5-7. Ugh. 5-7. Last year was the Texas Longhorns’ first losing season under head coach Mack Brown. 5-7. The Horns went from 12-1 to 5-7. Texas went from playing in the National Championship to not even making a bowl game. Over the off-season, the Longhorns added a new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, offensive line coach, strength and conditioning coach, and made some other changes. Eight starters graduated. The average age of the coaching staff dropped by 20 years. This year, Texas has more questions then any year I can remember. It doesn’t matter. 5-7. Never again.

Garret Gilbert threw 17 interceptions last year.

Aside from the Longhorn Network, the biggest story of the offseason was the Horns’ quarterback competition. At the beginning of practice, there were four quarterbacks battling to win the starting job. Those quarterbacks were junior Garrett Gilbert (last year Gilbert started all twelve of the Longhorns’ games, throwing 17 interceptions with only 10 touchdowns. Gilbert never was a leader and had horrible body language in games.), sophomore Case McCoy (Colt’s brother), true freshman David Ash (a three star recruit from Belton, Texas, who folks say plays like Tim Tebow), and redshirt freshman Connor Wood (a former four star recruit from Houston, Texas). In the team’s first scrimmage, McCoy and Ash played well, and Gilbert and Wood played poorly. In the next scrimmage, Gilbert played with a determination never seen in 2010. He never looked backed, and on Monday, Mack Brown announced Gilbert would start, McCoy would be second string, then Ash, then Wood. Connor Wood wasn’t too happy about being fourth on the depth chart and transferred to Colorado earlier this week.

Even if Garrett Gilbert plays as poorly as he did last season, Horn fans shouldn’t be worried—there is a lot of depth at quarterback.

Last year, the Longhorns vowed they would run the ball more. It was a good idea, but they were missing something very important if this were to work. Texas didn’t have a good running back. Longhorn fans, the wait is over. The next great Texas running back is…Malcolm Brown. A five star recruit from Dallas, true freshman Malcolm Brown has the talent to be amazing. He has top end speed, power, and can catch the ball too. He won’t start at the beginning of the year since he is a freshman, but when November comes, Brown should be running strong with the eyes of Texas upon him.

Under Mack Brown, Texas has typically had at-least one stud wide receiver. First there was Roy Williams, then Limas Sweed, then Jordan Shipley. Now there’s Mike Davis. As a true freshman last year, Davis caught 478 yards and two touchdowns. Even though that may not sound amazing, Texas only passed for 2,774 yards and for ten touchdowns. That means he almost had 20% of the passing yards and touchdowns. Keep in mind, he was a freshman. Jordan Shipley’s brother, Jaxon, will also be suiting up for the Horns this year. He is bigger, faster, and stronger than his brother. Since he is a freshman Jaxon Shipley needs more experience, but could be next on that list of impressive receivers.

The Longhorns biggest problem last year was the offensive line. Texas didn’t have great running backs, but they could have capitalized on what little they did have if they had a better offensive line. This year, former Georgia offensive line coach Stacey Searels will coach the offensive line for the Horns. During Searles tenor at Georgia, the Bulldogs quarterback got sacked an average of 16.75 sacks a year. In that same time, Texas’s quarterback got sacked 24 sacks a year. Four of the five offensive linemen have returned, so it is up to Searels to turn this group around.

Jackson Jeffcoat is primed for a a breakout year.

On December 12, former defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting, Will Muschamp, announced he would resign from Texas and coach the Florida Gators. Over the summer, Texas hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz. This is in my mind the best move Texas made this off-season. Coaches like Urban Mayer and Nick Saban said Diaz’s blitzing kept them up all night figuring out how to counter his blitzing. Anchoring a talented defensive line are Jackson Jeffcoat, Alex Okafor, and Kheeston Randall. Texas’s linebackers are also above average with Sam Hicks, Keenan Robinson, and Emanuel Acho starting. The real question is at defensive back. Blake Gideon will start in his senior year at strong safety. Junior, Kenny Vaccaro will return for his junior year to start at free safety. After that, it gets more unclear. Sophomores Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips will start at cornerback. Their backups do not have a lot of experience either. Manny Diaz will blitz like crazy, and this year the Longhorns’ defense will determine the team’s fate.

5-7. Not this year. This year Texas will go 7-5. It takes most teams a few years to return to greatness. Not Texas. The Longhorns have depth at quarterback, an amazing young running back, one of the best receivers in the Big 12, and a strong defense. Hook ‘Em!

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