Biggest 2024 Spring Football Question for Each Power Four Texas Team

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It's spring break across the state, but school is back in session for all Texas Power Four teams in the coming weeks. Now that we've more or less established who's on your favorite team in 2024 with our Roster Autopsy series, it's time to denote the biggest questions that need to be answered in spring football practice. There are no wins and losses on the record yet, but don't be mistaken: teams can win the spring football period, and there's always an argument for why your team did. 


Texas Longhorns – How does the wide receiver room compare to 2023?

Xavier Worthy only needed three seasons to climb to third in program history with 26 touchdown receptions and fourth with 2,755 receiving yards. Adonai Mitchell became the first Texas player to win Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Yet, their performance at the NFL Scouting Combine signaled the Big 12's best receiving duo might somehow have been underrated. 

There was, however, one returning wide receiver who won the Combine without being there: Johntay Cook. Jonathon Brooks and Ja'Tavion Sanders both shouted out the five-star from DeSoto as a guy to watch in 2024, while Worthy referred to him as a "miniature me". If Cook slides in for Worthy at receiver, Houston transfer Matthew Golden may take over as a kick returner, an vital part of Worthy's game. Golden had two kickoff return touchdowns last season.

But will Texas find a jump-ball threat like the 6-foot-2 Mitchell? Isaiah Bond led Alabama with 48 receptions for 668 yards and summer enrollee Silas Bolden was a dynamic athlete at Oregon State who can win deep routes with speed, but both are under 6-foot. Five-star freshman Ryan Wingo (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) has the physicality to push for early playing time.

Texas A&M Aggies – Offensive identity under Collin Klein?

Last season, Jimbo Fisher attempted to acknowledge his pro-style offense needed a reset by hiring Bobby Petrino to coach the same playbook and terminology. Mike Elko is a defensive coach, which means Texas A&M's offense will take on new offensive coordinator Collin Klein's identity. All Klein knows is running opponents into the ground. He did it as a Heisman finalist quarterback at Kansas State and then as the Wildcats' coordinator with a double dose of Will Howard and Avery Johnson.

Is this roster molded for the same style? Presumed starter Conner Weigman is an athletic quarterback, but he's not a downhill runner like Howard and Johnson. Injuries have paused flashes of brilliant downfield passing thus far in his career. He's tossed 16 touchdowns to just two interceptions in nine games. Texas A&M's offensive line is chock-full of high-profile recruits but all were inconsistent last season. The unit finished 89th in the FBS in sacks alllowed per game and paved the way for the 90th best rushing offense.This spring will be critical in developing them into a charged up version of a Kansas State offensive line. 

Texas A&M may blossom into a souped up Kansas State offensively as a whole in the coming years. This season will be a hybrid of what Fisher recruited the players to do and what Klein wants them to do. The spring game will be the first glimpse of that balance.


Texas Tech Red Raiders – Can an offensive line be built in the portal?

Deion Sanders attempting to piece an offensive line together through the transfer portal at Colorado gets a lot of attention. Texas Tech is almost trying the same strategy. Three to four of the starters could be transfers. Joey McGuire's maintained a positive trajectory in Lubbock despite having to start three different quarterbacks in each of his first two seasons. A leaky line is partially to blame for the phenomenon, and entering year three it has to be shored up.

Left tackle Ty Buchanan and tackle Caleb Rogers are the only incumbents projected to start as of right now, and Rogers will rep at center in the spring after getting backup snaps there last season. Guards Vinny Sciury and Davion Carter were two top transfer portal pickups for Texas Tech. Sciury started 33 consecutive games at left guard at Toledo while Carter allowed one sack in 1,000 opportunities over two seasons at Memphis. Transfer tackles Maurice Rodriques and Sterling Porcher will compete for starting spots. 

Offensive line is among the hardest units to construct via the portal, but Texas Tech needs to hit on them to contend for a Big 12 Championship.


Baylor Bears – Can the current personnel adjust to Jake Spavital's offense?

Baylor's got a case of identity whiplash switching from Jeff Grimes's wide zone to new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital's pass-happy Bear Raid. Toledo quarterback DeQuan Finn is the projected starter after racking up 3,220 total yards last season. Other than him, it's a lot of the same faces.

