Longhorn fans can’t say Texas isn’t making efforts to rejuvenate the burnt orange brand. It’s too early to determine whether the efforts will pay off, but as inflatable obstacle courses resided on the sideline of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and a firework show concluded the game, it was clear that the 2018 Orange-White spring game was just Texas’ latest attempt to bring Texas fans back to DKR.
“First thing, obviously, I need to thank our fans,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said afterward. “What a great job, especially with the threat of inclement weather, of them showing out as well as they did, as enthusiastic as they were, as energetic as they were.”
And the fans didn’t appear to leave early, either. After Texas’ White squad took down the Orange squad, 23-13, Longhorn fans flooded the field for the postgame autograph session in addition to the fireworks show.
“I really felt them tonight as opposed to last year,” Herman said. “Thanks to Chris Del Conte and his staff for a really wonderful pre-game atmosphere to allow the fans on the field. I think we're slowly but surely getting to the point where I think we're going to see the stands packed the way that we all hoped that they do.”
Here’s what we saw after the fans found their seats and the Longhorns took the field:
Johnson, Humphrey electrify the night
With the quarterback battle at the forefront all spring, two wide receivers on opposing teams seemingly stole the show. Junior Collin Johnson and sophomore Lil’Jordan Humphrey went back and forth all night. Johnson finished with one touchdown and 91 yards on six receptions for the orange team.
But Humphrey had a night as well, with 100 yards receiving on seven receptions, even finding the end zone twice on the ground.
Johnson and Humphrey flashed glimpses of superstar potential last season, but neither player could make the leap. If both wide receivers can make plays in the fall, look for the entire unit to benefit from more one-on-one looks.
“I definitely think this offseason and spring we’ve been a lot more productive,” Johnson said. “People have been a lot more bought in. You know how the first year is, a lot of times people don't really understand how to do things exactly.
The Punter’s cousin
As both teams headed into their locker rooms for halftime, former punter Michael Dickson walked onto the field with his Ray Guy Award for punter of the year in hand. Fans rose to their feet in appreciation for the star-studded Australian. But Texas had an answer for the fans who are still missing Dickson, none other than freshman punter Ryan Bujcevski –– Dickson’s cousin.
Bujcevski jogged onto the field for his Longhorn debut early in the first quarter. His first punt looked all too familiar. A 59-yard boot was enough to impress the Texas faithful as Dickson watched on from the sideline. But that’s as good as Bujcevski’s night would get. Punts of 30 and 40 yards forced Longhorn fans to pump the brakes.
Running game (?)
Texas’ leading rushers, for both teams, were both quarterbacks in Sam Ehlinger and Cameron Rising. One non-quarterback found the endzone twice, but he wasn’t a running back either.
Most teams don’t show much when it comes to televised spring games. Herman said they opted to run a lot of inside zone and power when close to the endzone. But it was Humphrey who pushed the ball across the goal line. This brought a lot of questions regarding Texas’ running back unit.
“We were in 11 personnel the entire game, ran inside zone and power,” Herman said. “So, when you get compressed down there, you don't have any specific goal line plays because you don't want to show them. We still need improvement. But how do I feel? I feel a lot better than I did this time last year, and a lot better than I did in December.”
Texas now looks forward to summer camp where Herman will continue his search for a starting quarterback and go-to running back. Until then, let the countdown to the season opener against Maryland on Sept. 1 begin.