AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns put on shoulder pads for the first time in the 2019 training camp after two straight practices in just a helmet.
The strength of this year’s team figures to be the offense, which makes sense with guys like Sam Ehlinger, Collin Johnson and Zach Shackelford, with several returners creating a strong core.
The big question, though, is on a defense that lost eight starters. Texas coach Tom Herman insists that while there aren’t a lot starters coming back there’s plenty of talent and experience— and speed.
“I think we’re gonna be a special group just cause the way we can run. We can run very well at all positions. Just seeing us out there, there’s a few things we’ve got to work on, but just the way we picked up everything so fast, it’s not a lot of busts going on out there. We’re acting like a mature group already, so I think it’ll be a special group,” Longhorns defensive end Malcolm Roach said.
“I would say just day three already, just the toughness, the physicality, even though we’re not in pads, just showing how we’re running around together as a team, flying around. I’m not sure what the new guys are made of and what they’re gonna bring to the table once we get to full pads, but just the tempo, just the energy, the juice, everything that goes into it with the team, and the defense as a whole,” Longhorns safety Brandon Jones said.
While there are clearly more questions on defense than offense there are still things to improve on that side of the ball from last year.
Texas loses running back Tre Watson in the backfield, so sophomore Keaontay Ingram becomes the main back with true freshman Jordan Whittington sliding in as the number two back. Those two will have take more of the load to help protect Ehlinger.
They’ll also change some of the play calling to help with that, too.
In terms of the defense, another focus is the secondary.
“We’ve got to find two starting corners that are trustworthy. We’ve got to find a way to get the best 11 guys on defense out there in different personnel packages. We’ve got to make a greater emphasis on running the football with our tailbacks. We’ve kind of beefed up our Run-Pass Option game, so instead of run-run options, it’s a run-pass option,” Herman said.