Burning Questions for Texas' Spring Game
Charlie Strong is taking over a strong and prestigious program, but with those advantages comes high expectations. Strong brings a new staff in that’s hungry to succeed right away.
This team has plenty of talent, but the hard part will be instilling a new attitude into the players. There will just need to be some “tweaking” to how these Texas players approach the game.
"It was like somebody gave you the keys to the car," Strong said, according to USA Today. "Where you're gonna do a little work on it – but you don't have to do a lot of work."
Let’s take a look at what Strong needs to fix going into the annual spring game:
1. Who Will Be the Starting Quarterback?
David Ash is out for the remainder of spring practice and it seems as though the race for the starting spot is stagnant. There are plenty of likely candidates who won’t even participate in the spring game, like former USC quarterback Max Wittek who (might) be coming to Texas this summer, along with the highly-recruited quarterback Jerrod Heard. It seems that Ash will be thrown right back into the mix this summer as well.
But for now, Tyrone Swoopes has a chance to establish himself as the team leader. Confidence seems to be the key for Swoopes, and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to being the starter — for now.
“I told Tyrone the key thing for you is it’s all about confidence and it’s all about you just doing everything we ask you to do and play within yourself,” Strong said, according to ESPN.com. “Now that you are the quarterback, just take the field and know this: This is your team and it’s up to you to go lead.”
2. Who Will Fill the Holes Along the Offensive Line?
Texas lost three All-Big 12 offensive linemen in Trey Hopkins (LG), Donald Hawkins (LT) and Mason Walters (RG). The only returning starter is Dominic Espinosa at the center position.
"We need everyone to have a productive spring," Espinosa said to Taylor Gaspar of Bleacher Report. "We need that depth all across the board because we don't have the experience right now, so we need as many positive reps as possible from all of the guys."
If the coaches can simply put the right players in the right positions, the offensive line should be fine — there is plenty of talent available.
3. Will Steve Edmond Be the Answer at Linebacker?
Everyone told Strong to wait until the team put on the pads to judge Edmond— he wasn’t making the cut during winter conditioning. But now, Strong loves the way Edmond plays and tries to make every tackle.
Edmond hasn’t missed a beat after having his liver lacerated, which ended his 2013 season. He seems to be the key to the defense at middle linebacker, so we’ll see if he can keep this high level of play up throughout 2014.
4. Who Will Replace Anthony Fera as Kicker?
Well Texas has two guys who could potentially fill the role. Nick Rose has the strong leg and also holds the kickoff duties. Nick Jordan is considered to be more accurate than Rose and also has some experience. Jordan hit nine field goals and 31 extra points his freshman year.
5. Can Malcom Brown and Cedric Reed Wreak Havoc on the Defensive Line?
Brown needs to be a force in the middle, as he is by far the most talented defensive tackle the Longhorns have on the roster. Regardless of whether the defense is in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, he’ll be called upon to make a difference. The junior defensive tackle could possibly be an All-Big 12 player under Strong.
Reed is highlighting the defensive end spot for Texas. Strong has continually praised his abilities throughout spring and needs to continue to produce for the defensive line. Reed knows how important the defensive end spot will be this season and he’s excited about who will line up opposite of himself this fall.
"The other side of the defensive end will be great," Reed said. "I don't know who the guy will be, but Shiro (Davis) has stepped up a lot. Bryce (Cottrell) is our speed guy and has put on some weight. (Caleb) Bluiett played some last year and is good. All of those guys can help out. All we know is our defensive ends have to produce."