Texas Longhorns Football: Expect the Unexpected in 2010
The Texas Longhorns' football program operates under high expectations year in and year out as one of the best in the country.
During Mack Brown's tenure in Austin, the Horns boast a streak of nine seasons with at least 10 wins and another streak of 12 seasons with at least nine wins, tops in the nation.
The consistent drive for excellence shows every season, but even with all the bar set very high, there still remains the shadowy unknowns each campaign.
Colt McCoy's transformation from three-star recruit to the NCAA's all-time leader in career wins is the latest example of the unexpected, and surely more unforeseen events are bound to happen.
Here are some of the expected and potentially unexpected events ticketed for the 2010 season.
Expected: Garrett Gilbert to Struggle
The crystal ball is almost never wrong here.
Aside from a small assortment of anomalies, quarterbacks in their first years as the starter typically struggle to find a groove until late in the season, sometimes not until the follower year.
Garrett Gilbert unfortunately follows in the footsteps of the winningest signal caller in the history of the NCAA in Colt McCoy, not the smallest shoes to fill.
Coupled with a style of offense—a downhill running game—that is hardly tailored to Gilbert's strengths—throwing the football—only sets up the sophomore to struggle this season.
Not many have questioned his talent coming out of Lake Travis High School, but his experience at the college level will limit his productivity this year as he begins to make his own tracks in Austin.
Expected: Defense to Be Nasty
Since bringing in Will Muschamp as the Horns' defensive coordinator, Texas' defense has improved every year.
Props go to Muschamp, but the position coaches—namely the defensive backs coach Duane Akina—get to snatch some of the credit.
The talent seeping out of these recruiting classes in the past couple of years no doubt makes Muschamp's job a little bit easier.
Names like Alex Okafor, Jordan Hicks, Jackson Jeffcoat, and Reggie Wilson remain relatively anonymous to the rest of the college football world, but these highly touted recruits are just part of a Longhorns defense that is fast, well-coached, and very talented.
While the offense matures under a new scheme, expect the defense to do much of the talking early in the season.
Expected: Defensive Backs Stand Out
The Longhorns have built a reputation within the football world as DBU—Defensive Back University.
After seeing the the careers of recent defensive backs like Quentin Jammer, Tarell Brown, Nathan Vasher, Michael Griffin, Cedric Griffin, Aaron Ross, Michael Huff, and most recently Earl Thomas onto the NFL, another trio of cornerbacks could reach the next level after this season.
Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown are seniors, developed under the tutelage of Duane Akina. Aaron Williams is only a junior, but it is widely accepted that the super-athletic nickel corner will leave a year early as he is expected to get picked up in the first round in next year's NFL draft.
If there is one position in the Longhorns' defense that garners little concern, it is the secondary.
Unexpected: A Wide-Receiver Turned Legitimate Threat
The days of Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby are gone, and the Longhorns haven't had too much luck finding the answer at wide out.
Malcolm Williams is on his second year of hype and is off to a good start, but will need to convince many people that his consistency issues are a thing of the past.
James Kirkendoll seems to go in and out, sometimes even invisible, while John Chiles is turning the corner from pass thrower to pass catcher.
Marquise Goodwin is a track star, and finding the touches for the speedster is critical for his progression as a receiver.
Freshmen Mike Davis and Darius White appear to have bright futures on the Forty Acres, but questions still surround the position, and uncovering the elite receiver is still work in progress.
Unexpected: A Running Back Turned Go-to Option
This is a topic that's been harped on and driven into the ground from several sports outlets in the last couple of seasons, and there is definitely justification.
It is no secret that the Longhorns have struggled to produce a top notch tailback since 2007, when Jamaal Charles was still on campus.
Texas landed Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown a few weeks ago, a 2011 commit, but he won't arrive on campus until next season.
While fans anticipate his enrollment, the running back situation unfortunately remains the status quo.
For the time being, Cody Johnson, Tré Newton and Fozzy Whittaker will still slice the carries.
Unexpected: An Eight-Win Season
Blame this one on Mack Brown.
Over the coach's tenure in Austin, the Longhorns have won at least nine games in every season since 1998. It's become more than an expectation, rather a given that Texas will reach or surpass that mark.
The former North Carolina boss has built a brand of success at Texas that some fans may take for granted. His contributions to the program have put the Longhorns on a platform that stands high above the college football world, paralleled by the power programs of Alabama and Florida.
This season should prove no different. Even if the Horns trip up with consecutive losses to Oklahoma and Nebraska, five of their last six games are at home in the comforts of DKR Memorial Stadium.