Texas will start the season at No. 15 in both major polls, but Mack Brown's not shying away from expectations this season. He says his team could finish in the top five.
"I think if you didn't think that, Lord, you shouldn't be at Texas," Brown told reporters. "I think two years ago was not the norm for us. Last year we had a lot of growing to do to try to get back in the mix. We had our chances, didn't work out like we wanted it to, and this year I think we've got a chance to be in the mix."
Brown's not far off. The defense should be dominant and will keep the Longhorns in games at times. The big question: Will the offense have a quarterback capable of making big throws when he need to, and will the running game be as good on the field as it should be on paper.
"If we play really good we've got a chance to win every week. If we play average we've got a chance to lose," Brown said. "So the coaches and the players have to do a tremendous job of being prepared to play each week and play at a high level."
That quote reminds me a little bit of Nebraska's Bo Pelini. After routing Washington in the Holiday Bowl, he took to the podium and shouted to delirious Husker fans that Nebraska was back, and here to stay.
Asked to expound on the comments later, he explained that by "back" he meant the Huskers would have a great chance to win every single game they played, and it was up to him to make it happen. He was right, though the Big Ten transition last year made it a bumpier ride than maybe he expected at the time.
Still, being in every game and winning every game is a far different task. Pelini has still lost four games in every season at Nebraska. That's not acceptable at Texas.
Yes, a top five finish is possible this year for Texas. So is a finish outside the top 25, thanks to a crazy-deep Big 12. It's up to Brown to navigate his team to the top of this league. The ability is there, but Texas won't be favored in every game. It'll be within reach, but only the fall will tell if the Longhorns reach out and grab those wins.