Andy Pendleton runs with a Longhorn flag after Texas scores a touchdown against Oklahoma State in Austin on Oct. 21, 2017. ANA RAMIREZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: It’s true or false time for Tom Herman’s Texas Longhorns

Posted October 23rd, 2017

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Story highlights
  • Chris Warren III has talent but hasn't had much of an opportunity to showcase it.
  • Still don't understand why Collin Johnson and Armanti Foreman aren't playing more.
  • Appreciate Todd Orlando while you can because the first-year defensive coordinator will leave sooner than later for a head coaching job.

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With a winning season and a bowl game for the 3-4 Texas football team in peril and an upcoming date with equally imperiled but winless Baylor, it’s time to address some of the Longhorns’ shortcomings as well as their longcomings.

So, answer true or false to the following:

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1. Texas’ offensive line, as it is currently made up, is the worst in school history.

False.

But it may be in the conversation. One Texas ex told me he’s seen better high school lines than this group.

The Longhorns have had to play a true freshman at tackle, rotate two other tackles who weren’t good enough to win starting jobs, and are without an All-American at left tackle, and their right tackle who’d won the starting nod in August, their best backup in Patrick Hudson and a good blocking tight end. What’s Tom Herman to do, blast the group as a pitiful blocking unit? He can’t really afford to go out on that limb. Honesty has its consequences.

Texas running back Chris Warren III (25) evades San Jose State safety David Williams (7) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, September 9, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

2. Chris Warren III has no talent.

False.

He does have talent. He was the heir apparent to D’Onta Foreman for a reason. Warren doesn’t have the quick burst or the overall explosiveness, but has a lot of drive, a lot of power and can be hard to bring down in the open field on those rare occasions he ever sees an open field. He just has an upright running style.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) is tackled by Kansas State defensive backs Trent Tanking (58), Kendall Adams (21) and Duke Shelley (8) in the first half of a Big 12 Conference football game at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

3. Sam Ehlinger should be rested this week.

Absolutely true. And maybe the week after, too.

It’s not known if the freshman quarterback has a concussion, but the concern here is that he either suffered concussions each of the last two games or took enough violent hits that he needs the time off from so much physical contact. I’m still waiting to see more Jerrod Heard or Lil’ Jordan Humphrey run the wildcat.

Texas punter Michael Dickson punts in the third quarter against Notre Dame at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Sunday September 4, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

4. Michael Dickson is the best player on the team.

True. By far.

Not even sure how anyone would argue that point. He ranks No. 1 nationally as the only punter with a 49-yard average. Several others, all of them on the defensive side, are having spectacular seasons, but Dickson is a clear All-American and a weapon in the way he can flip a field in an instant. He personally kept Oklahoma State at bay with his long-distance boomers.

Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson (9) tries to secure a touchdown catch over Kansas State defensive back Duke Shelley (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

5. Texas needs a bigger doghouse to fit in others besides wide receivers Collin Johnson and Armanti Foreman, whose playing time has been reduced or almost totally eliminated.

True.

Tim Beck probably deserves a seat in there as well for some lame calls in overtime, including basically a single-wing quarterback sweep and a final play call that Herman said attempted to duplicate Clemson’s game-winning pick play that beat Alabama. Besides having the right-handed Ehlinger roll out to his left, the quarterback said afterward he expected Heard to be in the back of the end zone for “a jump ball,” I assume, after the play broke down. I just don’t buy the explanations why the more-talented Johnson and Foreman aren’t playing.

Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson (46) sacks Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park (10) during the NCAA college football game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, IA on Thursday, September 28, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

6. Linebacker Malik Jefferson and cornerback Holton Hill, both juniors, are playing so well that they will both probably leave school early for the NFL.

True.

Even fellow cornerback DeShon Elliott referred to Hill as “a first-round cornerback.” Hill has been spectacular all year. He shut down All-America candidate James Washington to 32 yards Saturday. He’s long and instinctive. Herman raved about Jefferson’s development as “one of the cool stories” of the season. While he didn’t excel in his first two seasons, it’s coming together now. He could have Derrick Johnson’s upside.

Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams is one of the few players that new UT strength coach Yancy McKnight has been impressed with early in offseason workouts. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

7. Connor Williams should return this season.

True.

If the junior tackle is healthy enough to return and have a productive year, his team desperately needs him. He was not having a good season before he hurt his knee. If he has any illusions of leaving school early, he needs to put four or more good games on tape to help his standing in the draft. Otherwise, rehab and prep for 2018.

Texas Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando watches his players scrimmage against the offense during football practice Monday morning August 8, 2017.
RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

8. Fans should embrace Todd Orlando because Texas’ first-year defensive coordinator is proving his value each and every week and could be a head coach elsewhere as soon as next season.

True.

It may not happen this offseason, but it will in the near future. But I’m told he will be selective and choose a good opportunity where he can win.

Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill (5) is tackled by Texas defensive lineman Poona Ford (95) in the first half of a Big 12 Conference football game at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

9. Poona Ford is the next Casey Hampton.

False.

But Ford is really good and definitely an All-Big 12 candidate. He has a big upside as a nose tackle in the NFL, but Hampton’s a five-time Pro Bowler if not quite a Hall of Famer.

Texas Head Coach Tom Herman during warm up in the NCAA college football game against at the AT&T Red River Showdown Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas Texas Saturday, Oct 14, 2017. This game makes up the112th rivalry match up. (RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

10. Texas will go to a bowl game.

True.

A victory over Baylor — which led then-No. 3 Oklahoma late in the third quarter and almost beat 23rd-ranked West Virginia — is hardly guaranteed, and no one should automatically put the Kansas game in the W column.

OK, probably true.

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