Longhorn Football – 2018 Season Preview

Welcome to the 126th Season of Texas Longhorns Football!

August finally arrived, and with it the perennial great expectations among the faithful of Longhorn Nation, as we prepare for kickoff of the second season of the Tom Herman Era.

I know how much some of you enjoy spending an hour or two watching video of the Horns and about our great university. As usual, my three favorite videos first. The first is a campus fly-over set to the Eyes of Texas. The other two are among my favorites from the “What Starts Here Changes the World” series, narrated by the legendary Texas Ex Walter Cronkite.

Some videos to get you pumped for football, shared by fans on YouTube.
This first one, Rise Up, has some nice highlights from the bowl win over Missouri.

Texas Football Pump Up (2018-2019) “Glorious”

Texas Football Hype Video |2018-2019| Soldiers

Texas Football Pump Up (2018-19) Adversity

Big Hits

Team Captains: The team elected this year’s captains: Anthony Wheeler, Andrew Beck, Breckyn Hager, Chris Nelson, and Elijah Rodriguez. Before they announced it to the team, Coach Herman called each captain’s parents to tell them the news. So cool.

Texas Longhorn Baseball: Coach David Pierce had an amazing second season skippering the Horns, capped by a trip to Omaha. More below.

Frank Denius: As every Longhorn knows, we lost one of the greatest Longhorns – one of the greatest Americans – when Mr. Denius passed away in July. What a blessing in the lives of so many. A great video from the football team:

Juan Heisman Tailgate? Hell Yes! The Crew is ready to roll. God willing, we will be back in our usual spot every game. This year will be the best ever.

CDC. No, not the Center for Disease Control. The new man in charge, Chris Del Conte. Change is happening, and it is really good. More on the changes coming to the gameday experience in this email. And more on the great work by our Athletic Director next week. In the meantime, you should follow him on Twitter: @_delconte. He is accessible and pretty darn funny.

Request:    I do have an important request: If you have an extra Navy Blue parking pass for any games, please let me know. The Juan Heisman Tailgate would be happy to purchase any extras you have. We have more logistics than ever before as we have continued to grow, and getting everything we need in and out of Lot 38 is a challenge.

Coach Herman
I reached out to the football office to see if I could include a message to y’all from Coach Herman. John Bianco and Scott McConnell were kind enough to assist. With this coming out later than planned, this a bit dated (received early last week, in the middle of camp).

“Right now, we’re deep into our preseason camp and your football team is working hard in the Texas heat to get ready for the season. This is a group that is committed to doing everything it takes to prepare to be great and perform at a high level every weekend this fall. They know the demands, understand their roles, and are really coming together as a team.”
“I love what Chris Del Conte is doing to make game day much, much more fan friendly. Everything he’s doing from Bevo Blvd, to concerts to our new walk to the stadium on game day is going to be really awesome. It’s going to be really exciting and your support and your energy in the stadium is critical to our success. Your enthusiasm, passion, and participation on game day play a big role in wins and losses. Come join us, scream your lungs out, have a blast, and let’s make DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium the best home field advantage in college football.”
“Hook ‘Em!”

Alright Alright Alright Horns Fans – let’s make it happen.

Texas Longhorn Football
Texas remains one of the historically great programs in American college football.

All-Time Wins

1. Michigan 138 years 943 wins
2.   Texas 125 years 898 wins
Ohio State 128 years 898 wins
4. Nebraska 128 years 893 wins
5. Alabama 124 years 890 wins
6. Notre Dame 129 years 885 wins
7. Oklahoma 123 years 884 wins
8. Penn State 131 years 878 wins
9. Southern Cal 124 years 834 wins
10. Tennessee 121 years 833 wins

By Winning Percentage

1. Michigan .729
2. Boise State .727
3. Ohio State .725
4. Notre Dame .724
5. Alabama .723
6. OU .723
7. Texas .705
8. Southern Cal .702
9. Nebraska .695
10. Penn State .688

We are number 2 in all-time bowl appearances with 54, behind Alabama (66). Horns are at number 6 in all-time bowl wins with 28.

The Golden Decade of Texas Sports

This spring, the Headliners Club planned an evening with Mack Brown, Augie Garrido, and DeLoss Dodds. Coach Garrido’s sudden passing was so sad and a shock, but his wife, Jeannie Grass, encouraged the Club to proceed with the evening. Huston Street sat in for Augie and did an admirable job representing the baseball program.

It was a great night talking Texas Sports, and in addition to remembering Coach Garrido and hearing great stories from DeLoss and Mack, we were reminded of the extraordinary success of Texas Sports in the first decade of the new millennium. Scott McConnell and John Bianco put together a great analysis of the success of football, basketball, and baseball back in May of 2010, after baseball had earned its 40th win of the season with a victory of Kansas State.

With that win, Texas put a stamp on one of the greatest runs in college sports history. The Longhorn football team, men’s basketball, and baseball completed another academic year by achieving the “10-20-40” milestone: at least 10 wins in football, 20 in basketball, and 40 in baseball. Extraordinary success that began when DeLoss Dodds hired Mack Brown, Rick Barnes, and Augie Garrido.

