The Texas Longhorns have been on a rough journey the past two seasons since appearing in the 2009 BCS Championship Game. The 2010 campaign was Mack Brown's worst at Texas. The Longhorns went 5-7 and many people were wondering if Mac needed to go. The Longhorns improved on their record last year to 8-5, but it is nowhere near the quality that Mack had brought to the Longhorn Nation. Many fans are wanting a return to glory but it doesn't look like it will be in the cards.
Texas' offense improved from their 2010 season and rose to 54th in total offense. While that is an improvement, there were still many problem areas. The major problem for the Longhorns last year was the quarterback position. David Ash and Case McCoy swapped back and forth in the starting role. Each had moments of brilliance followed by moments of "What are you thinking?" Mack continues to say the competition is open but most experts agree it looks like Ash has secured the starting role after an excellent spring. Running Back Fozzy Whittaker has departed and Sophomore Malcom Brown looks to assume the starting role. There are plenty of playmakers on the team but none have stepped up into the dominant threat that past Texas teams have had. Nine returning starters on offense will hopefully improve from last year to make Texas a threat offensively again.
The defense will return seven starters in a system they should be more than familiar with now. Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz starts his second season in Austin and wants to continue their dominant performance. The Longhorns finished 11th in Total Defense and 6th in Rushing Defense but must improve their passing defense that finished 42nd. Emmanuel Acho leaves the Longhorns for the NFL after being the best all around defensive player for the Longhorns last year. Jackson Jeffcoat will return at the Buck position after leading the team in Tackles for Loss and Sacks. Another strong season from Jeffcoat will almost guarantee him a spot in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The secondary will need to improve dramatically to compete in the pass happy Big XII. If they fail to do so, they will most likely be the root of a disappointing season for the Longhorns.
When you look at Texas' schedule, you see that their non-conference run is not that challenging. Home games against Wyoming and New Mexico start the season. After a trip to Ole Miss, the three hardest games of the season loom: at Oklahoma State, home for West Virginia, then Oklahoma in Dallas. If Texas can get through this stretch with at least one win, they will have a shot at a ten win season. After the Red River Rivalry, Texas' toughest remaining games don't come until the end of the year when they host TCU and finish at Kansas State.
I see the Longhorns going 8-4 this year with losses to West Virginia, Oklahoma, TCU, and Kansas State.