Thursday, May 6, 2010
Texas spring wrap
By David Ubben
2009 overall record: 13-1
2009 conference record: 8-0
Returning starters: Offense (6), Defense(7) P/K (1)
Top returners: CB Chykie Brown, CB Aaron Williams, S Blake Gideon, WR James Kirkendoll, RB Tre’ Newton, DE Sam Acho, DT Eddie Jones, DT Kheeston Randall
Key losses: QB Colt McCoy, WR Jordan Shipley, DE Sergio Kindle, S Earl Thomas, DT Lamarr Houston, OL Adam Ulatowski, OL Charlie Tanner, LB Roddrick Muckelroy, WR Dan Buckner (transfer)
2009 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Tre’ Newton* (552 yards)
Passing: Colt McCoy (3,521 yards)
Receiving: Jordan Shipley (1,485 yards)
Tackles: Roddrick Muckelroy (84)
Sacks: Sam Acho* (7)
Interceptions: Earl Thomas (8)
Three spring answers
1. Check out the new style. Texas is going under center. And while offensive coordinator Greg Davis warns the style change isn’t as radical as some believe, it’s still a departure from the spread attack under the accurate Colt McCoy, which was a departure from the zone read scheme under the athletic Vince Young. If the running game materializes, everything else will come easier for the Longhorns.
2. National Championship was no fluke. The hype surrounding Garrett Gilbert’s impending ascension to starter this spring was expanded tenfold by his performance in the national championship game after McCoy was sidelined with a shoulder injury. This spring, as best he could, he validated that hype. He’s taken control of the team, and performed solidly all spring, capped off by an impressive 10-of-13 for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.
3. Secondary strengths. After this spring, Mack Brown believes his secondary has three NFL-bound defensive backs in Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams. They could terrorize Big 12 quarterbacks this season, even though they lost safety and first-round pick Earl Thomas to the NFL last season.
Three fall questions
1. Will the broken record fix itself? The past couple springs have been all about establishing the running game in Austin. The past two falls have come and gone without a solid, consistent runner for Texas. This year, Tre’ Newton and Fozzy Whittaker have separated from a talented group of running backs as the featured runners in the offense heading into fall. If they’re not productive, we’ll be right back here again next spring.
2. What receivers will fit where? Other than Jordan Shipley, no Texas receiver could be counted on for Colt McCoy. Now, players like Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll, DeSean Hales, Marquise Goodwin and John Chiles will try to change that. But when fall comes, so does the nation’s best receiving class. Texas signed two of the top three receivers and three of the top 11, as well as ATH Demarco Cobbs, who could also play receiver. Mike Davis, Darius White and Chris Jones will be nipping at the heels of any older receivers who slip up in preseason camp.
3. Will the dominance over Oklahoma continue? The Red River Rivalry has favored the south side, Texas, in four of the past five seasons. As usual, the Sooners and Longhorns will meet again at the Cotton Bowl in October, and Oklahoma will be hungry to reverse their fortunes against the burnt orange. How Texas responds will have a big impact on the South race, even though a victory in the 2008 game didn’t put the Longhorns into the Big 12 title game.