Five burning questions for Texas
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Even though Texas claimed 10 victories last season, and defeated Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, there weren't many happy people around the Forty Acres after last season.
|Scott Wachter/Icon SMI|
|Mack Brown and the Longhorns hope to build on 2007's 10-win season.|
The Longhorns struggled defensively, ranking 109th nationally in pass defense, 52nd in overall defense and allowed more passing yards than any team in school history. Those struggles led to coach Mack Brown to demote former defensive coordinator Duane Akina and hire fiery new coordinator Will Muschamp from Auburn.
Brown hopes that move will shake some lethargy from a program that too often played without passion last season. It will be interesting to see if that decision shakes up the defensive unit and gets them to play harder. If nothing else, it will likely provide the Longhorns with a few "YouTube" moments from Muschamp's wild sideline rants.
Those disappointments have reduced expectations from most observers to the lowest since the 1999 season. Brown has to be loving that response -- almost as much as the motivational material prompted by some of Howard Schnellenberger's taunts about his team heading into their opener Saturday night against Florida Atlantic.
Heading into that game, here are five pressing concerns for the Longhorns.
1. Can the young secondary hold up?
The secondary is the youngest that Brown has ever had and it got even younger when the most veteran member, Ishie Oduegwu, went down. It will mean that five freshmen defensive backs could see action against a talented Florida Atlantic passing game. And it won't get any easier once Big 12 play begins.
2. How will the defense respond to Muschamp?
So far, so good as the Longhorns seem to have gravitated to his aggressive nature. But will that nature stand up after a little adversity? We'll see.
3. Colt's turnovers
After a record-breaking freshman season, QB Colt McCoy had a tendency to try to do too much last season. It helped lead him to throw 18 interceptions, which tied for the conference lead and were the most thrown by a Texas quarterback in Big 12 history in one season. He's got to do a better job this season.
4. Who will be Texas' featured running threat?
Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya will get the first shot with Fozzy Whittaker waiting for his chance after he recovers from his knee injury suffered late in training camp. McGee is more of a move-the-pile runner, Ogbonnaya is a better pass-catcher and Whittaker a more explosive back. The combination should be useful, if all can handle not being the featured back.
5. How will the Longhorns handled the diminished expectations?
Diminished for Texas, anyway. Most observers have them picked for third in the Big 12 South. It's hard to believe that Brown ever would need to play the disrespect card at Texas, but this season looks like the perfect time.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State