During that stretch, Texas was 10-20-40 eight times. Only one other school achieved that more than once during the same period – Florida. The Gators were 10-22-46 in 2001-02, and 13-25-42 in 2008-09. The Land Thieves did it once – 2008-09. Notre Dame once – 2002-03.

Here is where we were in May of 2010: Football was 13-1, with nine consecutive 10-win seasons. Four BCS games in 6 years plus two NC games. The Horns were ranked in the AP poll for 157 consecutive weeks, at the time the longest streak in the nation. Coach Barnes and the basketball team went 24-10 that year, and were ranked No. 1 for a couple of weeks in January. Baseball was ranked No. 2, with a 41-8 record and a Big 12 regular season championship in the books (21-3 in conference). Texas had advanced to the College World Series a total of six times in this stretch (2000, 02, 03, 04, 05, 09), winning two national titles (2002, 05). That season would end with a Super Regional loss at home to Texas Christian.

That great run was keyed in large part by the success of the baseball team, and in particular the 2002 National Championship. Augie Garrido had restored Texas to its rightful throne at the top of college baseball, and the fire was lit. The success of the first couple of years of the Golden Decade in all the sports was supercharged by that fifth title for Texas in baseball, and as DeLoss and Mack noted, that winning attitude spread through the athletic department and all teams.

Of course, it was not just the Big 3 who were winning conference titles and competing for national championships. During that same decade, men’s swimming and diving won four national titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2010) and swept the Big 12 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). The women had eight conference titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009). Men’s golf had three conference titles, men’s track & field had 4 indoor Big 12 championships and 2 outdoor Big 12 championships, women’s track won the outdoor national championship in 2005 and indoor NC in 2006. Volleyball won the Big 12 in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Phenomenal success by the players, coaches, and administrators. Coach Brown and DeLoss Dodds also gave well-deserved recognition to my good friend Patti Ohlendorf, the long time general counsel at The University (“general counsel” to the outside world; on the Forty Acres, she is Vice President of Legal Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin). Patti was a key leader and administrator in the University who worked with DeLoss and the Athletic Department during these great years, and she was part of the team that helped create the extraordinarily successful run for the Longhorns.

The winning tradition of the Dodds Era was due to the hard work and commitment of so many people at UT and among the alumni base, and of course, the student athletes who distinguished themselves on the fields and courts and in the classrooms. What a great era for Texas Sports.

Back to 2018
Last year I observed that U.T. “holds a lofty spot among college football elites historically; however, for us to maintain that claim, 2017 needs to be a turn-around year. And that turn-around is going to have to have some staying power. We all know the ugly truth: Since the 2010 season (following the loss to Alabama in the BCS title game in Pasadena), Texas is 46-42.”

2017 was a better year, no doubt. We now stand at 53-48 since that dark January night in the San Gabriel Mountains. Four losing seasons in conference play. It hasn’t been all bad, but it sure has been a touch stretch. Some fun wins for sure – the 2015 over a then top-10 Land Thieves team (24-17), and of course 27-25 November 24, 2011, in College Station. The bowl win over Missouri was a good way to close last season. How the Horns do this year will likely tell us whether 2017 was the turn-around year, the start of a new run, or if the slightly better record (and a middle of the pack 5-4 Big 12 record) was just a continuation of half a decade of mediocrity. If you know me, then you know I believe it was the start of the New Run.

2018 Longhorn Football Prospectus: Thinking Texas Football
Paul Wadlington’s preseason book is one of the best sources for preseason analysis. I start getting ready to write by reading his book. Here is the link.

2018 Longhorn Football

Here is my short analysis of our schedule: We start with the road game in Maryland with the Terps. Yes, they are dealing with hardships, the tragedy of the player’s death and the toxicity of some of the coaches, but it is road game at noon and those are never easy. Tulsa should be and will be the only “break” on the schedule.
After that, an absolutely brutal stretch: Southern Cal, Texas Christian, at K State (the Wizard owns us), then an early Shootout with the Land Thieves on October 6, before coming home for a game with Baylor (assuming they are still in the Big 12). So seven weeks in a row with only one game that might be a “breather” but sure better not be overlooked.
The Horns get October 20 off (superstitious I am, but let’s just say that might be the weekend of games 6 and 7 of a National League Championship Series; so a good weekend for the Horns to have a bye).
Good thing Herman & the Horns get that break, because then it is a hard slog to the finish line: On the road to Stillwater (October 27), then we host West Virginia who likely will be in the hunt for a league title and almost certainly for a spot in the reconstituted Big 12 championship game. November 10, the Horns go to Lubbock, but Casey Dobson and I do not. Back in Austin November 17 for the home finale with Iowa State (7:00 p.m., going to be a great Juan Heisman Tailgate that day), then on the road for Thanksgiving in Kansas before an 11:00 a.m. on Black Friday with the Jayhawks. Best prop bet of the year might be the over/under on the attendance at that one.

Being somewhat of burnt orange kool-aid mixing, sunshine pumping, perennially optimistic Longhorn: the Big 12 Championship game is December 1 at AT&T Stadium in beautiful Arlington, Texas.

My season prediction: 8 or 9 wins, and then we win a good bowl game.

