Adrian Colbert

Longhorn defensive end Cedric Reed has struggled to live up to expectations this season. He’ll have to be better in order for Texas to knock off the Wildcats on the road this weekend.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Safeties

Safety Jason Hall may only be a freshman, but his presence was sorely missed against Iowa State. The patchwork rotation of sophomore Adrian Colbert and senior Josh Turner struggled against the Cyclones.

Hall is listed as day-to-day, so even if he does play against Kansas State, it’s unlikely that he’ll be at 100 percent. The Longhorns will need better production from Colbert and Turner if Hall is out or not at full strength. On the opposite side, senior safety Mykkele Thompson had issues against Iowa State, too.

The Longhorns will have a challenge in defending Tyler Lockett, Kansas State’s deep threat, so they can’t afford to have troubling safety play to plague an otherwise solid secondary. Colbert, Hall, Thompson and Turner must step up in order for Texas to upset the Wildcats.

Linebacker Dalton Santos

Junior linebacker Dalton Santos started at middle linebacker in place of senior Steve Edmond against Iowa State. Dalton appeared a step slower than the Cyclones, and Edmond was forced into action as a result. 

If Edmond isn’t 100 percent Saturday, Santos will need to be ready to go against the Wildcats. He’ll need to step up and perform better than he did against the Cyclones if he is forced into the middle linebacker role against Kansas State.

Defensive end Cedric Reed

Senior defensive end Cedric Reed hasn’t had the season he was expected to have. While Reed’s presence on the field is noticeable, his season statistics show that his productivity hasn’t been great. This season, Reed only has 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. The Longhorns need more from Reed as they look to knock off the Wildcats on Saturday.

Running backs

While the offensive line has hampered the Longhorn running game this season, senior running back Malcolm Brown, junior running back Johnathan Gray and sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes have finally started to see success running the ball.

Swoopes ran for 95 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State. Brown and Gray added an additional 86 yards and three scores on the ground against the Cyclones.

Now that Swoopes is having success running the ball, defenses are more likely to respect him in the run game, which will open things up for the backs. If the Wildcats contain Swoopes, the running backs will need to step up in his place.

Taylor Doyle

Prior to the Red River Showdown, redshirt junior Taylor Doyle had made three starts at guard this season. But last Saturday, Doyle lined up at center against Oklahoma for the first time in his collegiate career.

Doyle made a couple of errors but played well given the hostile environment. It was especially impressive as Doyle didn’t play center in high school and didn’t start to snap the ball for Texas until the new coaching staff arrived.

“[Doyle] did a really nice job,” said Shawn Watson, quarterbacks coach and play caller. “He was a hard spot for us that we needed, especially against the nose guard that we were playing. I thought he battled and held his own and did a really nice job for us. Center is like quarterback; it’s a hard transition because now you’re captain for the entire offense — the entire offensive line’s blocking patterns.”

After a solid performance against the Sooners, it will be Doyle’s responsibility to continue to play at a high level. The offensive line has been a liability for Texas this season, and Doyle could be the answer at center. He needs to step up and prove he can anchor the offensive line.

Marcus Hutchins

Hutchins, a redshirt junior, had a rough day at the Cotton Bowl against the Sooners. Oklahoma threw all sorts of looks at the left tackle from DeSoto, Texas. Whether it was linebacker blitz or defensive line stunt, Hutchins struggled to protect sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.

The Longhorn offensive line has continued to improve throughout the season, but Hutchins appeared to regress against Oklahoma. He needs to needs to step up at the tackle position and protect Swoopes.

Adrian Colbert

Redshirt sophomore safety Adrian Colbert made some costly mistakes on special teams against Oklahoma. His first mistake was failing to contain his gap after slipping on a kickoff return, which resulted in a touchdown. Colbert followed up that mistake by running into Oklahoma’s punt returner before he was able to field the ball, costing Texas penalty yards that resulted in the defense yielding a field goal.

Head coach Charlie Strong said Colbert and the special teams can’t afford to take plays off.

“You don’t take a play off with special teams,” Strong said. “You have offense, you have defense and you have special teams, and that’s not the time to take a play off.”  

Colbert’s mistakes were big and cost the Longhorns 10 points. He needs to step up on special teams and help prevent the big play. 

Junior quarterback David Ash prepares to pass during Texas’ Orange-White Scrimmage on Saturday. He went 17-for-25 with 162 yards, two touchdowns -- one to senior Mike Davis and the other to sophomore Kendall Sanders -- and two interceptions. 

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

There has been a lot of movement among coaches and personnel for Texas this offseason, and the Longhorns’ starting quarterback David Ash has also undergone a transformation of his own, according to teammates and coaches.

“He has loosened up a lot,” receiver Mike Davis said after the annual Orange-White Scrimmage held Saturday night. “He’s got some swag now. And he’s been dancing more, too.”

Ash led the first team offense to a field goal on its opening drive before connecting with Davis on a 38-yard touchdown pass on the second drive of the first quarter. 

