Texas Football 2013 Team Program
An often overlooked souvenir item for any college football game is a game program, an encapsulation of what lay ahead for the fans.
With the season firmly on the doorstep, it is time to unveil a virtual media guide. It hardly matches the luster and tangibility of a hard-copy program, but this one is a little different.
Video preview, schedule outlook, players to watch, x-factors -- the works, we have it.
The Texas Longhorns have their sights set on a Big 12 Title. With a perceived weaker Big 12 this season -- every team but three (Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State) will be looking at new quarterback blood in their programs -- the Longhorns have an opportunity to make a big splash with one of the most experienced teams in the country.
Find everything you need to know about the 2013 'Horns right here.
Let's flashback to one summer ago.
Sophomore quarterback David Ash still had not convincingly won the starting job over junior Case McCoy. Ash was one year removed from being thrust into starter's minutes as a true freshman behind a Garrett Gilbert experiment that failed miserably.
Ash became a polarizing figure throughout the season. Some good performances to go along with the straight-up awful ones, but many will remember his fourth quarter performance in the Alamo Bowl where he threw 9-for-11 for two touchdowns to secure a come-from-behind win.
Defensively, injuries to defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and linebacker Jordan Hicks weakened the entire defense from top to bottom. Inconsistencies at defensive tackle did not help, either, and the secondary had its share of poor performances, too.
On offense, you could see the Longhorns beginning to grow.
Playmakers like Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley showed their awesome value, as well as running backs Malcolm Brown -- who missed five games last year -- and Joe Bergeron. But the emergence of Johnathan Gray and Daje Johnson out of the backfield added other dimensions to the offense that will only improve over the next few seasons.
Texas started the year off well, securing wins over Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss -- in grand fashion, no less.
But as Big 12 play began, the injuries poured on and the blemishes on defense began to surface more often. A home loss to West Virginia was one of the most memorable letdowns from a season ago, but a 63-21 drumming at the hands of the Sooners has left a very sour taste in the mouths of the 'Horns.
An Alamo Bowl berth against Oregon State put them a mere 80 miles down I-35 in San Antonio, a virtual home game for the Longhorns.
An uneasy first-half had the Longhorns staring at a 10-20 deficit at the break. But confident and lively performances from Ash fueled a comeback that generated plenty of momentum going into the 2013 season.
1. JR David Ash 6-3, 220
2. SR Case McCoy 6-2, 200
1. SO Johnathan Gray 5-11, 205
2. JR Malcolm Brown 6-0, 225 OR JR Joe Bergeron 6-1, 230
1. SR Mike Davis, 6-2, 195
2. JR Jaxon Shipley 6-1, 195
3. SO Kendall Sanders 6-0, 185
4. SO Daje Johnson 5-10, 180
1. JR Geoff Swaim 6-4, 252
2. SO M.J. McFarland 6-6, 240
Offensive Line (L to R)
1. Desmond Harrison 6-8, 310, Trey Hopkins 6-4, 300, Dom Espinosa 6-4, 305, Mason Walters 6-6, 320, Donald Hawkins 6-5, 310
2. Josh Cochran 6-6, 300, Sedrick Flowers 6-3, 310, Garrett Porter 6-6, 315, Kennedy Estelle 6-7, 290, Curtis Riser 6-4, 310
1. SR Jackson Jeffcoat 6-5, 250
2. JR Cedric Reed 6-6, 260
3. SR Reggie Wilson 6-3, 255 OR SO Shiro Davis 6-3, 250
1. SR Chris Whaley 6-3, 295
2. JR Desmond Jackson 6-1, 305
3. SO Malcom Brown 6-4, 305 OR SR Ashton Dorsey 6-2, 295
1. JR Jordan Hicks 6-2, 240, JR Steve Edmond 6-3, 245, SO Peter Jinkens 6-1, 220
2. JR Kendall Thompson 6-3, 240, SO Dalton Santos 6-3, 240, JR Tevin Jackson 6-2, 240
1. SR Carrington Byndom 6-0, 180
2. JR Quandre Diggs 5-10, 200
3. JR Sheroid Evans 6-0, 190
1. SR Adrian Phillips 5-11, 210
2. JR Mykkele Thompson 6-2, 185
3. JR Josh Turner 6-0, 180
1. SR Anthony Fera 6-2, 210
2. SO Nick Jordan 6-1, 175
1. JR Will Russ 6-4, 190
2. SR Anthony Fera 6-2, 210
Fortunately for the Longhorns, they have avoided the season-enders. Knock on wood.
