LUBBOCK TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Jackson Jeffcoat #44 of the Texas Longhorns celebrates a fumble recovery with Sam Acho #81 in the first quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 18 2010 in Lubbock Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Additional Previews | Rivals #22
2010 Record | 5-7 (2-6 in Big 12)
Returning Starters | 12 (5 on offense, 7 on defense)
Key Losses | Maybe the biggest loss is DT Sam Acho, who I thought was really good last year. UT loses quite a bit in the secondary, including CB Curtis Brown, CB Aaron Williams and CB Chykie Brown. Offensively, OT Kyle Hix and OG Michael Huey are leaving on the line (I think there was another starter, but can't remember) while the Longhorns also lose WR Malcolm Williams and WR Marquise Goodwin, Williams for personal reasons and Goodwin to focus on his track career.
Key Additions | Perhaps there was no bigger additions than the influx of an entire new coaching staff. Heads had to roll after a 5-7 season, except Mack's, and UT hired Mississippi St.'s Leon Mackey!).and Boise St.'s Bryan Harsin. I do not believe there are things as quick fixes in football. That seeing the success on the field when hiring new coordinators takes time, usually at least a season in transition, before everyone gets the hang of it. I think, eventually, these two coordinators will be fine, but most likely it's going to take time. As far as on the field, look no further than perhaps the best running back in the country, in Malcolm Brown. He was picked as the preseason Big 12 newcomer of the year. He will see a lot of carries, but I'm not sure that he'll be the best newcomer in the conference (Hint:
Impact Offensive Player | Perhaps my memory is getting bad, but I don't remember a preseason Big 12 offensive team without a Texas player. The Longhorn offense really struggled with Garrett Gilbert at the helm and when your quarterback isn't good and a team doesn't have much of a running game, then the offense is going to struggle. I still think that WR Mike Davis is the best returning offensive player (47 catches, 478 yards and 2 TD's), but there's going to be an offensive facelift.
Impact Defensive Player | I'll go with LB Keenan Robinson, who had 105 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks last year. You could also mention safeties Blake Gideon or Sonny Vaccaro or Christian Scott, but I'd guess that Robinson will be looked to as the leader of the defense.
|Texas St. Bobcats||9/3/2011||Done|
|@ New Mexico Lobos||9/17/2011||Done|
|@ Kansas Jayhawks||10/1/2011||Done|
|Texas A&M Aggies||10/8/2011||Done|
|Kansas St. Wildcats||10/15/2011||Done|
|@ Oklahoma Sooners||10/22/2011||Done|
|Iowa St. Cyclones||10/29/2011||Done|
|@ Texas Longhorns||11/5/2011||Done|
|Oklahoma St. Cowboys||11/12/2011||Pending|
|@ Missouri Tigers||11/19/2011||Pending|
vs. Texas Tech | Texas Tech fans think this is the game that got away. This is the one that given the records of both teams, Texas Tech wants back and wants Texas later in the season. Texas proved themselves to be pretty bad last year, but during the UT vs. TTU game last year, the Texas Tech offense was still trying to figure out who they were offensively and couldn't manage much, if any, offensive pressure. It was frustrating.
After the Texas Tech game, which was both teams first conference game, the Longhorns lost their next 2 of 9 games, with wins comging against Nebraska and Florida Atlantic. That means that UT lost to UCLA, OU, Iowa St., Baylor, Kansas St., Oklahoma St. and TAMU. It was strange typing that, but that's what happened last year.
So Mack completely revamped his entire coaching staff (Almost. There were some coaches that stuck around.) in particular his coordinators. Brown wants to play a more traditional offense that features a running game rather than the spread game thathad called for what seemed like a decade (I'm too lazy to look up how long Davis called plays, but I'm guessing it was close to or more than a decade). The biggest question that the Longhorns face is who plays quarterback. QB Garrett Gilbert was supposed to be the chosen-one, but he looked flustered and rushed all season. Gilbert completed 59% of his passes (that's okay), but threw only 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions (awful) with only 6.2 yards per attempt (double awful). With no rushing game to help Gilbert out, the offense was woeful. There's been a ton written about how Harsin will transform the Texas offense, but I still think it's going to take time. Blocking schemes and routes and plays all take time to perfect. Most offensively efficient teams do things well because they're repeated that play hundreds of times. It's going to take time, and I'm not expecting that UT's downfall will last a lifetime, but it's going to take a season or two to get things going.
Defensively, there is quite a bit more talent returning, although the team does lose the three cornerbacks that played the most and the teams best playmaker in Sam Acho and second best pass-rusher, behind Acho, in Eddie Jones. I think there's more to work with for Diaz defensively. I've already mentioned Robinson, but fellow linebacker Emmanuel Acho also returns as does DT Keeston Randall, but to lose your three best cornerbacks is going to have some affect on the pass defense. So a pass defense that was 6th in the nation in pass defense probably isn't going to have the same success. Add to that the loss of the top two pass rushers (14.0 sacks total) is going to have an affect as well. You can expect that guys like Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, with more playing time, will have better seasons.
With S, Christian Scott, S Kenny Vaccaro and S Blake Gideon returning, this does add some stability to the secondary. Look for guys like Carrington Byndom, Adrian Phillips and A.J. White to be the guys at cornerback.
So what can I expect this year? I think Texas Tech has a really good chance of winning this game in Austin, which is something that I normally don't ever have the chance to type. We've said all preseason that a big part of Texas Tech's success will depend on how much improvement the Red Raiders can make from a defensive standpoint. I think the Longhorns face the same type of issue offensively. The defense will be fine, but it's a question as to how far the Texas offense carry the team.