Column: Four takeaways from spring football

Ezra Siegel

With spring practice over, here's the takeaway from the Longhorns this spring:

1. The offensive line showed needed improvement.

Texas’ offensive line was nightmarish in last year’s 6–7 campaign, and head coach Charlie Strong knows the unit needs to improve. The line was consistently overpowered by opposing defensive lines and suffered from injuries, dismissals and a major lack of experience.

With spring practices in the books, Strong has seen improvement. The unit looked comfortable and performed well during practices and the Orange-White scrimmage.

“They’ve gotten a lot better with communicating with each other,” Strong said. “I think it’ll be a great season for us.”

2. The quarterback battle is tighter than ever.

Heading into the spring, junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes had the advantage, having started 12 games last season. He got the majority of first team reps this spring, and Strong praised his growth both on and off the field.

However, redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, a highly touted state championship-winning quarterback from Denten also impressed Strong, making accurate throws and torching defenses with his feet. Strong has said that Swoopes is still the favorite, but he emphasized that Heard has closed the gap. With several months between now and the season opener, both quarterbacks will have the chance to separate themselves and win the job.

3. Freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson is the real deal.

Jefferson was Texas’ top recruit in its 2015 recruiting class, and he did not disappoint as an early enrollee. Jefferson showed his athleticism and feel for the game in practices, showing a knack for playmaking.

In the spring game, Jefferson forced a fumble, broke up a pass and picked up five tackles, including one tackle for loss.

“He’s very athletic and very instinctive,” Strong said. “He can read plays, and he made a ton of plays on Saturday.”

4. Texas needs freshmen to step up on the outside.

Strong’s first recruiting class was a success, and the Longhorns will need their freshmen to step up.

The Longhorns need outside playmakers on both sides of the ball, and Strong has emphasized throughout spring that freshmen will have a chance to come in and compete at these positions. If the incoming freshmen can contribute and push their fellow teammates, it will go a long way in improving two weak positions.