Recently, wide receiver Marcus Johnson suffered an MCL sprain and will likely miss the remainder of fall camp. He is expected to be ready for the season.
Texas will welcome back defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and linebacker Jordan Hicks from long-term injuries that forced them out for most the season last year.
Wide receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley both went under the knife this off-season. Their recoveries have limited their availability for much of fall camp, but they are expected to be healthy for the start of the year.
Players to Watch
The Longhorns have a number of players who can make big differences this season, but there are only a few that can legitimately determine outcomes.
David Ash. The junior quarterback is going into a crucial year for his development as a leader and a contributor. Last season saw many ups and downs, but Ash's overall brand of play was effectively solid. The way Ash finished the year in the Alamo Bowl generated some encouragement and confidence heading into 2013, and his growth as the team's leader will be a sight to see as Texas looks to claim the Big 12.
Mike Davis. Ash's No. 1 target is Mike Davis, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Davis returned for his senior season, a decision that will not show its true value until deep into the season. As Texas' best deep-threat for the past two seasons, Davis' influence on the offense cannot be overvalued. He came just short of 1,000 yards receiving in 2012, but the chemistry with Ash has developed enough to where breaking that mark in 2013 seems legitimate.
Jackson Jeffcoat. The senior defensive end will be coming back from off-season surgery, and the early games will be a good barometer as to just how dominate Jeffcoat can be this year. With Alex Okafor gone, Jeffcoat becomes the most veteran player on the defensive line, and the Longhorns will look to him often to make big plays.
Jordan Hicks. The junior linebacker, much like his senior counterpart Jeffcoat, will hit the field after missing extended time in 2012. Hicks' presence was sorely missed at a linebacker position that still has lingering questions from last season, but there is little doubt that Hicks' return helps the defense tremendously. His experience cannot be overstated at the position.
There was not too much turnover in the Texas coaching staff, more so than the transition from 2011 to 2012, anyway.
The Longhorns did lose their play-calling offensive coordinator in Bryan Harsin, but every other coach remained on the staff.
Major Applewhire inherited Harsin's position as top dog, although he will still share the OC tag with wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt.
Here is the breakdown:
HC: Mack Brown. The pressure is on for Brown in his 16th season as head coach. Can he push the right buttons this year?
Co-OC: Major Applewhite, Darrell Wyatt. The added tempo is all Applewhite, but Wyatt is no slob when it comes to teaching fundamentals of the game.
DC: Manny Diaz. It is Diaz's third season following two years of contrasting results, and with a more veteran defense, how will the group rebound?
QB: Major Applewhite. Applewhite has been hands on with David Ash, hopefully some of his tendencies will rub off.
RB: Larry Porter. In his first season with the Longhorns, he will have one of the most talented units in the country. With Arizona State in 2012, his Sun Devils ranked 24th in the FBS with 205.3 yards rushing per game.
WR: Darrell Wyatt. Wyatt has been a dynamite recruiter in his career, but he will need to work some magic on a group that has just a few consistent playmakers.
TE: Bruce Chambers. Chambers is also going into his 16th season for the Longhorns. Texas has missed a true threat at tight end for a while; maybe this is the year where one of Chambers' pupils takes off.
OL: Stacy Searels. In his third season, Searels may finally be seeing some results of his schematics. More importantly, the players he recruited are just beginning to come along.
DE: Oscar Giles. Giles is heading into his ninth year at Texas, and he has had a great line of defensive ends that he has put into the NFL.
DT: Bo Davis. Davis, too, is in his third season in Austin, and his guys have had some struggles recently. The numbers and experience is where it needs to be, but now it is time to see appropriate results.
LB: Manny Diaz. Without Jordan Hicks, Diaz's linebackers looked disorganized. Inexperience did not help, but now that problem is history. You're up Diaz.
DB: Duane Akina. This will be Akina's 13th season in Austin, and his track record often speaks for itself. His defensive backs are often the most effective players at any one time.
2013 Schedule and Most Important Games
8/31 vs New Mexico State
9/7 at BYU
9/14 vs Ole Miss
9/21 vs Kansas State
10/3 at Iowa State
10/12 vs OU (in Dallas)
10/26 at TCU
11/2 vs Kansas
11/9 at West Virginia
11/16 vs Oklahoma State
11/28 vs Texas Tech
12/7 at Baylor
Texas' schedule can be partitioned into three tiers:
Tier 1 would hold Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Tier 2 contains BYU, Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Tier 3 cleans up with West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas and New Mexico State.
