On Saturday, the Texas Longhorns completed spring practice with the annual Orange-White game.
And though the contest between the Orange and White teams featured a different structure than in years past, the scrimmage still provided an opportunity for several players to stand out with highlight-reel plays.
Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele, who looked like the starter in all but name on Saturday, led the way with 23-of-39 passing for 369 yards and two touchdowns. The only real blemish for Buechele was an interception by redshirt freshman safety Chris Brown.
Among the receivers, sophomore Collin Johnson, Buechele’s close friend, had a monster day with eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, his single-game high in receiving yardage was 68 yards against West Virginia. The two touchdowns matched Johnson’s season-high of two against Texas Tech.
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Based on what Johnson was able to do against single coverage on Saturday, he’ll likely force teams to shade a safety over the top of him or risk consistently giving up big plays to the big wide receiver.
However, the flip side for opponents is that defending Johnson is that committing two defensive backs to covering him would either leave the numbers even in the box or allow one-on-one coverage for the other two wide receivers.
In other words, because Johnson is so big and has such excellent ball skills and because Buechele has such superb touch in the red-zone extended area, defenses are going to be put into difficult situations based simply on Johnson’s beastliness this season.
That is, assuming that Johnson can translate his Orange-White game performance against second-team cornerbacks into success against the best boundary corners that the 2017 schedule has to offer.