Texas Football: 7 Things That Need to Be Fixed Before 2012
Mike Fuentes AP
Although their 2011 campaign was marginally better than their 2010 season, the Texas Longhorns made strides from last season, though several questions linger going into the bowl season.
With the regular season in the books, now is the time to scrutinize what went wrong, what went well and what can be bettered.
The Longhorns featured a number of units that performed up to their standards or better, namely on defense, but there were a handful of other positions that did not live up to the expectations of development.
Here are seven things that have to get better for the 2012 Texas Longhorns.
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If there was one position that wholly could have influenced a different outcome to Texas' 2011 season, it was the quarterback.
Between David Ash and Case McCoy, neither signal-caller performed at a high level consistently to ease the minds of the Longhorns coaches or the Texas fanbase.
While the Texas ground game took off with the help of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, the Longhorns passing game was a huge letdown and stuck out like a sore thumb.
The Longhorns will welcome Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet as potential quarterback options next season, but it is unrealistic to expect either to push for the starter's position early on.
Ash and McCoy have demonstrated flashes of brilliance in limited dimensions, but one of them will have to have something click for the Longhorns to experience better success in 2012.
The Texas offensive line battled some injuries and a world of depth and inexperience issues throughout the season. And although the range of performance included very good to highly questionable, there is no standard of consistency that allowed the Longhorns offense truly to take off.
Texas loses guard David Snow and tackle Tray Allen, but will return a plethora of experience next season, namely Dom Espinosa, Trey Hopkins, Mason Walters and Josh Cochran.
Getting the backups more reps during the bowl season and furthering development in offensive line coach Stacy Searels' second season will be huge for the Longhorns up front.
Any ounce of solid, consistent effort will bring about a higher standard of production from the Longhorns' offense.
Ricardo Brazziell AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Save for the past few seasons, the Texas Longhorns have been one of the most active units on special teams, constantly creating big plays through blocked punts and kicks and good coverage and return units.
This season, the Longhorns experienced varying levels of success and failure all over the spectrum. Long kick returns consistently provided shorter fields for opposing offenses, and while Texas probably had a wash in terms the punting and kicking game, that simply will not cut it if this team is to better its results next season.
Texas ranked 95th in net punting, managing a 34.8 yards per punt average after the return.
Coming into the year, depth and inexperience at defensive tackle apart from Kheeston Randall littered the Texas depth chart.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, some of those problems were remedied with flashes of excellence from a number of young tackles, though none performed at a consistent level throughout the season.
With Randall moving on to the next level in 2012, the Longhorns will have to have at least three serviceable defensive tackles who can play at high levels all season long.
A weakness was turned into somewhat of a strength with the emergence of guys like Ashton Dorsey, Calvin Howell and Chris Whaley. But the Longhorns will have to have more step up next season and get snaps from a number of underclassmen.
Rodolfo Gonzalez AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Turnovers allowed the Longhorns to get a 4-0 start to their season, but the game was flipped midyear as Texas would lose the turnover battle.
With the inability of the Texas offense to score consistently, creating turnovers would have been critical for field position, advantages that the Longhorns failed to establish throughout the year.
Kenny Vaccaro, Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom all had great seasons and should be back next season. Between those three and an experienced defensive line can help Texas win the turnover battle.
Red Zone Offense
Rodolfo Gonzalez AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The Longhorns red zone offense was marginal at best in 2011, scoring on just 73 percent of its trips inside the 20. Texas' opponents scored on 86 percent of their attempts.
Texas relied heavily on its wildcat formation in the red zone, headed by running back Fozzy Whittaker. But when the senior went down with a season-ending injury against Missouri, the Longhorns went away from that scheme.
Better quarterback play should do well in Texas' ability to score in the red zone.
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Between David Ash and Case McCoy, the Longhorns managed a passer efficiency ranking of 88, a far cry from where Texas had been with Colt McCoy at the helm.
Much of that has to do with Ash's 56 percent and McCoy's 61.4 percent completion rate, a ratio that must get better no matter what Texas' goals are.
Texas will have to make strides in the offseason, but both the quarterbacks and wide receivers will have to put in the hours to yield the desired results.