Texas Football: 5 Reasons 2012 Was a Step in the Right Direction
The Texas Longhorns took some strides in 2012, but at the same time had enough setbacks to really question their progression following an overhaul in 2010.
Mack Brown looked to reinvent his program after going 5-7 in that fateful year, and after two seasons under a number of new coaches, his Longhorns are a mediocre 16-9 over that span.
Some of the shots Brown has taken in recent weeks do hold some water, and for a program as prominent and visible as Texas, there is the added pressure to perform at the highest level. Simply put, the Longhorns have not met those expectations.
However, although portions of the truth may be harsh, they are truths nonetheless and many have positive values down the road.
Here are five reasons why the 2012 season included many steps in the right direction.
Youth Was Served
Deadened by the poor development and evaluation of players across multiple recruiting classes that ultimately led to the overhaul of the Texas program, the Longhorns fielded one of the youngest teams in the country.
Although youth is never too serious of an excuse one way or another, it should provide quite a bit of enthusiasm and excitability moving forward.
When the biggest pieces on offense include the likes of David Ash, Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron, Daje Johnson and Jaxon Shipley, all of whom are juniors- and sophomores-to-be, the core of the Texas offense has a definable picture.
Defensively, the necessary and required growth in players like Steve Edmond, Kendall Thompson, Peter Jinkens and Mykkele Thompson has been a blessing and a curse in the grand scheme of things. And having those youngsters returning with a wealth of experience is hard to overlook.
Identifying the Problem-Areas
The first step to fixing any problem is to identify that there is a problem.
Mack Brown first acknowledged this after 2010, but in 2012, the Longhorns sustained an entirely different set of issues.
Defensively, Texas was no stranger to these problems as tackling and positioning were at the forefront of that list of shortcomings.
In his second year as defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz warranted plenty of spotlight, but for mostly the wrong reasons.
At the end of the day, whether changes are made to the defense, these issues have been clearly identified, and now the Longhorns have to take the initiative to make the necessary adjustments to avoid any repeats next season.
The Offense Made the Strides
In 2011, Texas' defense played great while its offense struggled to generate much of anything.
A year later, it was the offense that took off while the defense encountered problems across the board.
So in the offensively thick Big 12, Texas did itself a favor by really grinding out a foundation to build on in the coming seasons.
The Longhorns will be in their third season under Bryan Harsin's system, and now the expectations for execution and production should be at their highest ever.
The Emergence of Mike Davis
By way of offensive schematics or maturity, Mike Davis has finally come on.
Since Davis switched his commitment from LSU to Texas in 2009, the Longhorns have been waiting for the deep-threat receiver to flourish.
His sophomore season came and went with little to show, but in 2012, Davis showcased exactly the kind of talent that caused the Longhorns to push the issue.
As one of the few returning upperclassmen for next season, Davis has put himself on a high pedestal with even higher expectations.
Impetus for More Change
As Texas continues to look to regain its position as one of the elite football programs in the country, the necessity to always invoke change is ever-present.
The coaches want Texas to be good, the fans want Texas to be good and the boosters want Texas to be good, but it all does not happen overnight.
It is a tenacious process that involves time, patience, hard work and tangible production.
An 8-4 season is hardly successful in the eyes of the Texas homers, and the expectations on Mack Brown to rebuild his program from the ground up has been a burden on the longtime head coach.
Brown is undoubtedly on the hot seat, but it may only cause him to persevere to bring the Longhorns back into the right kind of spotlight.