The Bears haven't had a 1,000-yard wide receiver since Denzel Mims in 2019. In the past two seasons, no player has caught more than 38 passes. This could and should change if Spavital's offense thrives. Monaray Baldwin has led the team in receiving the past two seasons and is a dangerous slot option. Hal Presley and Ketron Jackson Jr. man the outside. Presley missed the backhalf of 2023 with a lower body injury and Jackson is the deep threat with 17.5 yards per catch last season. Texas State transfer Ashtyn Hawkins reunites with his former head coach after totaling 1,461 yards over the past two seasons.

The Bear Raid will only go as far as the offensive line allows it. Baylor ranked 115th in the nation allowing seven tackles for loss per game and 106th in sacks surrendered per game. Seventh year senior Kurt Danneker transfers in from Ohio, as does Montana State all-conference guard Omar Aigbedion.

TCU Horned Frogs – How is the defense different under Andy Avalos?

On paper, TCU's slide from national runner-up to 5–7 happened because the offense couldn't overcome a bevy of key losses. The defense actually allowed 1.2 fewer points per game. But an offense that came down to earth revealed a defense that always had cracks. The Horned Frogs were 91st in the FBS in opponent points per game that national championship year. So Dykes decided to move on from defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie and hire a man who runs the same 3-3-5 scheme in former Boise State head coach Andy Avalos.

Avalos will differ from Gillespie in that one of the linebackers will be a hybrid edge rusher. Another player near the line of scrimmage will help TCU improve on its 75th in the country mark in tackles for loss per game. TCU returns most linebackers, but they'll have to compete to retain their spots with Cal transfer Kaleb Elarms-Orr in the mix. Incumbent defensive ends Caleb Fox and Paul Oyewale have the inside track to start, but Tulane transfer Devean Deal had 12 tackles for loss in 2023.

Overall, TCU's defense needs more havoc creating plays in 2024. The Horned Frogs finished tied for 115th in the nation with 12 turnovers gained. 


Houston Cougars – Who emerges from the new bodies on campus?

Willie Fritz closed the 2024 recruiting class admirably considering he got a late start coaching Tulane in the conference championship game. After a 4–8 season and with a new coaching staff, every position on Houston's roster is up for grabs.

The offensive line and defensive secondary saw the most portal additions. Houston lost two-time all-conference left tackle Patrick Paul to the NFL Draft and returns one starter, right guard Tank Jenkins. Fritz said the five best offensive linemen will play regardless of position, and they have a lot of guys with experience at multiple spots. Two new linemen to watch for: Dakota White and Jake Wiley. White started 30 games at Louisiana Tech at left tackle and didn't allow a sack in the final eight games of 2023. Wiley, a 6-foot-6 tackle and guard, has played in 42 career games at Colorado and UCLA.

Houston's secondary finished second-to-last in the Big 12 allowing 255.3 passing yards per game, and Fritz brought in a bevy of instant contributors to help last year's leading tackler AJ Haulcy and all-conference honorable mention cornerback Isaiah Hamilton. Safety Hershey McLaurin had 44 tackles and six tackles for loss last season at West Virginia. Syracuse cornerback Jeremiah Wilson is projected to compete with junior Jalen Emery, who made two starts last season, for a starting job.


SMU Mustangs – What's the No.1 offensive line look like heading into spring?

SMU's offensive line was dominant in the American Athletic Conference and mortal when they played Power Five opponents. The Mustangs were ninth in the nation with 3.86 tackles for loss allowed per game and tied-13th with 1.14 sacks allowed per game. SMU also went 0–3 against Oklahoma, TCU and Boston College scoring an average of 14 points a game in those contests. 

In one offseason, the trenches have gone from a strength to a question mark. SMU placed four offensive linemen on the DCTF's 2023 All-Texas team and two of them have transferred. Team captain Justin Osborne, who rotated from right guard to right tackle in 2023, will rep at center for the departing Branson Hickman. Look for Oklahoma transfer Savion Byrd to get the first shot replacing Osborne on the right side. All-conference left tackle Marcus Bryant entered the portal in late February. Redshirt sophomore PJ Williams is the favorite to assume Bryant's post after starting four games at left tackle in 2023.


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