Bohls: In my 2021 crystal bohl, I see Texas riding Robinson, stellar defense to 9-3 season
- Bijan Robinson will be the featured point of a Texas team and become an All-American.
- Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown will star and become an All-American.
- Texas will go 9-3 and face North Carolina in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Steve Sarkisian’s been on the job less than eight months, so there’s a severe shortage of information on exactly what we know about his first incarnation of Texas football.
Over that span since he took the job in January, we’ve learned he likes his grandma’s sugar cookies, he’s an admitted college football junkie who loves the bands and packed stadiums and all the vibrant pageantry, he's installing Alabama 2.0 in Austin, and he isn’t daunted in the least by the challenge of restoring Texas to the ranks of the elite.
Everything else is largely a blank slate, which makes our annual predictions even more dicey than usual.
We think Texas has a window of eight to 10 wins, in all likelihood. With a redshirt freshman quarterback who’s thrown only three college passes and new receivers and offensive linemen, we expect the Longhorns to win a game they shouldn’t but also lose one they shouldn’t. We look for the team to be better organized, to play with a greater sense of urgency and to build the foundation for a long, successful run. We look for some unconventional play calls from a coach hailed by many as a preeminent offensive genius.
Texas tried the hot-shot coach in Charlie Strong, but he had rotten luck at quarterback and with the refs and suffered fourth-quarter collapses and could never get over the hump. Texas turned to a natural choice and a so-called no-brainer in Houston’s Tom Herman, a one-time Longhorns graduate assistant, but his two-year apprenticeship as a head coach was too little for this steep task.
Over seven years, both coaches beat Oklahoma once, but neither won a conference title. Both had their problems beating ranked teams — Strong’s ledger was 5-10 and Herman a barely respectable 9-9. Both had highlights, such as Strong’s overtime home win over Notre Dame and upset of No. 8 Baylor and Herman’s four bowl wins, including the Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia. But they also had critical losses to Kansas and Maryland and TCU.
Now comes Sark — solid, intense, driven, serious — with the expectation that he’ll win and win big as Texas lays the groundwork for a move to the shark-infested SEC. I think he will.
In light of that pressure, here are my predictions for 2021:
Bijan Robinson, it’s your world. And no one’s legs are fresher in college football than his.
(1) Says here the sophomore with the wiggle and the wallop will wow his way to 1,627 yards — sixth most in school history — and a school-record 12 touchdowns and finish in the top 10 of the Heisman balloting. (2) He’ll top the century mark in 10 games and twice exceed 200 in a game. (3) He’ll have three runs longer than 50 yards. (4) And, yes, he’ll even throw a couple of passes.
(5) Roschon Johnson will be more than capable as the No. 2 back and gain 643 yards and score six times. (6) Freshman Jonathan Brooks will see some playing time, look impressive and run for 238 yards and two touchdowns. (7) Keilan Robinson will add another 223 and two scores.
(8) Quarterback Hudson Card will start every game and finish the regular season with 2,198 yards passing, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. (9) Casey Thompson, seeing Card’s future on top of Malik Murphy’s arrival in 2022, will mostly see mop-up duty and throw just 32 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and will transfer no later than midterm.
(10) Joshua Moore won’t catch a touchdown pass on the first play of the season but will in the first half against Louisiana. (11) The willowy sophomore will lead all receivers again and catch 52 balls for 784 yards and seven scores, including at least one game-winner. (12) He’ll have three 100-yard games.
(13) Guess who stays healthy? Slot receiver Jordan Whittington will miss a game with some injury but will have a solid season, catching 44 passes for 531 yards and five scores.
(14) Freshman Xavier Worthy will be named the Big 12's offensive newcomer of the year after hauling in 34 passes for 458 yards and six touchdowns. (15) Wideout Troy Omeire will flash but battle injuries all season.
In what promises to be a two-tight end offense for a third of the time, senior Cade Brewer will produce, and beefed-up, 6-foot-7 sophomore Jared Wiley will be the most improved player on the roster. (16) They’ll combine for 40 receptions, 518 yards and four scores.
(17) The offensive line will be markedly better under new coach Kyle Flood and allow just 21 sacks.
The defensive front is where it will happen. Texas has the best line in the Big 12 and the most depth in the league.
(18) Picking the sacks leader is problematic because Bo Davis might use a dozen players on the line, but we’ll go with Jacoby Jones with eight sacks just ahead of edge rusher Alfred Collins’ seven. (19) Don’t overlook Moro Ojomo and Ovie Oghoufo, who will combine for six sacks.
(19) The surprise of the year will be linebacker Luke Brockermeyer, who has come on strong in summer camp but will share meaningful snaps with David Gbenda.
Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown will be spectacular. (20) He’ll lead the team with 114 tackles; will come up with three sacks, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries; and will be the emotional leader of the defense, along with nose tackle Keondre Coburn.
(21) In the secondary, cornerback Josh Thompson will separate himself as the best defensive back, but D’Shawn Jamison will become much more consistent as the backfield no longer gets regularly burned by the deep ball or pass interference calls. (22) Anthony Cook and Chris Adimora will have strong years, and B.J. Foster will have the biggest hits of the year, followed closely by Overshown and Cook. (23) Safety Brenden Schooler will have a team-high five interceptions and be the star of Longhorn special teams.
(24) Jamison also will star in the return game with three touchdowns off kickoff and punt returns, including a 98-yarder.
(25) Cameron Dicker the Winker will wear down after handling field goals, kickoffs and punts and eventually give way to Ryan Bujcevski on punts. (26) Dicker will make three field goals from beyond 50 yards and add a game-winning kick to give him three in his career.
(27) Robinson will be the team’s lone consensus All-American, but Overshown will make at least one All-American team.
(28) Making All-Big 12 will be those two, Collins, offensive tackle Derek Kerstetter, center Jake Majors, Coburn, Thompson, Dicker and Jamison.
(29) At least 20 true freshmen will see action, taking advantage of the four-game redshirt rule. Worthy will undoubtedly have the biggest impact, followed by offensive tackle Hayden Connor, defensive lineman Byron Murphy and tight end Gunnar Helm.
Sarkisian faces a schedule ranked the 11th-toughest in college football by Phil Steele. It’s much more difficult than meets the eye because teams such as Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State will be much better.
(30) The Longhorns will not play in the Alamo Bowl, fingers crossed. Underline that one.
(31) Texas will edge Louisiana 27-24 in a thriller Saturday, lose a heartbreaker to Arkansas, lead Oklahoma at the half before losing, fall to Iowa State, beat TCU and finish 9-3 in third place in the Big 12. (32) The Longhorns will play Mack Brown and North Carolina in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Sark will not use a binder; "The Eyes of Texas" will be a song and not a cause; Foster won’t quit during a game; Robinson will get a name, image and likeness deal with a local dentist for his killer smile; at least one starter will land in the transfer portal before Christmas; and Texas will finish in the top 20 and then sign a national top-10 recruiting class.
We’ll see you in December for the bloody results.