Texas Football Future Seasons
Among the best things that started happening under Mike Perrin and have continued under CDC, Texas is reenergizing home and home series with great football powers. This starts next season, as we host Louisiana State September 7, 2019 (that tailgate party is going to be epic – Laissez les bonne temps rouler!). 2020 the Horns go to Red Stick. In 2022, we start a home & home with Alabama. That will be fun playing them after we beat them in the national championship game in a couple of years. Ohio State is on the schedule for 2025. For now. Then Michigan in 2027. This is going to be a fun decade or so.

Ed Clements Longhorn Football Preview at Headliners Club

I had originally planned to send this out last week, which is one reason Coach Herman’s quote got a bit stale.  But then the Headliners Club announced one of their lunchtime speaker events, hosted by the great Ed Clements, and featuring the legendary Ron Franklin, the Voice of the Longhorns Craig Way, and Roger Wallace, the fine sportscaster from KXAN in Austin who also spends a lot of time assisting with Longhorn television broadcasts.  I knew that this preseason edition would need to wait.  I was right.  Wednesday, nearly 100 college football fans (mostly Longhorns, but a few others) gathered in the McBee Rooms at Headliners.  Ed Clements lead Ron, Craig, and Roger in a great discussion of the Horns and college football.  Some of the highlights and nuggets, but this not a complete review and summary of the talk and particularly some players who were discussed but not mentioned herein.  It wasn’t because Ed or Ron or Craig or Roger didn’t talk about them.  It is because there were more than a few moments when I became so entranced in hearing these voices, especially Ron Franklin and Craig Way, that I forgot to take notes.

Craig Way acknowledged the high expectations of the Longhorn Nation, and while this might not be “the year”, all the pieces are in place.  It is Year 2, Step 2, toward something big that Coach Herman is building.  I think the consensus of all four of these experts was that this team easily has 8 wins in it.  And as Ron Franklin observed, last year’s team was 5 plays away from a 10 win season.  These guys know Longhorn football, and they are definitely optimistic.

No one is surprised that Sam Ehlinger was named the starter, only that the announcement came as early as it did and that it came in response to a question at a presser.  The key to Sam’s success is not how much he has progressed physically (which is a lot), but rather how he has developed in his ability to progress through his reads – first, second, and especially third.  That will dictate his ability to avoid the “catastrophic” mistakes that were so very costly last year.

Interesting reminder from Craig Way about Lil’Jordan Humphrey.  He was a star running back at Southlake Carroll, but he is on the roster at wide receiver because he has such great hands.  Another receiver to watch is D’Shawn Jamison (one of the heralded freshman from Houston Lamar), who has a great skill set – as one of the speakers noted, he’s a “Swiss Army Knife”.

Another “no surprise”, especially for me:  the importance of the offensive line, and where are we?  Well, as broadly reported, Coach Hand is doing good things.  We still might not have the depth this year, but this corps of linemen will be much improved.

Of note was the praise for the men at the tight end position.  Andrew Beck will likely start at tight end, but behind him is Cade Brewer, coming off that wicked injury; Ron Franklin believes Cade has “it”, and he can be a game changer.  Reese Leitao, who redshirted last year, is an exceptional athlete who will also contribute.  As Craig noted, this is the first time in a long time when the Longhorn team has multiple tight ends with the skill sets required to start and contribute (as I would put it, not just fill a spot to the outside of the guy lined up at tackle).  This is great news for fans like me, who still remember the great days of Pat Fitzgerald and David Thomas, to name two of my favorites.

The running back discussion was fascinating.  The question asked was who might be the featured back for Texas.  The quick answer:  Texas likely won’t have a featured running back.  There are seven who are all capable, and reasonable expectation is that at least early, we will see 4 or 5 different RB’s in a game.  Young should be the key contributor of the returning RBs from last season.  I am hoping he has a great season.  Tre Watson, the Cal transfer grad student, will likely be a go-to third down back.  But the guy who got the most discussion was the kid from Carthage, Keaontay Ingram.  Craig Way of course gave brilliant insight as to the Carthage Bulldogs dynasty under Coach Scott Surratt.  Ron observed that Keaontay has the “WOW” factor.  [An aside:  As you know, I grew up in Tyler, our Boy Scout camp (Camp Pirtle) was near Carthage, and I tend to have an ongoing interest in East Texas football.  Carthage Bulldogs Football State Championships under Surratt:  2008 (3A/D2), 2009 (3A/D2), 2010(3A/D2), 2013 (3A/D1), 2016 (4A/D1), 2017 (4A/D1).]

What about the Texas defense?

Simple answer from Roger Wallace:  “In Todd We Trust”.

No doubt, Todd Orlando is not just one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, he is one of the best coaches.  As Ron Franklin observed, look at what Orlando did in the Texas Bowl:  a much depleted defensive unit, between the suspensions and guys who decided to forgo playing in the game due to NFL aspirations.  Missouri came in as one of the hottest offenses in the country, averaging over 50 points per game over their last six contests.  And Todd’s Texas Defenders shut them down.  For those who don’t recall (this is not from the lunch, but include it here for reference – these were Missouri’s offensive ranking and stats coming into the Texas Bowl):


Statistic Missouri Against Texas
Rushing Offense #35 – 199.6 ypg 121 yards
Passing Offense #14 – 311.9 ypg 269 yards
Total Offense #7 – 511.5 ypg 390 yards
Scoring Offense #10 – 39.3 ppg 16 points
First Downs #20 – 23.9/game 17

 Why such success?  Because Todd Orlando puts his players in position to succeed.

