and Iowa State, and that new guy West Virginia.

Oh sure, there have been a few laughs, and beating Oklahoma here and there and taking down bowl games under the last regime was certainly fun, but it’s Texas.

It’s not like the biggest cash machine program in college football is playing in the SEC West or Big Ten East.

It’s the Big 12. Start winning it already, Texas.

Steve Sarkisian is expected to do nothing less.

Oh, and he needs to make the program national title-good again.

Set The Texas Longhorns Regular Season Win Total At … 9

This year’s schedule is manageable enough to win right away.

Going to Arkansas won’t be easy, and dates at TCU, Baylor and West Virginia will be tough, too. Throw in the Oklahoma and Iowa State games away from home, and the dangerous battles at home against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State – and don’t laugh, Louisiana, too – and there’s just enough concern to make a nine-win regular season a good bar to hit

Even more than a great debut, the program has to look like it’s about to turn the corner. This season has to look like the hiring of Steve Sarkisian is going to make everything finally click again.

The program is bound by nothing but high expectations. It’s time to start meeting them.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
Texas Longhorns Schedule Analysis