Across the Texas and Horns offenses, new Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's veer-and-shot attack debuted on Saturday in the Orange & White game by getting off over 100 plays and producing 611 yards of offense. Including the four touchdowns scored, the offensive production was enough to excite defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, who had a bold prediction for the season.
"Any time we held them, I was excited about that," Bedford told the Longhorn Network after the game. "I'm so excited about our offense -- our receivers, our running backs -- I think people are going to be shocked when we take the field this season."
Both groups had extremely productive days on Saturday.
Wide receiver John Burt caught two passes for 105 yards, including the 65-yard catch-and-run from early enrollee quarterback Shane Buechele and could have had another on a pass from senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes that hit him in the facemask. He's been proving himself as a legitimate collegiate hurdler this spring and ran past senior cornerback Sheroid Evans twice. Evans may not have the speed that made him a world-class sprinter in high school, but even if he's lost a step, it's still not a small accomplish to run by him like that repeatedly.
Early enrollee wide receiver Collin Johnson didn't have a big day after a buzz-filled spring, but LHN commentator Ahmad Brooks commented that a jump ball in the end zone from Buechele that he dropped was the first he had seen this spring. There's certainly video evidence of Johnson climbing the ladder to make big plays in practice:
"My man, it's like he's been jumping out the gym," Bedford raved of Johnson this spring. "He's been one-handing out there. I thought LeBron was out there catching rocks the other day."
Junior wide receiver Armanti Foreman also had a big day, with four catches for 64 yards and a nice 27-yard touchdown catch from Buechele that required nifty footwork to stay in bounds and break the plane of the goal line. Most importantly, Foreman's hands were reliable in wet conditions, something that was not the case last year in games with dry footballs.
And then there were the running backs. Head coach Charlie Strong said it all about them after the game.
"Let's ride those big ole guys until we can't ride 'em anymore."
Junior D'Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren combined for 174 yards on only 16 carries and scored two touchdowns. Neither was easy to bring down and afterwards sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson could only offer good luck to all the defenders that will have to tackle them next season. Based on what both have done recently in live action, those defenders will probably need all the luck they can muster.
Entering the Orange and White game, Bedford admitted that his own defenders have had plenty of problems tackling the two big backs and compared Warren to a "truck coming at you." Sophomore safety John Bonney got a taste of that on Saturday when Warren stiff-armed him to the ground on his 51-yard touchdown run.
So just call Gilbert's first season as the offensive coordinator at Texas the Shock the World tour. And hope that Bedford's comment rings true by December, for his sake and Strong's sake and the program's sake.