The Texas Longhorns showed some modest improvements in 2011, which were clearly better than the 2010 results, but the real question for Mack Brown’s crew is: how far along are they on the rebuilding plan?
is supposed to be a program that retools on the fly instead of rebuilds but
clearly that hasn’t been the case. Are they ready to return to the prime time
in 2012 or are they still a few steps away? Let’s have a closer look.
Longhorns have the right coaches on their staff. Offensive coordinator Bryan
Harsin, who used to work under Chris Petersen at Boise State, enabled Texas to
become better in 2011 despite relatively limited skill position talent. Head
coach Mack Brown scored when he brought Harsin aboard. The same is true for
defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who was plucked by Brown from Mississippi
State and has been universally lauded by college football pundits.
managed to make and win the Holiday Bowl last year because the defense was able
to lift it through tough times. Texas has a lot of high-caliber athletes on its
defense, particularly in the secondary. Since the Big 12 Conference has a lot
of high-octane offenses and generally embraces the forward pass, Texas' sturdy
secondary is a very encouraging point of strength for the season to come.
Longhorns are regaining the depth and resources they lost two seasons ago.
There's no longer any confusion about the coaching situation, because former
coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp decided to take the Florida job. That
development removed ambiguity from Brown's coaching tenure and that's had a
cleansing effect on the program, helping everyone involved.
What Needs To Go
two things Texas lost more than anything else in 2010 – and which the Longhorns
didn't fully recover in 2011 – were a good quarterback and a stout offensive
has been a "half a loaf" team the past two years, relying on its
defense for just about everything while being unable to trust its sputtering,
sagging offense. Texas needs its offensive line to be more imposing, especially
so that it can run the ball as much as possible. They need to run the ball as
much as possible because it will want to avoid third-down passing situations
and other predictable down-and-distance scenarios in which it will have to
throw the ball.
shouldn't be desperate for a big-time quarterback but that's where the
Longhorns are at the moment. In an ideal world, the offensive line will produce
a first-rate running game.
What Could Go
not complicated, but it's a problem that's going to lurk over Mack Brown's
shoulders until someone makes it disappear: Texas doesn't have a quarterback.
David Ash or Case McCoy can't ripen into a first-rate quarterback this season,
Texas will not be able to climb even higher in the college football standings.
Bowl seasons are not acceptable in Austin. If no quarterback steps forward to
lead this offense with distinction, it's hard to see how the Longhorns will be
playing in a prestigious January bowl game.
just too overwhelming to ignore: Texas is not likely to get first-rate
quarterback play this season. The defense will win many games but not against
Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Texas might finish third in the Big 12 but that
will leave the Longhorns out of a BCS bowl game yet again.
Simply put, this team does not have the
offensive firepower that's needed to win the Big 12 Conference, especially with
West Virginia and TCU moving in as well.
Stay tuned for more updates on the the Texas Longhorns and our college football picks later in the year.