The Texas Longhorns of 2010 and 2007 draw some striking similarities, which have Longhorns fans placing their fingers over the panic button.
The unranked Longhorns (4-3, 2-2) have dropped three of the last four games and must win every game on the rest of the schedule, including their bowl game, to extend their streak of at least 10 wins in a season to 10 straight years.
After years of consistent success under Mack Brown, including two BCS Championship bids in 2005 and 2009, the early season implosion marked by inconsistencies, mistakes and offensive blunders, is creating huge concerns for the Longhorns’ faithful.
Let this be a reminder that Brown’s record at Texas is a whopping 131-28 (that’s a .823 winning clip). The Horns are so cemented in their winning ways, that a couple of slip-ups are sending fans into riots.
Furthermore, keep in mind that if Nebraska’s receivers could catch a football, Texas could be looking at a four game losing streak, as well as one step closer to the cellar of the Big 12 South.
With no. 25 Baylor coming to Austin on Saturday, the road to saving a lost season begins with the 6 p.m. kickoff.
What Does This All Mean?
Despite this season’s misfortunes and mishaps, the future still looks bright for the Horns.
Garrett Gilbert is only a sophomore and his true skills have yet to be unleashed.
This year’s offense does not have the consistent playmakers and the problems are evident at almost every position.
Malcolm Williams was supposed to be that dynamic, go-to option at receiver, but his game has not developed and James Kirkendoll may not even be a good second option.
John Chiles is a quarterback turned receiver and while his offseason looked promising, injuries have limited his production.
The best receiver on the team is freshman Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin is a track star in football pads, though a very talented athlete. Consequently, Goodwin will miss every spring workout because of his track commitments.
The offensive line is its own set of problems. The Horns are thin and underperforming in the trenches, but they are full of youth waiting in the wings. The arrival of Christian Westerman (number 3 OL, Rivals.com) among others next year, represents a new anchor to the line.
Malcolm Brown (number 1 RB, Rivals.com), a 2011 recruit, can single-handedly solve the running back issues that Texas has faced since 2007.
A sophomore quarterback, lack of consistent and senior supporting cast of playmakers, depth problems on the offensive line and a running back problem to be solved next season.
Do not expect the offensive to simply turn on a switch this season. Colt McCoy’s departure, along with Jordan Shipley, put the offense in a big hole and it is only a matter of time before they can climb out. It will be a process and fans will have to be patient.
The Future of Mack Brown
It is no secret that defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is the head coach in-waiting at Texas, but Brown has insisted that he is in no plans on retirement.
Does this season’s underwhelming performance signify the beginning of the end for Brown’s 13-year tenure in Austin?
It seems possible, but unlikely.
It is not in Brown’s character to let the program run haywire. Remember that it was Brown that turned Texas into a perennial championship caliber program, since his arrival in the late ‘90s.
At the same time, with constant rumors flying around Muschamp’s possible departure, the Georgia alumnus knows the brand that is Texas. It would be foolish of him to flee Austin when the program will be his to drive in only a few years.
Texas was in trouble when Brown took over. The Horns surely will not be when Brown leaves.
A Mirror in the North
Case in point. Look no further than Texas’ northern rival Oklahoma.
The Sooners had an abysmal 8-5 season last year, battling injuries to their star quarterback Sam Bradford and slowly working Landry Jones in a formidable option as the signal caller.
College football fans around the country were pointing to the demise of a successful Oklahoma program under Bob Stoops, who many believed was on the hot seat in Norman.
Who is laughing now?
A year later, the Sooners are 6-1 and control their destiny for a BCS Bowl berth.
For those who believe Texas is doomed, Brown will welcome you with open arms when the 2011 campaign begins.
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