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Roster watch: Which Longhorns are trending up, down or sideways at the halfway point

Posted October 19th, 2017

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Here’s a look at some Texas players trending up, down and sideways through the first six games of the 2017 season:

Trending up

Michael Dickson, P: Last year’s Ray Guy finalist ranks second nationally in yards per punt (48.3). He’s an incredible weapon. So far: 27 punts, 48.3 average, long of 69 and 13 of 50 yards or more

Sam Ehlinger, QB: The freshman from Westlake has ended the quarterback debate. Can he stay healthy running through walls? So far: 4 starts (2-2), 85 of 156 for 1,178 yards, 6 TDs and 3 INTs, averages 294.5 passing yards a game

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DeShon Elliott, S: Snagging five interceptions over a three-game span was impressive. Also has 3.5 tackles for loss on run support. So far: 30 tackles (5th on team), 3.5 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble

Holton Hill, CB: Teams were afraid to throw his way after roaring out of the box with three non-offensive touchdowns. So far: 32 tackles (tied for 3rd on team), 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups

Malik Jefferson, LB: He’s finally playing up to everyone’s expectations, including his own. This is the player UT fans have waited for. So far: 54 tackles (1st on team), 6 tackles for loss (1st on team), 2.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries

Patrick Vahe, G: The offensive line has been full of turnover, but Vahe is the mainstay. He’s bounced back under this new staff. So far: One of only two Longhorns on offense who has started every game

Texas quarterback Shane Buechele (7) slips out of the grasp of Iowa State linebacker Willie Harvey (2) to extend a play during the first half of their game at Jack Trice Stadium on Thursday, September 28. That was Buechele’s last start; freshman Sam Ehlinger has started the last two games. Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

Trending sideways

Cade Brewer, TE: The freshman from Lake Travis burst onto the scene against USC. Can he make more big plays this season? So far: 4 catches for 36 yards and 1 TD, in overtime at USC

Shane Buechele, QB: Reporters haven’t been allowed to speak to him since the Iowa State game. How does he feel about Ehlinger? So far: 2 starts (1-1), 55 of 80 for 557 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs, 68.7 completion percentage

Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, WR: Wildly talented and equally inconsistent. Currently leads the Horns with 29 catches for 303 yards. So far: 29 catches (1st on team) for 303 yards (2nd), averages 50.5 yards per game, also averaging 20.6 yards on six punt returns, with a 91-yard touchdown

Collin Johnson, WR: He’s not being targeted enough, but is he doing enough to get open? Got pushed down the depth chart this week. So far: 27 catches (2nd on team) for 511 yards (1st) and 1 TD, averaging 85.1 yards per game

Derek Kerstetter, RT: The freshman who was supposed to redshirt is holding his own. Is this UT’s starting right tackle of the future? So far: Had his redshirt removed after the third game and is the starting right tackle

Charles Omenihu, DL: Finally having a solid impact after drifting through his first two seasons. Horns need a dynamite pass-rusher. So far: 15 tackles (tied for 9th on the team), 4 tackles for loss (leads team), 3 sacks (leads team), 1 quarterback hurry

Texas wide receiver Armanti Foreman (6) fights for yardage against Iowa State — the last game he’s played in. Foreman has 17 receptions this year, which is still among the team’s leaders, but didn’t get into the game against Kansas State or Oklahoma. Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

Trending down

Kris Boyd, CB: Nobody has more confidence than Boyd. But teams are going to keep picking on him until he makes them stop. So far: 23 tackles (7th on team), 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 6 pass breakups (leads team)

Armanti Foreman, WR: It’s clear this coaching staff doesn’t put up with off-field shenanigans. Either practice hard or you don’t play. So far: 17 catches (3rd on team) for 158 yards and 3 TDs (leads team) — in four games

Jerrod Heard, WR: The wildcat package simply didn’t work. Why was Heard standing near the OU sideline while Ehlinger was on the run? So far: 9 catches for 89 yards and 1 TD, also 13 carries for 54 yards and 2 TDs as a wildcat quarterback

Naashon Hughes, LB: As one of the team’s few fifth-year seniors, Hughes must be more active, especially as a team captain. So far: 29 tackles (6th on team), 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks (3rd), 2 pass breakups

Kyle Porter/Chris Warren III, RBs: Neither running back has distinguished himself. That could cripple this offense down the stretch. So far: Porter — 56 carries (2nd on team) for 161 yards and 3 TDs, with a long run of 14 yards, averaging 2.9 yards per carry and 26.8 yards per game; Warren — 55 carries (3rd) for 274 yards (leads team) and 5 TDs (leads team), averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 45.6 yards per game

Joshua Rowland, K: Herman may not give Rowland many chances going forward. The junior transfer’s got to nail all of them. So far: 5 of 10 on field goals with a long of 49 yards, with 15 touchbacks in 33 kickoffs

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