Ron Franklin noted the key role Gary Johnson will play.  In high school, #33 was timed at 10.59 in the 100 meters.  We have to keep him healthy.

Also from Ron:  the turnover drills.  We are super-fast, especially in the nickel.  Defense should score a lot.

Caden Stearns, the stud freshman from Cibolo Steele, will start at safety.

The Big 12?  Consensus that the Land Thieves should win (okay, I don’t think any of them said Land Thieves; but they should have).  West Virginia likely to contend and finish second, mainly because of returning quarterback Will Grier.  TCU should be good too.

Interesting observations on the schedule and other stuff:

  • Southern Cal is high on the freshman quarterback trying to fill Darnold’s shoes, and the Trojan defense will be awesome.
  • Brutal four game stretch from USC on September 15, followed by Texas Christian, at Kansas State (last win there was in 2002), and then the Land Thieves a week early in Dallas (first weekend in October, as opposed to the standard second; Crowley assures me that the Javier’s reservations are secured).
  • Kansas on Black Friday, in Lawrence. Craig Way is going to Lawrence to call the football game, Roger Wallace will be with Shaka Smart and the basketball team in Las Vegas for the Thanksgiving tournament, including a match-up with North Carolina and then either Michigan State or UCLA.  You decide who won the bet.
  • Texas getting the Trojans the week after they play Stanford might help.
  • All like the new redshirt rule. More on that next week.  But the “freedom to transfer” rule could be disastrous.
  • Two of three picked Alabama to win it all, one picked Clemson. (I did not weigh in with my pick, The University of Texas).

Ed Clements was outstanding in his interviewing and audience management.  Ron Franklin was amazing.  His encyclopedic knowledge of the college game is not just historical – he knows the height and weight of this year’s starting quarterback for Mississippi State (one of the teams on the schedule of Texas Agricultural & Mechanical).  Roger Wallace may know more about what is going on inside the program than anyone else covering the Longhorns in any media.

And of the course the great Craig Way.  Agree with Eddie – Craig is the hardest working man in the business.  He will call a high school game on Thursday night, host the Friday night football show on Fox Sports Southwest, and be in the booth for the Longhorn game Saturday morning.  Simply the best.  Craig, congratulations again on the two Lone Star Emmy’s recently awarded.  Well deserved.

Texas Football Gameday

The University is making a big deal about the changes for Game Day, for good reason.  Going to be pretty cool.  I suspect most of you have seen this, but just in case:

Bevo Blvd:  San Jacinto Street west of the Stadium and in front of the Alumni Center will be a heck of a party.  You may also notice that what once was 23rd Street north of DKR is now DeLoss Dodds Way.


Longhorn City Limits:  Live music on the LBJ library lawn, just below the Juan Heisman Tailgate.  The first game will be Jimmie Vaughan.  Going to be awesome.  I am guessing everyone knows who Jimmie Vaughan is, but just in case, I will have some of his music in next week’s email.

Our gameday program will be pretty much the same:  an amazing tailgate party at Juan Heisman, with great friends gathering for good food and lots of fun.  More below.

The 2018 Texas Longhorns

As Coach Herman noted above, the Horns are working hard.  A lot of good reports came out of camp from reporters and from guys who are lucky enough to be invited to watch practices.

At quarterback, as noted above, Sam is our starter.  I am pretty pleased with that.  Nothing against Shane, but I have met Ehlinger (he came to several baseball games), and I know his mom.  He is a good kid.  I think he has a burning fire and great leadership skills.  If we can keep him healthy all season and if he plays like I think he can play, then I think the Horns could make it to 10 wins.  A healthy Sam Ehlinger who starts next Saturday in Maryland, Friday November 23 in Kansas, and every game in between means (a) he’s playing well, and (b) our offensive line is much improved.  Now, if Sam isn’t playing well but the line is as improved as I think it might be, then the good news is Shane Buechele is absolutely capable of leading Texas to victory.  Don’t forget, Shane has started 19 games, played in 21, and has thrown for 4,363 yards.  We have seen so many times that any FBS team that wants to compete for a title really needs 2 starting quarterbacks.  Texas needs Ehlinger and Buechele.  And we still have a great backup in Cameron Rising.  However, if the line is the issue, then it doesn’t matter who the center snaps the ball to at quarterback.  We will have issues.

As for the offensive line, Herb Hand’s good work will either manifest this year (I hope) or at the latest next season.  Calvin Anderson (#66), the Westlake Chap who transferred to Texas after graduating from Rice, will start and provide old guy leadership.  6-5, 300 pounds.  Looking forward to watching Patrick Vahe (#77) in his senior year.  31 starts under his belt (325 pounds), he should also give us some leadership.  [And likely wins the award for largest family.  10 brothers – Mico, William, Junior, Nai, Tony, Andrew, Paki, Kapeli, Tolo, and Kie and 2 sisters, Musie and Patiola.]  Hoping Shackleford (#56) stays healthy. 6-4 and 305, Zach has 17 starts.  Good kid.  Elijah Rodriguez (#72) should be on the other side of Shack from Vahe.  Another senior (5th year), Elijah only has 4 starts but has played in 20 games.  6-5 and 305 pounds, his improvement may be the key to this line.  At the other tackle, I expect Derek Kerstetter (#68), 6-6 and 305. The sophomore out of San Antonio Reagan has started 10 games.

