2011 Record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Mack Brown (141-39 at Texas, 227-113-1 All-Time)
Four Year Win Trend: 9.5 wins and 3.5 losses overall; 5.25 wins and 3 losses in conference
Last Bowl Game: 2011 season Holiday Bowl: beat Cal 21-10
Swing Games: 10/6 vs West Virginia, 11/22 vs TCU
Stats to Cheer: held opponents to 33.7% on third down conversions (2nd in Big 12); held opponents to 50% TD rate in red zone (2nd in Big 12)
Stats to Fear: scored TDs on only 50.95% of red zone trips (9th in Big 12)
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: (Offense: 9; Defense: 6; Specialists: 0)
Key Defensive Returnees: DL Jackson Jeffcoat (63 tackles, 8 sacks), DL Alex Okafor (52 tackles, 6 sacks), S Kenny Vaccaro (71 tackles, 2 sacks), LB Jordan Hicks (55 tackles), CB Quandre Diggs (49 tackles, 4 INT)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB Malcolm Brown (742 yds rush, 5 TD), RB Joe Bergeron (463 yds rush, 5 TD), WR Jaxon Shipley (44 rec, 3 TD), WR Mike Davis (45 rec), WR Marquise Goodwin (33 rec)
Top Recruits: DT Malcom Brown (Scout.com's #1 DT), RB Johnathan Gray (#2 RB), OG Curtis Riser (#2 OG), WR Cayleb Jones (#3 WR), OT Kennedy Estelle (#7 OT), MLB Dalton Santos (#5 MLB), OLB Torshiro Davis (#8 OLB), CB Bryson Echols (#9 CB)
The bottom dropped out in 2010 and Texas fell to 5-7 which was their worst record since John Mackovic went 4-7 in 1997. Mack Brown cleaned house and brought in a new staff and it resulted in a two and a half game improvement last season. The Longhorns look to build on that turnaround this year as they continue to look for a quarterback.
Over the last two years Texas QBs have thrown 26 TDs and 32 INTs. In losses those numbers look a bit worse as it's 10 TDs vs 25 INTs. After Vince Young left, Texas settled into four years of Colt McCoy at QB. Once Colt left, Texas found out what it was like to play college football with an average to below average QB. Texas was able to run the ball last year and that will once again be the strength of this offense. Whether or not Texas can take the next step will rest with how well the young QBs progress. David Ash will most likely start under center for the Longhorns but Case McCoy isn't giving up just yet. It will be interesting to see if the offense can be more balanced this year and how effective they can be throwing the football.
Texas had one of the top defenses in the Big 12 last year as they held opponents to 22.2 ppg and finished first in total defense. One area where Texas will be looking for some young guys to step up is in the LB corps as they lose their top two tacklers from last season. The good news is that they get a bunch of guys back on defense and they should be very good on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield.
As I mentioned in the Oklahoma State preview, the Big 12 is going to be tough this year. There isn't a whole lot separating the top six teams in the conference and because they all play each other I expect this conference to do a lot of self-inflicted damage. Texas's schedule really comes in waves. Wave one has three games that Texas should not lose, but then the next three might be the three toughest games of the season (Okie St, WVU and OU in back-to-back-to-back weeks). After that Texas gets four in-conference games they should win and then they finish with two tough back-to-back games against TCU and Kansas State. More than likely the toughest five conference games will come down to QB play and in four of five of those games their opponent will have the better QB (Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Casey Pachall and Collin Klein). If everything aligns, Texas definitely has the talent to win the conference but I don't see their offense being consistent enough to make it happen. Look for Texas to improve but how much will depend on QB play.
2012 Prediction: 8-4
Top 25 Countdown
#23 Oklahoma State
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