Texas Longhorns Spring Practice Preview: 3 Storylines To Watch

    The Tom Herman era at Texas reaches a new stage with the onset of spring practice on March 7. Here are three storylines to keep an eye on with the new-look Longhorns.

    March 1, 2017

    The Tom Herman era at Texas reaches a new stage with the onset of spring practice on March 7. Here are three storylines to keep an eye on with the new-look Longhorns.

    Out with the old and in with the new. The Texas Longhorns will begin 2017 with renewed optimism after landing the hottest head coach on the market last December.

    Everyone with a vacancy wanted Tom Herman to run their program. The Horns got him, marking the end of a dismal Charlie Strong era in which Texas lost seven games in three consecutive seasons. In fact, since appearing in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game, UT has gone 46-42, with only one Top 25 finish. That’s simply unacceptable for a program with so many resources and so much tradition as a football power.

    Herman was brought to the Forty Acres to take the talent Strong procured, and there was a lot of it, and transform it into a winning operation. And since the Horns lost very few players to graduation or the NFL, the new regime is teed up for a fast start in Year 1.

    Texas Longhorns Spring Practice Storylines

    1. Shane’s Gains

    One of the most obvious trappings of Herman is his track record with quarterbacks, most recently Houston’s Greg Ward Jr., and before him Ohio State’s Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller. His newest pupil is Shane Buechele, who might be the right mentor away from reaching the heights of his ceiling.

    Buechele started all 12 games of his true freshman season, sprinting out of the gate before tapering off down the stretch. It was a solid enough foundation on which to build, but it’s Herman’s job to make sure Buechele keeps evolving as a sophomore. If he plateaus, the Horns could again give the ball to a rookie, highly-touted Herman recruit Sam Ehlinger.

    All of the passers will benefit if a true No. 1 receiver emerges this spring. Almost everyone who caught a pass in 2016 returns, but no one had more than 420 receiving yards last fall.

    2. D’Onta Foreman 2.0?

    Foreman opted to turn pro early after rushing for 2,000 yards as a junior. Obviously, it’s a tough loss, but the Horns have a similarly assertive bruiser waiting in the wings.

    While Foreman bullied his way to stardom, Chris Warren III was rehabbing a knee injury that shut him down for the final two months. However, prior to getting hurt, Warren had rushed for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games. Plus, his north-south running style at 252 pounds is reminiscent of what Foreman brought to the offense in 2016.

    The Longhorns are eager to see a healthy Warren in action. And if speedy freshman Toneil Carter, who’s already on campus, is ready to live up to the hype, the running game drop-off might not be as steep as most expect.

    3. Secondary Confidence A Primary Concern

    The Longhorns disappointed in plenty of areas last season, but none more than in the defensive backfield.

    The secondary in Austin was supposed to be a strength in 2016. Instead, Texas yielded 22 touchdown passes and ranked 90th nationally in pass efficiency D. The results didn’t match the raw potential, which is something coordinator Todd Orlando and his assistants must unpack and correct this offseason.

    There’s a fair amount of talent on the back end for the Horns. Corners John Bonney, Davante Davis, Kris Boyd and Holton Hill, S DeShon Elliott and NB P.J. Locke all lettered as sophomores. And senior S Jason Hall could be the breakout star of the group. Now it’s up to the new staff to coax this collection of talent into a stingy unit against the pass.

    MORE: Big 12 Football Storylines, Predictions For 2017 Season


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