Other guys who are high up there.  Denzel Okafor (#78) for sure, a junior with 23 games.  6-4 and 305, he can play.  Big Patrick Hudson (#73, 6-6, 330) is a redshirt freshman, played in 2 games last year, before getting hurt against San Jose State.  Samuel Cosmi (#52), 6-5 redshirt freshman out of Atascocita, will see playing time.  Watch for Tope Imade (#67) too – 6-5 and 330 pounds

At wide receiver, a wealth of talent, but highest of expectations for Collin Johnson (#9).  That’s consistent with just about every commentator and pundit you might hear or read.  And from the man himself, as one quickly surmises if following Collin on social media.  He does not lack in confidence.  The tall (6-6) junior has 10 starts in 25 games, and he is on the 2018 Biletnikoff Award and Walter Camp Award watch lists.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey.  That fact he is after CJ on most lists of our best receivers is a testament to just how good Collin is.  Humphrey (#84) is really good too, and he has 6 starts in 22 games at Texas.  LJH can catch the ball, run the ball, throw the ball, and return punts and kicks.  Expect a break-out junior year for him, and then we will all be talking about how do we get him to stay for the 2019 season and a Longhorn run to the College Football Playoffs (write it down folks – I am positive).

Devin Duvernay (#6) probably the other official starter, having played in all 25 games since coming to the Forty Acres (3 starts).

As noted in the review of the Clements Headliners preview, watch for D’Shawn Jamison (#17).  Like LJH, he is as good at running with the ball as he is at catching it, and with all the sweeps and screens and similar plays in the RPO offense, DSJ will be right there with LJH with a lot of touches.

I covered tight ends above.

The Texas Defense

How many years have I written longingly for the days of the dominating defenses, when the faithful in Texas Memorial Stadium rose to give standing ovations to the defense after another three and out?  Add this year to that list.  A lot of the defense was discussed by the experts at Headliners, but here is my more basic info.

The core of the defensive line will be three seniors.  Breckyn Hager (#44), who will be playing his heart out, and not just because he wants to get a haircut.  Hager is fast, tough, and maybe with just the right amount of good crazy.  105 tackles, with 74 solo and 22.5 tackles for loss, with 10 sacks.  Charles Omenihu has 19 starts and has played in 37 games for the Horns.  Big number 90 is 6’6” and a sleek 275.  71 tackles (51 solo) and 12.4 TFL and 7.5 sacks.  The triumvirate is completed by Chris Nelson (#97), 6-1 and 315 pounds.  31 games, 15 starts, 70 tackles (44 solo, 10 TFL, 3.5 sacks).

A solid linebacker corps, despite the departure of Malik Jefferson.  Malcolm Roach (#32) likely to be the B-backer starter; 25 games, 8 starts, 70 tackles (42 solo, 12 TFL, 5 sacks).  [I may have some confusion about who is lining up in which position, as Roach may also play the Mac.]  Gary Johnson (#33) is a senior in his second year at Texas.  The Rover linebacker, Johnson had a stellar year in 2017, with 60 tackles (38 solo), 6 TFL and 2 sacks.  I like his attitude – follow him on Twitter – I Hate QB’s & RB’s [@_GaryJohnson — https://twitter.com/_GaryJohnson/status/956720842267873282]

Anthony Wheeler (#45) will be playing after the first half of the Maryland game (serving a suspension from the Texas Bowl hit).  Wheeler is a senior with 27 starts in 36 games.  148 tackles, 82 of which were unassisted.  9 TFL, 3 sacks, and a touchdown.

Jeffrey McCullough (#23) is a 6-3, 250-pound junior with 33 tackles in 22 games.  McCullough seems to be high on everyone’s list, and could start if he’s healthy.  Watch for Joseph Ossai (#46).  The 6-4, 245 pound freshman out of Conroe Oak Ridge should be good.

I see #DBU in tweets from many of the past great Texas defensive backs.  It is a proud heritage and history, and I think this year could be fun.  Orlando’s opportunistic defense should turn turnovers into touchdowns, on top of being a darn good secondary.  As noted above, heralded recruit Caden Stearns (#7) should be starting week one.  He brings an impressive pedigree:   All-American, All-State, and two-time all-district, he played in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl earning Defensive MVP honors.  His recruiting rankings: No. 32 nationally (No. 2 Safety) and No. 3 in Texas by 247Sports, rated No. 24 nationally (No. 2 S) and No. 1 in Texas by Rivals, and ranked No. 39 nationally (No. 3 S) and No. 3 in Texas by ESPN.  He was number 2 on the Austin American-Statesman’s Fab 55.  Junior Brandon Jones (#19) (another East Texan, out of the Nac), will be our other safety.  As I am sure most have heard, John Bonney transferred to Lubbock.

