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Spotlight on a Promising Season: The 2024 Texas Longhorns


Quinn Ewers
© Annie Rice/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

They arrive in the Southeastern Conference as pioneers from the West, spurning the further growth of a powerful league with brand recognition and dominating play on the gridiron. These stampeding marauders flash the “Horns Up” sign and yell “Hook 'Em” at opponents and their fan bases as they fight for football glory.



The 2024 Texas Longhorns return 15 starters, including arguably the top returning quarterback in the country. They are looking to paint SEC towns burnt orange.


Longhorn Offense

The Longhorns will be led on the field by quarterback Quinn Ewers. Ewers was second in the Big 12 Conference in passing with 289 yards per game through the air. Last season, Ewers passed for 3,479 yards, 22 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. Ewers completed 69 percent of his passes and led Texas to a Big 12 title and a berth in the College Football Playoff.


Ewers exhibited good accuracy and limited turnovers. He did not throw an interception until Week 5 against Kansas (112 pass attempts).



In the Big 12 Championship game, Ewers completed 35-of-46 passes (76 percent) for 452 yards and 4 TDs. Against Washington in the semifinals, Ewers threw for 318 yards and a touchdown in a 6-point loss to the Huskies.


Ewers' backup is a player with a familiar last name. Arch Manning saw action in two games last season as a true freshman. Against Texas Tech, Manning completed 2 passes for 30 yards and no touchdowns.


CJ Baxter returns as the leading rusher from last season with 659 yards and 5 touchdowns. Baxter rushed for 117 yards in a 10-point win over Iowa State.


Ewers and Baxter will operate behind an experienced offensive line that boasts 123 combined starts and averages 328 pounds per man. This unit returns four starters, including All-Big 12 selection Kelvin Banks Jr. Banks earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and was named second-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).



The Longhorns' wide receivers will be talented and plentiful this season. This unit includes:


  • Johntay Cook: 8 catches, 136 yards

  • Isiah Bond (from Alabama): 48 catches, 668 yards, 4 TDs

  • Silas Bolden (from Oregon State): 54 catches, 746 yards, 5 TDs

  • Matthew Golden (from Houston): 38 catches, 404 yards, 6 TDs. 2 kickoff returns for TD



Longhorn Defense

The Texas defense will be talented and aggressive. The Longhorns return eight starters from a stingy unit against the run. As the gridiron version of “Hells Half Acre,” the Longhorns showed a violence of action in stopping opposing ball carriers. Texas allowed opponents a paltry 2.90 yards per carry, which was good enough for No. 3 nationally. In addition, the Longhorns allowed 18 points per game scored against them, good enough for No. 15 in the FBS.


The Texas defense will feature two transfers and six of their top tacklers from last year’s squad. The Longhorns tied for No. 10 in the FBS in interceptions with 16 and tied for No. 7 in opponents' red zone conversion percentage at 73.81 percent. This unit will be led by:


  • LB Anthony Hill Jr.: 67 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks

  • DB Jahde Barron: 60 tackles, 1 INT, 4.5 tackles for loss, 6 pass breakups

  • LB David Gbenda: 50 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hurries

  • DB Michael Taaffe: 3 INTs, 48 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 PBUs, 1 blocked kick

  • Edge Ethan Burke: 41 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble

  • DB Malik Muhammad: 1 INT, 31 tackles, 4 PBUs

  • Edge Trey Moore (from UTSA): 45 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 1 INT

  • DB Andrew Mukuba (from Clemson): 42 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 PBUs



The Schedule

The SEC scheduling gods were kind to the Longhorns, who avoid LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri. They host Georgia, their toughest game on the schedule. Then they travel to Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Texas A&M in the season's final game.


They do travel to the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., in Week 2 to take on what will be a mere shell of their national championship self in the heavily depleted Michigan Wolverines. They return less than 40 percent of their production from a season ago.


The rest of the nonconference slate consists of Colorado State, UTSA and Louisiana-Monroe, all at home. The remaining conference schedule consists of home games against Mississippi State, Florida and Kentucky. And the Longhorns will be victorious in this year’s version of the Red River Showdown against the Oklahoma Sooners.


Coach Steve Sarkisian has a championship-caliber team at the SEC and national levels. It is a toss-up between an 11-1 season and running the table to a national title.



 

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