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Texas Longhorns Depth Chart Analysis: Offense vs Arkansas State

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First day of classes is over, I've had time to cook dinner and relax, and we can get into the depth chart breakdowns with a little more fervor.

PREFACE

We've got to get a few caveats out of the way here. For one thing, as a general rule: Coaches Know Best. There's plenty of room for analysis, questioning, and even second-guessing the decisions that the coaching staff makes - on and off the field. That's one of the things we do here.

However, it's critical we note that our overall confidence in this coaching staff and their decisions is extraordinarily high. We grade Mack Brown and his staff out very, very highly in virtually everything they do. It needs to be said that we're supporters of this regime and mindful that they're making decisions with infinitely more data than we are.

With that said, this is a freaking Texas sports site. We're all here because we care about Texas football, and damnit, we wanna win. We're gonna analyze it to death. Like the coaches, sometimes we'll be wrong.

Onward to the depth chart.

QB

1. Colt McCoy     2. John Chiles

No surprises here. Harris' knee injury precludes his appearance on the depth chart versus Arkansas State, which means the only big question here is how much and in what manner the coaches intend to use #2 John Chiles. We've gone over that many, many times now, so at this point, it's just Wait And See.

RB

1. Jamaal Charles     2. Chris Ogbonnaya   --OR--   Vondrell McGee

No surprises here, either. It'll be interesting to see both how the coaches employ the backup, as well as how each performs early on. I still like Ogbonnaya's chances to be a reliable, Priest Holmes-like weapon in short-yardage and goal-to-go situations. As for McGee, the kid's got a ton of talent, wiggling and banging through space with remarkable ability.

FLANKER (Z)

1. Nate Jones     2. James Kirkendoll   --OR--   Brandon Collins

One of the big surprises (Seriously, how the hell does the Statesman run this blog entry right after the two-deep is released?) from today's depth chart was that the coaches elected to start a fullback instead of three wideouts. That changes the formation from our original projections. If you're not familiar with the I-formation, the "flanker" receiver is the wideout who stands a yard or two back from the line, at the quarterback's flank.

This is a departure from the three wideout shotgun spread look Texas was employing last season with McCoy. Presumably, the pileup of injuries among the receivers led the coaches to this adjustment and, though it's not what Texas fans should want to see, we have to note that this is the depth chart for Arkansas State alone. It's too early - way too early - to start defaming the season's offensive gameplan.

What we do know is that Texas is going to be running a very conservative offense in the opener. We're gonna run the ball straight ahead, and we're gonna run a very basic passing package off the power running game. Health permitting, we can hope that things will open up from there, but at least for week one, things are going to be straight ahead.

Anyway, Sweed is listed below as Quan's backup, but I think the reshuffling really means he's unlikely to play unless Texas finds itself in an improbable scrap with Arkie State. There's not much to worry about for the season opener, but Texas really needs Limas healthy. Injuries killed 2006. Let's hope they don't kill 2007, as well. We're off to a dubious start.

TIGHT END

1. Jermichael Finley     2. Peter Ullman   --OR--   Blaine Irby

Greg Davis' offense over the last few years has consistently worked three deep at the tight end position, so it's not surprising to see Irby listed here. I think in a perfect world, they might try to protect Irby, but as it is, he's gonna be on the field.

RT

1. Adam Ulatosky  2. Kyle Hix

And so it begins. Hix is one of three true freshmen to make the two deep on the offensive line, and though Ulatoski is ready for his role as a full-time starter in the Big 12, the Webb/Watts transfers really rear their heads on this depth chart. Kyle Hix - all 6-7, 320 pounds of him - would normally be a surprise to see here.

RG

1. Chris Hall   --OR--   Cedrick Dockery     2. Michael Huey

Mack Brown said in his press conference that Dockery is incredibly close to being all the way back, but that they don't think he's quite ready to play 60-70 snaps just yet. Given that, the chairs were reshuffled, at least for week one, to allow Dockery to ease his way back into things. Additionally, the coaches can test out Charlie Tanner at left guard and see just how close he is to being a consistent contributor. No harm in finding out against Arkansas State.

C

1. Dallas Griffin   --OR--   Chris Hall     2. Buck Burnette

Dockery and Burnette are both on the cusps of full recoveries from injury, which is why you see this rather creative either>and/or...if-Then depth chart. Not much to say here other than: get. healthy. now. Allofyou.

LG

1. Charlie Tanner     2. Britt Mitchell

It's put-up-or-shut-up time for Charlie Tanner, as the myriad injuries allow him a season opening start. Britt Mitchell, a 6-5, 300 pound redshirt freshman from Kilgore, will back him up. Once everyone gets healthy, this is going to be one fierce competition for playing time on the Texas offensive line. Lot of big, talented bodies.

LT

1. Tony Hills     2. Tray Allen

Tony Hills is your man for '07. Allen is your man for 2008 and beyond. Allen needs to be on the two deep, he needs to play meaningful minutes this year, and he's eventually going to slide in and be one of Texas best tackles during the Mack Brown era once Hills graduates. The depth at tackle isn't exactly ideal for 2007, but my are these young linemen impressive.

SPLIT END (X)

1. Quan Cosby   --OR--  Limas Sweed

I guess this is some sort of nod that Limas is close to being at full strength (at least let's hope so), but I think it's really more an indication that the staff doesn't intend to use him much, if at all. And why bother? Arkansas State won't win the game regardless, and there's no sense in giving Gary Patterson a look at what Texas really wants to do.

In fact, I'll note that if this depth chart is a game of misdirection for TCU, then it's a smart one. If there's one thing Patterson and his Horned Frogs can do, it's frustrate an offensive gameplan. It very well might be that Texas intends to open the 2007 offense up in week two - not week one. I wouldn't complain about that strategy one bit.

FB

1. Luke Tiemann     2. Antwan Cobb

I really find it hard to believe Texas is going to switch to an I-Formation with Colt McCoy all year. Maybe in week one, or against other opponents we can pound to death, but not as an operating philosophy. We just don't have any reasont to believe that's the case. At least not yet. Let's see if Texas can catch a break or two with the injuries.

Up next: the defense.

--PB--