10 Reasons Why Texas Will Bounce Back Into the Elite in 2011
One of the most disappointing teams from last year’s college football season was the Texas Longhorns.
Coming off a national championship appearance in which their start quarterback went down early, former 5-star recruit Garrett Gilbert entered the game and performed fairly well considering the circumstances.
With Gilbert at the helm, the Longhorns entered the 2010 ranked in the top five in both major preseason polls.
Mack Brown and company began the season 3-0 before suffering an embarrassing loss at home to UCLA.
That loss was just the beginning.
Texas proceeded to lose six of their eight remaining games.
The statistic that was arguably the hardest to swallow for Longhorn fans was the five losses suffered at home.
They finished the season with a 5-7 record, did not make a bowl game, and lost their defensive coordinator. But Longhorn fans don’t fret. Here are 10 reasons to believe in 2011.
Under Bo Pelini, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are showing signs of returning to prominence.
It’s hard to believe that Big Red’s success will now be irrelevant to the Texas Longhorns.
The Cornhuskers are taking their talents to the Big Ten and will no longer be playing Texas on a regular basis.
Who knows the next time the Huskers and Horns will butt heads, but the only thing that matters in the eyes of Texas fans is their team won the last meeting between these two rivals as members of the Big 12.
I should also mention the game was played in Lincoln.
A highly-touted recruit out of high school, Davis came to Austin and was given a fair amount of playing time during his freshman season, appearing in 10 games.
Given the offensive struggles and high interception rate for Gilbert, Davis turned in a solid freshman campaign, catching 45 balls for 464 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the keys to Gilbert’s success and the overall production of the Texas offense will be the production that Mike Davis will need to have in 2011.
He is the prize possession of Mack Brown’s 2011 recruiting class.
Although he is not signed, with national signing day less than a week away, all signs are pointing to Brown signing his letter of intent to play for Mack.
His size and dominance at the high school level have given him a reputation as a punishing runner.
If you need help picturing this, here’s how he fills out: 6’0” and 220 pounds.
Given the fact that Texas’ rushing attack was nothing to write home about and assuming Brown does indeed sign with the Longhorns, he should be able to come in and boost their sub-par rushing attack from 2010.
Gilbert entered the season with the expectations to be the next great Longhorns quarterback after Vince Young and Colt McCoy.
The reality of the situation is that Texas fans were spoiled by the success that Young and McCoy had during their careers in Austin.
This is no shot at Texas fans either, it’s just the truth.
Now that Gilbert has played a full season and undergone the pressure that comes with being the quarterback at Texas, he should have all the experience necessary to take a step forward and live up to his 5-star recruit status.
I also expect him to refine his mechanics with the new offensive coordinators. Major Applewhite knows a thing or two when it comes to playing quarterback at Texas, something I presume he will talk to Garrett about.
New Texas Defensive Coordinator
Manny Diaz: Formerly Mississippi State Defensive Coordinator
New Texas Co-Offensive Coordinators
Major Applewhite: Formerly Texas Running Backs Coach
Bryan Harsin: Formerly Boise State Offensive Coordinator
Texas took action in trying to not only replace the big hole left by Wil Muschamp’s departure to Florida, but also to better their overall success on both sides of the ball.
Out goes Will Muschamp to Florida and the SEC East. In comes SEC West defensive coordinator, more specifically Mississippi State, Manny Diaz.
Having run the Longhorns' offense since 1998, Greg Davis threw in the towel at the end of the season.
Either Davis’ resignation left a huge hole in their offensive schemes or Texas just felt the need to have two perspectives on offense. I guess everything is bigger in Texas.
Either way Bryan Harsin, formerly Boise State’s offensive coordinator, and Major Applewhite, formerly Texas’ running backs coach, were selected as co-offensive coordinators.
Texas did not live up to its high standards on either side of the ball this season.
Despite adding a defensive coordinator that seems up to the task of revamping this Texas defensive unit, after the loss of Muschamp along with their poor 2010 season, it is hard to envision the Longhorns having a stellar defense in 2011. I expect it will be better than 2010, but only a little bit better.
