Texas Longhorns Football: 2015 Season Preview and Prediction


Charlie Strong enters his second season with the Texas Longhorns looking to improve on a 6-7 season and has questions up and down the roster.

Texas couldn’t throw or run the ball last year on offense and couldn’t stop good offenses from piling on the points when they played the Longhorns, so how much better will Charlie Strong’s team be in his second year in Austin?

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Much of the success or lack thereof for his 2015 team starts at the quarterback position that has more questions than answers heading into fall camp.

Offensive Outlook

Texas has the No. 90 passing attack last year with Tyrone Swoopes under center and he completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,409 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was 5-7 as the starter after taking over for an injured David Ash and never could find a rhythm but could this year in an up-tempo, spread offense that should suit his skills better and allow him to make plays with his feet.

Swoopes is competing with Jerrod Heard for the starting job and both Strong and assistant head coach Shawn Watson were encouraged with Heard’s development this spring. This could be a position battle that carries deep into the regular season.

Senior running back Johnathan Gray was slowed for much of the 2014 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon the year before but looked good in the spring and is down to his last chance to live up to his lofty recruiting ranking. The former five-star recruit has a chance to be the first Texas runner to eclipse 1,000 yards in nearly a decade if he’s healthy. D’Onta Foreman, Duke Catalon, Jay Harper and true freshman Chris Warren back him up.

Guards Sedrick Flowers and Kent Perkins anchor the offensive line featuring Marcus Hutchins and Taylor Doyle but needs to find a right tackle.

Swoopes and Heard won’t have much help at wide receiver and tight end where Marcus Johnson is the team’s leading receiver and he only had 27 catches for 313 yards and one touchdown a year ago. Armanti Foreman flashed some big-play ability as a freshman but has to take a giant leap as a sophomore. Daje Johnson, Dorian Leonard and Lorenzo Joe round out the top targets for the QB’s at receiver while Andrew Beck looks to hold off Blake Whiteley and converted fullback Alex De La Torre at tight end.

Defensive Outlook

Texas had their moments on defense last year where they struggled in losses to BYU, Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU and the win against Iowa State when they allowed 45 points. But they led the Big 12 in pass defense and had the nation’s No. 23 scoring defense that was one of the most aggressive in the country. Strong blitzed often and it resulted in Texas leading the conference with 40 sacks.

Malcom Brown is gone as the leader of the defense but look for Hassan Ridgeway to step into that role after he had six sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss last year. Desmond Jackson, Nasshon Hughes, Poona Ford and Paul Boyette give Strong a strong front four that has some depth and upside.

True freshman Malik Jefferson was a top-10 recruit and the hype is very real with the linebacker who will be a starter from Day 1 and has the chance to be a superstar in due time. But there will be growing pains this year and upperclassmen Dalton Santos and/or Peter Jinkens need to replace Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond’s production and leadership. Redshirt freshman Eddie Freeman is another freshman for Strong to build around.

Texas is extremely thin in the secondary and they can’t afford any injuries in the back end so a repeat of last year’s top Big 12 pass defense is unlikely. Duke Thomas is the top cornerback and a candidate to be an All-Big 12 pick and the same can be said for strong safety Dylan Haines after a four-interception season. Jason Hall is a thumper at free safety but this is a unit that could see some underclassmen carve out roles should there be an injury.


Strong had to change the culture at Texas and the number of players he kicked off the team in his first year at Texas was indicative of the rebuilding effort he inherited from Mack Brown. Texas should be better as a team in his second year and the defense has a nice combination of veteran talent and freshmen with high upside, so they should keep the team in games while the offense gels.

This season hinges on the play of the quarterback and whether Swoopes can breakout or Heard can win the job in fall camp or takes over for an ineffective Swoopes at some point this season. Gray looked like he was on his way to a 1,000-yard season in 2013 but if he can’t regain the form he had before the Achilles injury, the problems for this offense will only be confounded.

Texas is going to be good under Strong and he’ll restore the pride in Austin but I think it’s one more year before they’re back competing for Big 12 championships. For this year an eight-win season is very likely with a chance at a ninth in the bowl game, which is a marked improvement from last year but not quite where Texas wants to or is accustomed to being.

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