Who's hooked on the horns in 2012?
Texas running back, Malcom Brown will look to recover from an injury struck 2011 and get the Horns back on top of college football in 2012.
Ryan Trapp - Staff Writer
2011 Record (Big 12):8-5 (4-5)
Returning Starters (Off/Def/ST):17 (10/7/0)
The Longhorns’ will field one of the best defenses in the country this season. Highlighted by the return of all-conference stand outs Jackson Jeffcoat, Alex Okafor, and Carrington Byndom, this group has not only a chance to be elite but the nation’s best. Jeffcoat and Okafor combined for 15 sacks and 35 tackles for loss last season at the defensive end position and Byndom established himself as one of the best cover corners in football last season. The defense that limited opponents to a Big 12-best 315.3 yards per game also returns speedy linebackers Demarco Cobb and Jordan Hicks. Returning freshman All-American Quandre Diggs will contribute across from Byndom at the corner, and safety Kenny Vaccaro returns after an impressive junior season that had NFL scouts’ mouths watering.
Mac Brown utilized both David Ash and Case McCoy under center last season and the position battle is one of the most intriguing in college football. Early indications are that the job is Ash’s to lose, but McCoy outperformed the sophomore in game-action last year and won’t hand over the starting job without a fight. Whoever starts will have a full stable of talented backs behind him. Sophomore Joe Bergeron was the break-out star in spring practice and Malcolm Brown returns after posting 742 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. Incoming freshman Jonathan Gray is a true impact player. While Gray currently sits behind the sophomore tandem of Bergeron and Brown on the depth chart, the nation’s top running back recruit is too talented to keep off the field. The three will find plenty of holes behind Texas’ big offensive line that returns four starters. Out in the wings are some talented receivers in Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley and Maquise Goodwin, whose presence will keep opposing teams honest against what could be one of the country’s best ground attacks.
ROAD TO THE BCS
Texas has a crucial three-game stretch midseason against conference opponents Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma. A trio of wins there should give them an early conference lead that will be put the test in back-to-back games against TCU and at Kansas State to close out the season. The Longhorns will need to gain some momentum on offense early in the season if they want to survive those tough patches in the schedule. However, with the defense Mac Brown will put on the field in 2012, they’ll only need to be above-average to keep Texas in contention for a BCS championship berth.
BURNING QUESTION:Can Ash or McCoy take over the quarterback competition?
It’s a question of upside vs. performance. Ash has a stronger presence in the pocket and is more gifted physically, but he hasn’t been able to capitalize on those gifts as well as the Longhorns hoped. While McCoy has outperformed Ash on the field (throwing for a higher percentage, more scores and fewer interceptions), he has a lower ceiling according to scouts than his sophomore counterpart. To compete for a title both quarterbacks have to improve upon last season’s performances. But Ash and McCoy won’t need to put up Heismanesque numbers either. With the elite defense and running game the Longhorns possess, Texas just needs a quarterback who can manage the game well and limit turnovers. So far all signs point to Ash under center week one, but that’s not guaranteed by any means. Mac Brown would like to see one of his signal-callers to step up and claim the starting job with authority.
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