Should Texas Really Be Ranked in 2014 Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll?

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2014

Considering all of the questions that surround Texas football under its new head coach Charlie Strong, the fact that the Longhorns are ranked at all is a surprise.

The 2014 preseason Amway Coaches Poll is out, and the Longhorns are ranked at No. 24.

It would be fair to say Texas has not proven anything to put them in the Top 25. Are the Longhorns at ground zero with no future ahead?


But when one considers the significant amount of change that has occurred since January, it is safe to say the Texas football program is in a bit of a rebuilding period.

And that rebuilding period leaves a lot of question marks for the immediate future.

There is an entirely new staff in Austin, the offensive line lost all but one of its veteran linemen from 2013, the quarterback position is still a huge question mark and the list goes on.

Texas went 8-5 in 2013 and ended its season with a 30-7 defeat in the Alamo Bowl. Sure, there's new leadership at the top, but Strong inherited a team with a lot of holes on its depth chart.

And the recent dismissals of Joe Bergeron, Chevoski Collins and Jalen Overstreet, in addition to the indefinite suspensions of Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, only add to the number of holes on the two-deep.

But the question marks truly begin with the leader of the offense.



Strong named David Ash the starting quarterback heading into fall camp, but Ash's injury-prone past is not something anyone can overlook.

After spending the majority of the 2013 season with recurring concussion symptoms, Ash appeared to be healthy in time for spring practice.

That health lasted roughly three weeks.

Ash suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot midway through the spring and was sidelined for the Longhorns spring game.

Although he appears to be healthy heading into fall camp, the question of how long his health will last will continue to follow him.

Next on the list of position question marks is the group of men who help protect the quarterback.


Offensive Line

If fans happened to watch the Texas spring game, they would know the offensive line allowed eight sacks and 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 68 yards.

Spring games do not always show the accurate picture of the team, but Strong did mention the offensive line as one of his biggest concerns for the season.

"The offensive line is a position you're concerned about," Strong said at Big 12 media days. "(Dominic) Espinosa is a returning starter and you have some guys who have played in games, but you want to make sure you're really good up front, and we haven't seen that yet."

Texas hired one of the best offensive line coaches in college football in Joe Wickline, and his talents will be put to the test during his first season coaching in Austin.


Scheme Changes

Aside from specific positions, one of the biggest remaining questions for the Longhorns is how well the team can learn the staff's new scheme.

When Strong and Co. took over for former head coach Mack Brown and his staff, the Longhorns had to not only get to know the new coaches, but also get to know an entirely new system.

And that task is not something that will be learned overnight.

When it's all said and done, the number of question marks surrounding the Texas Longhorns makes it nearly impossible to agree with the preseason No. 24 ranking.

Will the questions be answered once fall camp begins? Possibly, but until the Longhorns take the field against one of the most difficult opponents on the schedule, such as UCLA on Sept. 13, the questions will likely remain unanswered.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.


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