“His confidence definitely rubs off on us when we see how he has changed,” running back Malcolm Brown said. “It’s a little more fun out there now.”

The junior quarterback didn’t bust out any of his dance moves but did finish the game 17-for-24, passing for 162 yards and two touchdowns. 

“He got us into a lot of good plays and made a bunch of checks at the line of scrimmage that most people won’t see,” said Major Applewhite, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Ash did throw two interceptions in the second quarter, one on a failed shovel pass that was snatched up by linebacker Jordan Hicks. The second came just before the half when receiver Bryant Jackson was unable to haul in a pass over the middle of the field from Ash and freshman defensive back Adrian Colbert snagged the tipped ball.

“I just have to be more aware in those types of situations and eat the ball,” Ash said. “When you give the ball away you can’t score.”

Ash had a new receiver to throw to during the scrimmage as sophomore defensive back turned kick returner turned wide receiver Orlando “Duke” Thomas lined up with the offense and caught three passes for 27 yards. Thomas also returned two kickoffs for a total of 65 yards, all while playing cornerback on the defensive side of the ball.

“Duke is a great competitor and a guy we all want to utilize in the best possible way,” Applewhite said. “He’s a gym rat and he reminds us a lot of Quandre Diggs. He does a lot of things right and picks up things quickly, too.”

Defensively, Texas ran only four different looks and rotated a lot of new players while players like Jackson Jeffcoat and Demarco Cobbs continue to rehabilitate from injuries. 

“We want the guys to be playing fast, tough and physical at this point in the spring,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “I think they did that tonight. It’s a lot like learning how to dance, you start slow and as the music speeds up it gets tougher but you get used to it.”

The Texas defense forced three total turnovers with backup quarterback Case McCoy also throwing an interception on a deep ball intended for receiver John Harris. The pass was intercepted by Sheroid Evans, who ran the ball back 60 yards to the 2-yard line. 

Johnathan Gray would punch the ball into the end zone from the two for his only touchdown on the night. Gray finished with six carries for a game-high 45 yards. Harris led all receivers with 73 receiving yards, but Davis was the most productive, nabbing four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

“I think the offense managed really well,” head coach Mack Brown said. “It will get faster and more efficient. The guys will have to be in the best shape they have ever been in order to play in this new style.”

Texas defense forces three turnovers, Ash tosses two touchdown passes in Spring game

Jay-Z may have invented swag, but this spring David Ash has apparently picked up where the Brooklyn rapper left off and is cultivating his own swag-filled persona on and off the football field.

“He has loosened up a lot,” receiver Mike Davis said after the annual Orange-White game held Saturday night. “He’s got some swag now. And he’s been dancing more, too.”

Ash led the first team offense to a field goal on its opening drive before connecting with Davis on a 38-yard touchdown pass on the second drive of the first quarter. The junior quarterback finished the game 17-of-24 passing for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Ash did throw two interceptions in the second quarter, one on a failed shovel pass that was snatched up by linebacker Jordan Hicks. The second pick came just before the half when receiver Bryant Jackson was unable to haul in a pass over the middle of the field from Ash and freshman defensive back Adrian Colbert snagged the tipped ball.

“I just have to be more aware in those types of situations and eat the ball,” Ash said. “When you give the ball away you can’t score.”

Ash had a new receiver to throw to during the scrimmage as sophomore defensive back turned kick returner turned wide receiver Orlando “Duke” Thomas lined up with the offense and caught three passes for 27 yards. Thomas also returned two kickoffs for a total of 65 yards, all while playing cornerback on the defensive side of the ball.

“Duke is a great competitor and a guy we all want to utilize in the best possible way,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite said. “He’s a gym rat and he reminds us a lot of Quandre Diggs. He does a lot of things right and picks up things quickly, too.”

There were more new faces for Texas on offense as freshman quarterbacks Tyrone Swoopes and Jalen Overstreet were unveiled in the second half. Swoopes, who is expected to redshirt, is still third in line behind Case McCoy in backing up Ash but is quickly moving up in the ranks. Swoopes ran four times for 26 yards and also completed both of his attempted passes while being flushed out of the pocket. Both Overstreet and Swoopes had runs of over 20 yards.

Defensively, Texas ran only four different looks and rotated a lot of new players while players like Jackson Jeffcoat and Demarco Cobbs continue to rehabilitate from injuries. Freshman Caleb Blueitt was able to get into the backfield on more than one occasion to disrupt the offense, but had to pull up short on his would-be sacks ofthe Texas quarterbacks.

The Texas defense forced three total turnovers with McCoy also throwing an interception on a deep ball intended for receiver John Harris. The pass was intercepted by Sheroid Evans who ran the ball back 60 yards to the two-yard line.

Johnathan Gray would punch the ball from the two for his only touchdown on the night. Gray finished with six carries for a game-high 45 yards. Harris led all receivers with 73 receiving yards, but Davis was the most productive, nabbing four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

“I think the offense managed really well,” head coach Mack Brown said. “It will get faster and more efficient.”