The longest month of the college football offseason is upon us. And while fans would like to fast forward, Texas football coaches will have plenty of goals they need to accomplish in camp.
The 2021 roster had a handful of talented contributors, but multiple flaws. The offensive line struggled from the opening series to late into the season. On defense, Texas struggled to tackle, cover, and get to the quarterback. In addition, they displayed poor pursuit angles and unreliable assignment integrity.
The 2022 roster will have to guard against some of the same issues. Often, the past year’s issues show up in the first two games of the next season. Steve Sarkisian’s staff will aim to eliminate as many of last year’s mistakes prior to the Week 2 bout with Alabama.
Let’s look at what Texas coaches will determine as we move into August on Monday.
Game-ready freshman offensive linemen
Steve Sarkisian probably has a strong understanding of what returning linemen bring to the table. Not only did they have spring practice to showcase their ability but a year or more of drills and scrimmage work in practices. Cole Hutson is probably the most mentally ready, having enrolled early for spring practice. He, along with Devon Campbell and Kelvin Banks, could get early playing time. As the season progresses, the remaining four freshmen have the talent to see the field as well.
Solidifying the starting linebackers
DeMarvion Overshown is perhaps the most gifted athlete on the defensive side. The issue is whether or not Texas can put him where he will most succeed or if personnel uncertainty will force Overshown to play inside again. The Arp product stands to thrive on the outside if Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey or David Gbenda prove to be reliable opposite Jaylan Ford. Should either linebacker emerge, the defense’s ceiling raises.
Finding the best two safeties
Anthony Cook, Jerrin Thompson, Kitan Crawford and others will compete for the two safety spots. Thompson is the safe bet, having played safety the most at Texas. Anthony Cook is a sure tackler with maybe the highest football IQ on the defense. Cook is a problem-solver and has quickly adapted to Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense. Kitan Crawford is perhaps the fastest of the three with the most ball-hawking ability. Unfortunately, he lacks the experience the other two possess. Texas will figure out what combination best fits their defense.
The battle for skill position reps
Brennan Marion has stated his desire to heavily rotate his receivers. I have my doubts that Xavier Worthy and Isaiah Neyor will often rotate off the field. The same is likely true for Bijan Robinson, who will mostly share reps with Roschon Johnson. Johnson will work for extra reps against the tight ends and receivers. Jordan Whittington, Ja’Tavion Sanders, Jahleel Billingsley, Agiye Hall and Tarique Milton could all easily emerge as key contributors. Competition for which five skill position players take the field is more of a luxury than a problem for Texas.
Choosing the starting quarterback
Based off my limited knowledge of the battle, Quinn Ewers seems to be the favorite. Nevertheless, Hudson Card possesses qualities that could win him the job. The faster Texas can determine its starting quarterback, the sooner it can prepare for its premier opponents.