This year's Texas Longhorn team does not have a Heisman candidate at the quarterback position. Colt McCoy and Vince Young are not coming back, and because of that it is time for the Longhorns to embrace the physical ball-control style of play that other schools have made work to perfection.
The Longhorns are entering the third season since Colt McCoy was guiding them to a Big 12 Championship and a BCS Bowl appearance. The same Colt McCoy who grabbed college football's all-time wins by a starter, before Kellen Moore took it, and grabbed both the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien Awards in 2009.
Those days are gone. So too should waiting for a quarterback to emerge as a playmaker from the David Ash and Case McCoy battle.
Instead, the coaches have to fully embrace the grind-it-out game. Make the opposition hurt with your stout run game and suffocating defense. This is a year for the Longhorns to push to turn the Big 12 on its ear; get more physical than everyone else.
This defense is ready. They have legitimate studs at every level. They are led by a man who is ready to help Texas win ugly, Manny Diaz.
Diaz wants shutouts. He wants to deliver the knockout blow to the opposition by dropping that proverbial hammer on them from the defensive side of the ball. After getting embarrassed a year ago by Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, his defense is ready to atone for those games.
The biggest thing Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin can do?
Not screw this up for Diaz's side of the ball.
That means don't try to make Ash into something he's not. As he matures and handles the small things on his plate, give him more, but the last thing the Longhorns need is three-and-outs because Harsin wants to get inventive and try something.
This season, for Texas, has to be about running the ball. Taking the air out of the game and beating teams into submission. We hear all the time about how the Big 12 is soft. Texas should go out and be the converse.
The Horns have a quality offensive line and a stable of running backs waiting to get carries. Use them all. Let each guy get his turn at a defense and then send in a fresh body to give it another go.
This Texas team has the opportunity to be good in 2012. Big 12 champion good. However, it's up to their staff to truly embrace what this team is now. They're not a glamorous offensive squad that is going to scare people with their quarterback threat. They are a team that has to grind you down and win ugly, and that's a formula that can work.