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Texas Longhorns

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Texas got its guy and now that has to show up in the wins department. After the Longhorns struggled through three years of Charlie Strong, totaling 16 wins, it’s time for Tom Herman – former Ohio State offensive coordinator and Houston head coach for two years – to show his stuff. The pieces are there and that starts on the offensive side after scoring 31.9 points per game a year ago.

At the head of the offense is quarterback Shane Buechele, who showed plenty in his freshman season with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Still, the main man in that offense was D’Onta Foreman (2,028 yards, 15 TDs), who is now in the NFL. Chris Warren (366 yards) is expected to take the lead role with Kyle Porter also looking for more work. Buechele has most of his targets back from Armanta Foreman (420 yards) and Devin Duvernay (412 yards) to spring standout Collin Johnson (315 yards). The offensive line may be the biggest question with only one senior expected to start. But if this line can protect Buechele as well as it can open holes in the running game, the offense will be plenty dynamic under Herman.

But no matter what happens with the offense, the defense has to come around at some point, something that never happened under Strong. Todd Orlando comes with Herman to lead the group and has 10 returning starters to work with. If the defense doesn’t improve, it would be a major disappointment. It’s important to note the group looked better in the second half of the 2016 season after giving up at least 45 points in four of their first five games. There’s no doubt about experience, but who will step up? Poona Ford is expected to make a leap at tackle with Anthony Wheeler and Malik Jefferson difference makers at linebacker. It’s the same situation in the secondary with experience and talent at cornerback with Kris Boyd and Holton Hill.

Maybe the Longhorns won’t go undefeated, but at a minimum, a bowl game is a good bet for this squad. The Longhorns will likely fall to USC in non-conference play, but have a good chance to get out to a 2-0 record in the Big 12 before the Red River showdown in mid-October. The problem is that they have to host OK State the next weekend, a team that’s expected to contend for the conference title again. It doesn’t get any easier with three of their next four on the road with Baylor, TCU and West Virginia late in the year.

Six wins will be waiting for Texas, but if Buechele doesn’t take a step at quarterback and the defense doesn’t find consistency, it’ll be hard to win some of the conference road games. This team has the tools to compete with everyone in the Big 12 and even country, but it’s about putting that together. Oddsmakers didn’t have an easy time setting an over/under, but 5Dimes Sportsbook opened Texas’s win total at 7.5. Does Herman have the answers for the Longhorns?


2017 Texas Longhorns Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Maryland
Sept. 9 vs. San Jose State
Sept. 16 at USC
Sept. 28 at Iowa State

Oct. 7 vs. Kansas State
Oct. 14 vs. Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl Stadium)
Oct. 21 vs. Oklahoma State

Oct. 28 at Baylor
Nov. 4 at TCU
Nov. 11 vs. Kansas
Nov. 18 at West Virginia
Nov. 24 vs. Texas Tech

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