On Saturday, the first preseason scrimmage for the Texas Longhorns under new head coach Steve Sarkisian featured a strong performance by the defense overall as both quarterbacks struggled, in part because the wide receivers struggled as well.
Monday marked the release of some footage from the scrimmage. Here are some takeaways.
Scrimmage 1 pic.twitter.com/AxpdiRyJcV— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) August 16, 2021
— Alabama graduate transfer edge Ben Davis participated in the scrimmage after he was limited entering preseason camp thanks to an offseason injury. The former consensus five-star prospect only had one sack during his five seasons with the Crimson Tide, but he did flash on video with a pressure of Casey Thompson likely whistled a sack with Thompson not eligible for contact. If Davis can provide anything more than leadership by setting an example for what championship-level work looks like, it will be a bonus.
— Despite a subpar performance, Thompson was able to find junior tight end Jared Wiley over the middle under pressure for a nice gain. Thompson might have an advantage over redshirt freshman Hudson Card in making off-schedule plays.
— Tackling sophomore running back Bijan Robinson remains difficult, with McNeese State graduate transfer cornerback Darion Dunn failing to set the edge against Robinson on a touchdown run. Robinson is so good in space that squaring him up is a massive challenge. And with Robinson’s contact balance and stiff arm, any attempt to bring him down below the waist is likely doomed to failure.
— Junior nose tackle T’Vondre Sweat had a sack of Card. After missing the spring due to shoulder surgery, Sweat is part of a deep rotation along the defensive line that should be able to give full effort on every play thanks to its depth. During a media availability on Monday, junior defensive tackle Moro Ojomo said there’s no drop off between the starters and the backups along the line and Sweat’s sack represents an insight into why that statement is so believable.
— An unidentifiable defensive back had an impressive tackle of senior tight end Cade Brewer in the red zone.
— Junior nickel Chris Adimora had a pass break up on a throw intended for freshman wide receiver Xavier Worthy. A few notable things about that play — Worthy was working with the first-team offense (hardly surprising given the buzz he’s created both before and during preseason camp) and the ball was thrown behind Worthy (an indication into how the quarterback’s struggled). Adimora is also getting some push from senior Anthony Cook at the nickel position, either an indictment of Adimora’s development or a sign that Cook is finally finding a position at which he can contribute at a starting-caliber level. We’re guessing the latter after Cook received public praise from Sarkisian following the scrimmage.
— Former walk-on linebacker Luke Brockermeyer had an interception of Thompson when he jumped a route by freshman tight end Gunnar Helm. Brockermeyer is in contention to start next to DeMarvion Overshown at inside linebacker after breaking out during the spring and continuing that momentum into preseason camp. A former Rice commit who also had an offer from Oregon State, Brockermeyer puts himself in position to succeed because he has good instincts and then trusts them by turning it loose on the field, according to Sarkisian.
— Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Whittington flashed his tackle-breaking ability on a screen pass, making freshman linebacker Morice Blackwell miss in space and then running through Adimora and another unidentifiable player. Junior wide receiver Marcus Washington had a nice block on sophomore cornerback Kitan Crawford to spring Whittington.
— Card took another sack in the highlights, apparently by LSU graduate transfer edge Ray Thornton, but Card was under heavy pressure from multiple players.
— On a more positive play, Card completed a pass to Brewer near the sideline while moving to his left. Although the clip was largely removed from its context, like whether Card was avoiding pressure, it was one of those moments where Card’s athleticism really flashed.
— Thompson threw a touchdown pass to senior running back Daniel Younger in the red zone under pressure from Thornton.
— Walk-on cornerback Michael Taaffe, a former Austin Westlake standout, intercepted a pass intended for freshman wide receiver Casey Cain. Taaffe has the profile of a player who could eventually earn some playing time on special teams.
— Junior running back Roschon Johnson showed off his power running through a tackle against the first-team defense and looked poised to juke senior cornerback D’Shawn Jamison in the open field as the clip ended. Having a quality backup like Johnson who is also an excellent leader is a luxury. Johnson then appeared to score a touchdown in short yardage with excellent ball security.
— Freshman running back Johnathon Brooks broke a tackle attempt by sophomore linebacker David Gbenda and another defender to get into the open field against the first-team defense.
— Couldn’t tell who had the block, but redshirt freshman edge Prince Dorbah got wiped out on a running play that Bijan Robinson bounced outside. It might have been freshman Hayden Conner, who looks like a potential early contributor and a guy who can play tackle after he was largely pegged as an interior prospect since his commitment in 2019.
— Thompson had a touchdown run against what looked like the third-team defense.
— Former walk-on Jett Bush had a sack of Card, as well. Notably, Bush has lost some weight and is listed as a linebacker instead of at the edge position he played last season. Given the lack of production by Bush at defensive end last season, a move back to his more natural position at inside linebacker could help Texas, though Bush’s ideal upside remains as a special teams contributor.
— Robinson had another touchdown when he made senior safety Brenden Schooler look silly in the open field and beat Cook to the end zone.