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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Four Downs: Why Texas' LBs will be better

By Sean Adams

AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Questions about running backs

Will Texas' transition to a spread attack on offense be unfriendly to the running backs? No. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Johnathan Gray
Johnathan Gray will be the primary ballcarrier for Texas in 2013, but there will be plenty of snaps for other running backs.
Last season, Oregon led the nation in yards per carry (6.0), running an offense out of the spread. The spread is only about creating space and creating advantages for speed athletes.

Texas has a great stable of tailbacks, and there will be plenty of carries to share and be successful with. The spread and tempo will increase the amount of plays per game.

Make no mistake, though, Texas will not be successful in 2013 without running the ball well. The Longhorns have major talent and that talent will showcase and thrive in Major Applewhite’s offense.

Second down: Why the linebackers could be much better in 2013

The linebacker position could be characterized as a weakness for Texas in 2012. But it could be the exact opposite in 2013.

Jordan Hicks, Peter Jinkens, Dalton Santos, Steve Edmond, Tevin Jackson and Kendall Thompson provide an athletic and more experienced group than what hit the field in 2012. The player nobody is talking about is Demarco Cobbs, who was lost to injury last year after starting the majority of the 2012 season.

The Texas linebacker group will not be a liability in 2013. It has to stay healthy, but if it does, the group should be one to make Longhorns fans proud.

Third down: Sophomores, really?

Aaron Garza, Bryce English and Jalen Campbell are very different when it comes to recruiting at Texas. They are all commits for the class of 2015. Yes, they are sophomores in high school.

Texas has never recruited such young prospects so early in the process. And while I have never been one to like the sophomore offers, there are a small number of players in that age group who merit the offers and can truly be projected.

Those young men require strong high school coaching, strong families and a great relationship with the Texas staff. All parties have to ensure the players stay engaged in football after seemingly already accomplishing one of their biggest life goals while not being able to capitalize on it for a couple of years.

The reality of recruiting is that other schools are giving out early offers, and Texas needed to follow suit in order to make sure it didn't become an afterthought to the players in their own backyard.

Fourth down: What about Duke?

Duke Thomas made one play during the spring game which proved to me that he needs to be on offense in the fall. He caught a ball on an in-route in traffic and made a move after the catch. Even though he only got a yard or two, we all saw what was possible.

Maybe I’m cheating because Sheroid Evans looked so good at cornerback that he would assuage the anguish of Thomas vacating a spot on the defense.

Texas needs more playmakers and numbers as much as anything. Texas needs to have seven wide receivers it can play and trust to start the year, with a few more developing over the course of the year. Thomas could be one of those and could end up being a pleasant surprise.

He reminded me of former Longhorn Ramonce Taylor. That is not a bad comparison.