Friday, May 6, 2011
Texas spring wrap
By David Ubben
2010 overall record: 5-7
2010 conference record: 2-6
Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (6) P/K (1)
Top returners: RB Fozzy Whittaker, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Emmanuel Acho, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, WR Mike Davis, RB Cody Johnson
Key losses: DE Sam Acho, DC Will Muschamp, CB Curtis Brown, CB Aaron Williams, CB Chykie Brown, DL Eddie Jones, OL Kyle Hix, WR James Kirkendoll
2010 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Cody Johnson* (592 yards)
Passing: Garrett Gilbert* (2,744 yards)
Receiving: James Kirkendoll (707 yards)
Tackles: Keenan Robinson* (106)
Sacks: Sam Acho (8)
Interceptions: Keenan Robinson* (2)
Three spring answers
1. Offseason mission accomplished. Mack Brown hired five new coaches and a new strength coach, Benny Wylie. The players have taken to the younger blood on the sidelines, mostly up-and-comers who have plenty to prove and plenty of energy. Brown lauded the team’s effort in the offseason program, too. Whether or not it pays off on the field immediately, Brown made great hires that his players have bought into.
2. Right place, right time for Okafor. Defensive end Alex Okafor was a defensive tackle last year and figured he’d stay there this year. But days before spring practice, he moved to defensive end and had one of the best springs on the team, capping it with five sacks in the spring game.
3. Recruiting pipelines are still full. Despite all the unrest with the coaching staff and last year’s on-field struggles, Texas hasn’t seen the effects on the recruiting trail. It retained all but one recruit from its 2010 class (an he was an out-of-stater, albeit a five-star lineman) and its 2011 class is already one of the nation’s best.
Three fall questions
1. Is Texas back? There are tons of little questions (secondary, the entire offense), but they all add up to this one. The Longhorns have more money than anyone else. Recruiting is easier for them than perhaps any school in the country. They have a tradition of success. Seasons like last year aren’t supposed to happen at Texas. Was last year a hiccup, or a significant hurdle?
2. What about the QBs? Texas has one of the most jumbled messes in the league at quarterback. Garrett Gilbert started all 12 games last year, but he was unimpressive and threw 17 picks to 10 TDs. The competition was reopened under new OC Bryan Harsin, but after the spring, none of Texas three quarterbacks had separated themselves, and Case McCoy was the most impressive passer in the spring game. Anything could happen this fall. No one is a front runner.
3. Is Malcolm Brown the future or present? We’ve seen impressive freshman running backs in this league before, and the opportunity will be there for Brown if he’s good enough to seize it. Texas has Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson, but both are seniors and neither has proven to be a reliable every-down threat. What’s in store for the nation’s top running back in the 2011 class?