Even two hours before kickoff, the excitement surrounding Texas’ Orange-White Spring Game was palpable.
Fans were teeming on Bevo Boulevard, with a crowd similar to that of what would be seen on a Saturday in the fall. Concerts brought fans together on the LBJ lawn and a circle drill during pregame got them ready for the main attraction.
However, an unusually chilly day in Austin brought in some strong winds that kept most of the on-field product on the ground. Here’s what you can, and cannot, take away from the White team’s 12-6 win over the Team Orange:
Strong showing by the defense
The wind can be thanked in part to slowing down Team Orange’s offense, but the defense overall put in a strong performance. It forced two interceptions from quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger and Casey Thompson and played very well in pass coverage.
“(The defense) had taken a few of these on the chin here lately in the previous few scrimmages,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said. “It was nice to send them into the offseason with a little but of confidence.”
The Longhorns entered the spring thin at the linebacker position, but saw some nice plays made from the position group. Linebackers Joseph Ossai and Jeffrey McCulloch both had key pass breakups on wheel routes in coverage against running backs, showcasing the speed of the defensive unit.
Texas was also missing a lot of the secondary’s primary starters. Even with likes of safety Brandon Jones and Caden Sterns, defensive backs like DeMarvion Overshown and Jalen Green made several plays and laid out hits on ball carriers.
“(Green) doesn’t really talk much but he gets the job done,” defensive end Malcolm Roach said. “He did a great job out there on that island.”
For leaders on the defense like Roach, it’s definitely a pleasant sight to see.
“The defense can run,” Roach said. “They can run to the ball, and they showed me they can have my back all the time. If I go miss a tackle, I know they’re coming to the ball behind me.”
Leaning on Whittington
Running back Jordan Whittington played as advertised in Saturday’s scrimmage, accumulating 89 total yards to his name in his first Spring Game. The Cuero, Texas, product played with a physical style, lowering his head at the end of runs and always looking to make a move with the ball.
“(Whittington) could probably go drive the bus tomorrow, too, if we asked him to,” Herman said. “I’m amazed at how well he took to that (running back) position.”
At times, the Team Orange fed the ball to Whittington on three or four straight plays, showing shades of durability that Texas hasn’t had since D’Onta Foreman last took the field in burnt orange. Both Whittington and running back Keaontay Ingram will lead Texas next year in the backfield, and it is poised to be one of Texas’ best in recent memory.
Whittington was also featured fielding punts, although not returning any, and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. His versatility on the field is something Texas’ staff really likes and hopes to use moving forward.
“He’s explosive,” offensive lineman Zach Shackelford said. “He’s a high-energy guy. I really enjoy playing with him, and he’s just a great kid in the locker room. He’s got a very bright future.”