AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas closed out spring ball with its Orange-White spring game on Saturday afternoon. Here's what we learned from it:
1. Shane Buechele is a baller: That’s the term Charlie Strong used on Saturday, after his true freshman quarterback threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns in his spring game debut. Strong has been hearing it from his Longhorns lately. “The players respect him,” the coach said. “Players know players. ‘My man’s a baller’ – that’s what a lot of them say.” Buechele had that same effect on Texas fans, who are now all-in on the newcomer being the program’s next great passer. Many before him have received similar hype, but the performance Buechele put together with his 64 snaps was impressive. He plays with a lot of confidence and can make every throw. He’s going to play no matter what this fall, but Buechele still must keep improving (and bulking up) if he plans to win the starting job in August.
2. Horns will ride their horses: D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren didn’t have to prove much in this spring game; people know what they can do. But they still rampaged through Texas’ defense on Saturday, combining for 174 yards and two scores on just 16 carries. Warren wowed the crowd with his 55-yard scoring dash through the middle of the second-team D, highlighted by a powerful stiff-arm of safety John Bonney. No matter what shape Texas’ offense ultimately takes in 2016, what’s clear is it will all be around these vicious power backs. When Kirk Johnson gets healthy and Kyle Porter gets on campus, Texas will have some nice options to complement that rushing duo.
3. Solid first test of tempo: The Tulsa offense Sterlin Gilbert helped run last year averaged 83.3 plays per game, third-most in FBS. Baylor finished No. 1 at just under 85. Texas finished 117th in the nation at 65 per game. To achieve the kind of speed Gilbert expects, Texas aimed for 200 snaps in their scrimmages this spring. “The most I have got in is 175,” Strong said. On Saturday, the Horns pulled off 110 plays in one half. Gilbert said he tried to show very little from a scheme standpoint, but fans did at least get to see a more hurried-up offense. There were penalties and mistakes, of course, but Texas did move noticeably faster.
4. Defensive line needs help: More accurately, they just need more bodies. Texas will have to rely on some rookie depth at defensive tackle this fall. The second-string DTs on Saturday both were walk-ons. Incoming freshmen Jordan Elliott, Chris Daniels, D’Andre Christmas-Giles and Gerald Wilbon all attended the spring game. Any of them could play in the opener against Notre Dame. “I know they're young, and we can't be afraid of it,” Strong said. “We have to feed them fast and get them going.” There have been positive developments at defensive end, where Charles Omenihu and converted linebacker Breckyn Hager look like playmakers. The Horns should have a decent rotation at the end spots if both sophomores can keep rising.
5. Texas needs a kicker: Kickers are important. They are capable of winning and losing games. Texas lost a game last year because of a missed extra point. These are basic facts. Another indisputable fact: Texas does not have a kicker for the 2016 season. “I need one,” Strong told reporters after the spring game. “You’ll have to get me one somehow.” Backup punter Mitchell Becker missed the scrimmage’s lone field goal attempt from 46 yards. Nobody was trying to block it, either. So Texas’ staff will definitely have to find some late signee, transfer, walk-on or Australian this summer.