Kris Boyd (#2), is the defense’s other spiritual (spirited?) leader, with Hager.  The senior cornerback (out of Gilmer, in East Texas), has 20 career starts and has played in 37 games.  124 tackles, 92 of them solo.  2 TFL and 3 interceptions (sounds low, doesn’t it?).  He’s another one who is entertaining to follow on social media.  @kris23db on Twitter, and often with a good story on Instagram (kris-boyd2).

Senior Davante Davis (#18) should be back for the Maryland game.  14 starts, 34 games, 77 tackles (67 solo, 3 TFL), and 3 interceptions.  Redshirt freshman Kobe Boyce (#38) has been getting a lot of practice time with DD’s injury.  He will be playing some (Kobe was a top cornerback recruit nationally his year).  Good reports on Anthony Cook (#4, another Houston Lamar freshman).  And then there is Jalen Green #3, one of the top cornerback recruits in the country last year (All-American, named first-team “Tops in Texas”, and chosen to the 2017 Super Team by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, No. 4 on the Fab 55 and the Houston Chronicle’s Top 100, No. 17 nationally (No. 3 CB) and No. 1 overall in Texas by 247Sports, No. 52 nationally (No. 7 CB) and No. 4 overall in Texas by Rivals, and No. 134 nationally (No. 16 CB) and No. 19 overall in Texas by ESPN.

Finally, nickels and dimes.  P.J. Locke III (#11) will start at nickel.  The true senior has played in 33 games for the Horns, with 19 starts.  86 tackles (59 solo, 5.5 TFL), 3 picks.  Sophomore Josh Thompson (#29) will be the dime and backing up PJL3 at the nickelback.  Josh played in 9 games last year, totaling 13 tackles (9 solo).

So, I am high on the defense.  A great coordinator, a ton of seniors and experience, good leaders.  A little thin at linebacker, so pray for good health.

Special teams.  We lost last year’s MVP, Michael Dickson, to the NFL.  The good news, his cousin came to Austin.  Ryan Bujcevski, from Sydney, Australia.  Our kicker is Cameron Dicker, freshman from Lake Travis.  We will be better there.  Expect the Special Teams to be solid.

The Texas 2017 Statistics

A look back at where Texas finished in the stats that I track once the season gets going.  Here they are, and with the 2016 stats.  It will be interesting to take a look at these next August.

Texas Offense

Statistic 2016 2017
Rushing Offense #17 – 239.3 ypg #96 – 139.6 ypg
Passing Offense #50 – 252 ypg #41 – 258.8 ypg
Total Offense #16 – 491.3 ypg #65 – 398.5 ypg
Scoring Offense #46 – 31.9 ppg #52 – 29.5 ppg
First Downs #10 – 25.1/game #70 – 20.5/game
Tackles for Loss Allowed #52 – 5.5/g, 242 yards #113 – 6.9/g, 360 yards
Third Down Conversions #100 – 36.1% #84 – 38.1%
Red Zone Offense #95 – 80%/53% #101 – 79%/62%
Long Scrimmage Plays #72 – 178/10+; 57/20+; 33/30+ #51 – 186/10+; 60/20+; 19/30+
Long Rushing Plays #51 – 77/10+; 22/20+; 12/30+ #97 – 52/10+; 12/20+; 4/30+
Long Passing Plays #83 – 101/10+; 35/20+; 21/30+ #28 – 134/10+; 48/20+; 15/30+
Penalties #107 – 7.1/g; 64.1 ypg #112 – 7.1/g; 66.8 ypg

Just a few notes to compare.  The Land Thieves were #1 in Long Scrimmage Plays, 282/10+, 117/20+, 60/30+, 37/40+, and 21/50+.  Texas had 9 over 40 yards and 2 over 50 yards.  Work to do.

The drop-off in the running game was precipitous.  The loss of D’Onta Foreman and no one to step up.  Shane and Sam managed to lift the passing game despite the weakness on the offensive line (#113 in tackles for loss allowed is brutal).

Much better news on defense, in terms of year over year improvements.


Statistic 2016 2017
Rushing Defense #76 – 189.8 ypg #8 – 106.9
Passing Defense #105 – 258.5 ypg #109 – 258.8
Total Defense #94 – 448.3 ypg #41 – 365.7
Scoring Defense #89 – 31.5 ppg #29 – 21.2 ppg
Tackles for Loss #26 – 91; 7.6/g, 427 yards #47 – 82; 6.3/g, 355 yards
First Downs Allowed #101 – 23/game #27 – 17.6/game
Third Down Conversions #51 – 38.3% #3 – 27.1%
Red Zone Defense #70 – 85%/57% #54 – 81%/49%
Long Scrim. Plays allowed #98 – 198/10+; 70/20+; 30/30+ #60 – 172/10+; 65/20+; 26/30+
Long Rushing Plays allowed #83 – 76/10+; 23/20+; 8/30+ #26 – 52/10+; 10/20+; 3/30+
Long Passing plays allowed #92 – 122/10+; 47/20+; 22/30+ #97 – 120/10+; 55/20+; 23/10+

Stunning improvement in rush defense.  Passing defense is what it is in the Big 12.   National comparisons are tough (#113 nationally, #5 in the Big 12).  In Red Zone Defense, our stopping touchdowns was #17 nationally – good toughness by the D.  I expect even better in 2018.

