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Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Updated: December 8, 10:38 AM ET
Offense's young talent will get better

By Carter Strickland
HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Bryan Harsin was consistent in his message.
Malcolm Brown
A healthy Malcolm Brown will be counted on much more next season.
So much so that it became consistently annoying.

"We have to be more consistent," the Texas co-offensive coordinator said after the fourth game of the season at Iowa State.

"It's all about being consistent, and they know that," he said after the last game at Baylor.

Guess there is something to be said for consistency. Or in Texas' case, the lack thereof, because if there was one thing missing for Texas at every position in the offense in 2011 it was consistency.

The reason Texas was so inconsistent cannot be pinned on one position. It is true the quarterbacks bear the brunt of the blame.

But they were not alone. Darius White, DeSean Hales, Chris Jones, before he transferred, never played up to their potential at the wide receiver spots.

All three starting running backs were hurt.

And the lone fifth-year senior on the offense line, Tray Allen, was replaced by a true freshman.

So scapegoats abound.

But so do solutions.

For the glass-half full crowd, there is plenty of optimism to be found in what Texas will have in 2012 and what it is getting.

The Longhorns lose two starters on offense -- guard David Snow and H-back Blaine Irby. That's it. No other team in the Big 12 could return as many potential starters. Here is what Texas gets back:

Malcolm Brown, who averaged 4.4 yards per carry but was out three games with injury and not 100 percent in another two. Brown still managed 707 rushing yards and in all three games he was given the ball more than 19 times, he managed more than 100 yards.

Joe Bergeron, who had single digit carries in all but two games and missed the final four due to injury, is also back. The two games Bergeron touched the ball more than 10 times he went for 136 and 191 yards.

Add to that the national player of the year in Johnathan Gray, and the backfield looks more than set. It looks downright crowded.

At wide receiver, Jaxon Shipley, the team's best route runner and most productive receiver will be one year older and wiser.

Marquise Goodwin will be with the team all year instead of joining two weeks into the season. That should help. His explosiveness was evident against Baylor, when he went 80 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest touchdown pass in two years at Texas.

Thomas Johnson
With Thomas Johnson and Cayleb Jones, Texas landed two of the nation's best receivers.
Mike Davis, with the proper motivation, can provide the downfield threat Texas needs. Davis more than proved he can get open. He just needs to have a quarterback who can get him the ball.

Now add to that four receivers, two of whom -- Cayleb Jones and Thomas Johnson -- are in the top four of the ESPNU 150. Add another in Kendall Sanders, who is considered one of the top athletes in the state. And finally there is Marcus Johnson, a top-100 wide receiver. Only Arkansas has more top 100 receivers committed than Texas.

So that's 10 potential playmakers -- four of whom are proven commodities and another, Davis, who has shown flashes of brilliance.

As for the blocking up front, freshman Sedrick Flowers pushed for playing time this season until injuries forced him to redshirt. He could fill Snow's spot. Texas is also adding junior college commitment Donald Hawkins, a highly sought-after tackle from Northwest Mississippi Community College.

But really, everything once again could come down to the quarterbacks. Case McCoy is expected to be the leader in the offseason. But Harsin now knows what he has to work with and what his limitations are. That should help in his understanding of McCoy and in his development.

Harsin also knows he has to coach incoming recruit Connor Brewer as if he were going to be a starter from day one. That mindset should accelerate the learning curve and maturation process of the young freshman. Texas also has four very winnable games to start 2012 -- Wyoming, New Mexico, Iowa State at home, and Mississippi on the road.

That should allow for Harsin to select a quarterback, stick with him those first four games, and develop some of that much-needed consistency during that stretch. Because remember, it is all about being consistent.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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