The unit that figures to improve in a more obvious fashion is the offense.
As stated above, the potential emergence of Mike Davis, the expected addition of Malcolm Brown, and another year of experience for Gilbert, the Texas offense should have more firepower in 2011.
Add in their two new coordinators and the 2011 Texas offense is showing an obvious potential for improvement.
Applewhite has knowledge of the system, especially considering that on top of coaching at Texas for a few years, he also played under Mack Brown as a quarterback.
Harsin on the other hand has been at the controls of Boise State’s offense for the last five years and with the Broncos for a total of 10 years, playing a part in the team’s 106 victories while he coached there.
In case you were wondering, Texas also won 106 games during that stretch.
A mixed combination of the previously mentioned factors should have people talking about Texas’ offense in a positive light again next season.
No. 2 Recruiting Class
The 2010 recruiting class was the third-ranked class among college football teams last season.
This year, Mack Brown raised the bar to currently sport the second-ranked recruiting class.
I know there is virtually no difference between the rankings of the two classes, but despite their 5-7 record, the Longhorns were still able to convince recruits that their one losing season was just that, one losing season.
The aforementioned Brown leads the way in this class that will provide Texas with the balance and depth that its roster is currently lacking.
The 2010 campaign was Mack Brown’s worst season as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns.
He had his lowest win total (5), first losing record (5-7), and it was the first season in which his team did not qualify for a bowl game.
His reputation speaks for itself.
He has lead Texas to two national championships this decade, developed countless NFL players, and has a record of 133-34 as the head coach of the Longhorns.
The seven losses that he endured last season represent roughly 20 percent of his total losses while at Texas.
Mack made some solid promotions and hires this offseason and I expect them to pay off in 2011.
Based on what happened in 2010 and what should happen in 2011, Texas’ deal with ESPN came at roughly the perfect time.
With Colorado joining the Pac-12, Nebraska joining the Big Ten and the overall contraction of the Big 12, Texas now plays in a conference with no championship game.
That’s no good.
After witnessing Texas hold the remaining teams in the Big 12 hostage while they pondered their decision on their future, the power that Texas has became evident.
Now that Nebraska and Colorado will depart in the summer of 2011, they might as well call this conference the Texas 10.
Considering that 2010 was most likely a fluke, the success that Texas football should have in 2011 along with operating their own television network is an excellent way to promote and market a program that is already a national icon.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the deal is worth $300 million over 20 years?
2010 Team Had Bowl Potential
The prestige and history of the Texas football program gives the team such high expectations that winning less than nine or 10 games and a not making a bowl game is considered a wasted season.
That being said Texas missed its first bowl game in 13 years and failed to win 10 games for the first time in nine years.
There are three losses in particular that could have gone the Longhorns way.
One of the key statistics that typically relates to the outcome of the game is the turnover battle.
Usually the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game.
That was the case when Texas played Oklahoma, Iowa State and Texas A&M.
Texas committed four turnovers against Iowa State and Texas A&M, and two against Oklahoma.
Whereas Iowa State committed one turnover, Texas A&M committed two turnovers, and Oklahoma did not commit any turnovers.
To make matters worse, Texas lost all three of those games each by one score.
I am not saying that Texas would have won all of those games, but I am just pointing out that they could have won one of those games to finish the season bowl eligible with a 6-6 record.
That means last year’s team had the potential for a 6-6 record, making an offseason of hard work and recruiting a logical reason to assume they have the potential to turn a 5-7 record into a 9-3 record.
Texas Longhorns football is a national icon.
Also, as far as Texans are concerned, football is everything.
Well maybe not everything, but it is very popular in the Lone Star State.
Texas football went from national championship appearance to no bowl game in one season.
While it does not appear that the Dallas Cowboys are going to be a legitimate Super Bowl contenders for a few more years, 2010 was a fluke season for the Longhorns.
After significant overhauls in the coaching staff, a year of experience for key contributors and another top recruiting class, the 2010 season will be something of an afterthought once the Longhorns kick off their 2011 season.