I am still trying to get into better and deeper statistical analysis, but maybe that will get better when I retire.  In the meantime, I just gather from websites.

Team efficiency is an interesting one.  ESPN reports it.  “Team efficiencies are based on the point contributions of each unit to the team’s scoring margin, on a per-play basis. The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for “garbage time” (based on win probability). The scale goes from 0 to 100; higher numbers are better and the average is roughly 50 for all categories. Efficiencies update daily during the season.”

The Horns in 2017 were great defensively, ranked #5 nationally behind Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and Wisconsin.  Pretty tall cotton.


Offensively, Texas was at 97, which is pretty pitiful.  Special Teams at 20, and Overall the Horns ranked No. 28.  If the offense can improve and defense and special teams hold their own, we should get in the top 25 in Team Efficiency.  Would be nice to see.

Some Cool Stuff

Some suggestions for you to enjoy.

The team enjoyed a day on Lake Austin.  Derek, Seth – does this place look familiar?

Jim Nicar.  One of my favorite websites.


His Twitter account has the coolest historical UT photos.   Check out:


Fiftieth Anniversary of the Wishbone.


The Juan Heisman Tailgate

The Juan Heisman Tailgate Crew is ready for a great 2018 after an exceptional 2017.  We will still have a lot of great Dulce Vida Tequila courtesy of my friend Chad Auler.  Most games we will have Texas Beer Company there with cold draught beers and ales, and lots of other great beers from our friends at Capital-Wright (thanks Matt Harriss!).  With both Tulsa and Southern Cal scheduled for 7:00 p.m. starts, the early season tailgating should be outstanding, despite the September heat.

We hope to be in our usual spot by Juan Heisman, but the only way to get a guaranteed spot at Texas for a tailgate party (on campus anyway) is to pay a lot of money to someone.  We prefer the old-fashioned way – having one of the crew members get in line in the wee hours of the morning to stake our claim to Mount Juan Heisman, and then trust that by Game 2 or 3, everyone knows and respects other tailgaters spots.  So far, that has worked.

Many have asked about tailgate protocol.  We have over 40 guys who are now all official partners and your hosts, and we pitch in to pay the costs of getting the year started.  But then we rely on donations from attendees each week to offset our costs.  Not required, but sure appreciated.  A fair guideline is that if you are eating & drinking alcohol, throw in $15 or $20 a person.  Our food is usually not too fancy and expensive, but we pay Marcus and Otis for their excellent hard work every gameday.  Also, we have a fair amount of capital expenditures each year (tents, chairs, tables, coolers).  We love having a good time, and hope you will be there to have one with us.  So don’t be shy about sharing some shekels.

This year is a big transition year.  As those of you who attend the tailgate know, some younger guys (all of whom were part of the Longhorn baseball program), joined the Juan Heisman Tailgate Crew.  The timing was perfect, as many of us are, as they say, getting too old for this $#it!  Okay, maybe not really too old, but certainly ready to scale back the time commitment (not that long ago, it wasn’t unusual for some of us to be there 10-12 hours, including game time).  With the bigger crew and the recruitment of Marcus Crawford, that eased.  But now, we also have command performances away from Austin, even on game weekends (things like kids getting married, grandchildren being born, and then the birthdays that follow).  I am glad that Judd Messer is assuming the operations of the tailgate, a transition that started last season and is going to finish this season, soon.

Look forward to having a paloma and venison sausage wrap soon!


As you might guess, I get a lot of emails about tickets – people looking to buy, people looking to sell.  I am happy to act as a broker for my friends, and it is great to help fellow Horns fans find tickets.  But keep this in mind when looking to buy or sell:  you can go through TexasBoxOffice.com and utilize StubHub to buy or sell your tickets:


Preseason Polls

AP Poll:  Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Washington, Oklahoma, Miami (FL), Auburn, PSU.  Notre Dame at 12, Southern Cal at 15, Texas Christian at 16, and West Virginia at 17.  Texas at No. 23.

Coaches Poll:  Roll Tide, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, Land Thieves, Washington, Wisconsin, Miami (FL), PSU, Auburn.  L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac at 11, Southern Cal at 15, Texas Christian at 16, Texas at 21, and Oklahoma State at 25.

Texas Longhorns Baseball:  Back Home in Omaha

The 2018 baseball campaign was a good one, as we saw the Horns improve throughout the year, with a really strong second half of the season.  Texas opened with series win over U La La, then lost 2 of 3 to LSU in Baton Rouge.  A nice series win (3 out of 4) at home over Northwestern.  Then a tough road trip, including losing 3 of 4 at Stanford and both games in a midweek series in Fayetteville.  But back in Austin to start conference play, and Texas swept Kansas, then took 2 out of 3 from Okie State.  As in all sports, we struggle in Manhattan Kansas, and we lost 2 of 3 there.  The Horns followed that with a home sweep of Baylor, then won 2 out of 3 from the Land Thieves in Norman.  A series win over New Orleans, then a tough series loss in Morgantown to the Mountaineers.  We were winning most of the midweek games along the way and getting better, and the Longhorns closed Big 12 play with a series win over the Sand Aggies in Lubbock and then a series sweep of Texas Christian at the Disch.

