Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Texas Longhorns season recap
By David Ubben
What season? Didn't Texas cancel 2010? You might hear something along those lines from Texas fans after a shocking 5-7 season that featured five home losses, with the only wins coming over ... wait for it ... Wyoming and Florida Atlantic. Ouch.
Most -- myself included -- figured Texas' defense would be good enough to carry the Longhorns to at least 8-9 wins while the offense suffered through what eventually became an identity crisis. Statistically, it was a great defense, but lapses against UCLA and Oklahoma turned into losses, and suddenly one-dimensional offenses like Kansas State looked just as dominant against the Longhorns as Oklahoma State's powerful, balanced attack.
Texas shuffled featured backs almost weekly, but no part of Texas running game was powerful, a stated spring goal that, to their credit, Texas tried to achieve for most of the season. It was a futile effort, and eventually cost the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator their jobs. Comically bad, recurrent punt-fielding decisions helped send special teams coordinator Mike Tolleson on his way, too.
Regardless, it was a year of losing in Texas that the program hasn't seen since the days of John Mackovic. Lucky for the Longhorns, by the end of the season, there was nobody left in the stands to see it.
Offensive MVP: Mike Davis, WR. There wasn't much to pick from, but Davis' 47 catches and were a Texas freshman record, and give the Longhorns hope for the future for whoever is brought in to run the offense.
Defensive MVP: Sam Acho, DL. Despite the disappointing showing from the defense as a whole, Acho put in an All-American effort and production every time he took the field. The senior led the nation with five forced fumbles, and was second in the Big 12 with 15.5 tackles for loss. He also had eight sacks and made 58 tackles.
Turning point: UCLA's 34-12 win in Austin. It looked like a shocking upset at the time. The Bruins were an early disappointment, and Texas was 3-0 and ranked No. 7. It ended up just being a tussle between two mediocre teams who combined to finish 9-15. Texas extended its curious dominance over Nebraska with a win over the Huskers in Lincoln, but that win was more of an aberration produced by excellent game-planning from the Longhorns, rather than a second turning point.
What's next: Good question. Who knows? Texas should field another excellent defense next season under Will Muschamp with plenty of new leaders like Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho and Kenny Vaccaro, as well as Kheeston Randall and Blake Gideon, but offensively, anything could happen. I subscribe to the school of thought that, while Garrett Gilbert's numbers were average at best, he didn't have a lot of help. He wasn't the main problem. If Davis can continue to develop, and the running game can be a factor in 2011, he'll look like more of what most people thought he'd be. But much of that will depend on who Texas gets to replace offensive coordinator Greg Davis.