Colleague Travis Haney named his top five teams in 2012 who are poised to bounce back from disappointing seasons in 2011.
No. 1 on his list? Those Texas Longhorns, who went just 8-5 in 2011, which was a bit of a bounce back on its own after a shocking 5-7 campaign in 2010 that left Texas out of the postseason for the first time since 1997.
For more on why Haney pegs the Longhorns as the team to watch, check out his full ESPN Insider piece on the five bounceback teams.
I couldn't agree more with Haney on this one. Texas is growing up, but its freshman-heavy roster (mostly on offense, anyway) went through plenty of growing pains in 2011.
They've got the most upside of any team in the league this year in my book, and the pieces are there to win big. Texas just has to make it happen.
David Ash will have a full offseason stocked with practice reps he's never gotten before. He won't be landing on any Heisman lists, but it's very easy to see him becoming competent as a sophomore in 2012. The bar is higher in the Big 12 for quarterbacks to be considered average. For now, Ash is certainly below it, but I'd like to see what he's capable of when the program is fully behind him, not shuffling him in and out of the lineup.
Haney's piece has a rather revealing quote from an unnamed "in-state coach," too, who readily admits that anyone who recruited in the state and saw who Texas was signing each year knew the Longhorns wouldn't be down for long, no matter how much you hoped it would happen.
Texas is only going to get better next year, too, but what can the Longhorns do in 2012? We'll find out very soon.