Texas quarterback Shane Buechele (16) scrambles for yards during a spring NCAA college football game, Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

BEVO BEAT Football

Third and Longhorns: Was this game half-empty or half-full?

Posted April 16th, 2016

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For the record, the first team beat the second team, 21-7.

We only had one half to work with, but Saturday’s Orange-White Game still showed us plenty. Some quick observations:

1. Shane Buechele clearly outplayed Tyrone Swoopes. He looked very good against the 1s and he looked very good against the 2s. If next week was the season opener, Buechele would be your starting quarterback. The true freshman passed the eye test running this offense. Buechele’s final stats — 22 of 41 for 299 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 fumble. Swoopes’ stats — 4 of 16 for 71 yards, 2 interceptions. Three of the four scoring drives were quarterbacked by Buechele, not Swoopes.

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2. Let’s not forget, however, that this was only the spring game. And Jerrod Heard didn’t play, which was unfortunate. You would have liked to have compared Buechele to Swoopes to Heard.

3. D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III looked great, combining for 174 yards and two touchdowns on only 16 carries. But they were running against a depleted defensive line that’s short on bodies and looked as bad against the run Saturday as it did for most of 2015.

How the offense looked: Sharp when Buechele was in there, not so sharp when he wasn’t. It’s hard to judge the offense because of the state of the defensive front. The running game looked stronger than the passing game because of that. There were dropped passes. Collin Johnson looks really big and really physical, a Mike Evans-type of receiver. He and Buechele appeared to be on the same page. Armanti Foreman had a nice day. So did guys John Burt and Jacorey Warrick.

On deep throws, Buechele was 2 of 5 — an incompletion/nice defensive play from Kris Boyd; a 41-yarder to Burt; an overthrow to DeAndre McNeal; a completion that was out of bounds to Armanti Foreman; and a 65-yard touchdown to Burt, who ran it in for the final 30. Buechele hit him in stride, though. Swoopes, meanwhile, was 1 of 5 on deep shots — an incompletion to Burt, who dropped the pass on a nicely-thrown 30-yarder down the right sideline; a near one-handed catch by McNeal that ended up being called an interception by Antwuan Davis (had it been a real game, though, it would’ve been ruled an incompletion since replays showed the ball hitting the ground); an underthrow to Lorenzo Joe that was nearly picked off by P.J. Locke III; a 45-yarder to Warrick; and a jump-ball underthrow to Johnson, which was picked off by John Bonney off the deflection.

Warren had 7 carries for 101 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown. D’Onta Foreman had 9 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown, with a longest run of 28.

Your starters on the offensive line — left tackle Connor Williams, left guard Patrick Vahe, center Zach Shackelford, right guard Jake McMillon and right tackle Kent Perkins. So, for those keeping score at home, Vahe has moved from the right side over to the left side to replace the departed Sedrick Flowers; Shackelford — the true freshman from Belton who, like Buechele, is an early enrollee — starts at center in place of the departed Taylor Doyle; and McMillon — a former defensive tackle — gets the early look at Vahe’s former spot.

Texas had 101 plays in the first half. It was definitely uptempo.

How the defense looked: Incomplete. Injuries kept a couple of key players out of Saturday’s game, and a handful of key recruits won’t show up till later this summer. Consequently, it was the offense, not the defense, that stood out Saturday. The front line struggled. Breckyn Hager, who mostly played linebacker last year, has been moved to defensive end. Saturday’s starters on the defensive line — Charles Omeninu and Naashon Hughes at ends, Poona Ford and Paul Boyette Jr. at tackles. Those incoming freshman can’t get here soon enough, because depth is a real issue. The second team had Quincy Vasser and Hager at ends, and Chris Nelson and Patrick Ojeaga at tackles.

The secondary made some plays, and that without starting safeties Dylan Haines and Jason Hall, who missed the game with injuries. Holton Hill and Kris Boyd were active, Davis looked good, Sheroid Evans made a couple of plays and Kevin Vaccaro made a play or two as well.

How the special teams looked: Shaky. Mitchell Becker had one shot at a field goal and was wide left on a 46-yard effort. Ryan Newsome took the punt returns and bobbled one catch. There were no kickoffs, per spring game rules. After the game, Charlie Strong said he doesn’t have a No. 1 kicker right now. Check back in August.

On Saturday, we identified 10 Longhorns to watch on Saturday (who aren’t quarterbacks). How did they do?

Armanti Foreman, WR: 6 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He had only 11 catches last season.

Brandon Hodges, G: Had been projected to start at left guard, but found himself on the second team on Saturday. He was called for a hold on his first drive.

Collin Johnson, WR: 4 catches for 15 yards. He had some drops — uncharacteristic, based upon what we’ve heard throughout the spring — but got the start opposite Foreman. He’s a big target with good hands. He dropped a touchdown throw from Buechele, though. Johnson was targeted eight times, and had the four catches.

D’Onta Foreman, RB: Picked up right where he left off in 2015. He averaged 8.1 yards a carry on Saturday.

DeShon Elliott, S: Had perhaps the play of the day on defense, forcing a fumble after laying a big hit on Roderick Bernard. Where he’ll fit into the rotation this fall, however, is an unknown. Haines and Hall, last year’s starters, are back. And Brandon Jones arrives this summer.

Malik Jefferson, LB: Last year, he was one of the big stars of the spring game when he forced a fumble after a big hit on Daje Johnson — similar to Elliott’s play on Bernard — as well as a big hit on D’Onta Foreman. He delivered another big tackle in this year’s game. He finished with 2 tackles.

Poona Ford, DT: He didn’t stand out on Saturday. Finished with 4 tackles, including 3 solos.

Sheroid Evans, CB: Had a nice day, including a solo tackle on D’Onta Foreman on the first drive and later a defended pass on a throw to Burt. Injuries have really hampered Evans’ career at Texas, but he looked good on Saturday.

Zach Shackelford, C: Fared well on the blocking end of things, but struggled on the mental end — two false start penalties.

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