Offensive notebook: Longhorns aim to reverse course in Herman era

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas has an abundance of talent at wide receiver, sporting more than five receivers who will battle for playing time. But outside of the wideouts, there’s a striking lack of depth on the Longhorn offense. 

Health is a premium, especially with this year’s squad. Senior tight end Andrew Beck suffered a season-ending injury last week, leaving the Longhorns with two freshmen and a graduate transfer at the position. As for the backfield, two Texas running backs suffered slight injuries during preseason practice, and the Longhorns sport just two QBs on their roster. 

Here’s what to expect from the Longhorn offense in 2017.  

Wide Receiver: Take your pick 

Texas won’t have an issue putting playmakers out wide. But the task of naming starters in this unit won’t be easy. In fact, the Longhorns’ season-opener is less than a week away and they still don’t know what the depth chart is looking like. 

“I don’t even know what the lineup is looking like right now,” senior wide receiver Dorian Leonard said. “They don’t tell us anything about depth charts or anything like that … but at the end of the day they’re going to sit at that round table and they’re going to make those depth charts.”

Texas will have plenty of options: six-foot-six sophomore Collin Johnson, a pair of six-foot-five receivers sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey and senior Dorian Leonard, former quarterback junior Jerrod Heard and a highly-talked about freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. 

“Reggie is a baller,” sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele said. “He goes hard and he has a lot of fun playing the game. As well as all the guys on the offense. We have so many playmakers besides Reggie and it’s just a lot of fun being able to distribute the ball out to those guys and watch them make plays.” 

The question isn’t if Texas will have playmakers at wide receiver. Rather, it’s who will be making them.

Quarterback: “That’s a big deal, huh?” 

Head coach Tom Herman doesn’t quite buy the hype over naming a starting quarterback during preseason practice. 

“That’s a big deal, huh?” Herman said. “I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow, Shane Buechele would start. We need a depth chart to make it Facebook official I guess.”

While Buechele has the lead as of now, it appears he’ll have to battle for the starting QB spot with freshman Sam Ehlinger until kickoff on Sept. 2. Herman isn’t appointing anyone the starter, at least not yet.

“As of today, (Buechele) is starting,” Herman said. “Now, does that guarantee that he’ll start against Maryland? No. He’ll take the bulk of the ones reps, but if he doesn’t take advantage of them and Sam plays better than him then that’ll change.”

Warren & Co.

Junior Chris Warren III will be the No. 1 back. The Rockwall native was named to the 2017 Maxwell Award watch list for player of the year and will have plenty of chances to gain the nation’s attention after missing the last eight games of 2016 with a knee injury.

Sophomore Kyle Porter will be right behind Warren. But injury concerns may force a pair of freshman — Daniel Young and Toneil Carter — into action if Porter suffers a health setback. He had a sprained shoulder in fall camp and a sprained ankle last spring.

“It would be (Warren) right now, with Porter being non-contact,” Herman said. “If for some reason Kyle couldn’t go then it would be a committee for the second spot.”

Check out our defensive notebook here.