A crappy Big 12 Tournament, but we still got a regional.  That was a wonderful weekend, as the Horns went 3-0.  The best was the 8-3 win over Texas Agricultural & Mechanical, a quite spirited game with aggy.

One of the hottest teams in the country was Tennessee Tech.  Yes, “Tech”.  They went to the Oxford Regional and beat national seed Ole Miss.  That huge upset landed a Super Regional in Austin.  It was a really hot weekend, but after dropping the opening game on Saturday 4-5, Texas came back with a 4-2 win on Sunday and a 5-2 win on Monday.  Omaha!!

Okay, the College World Series didn’t go quite as well as I hoped, but hey, we were back where we belong.

For those of you who are Texas Baseball fans, if you don’t follow the social media accounts, you are really missing out.  https://www.instagram.com/texasbaseball/ has great photos and videos, and the Twitter account, @TexasBaseball is really good.  In particular, the clips with tributes to the seniors were exceptional.  One of my favorite players from this year’s was Jake McKenzie, grandson of my good friend Tim Brown.  In a Tuesday night game with UT Rio Grande Valley, Jake played all nine positions on the field, the only time that a player has done that in Texas baseball history.  It was pretty entertaining for us baseball nerds.  Coach Pierce had planned to move him around the positions each inning, but Texas scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth (known as the “Chairman’s Inning” at the Disch).  He ended up playing 3 positions in the top of seventh, as Texas was about to run rule UTRGV.   McKenzie started at catcher (the number 2 position when scoring a game), then moved around the field in order – first, second, third, short, left, center, right, pitcher (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1).  Anyway, here is the video they made for Jake:

Here are two more cool posts from the communications staff.

Kody Clemens Homerun Spray Chart:

See where all 2️⃣4️⃣ of @kodyclemens’ dingers went.

A post shared by Texas Baseball ⚾️🤘 (@texasbaseball) on


The players firing the cannon (in Left Field – and speaking of left field, you should follow @OccupyLF if you love Texas Longhorn Baseball) with the Cowboys after winning the Austin Regional:


A post shared by Texas Baseball ⚾️🤘 (@texasbaseball) on

Carli Todd is doing great work in the Texas Athletics Communications.

Coach Pierce did a magnificent job.  With the 43-23 record and a trip to Omaha in his second year, he was named Baseball America’s Coach of the Year.  I can’t wait until next year.

Texas Longhorn Band

I am ready for some football and the Pride of the Southwest!  Hook Em!

Here are some Longhorn Band videos to get you ready.

The Eyes of Texas

March Grandioso, at the Cotton Bowl:

I like drums.

Washington & Lee

The Generals finished 2017 with a 8-3 record, 5-1 in the ODAC, losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament to eventual National Champion Mount Union (who, in the Stagg Bowl [in Salem, Virginia {next door to Roanoke, formerly known as Big Lick} defeated defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor, the Crusaders from Belton, Texas, hometown of Judd Messer, COO of the Juan Heisman Tailgate).  Washington & Lee was No. 2 in the nation in rushing, with 4,435 yards, averaging 6.19 yards per rush and 403.2 yards per game.

The Generals are preseason picks with Randolph-Macon to win the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

W&L opens on September 1 at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), then head south the next weekend to Tennessee for our annual bout with Sewanee.  September 15 is the home opener with Maryville (Tenn.).  Then conference play begins September 29 with Randolph-Macon, so a huge game right at the start of ODAC Play.  More to come as the season gets going.

Requiescat in pace Frank Denius

Frank Denius was unquestionably one of the most influential people in my life the last 25+ years.  And not for the reason you might think – not because of Longhorn Football.  But because of his faith and his philanthropic leadership.  Frank lived the Gospel.

At Frank’s memorial service, we gave thanks for Frank’s life.  His love of the Longhorns was praised and celebrated.  Woffie gave a beautiful remembrance of his father.  Frank loved Christmas, and we sang Joy to the World.  And The Eyes of Texas.

But the one part of the service that struck me the most was the reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.   Everyone who has attended a Christian wedding has heard these verses.  The heart of this great passage is (1 Corinthians 4-7):

  Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

As I listened, as I thought about this kind of “love”, the greatest.  The full reading, verses 1-13, are read at almost every wedding.  A celebration of love.  This love of which Paul wrote so beautifully was agape love.  The love of Christ.  Agape love involves faithfulness and commitment, and an act of the will.  It was how Frank loved so many, even people he never met or knew.  The hundreds of thousands who have been and in the future will be touched by and benefit from his caring and charity.

I went and read the full passage in the King James Bible.

  Although I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
   Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
   Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Indeed.  And Frank Denius was among the greatest Christians I have ever known, a man who practiced loving charity in all facets of his wonderful life.  Giving so much and so many gifts, as if every day was Christmas.

God Bless Texas.

Tim Taylor

Tailgating before Home Football Games  The Juan Heisman Tailgate  — Lot 38, East of Sid Richardson Hall.


© Timothy C. Taylor, Sr. 2018.  All Rights Reserved (as to original material).


On Twitter:  @tctayloratx

On LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/tctatx

On Instagram:  @tctayloratx

On Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/Tim.C.Taylor

and:  www.Facebook.com/Juan.Heisman



1 thought on “Longhorn Football – 2018 Season Preview”

Comments are closed.