That pretty much leaves Tier 1 as the highlight matches. More than two losses in this group likely puts you out of the race for the Big 12.
The Longhorns should clean house in Tier 2, but a slip up against Baylor or BYU is not out of the question.
What to Look for on Offense
The Longhorns appear to be loaded on offense, but much of it may be determined by how well the offensive line plays. With all five starters coming back, plus the addition of junior college transfer Desmond Harrison, the line has more depth and experience than it has had in years.
David Ash will have serious weapons at his disposal.
A trio of running backs in Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron should receive about 70 to 80 percent of the carries out of the backfield. They are being worked into the passing game, as well, and have become a staple in Texas' offense.
Wide receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley have been the mainstays without too much noise from the rest of the group. Kendall Sanders has recently emerged as a consistent threat, as has Marcus Johnson. In space or deep, both Sanders and Johnson have been making nice catches.
The x-factor here is Daje Johnson, a home-run threat more often than not. The sophomore averaged over 10 yards per touch from the line of scrimmage last year, and that was with D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin sprinkling their looks in as well.
Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite wanted more tempo. He's got it.
Quick snaps and confidence will be a deadly combination for the Texas offense this season. If the execution level is where it needs to be, look for the Longhorns to pump out points with the best of them.
Stats from ESPN.com
What to Look for on Defense
The pressure is on for defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who is in his third season at Texas. Some say it is a make-or-break year for Diaz, and there is a strong case for that.
After fielding a top 15 defense in 2011, the Longhorns dropped to 67th in 2012 and was the statistically worst defense in Texas football history.
Will Texas be closer to its 2011 self that had strong performers at the linebacker position? Or will the demons that haunted the team in 2012 come back for another round?
Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat has begun heating up in fall camp, and his production as the most veteran and productive defensive lineman will be crucial.
Keep an eye on the defensive tackle position, a group that struggled with consistency in almost every facet of the game.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks' return from injury is like picking up a brand new player. As long as the young backers like Peter Jinkens and Steve Edmond -- both projected starters -- can put their experience to good use, the second level will display much more organization and effectiveness.
Safety is the position to watch in the secondary. Without a physical enforcer like Kenny Vaccaro, the Longhorns are really without some much-needed dynamite. Adrian Phillips and Mykkele Thompson were good in spurts last year, but there were plenty of forgettable moments to boot.
X-Factors for 2013
Schedule. The 'Horns have a great chance at winning the Big 12, but they need to win a couple of key games and protect their home field. The first four games of the season will be very telling as to just how good Texas can be, and the more good news, the more momentum heading into back-to-back games against Oklahoma and TCU in what could be the most crucial two-game stretch of the season.
Tempo. When implemented and executed correctly, tempo creates success with the right players. Texas is loaded at its skill positions, and it will create many more mismatches with the speed and versatility it has on offense.
The Tailback Quartet. Daje Johnson, Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray will all play considerable roles on offense. With the diversity between the four, the Longhorns can look to create offense just by pairing the right combinations on the field.
Top Storylines to Watch
David Ash at quarterback. Is he the real deal? How will his leadership and confidence look, not just as the quarterback, but as the leader of the team?
Kendall Sanders at wide receiver. Sanders is suspended for Texas' home-opener against New Mexico State, so he will make his season debut on the road at BYU. He has been very solid in throughout the summer and fall and has all but solidified his place as the No. 3 guy at the position.
The Texas offense. Tempo will be there, will it lead Texas to a Big 12 Title?
Manny Diaz's defense. This is truly a critical year for Mack Brown, Manny Diaz and the entire Texas program. But after a horrendous defensive showing in 2012, the Longhorns will be looking to redeem themselves in 2013.
Back from injury. Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks are the biggest names coming back from long-term injuries, and boy will they crucial this season. Can they stay healthy?
The break-out candidates. Daje Johnson, Kendall Sanders and Peter Jinkens are three underclassmen poised for huge campaigns. Do not sleep on their pure football talent.
Season Prediction: 10-2 (7-2)
Final Record: 11-2
This mark would put the Longhorns in definite Big 12 Title contention, leading to either a BCS bowl berth or a trip to the Cotton Bowl.
From 5-7 to 8-4 to 9-4, anything less than a 10-win season should be considering unacceptable. Mack Brown and the Longhorns need a huge season, especially if they plan to contend even more seriously in 2014 with a senior David Ash at quarterback.
The word around Texas these past two season has been cautious optimism, and fans have been disappointed for the most part.
Brown pinned 2013 as the year for Texas' comeback, and the coaching staff will need to deliver just as much as the players.