The Texas Longhorns held the first spring scrimmage on Saturday, with the school's video providing some limited insight into what happened other than the knee injury to redshirt freshman cornerback Jermaine Roberts that will require further evaluation.
The clip starts with a long run from sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman, who really only flashed twice in limited action as a freshman before breaking his wrist late in the year. The zone read fake from junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes apparently influenced a linebacker, with the offensive line taking care of the other because Foreman gets through to the safety level, past sophomore Jason Hall and through a whiffed tackle attempt by junior cornerback Bryson Echols.
In the zero-sum game of spring, the defense is probably the bigger disappointment here with the disappearing linebackers, poor angle by Hall, and poor effort by Echols, but the play does provide some visual evidence of the seams Strong said that quarterbacks and running backs have been finding more often as a result of the higher tempo. And seeing some of the explosiveness that Foreman showed as a senior in high school translate to the college level bodes well for his ability to contribute this year, potentially as the No. 2 running back behind senior Johnathan Gray.
The second clip shows redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard throwing an interception to leaping junior defensive end Quincy Vasser on an attempted screen pass that looks like it featured a missed block by sophomore left tackle Tristan Nickelson. Vasser is the early enrollee from Navarro College who was limited at the start of spring, but is now competing for the strong-side defensive end position vacated by Cedric Reed.
Unsurprisingly, there's also a clip of Hall making a big hit on Foreman down the sideline, the trademark ability for the surprising breakout contributor from the 2014 class.
Texas also runs a quarterback draw for Heard in which the young passer flashes the acceleration through the hole that intrigues Texas fans so much. But once again, there's a huge seam in the defense with no linebackers visible in the play, allowing Heard to pick up significant yardage without encountering any opposition at all.
The next play doesn't reveal the quarterback who threw an interception down the seam on a pass intended for sophomore tight end Blake Whiteley. More than looking like a terrible throw, it was mostly just a nice play by junior safety Adrian Colbert, who is trying to earn snaps after getting beat out last year by two younger players in Hall and former walk on Dylan Haines.
It's difficult to spot the quarterback on the next play, too, but it's probably Heard or one of the walk ons because it features redshirt freshman wide receiver Ty Templin getting open on a route down the sideline for a touchdown against a walk-on cornerback. Templin drew some attention by making a dent on the depth chart last fall and caught a seven-yard pass against Kansas.
The final play looks like a touchdown pass from Swoopes to junior wide receiver Jacorey Warrick on a corner route. It's hard to tell if Warrick comes down with the pass because the officials both block the play and don't provide a signal, but there was enough cheering on from one sideline that it was either a catch or a nice recovery from redshirt freshman nickel back John Bonney.
Warrick drew praise from head coach Charlie Strong last week as one of the team's most consistent players. In danger of getting buried behind speedy sophomore Armanti Foreman, Warrick has instead taken advantage of Foreman's spring dings to emerge not only as a potential starter, but a potential legitimate contributor in the passing game.
As for Bonney, he's the likely starter in the nickel unless one of the 2015 signees can pass him during the summer, but the concern with him is less with his change-of-direction ability (4.10 shuttle time), but rather his lack of make-up speed (4.62 40-yard dash). When he loses a step on guys like Warrick in the slot, it's difficult for him to close on a well-thrown ball since he simply doesn't have the speed to recover.
Final takeaway -- it's certainly a limited sample size, but judging from the complete absence of linebackers from any of these clips, the position could be struggling a little bit after losing two starters and then senior Dalton Santos to the Friday injury that sparked several teammates to publicly pray for his recovery.