Both defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Tim Beck met with the media Wednesday to preview the Longhorns’ season opener against Louisiana Tech.
Here are three takeaways:
1. Roschon Johnson “having fun” at RB
Senior center Zach Shackelford said third-team quarterback Roschon Johnson stood up in front of the team after he got his red stripe removed from his helmet, which is used to reward newcomers for their hard work. What he said caught his teammates’ attention.
“He was like ‘I’ll do anything for you guys. I’ll play any position, just put me on the field. I want to play, I want to help,’” Shackelford said.
“He’s (Johnson) an incredible athlete, it’s very selfless right now, what he’s doing,” Beck said. “Obviously it’s well-documented, we had a couple of guys get dinged up, and had to miss a day or two of practice. He said, ‘Coach, I’ll go there.’”
The coaches listened to Johnson’s request, and according to Beck, he is already doing enough to turn heads.
“We put him back there one day and all of a sudden he made some guys miss, he’s running 21 miles an hour and we’re like, ‘He looks pretty good,’” Beck said. “He was having fun. I think he realized where he fit in the quarterback room. He said, ‘Coach, I’ll do whatever I need to do.’ But our future plans for him obviously are still at quarterback.”
Beck later added that there will not be a rep count for Keaontay Ingram or Jordan Whittington on Saturday despite the lack of depth at running back.
2. Ehlinger’s emotion, passion welcomed by Beck
Tim Beck said his message to Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger is simple: be you.
Ehlinger’s sense of comfortability grew after another year in Texas’ system. This was most evident during last year’s game against West Virginia when cameras caught Ehlinger dancing on the field as both teams waited to resume play after an official review. Moments later, he found the end zone from one yard out.
What seemed like a small detail at the time spoke volumes to Ehlinger’s comfort in this system, and it’s something the rest of the team feeds off of. From the Red River Rivalry to the Sugar Bowl, Ehlinger doesn’t tend to hide his emotion or passion on the field, and his team doesn’t want or expect him to.
“He plays with passion, he plays confident, and that shows,” Beck said. “That’s just his demeanor, and I like it. When he doesn’t play like that, I know something is wrong.”
3. Orlando: If you’re not a dog you’re not going to be on the field
For what the defense lacks in experience, they appear to make up for in physicality.
A month full of physical practices throughout preseason camp has allowed Orlando to pick out exactly who he wants his 11 starters to be this Saturday.
“You know how we practice around here, and we embrace that,” Orlando said. “You earn the right to go on the field. You’ve got to prove your physicality. Effort is non negotiable, if you’re not going to be a dog, you’re not going to be on the field. The physicality is the last notch.”
Texas released its depth chart Monday afternoon. Most notably, sophomores Jalen Green and Kobe Boyce were labeled as starters at cornerback. Senior safety Brandon Jones and sophomore Caden Sterns will lead the secondary while senior Malcolm Roach leads the defensive line and senior Jeffrey McCulloch leads the way in the linebackers room.
According to Orlando, the 11 guys who start on defense not only proved themselves this summer, but they can also gauge who is ready to see playing time.
“You’re being judged not only by the coaching staff, but to me personally the locker room doesn’t lie,” Orlando said. “If they know you’re not going to hit people and you’re not going to do that part — that’s to protect the culture around here, and you’re not going to play. If they’re out on that field, they’ve already proved that.”