Texas Football 2012: 5 Questions That Still Won't Be Answered in Spring Ball
The Texas Longhorns are preparing for the spring game that takes place on April 1. They began spring practice back in late February, and hope that this is the season that they're able to turn the program around after a few sub-par campaigns.
Spring practice is the perfect time to answer questions heading into the regular season and discover what type of team you have.
The Longhorns return 16 starters, including nine on the offensive side of the ball, but there remain several questions that need to be answered. The bad part about spring is that it only lasts for so long, and not every issue can be addressed in the short amount of time.
Here are five questions that the Longhorns will need a little bit more time to answer.
Can We Find a Kicker Around Here?
Kickers are never appreciated until you need to rely on one to win the game for you. For the Longhorns, they don't have a kicker at the moment that they can trust. Last season Justin Tucker was the punter and the field goal kicker, but this season he is no longer there to bail the Longhorns out.
Texas is trying to find a reliable field goal kicker in either Ben Pruitt or Will Russ. The problem is that neither kicker is really impressing so far in spring practice.
“We are not going to have the experience that we have had, but we have kicked with a lot of young kickers before,” Head coach Mack Brown said.
This battle won't be settled in the spring, especially with true freshman Nicolas Jordan recently being added to the mix as well. Kicker may not be a sexy position to pay attention to, but it's an issue that needs to be addressed.
Who's Going to Fill the Middle of the Defense?
There aren't many questions for the Longhorns on the defensive side of the ball, but linebacker is one of them. Many players on defense return from a year ago, but linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson are no longer on the team.
There's depth, with players like Steve Edmond, Jordan Hicks and Kendall Thompson more than capable of stepping up to the plate. Even freshmen, such as Peter Jinkens, Dalton Santos and Alex De La Torre, will have an opportunity to contribute early on.
The lack of experience at the linebacker position may cause problems for the Longhorns early on in the season. Not to mention defensive tackles Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell are no longer on the roster. (Each for different reasons.)
The defensive side is loaded with talent, but naming starters to replace those players in the spring seems highly unlikely.
Who Are the Starters and the Backups?
We can sit here and talk about who's going to take the next step at wide receiver and help the quarterback out. We can talk about the defensive issues up front, or even the kicking battle that you're probably not interested in. But the fact is that there will be no depth chart released during the spring, which remains another unanswered question.
Head coach Mack Brown says you're going to wait a while, because there isn't a depth chart to be released anytime soon:
We'll have more of a depth chart with (the players) than we will with you. You'd like for us to throw a one, two and three out there so you can discuss it, and it's not about you, really. It's about the kids and what's best for them.
Brown says that keeping the depth chart under wraps until a week before the season begins will only motivate his players.
"We honestly want 22 first-teamers," he said. "We'd like to motivate them, and we'd like for them to feel like there's a chance for them to play."
"We really don't need a depth chart anymore," he said.
So until the fall, this will give you and your friends something to talk about around the water cooler.
Quarterback Battle Anyone?
This question is a little tricky because nearly everybody around the Texas program and the fans believe that David Ash is going to be the starting quarterback of the Longhorns. But until a decision is made by Mack Brown, it's all speculation. And according to him, he's not ready to make a decision anytime soon.
"We have really got to improve our passing game better this spring, and the emphasis will be on the passing game; running routes, getting better, quarterback throws to receivers, tight ends and backs." Brown said.
We may all agree that Ash is the better quarterback for this team and more polished, but until Brown says that's his guy, the question will remain.
Will This Finally Be the Season Texas Turns It Around?
The last two seasons haven't been exactly what Longhorns fans are used to seeing. A combined 13-12 record in the last two years isn't typical of Mack Brown, and many expect him to turn things around this year with a talented team. They return nine starters on the offense, and seven starters on the defensive side of the ball. They don't have many issues to address, and have a favorable schedule this season.
So will this be the year the Longhorns turn it around and compete for a BCS bowl once again?
Only time will tell.