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Texas Gunning For Top Of Big 12 In 2013
May 15, 2013
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


2012 record: 9-4, 5-4, won Alamo Bowl.

Returning starters: Offense: 10; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 1

Top players returning: QB David Ash, RB Johnathan Gray, WR Mike Davis, WR Jaxon Shipley, LT Donald Hawkins, RT Josh Cochran, G Mason Walters, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Quandre Diggs, CB Carrington Byndom.

Need replacing: P Alex King, S Kenny Vaccaro, DE Alex Okafor, WR Marquise Goodwin.

In Review
After going 5-7 in 2010, Texas has spent the last two seasons trying to climb back to the Big 12 standings. Spring practice was another step.

Former quarterback Major Applewhite will take over play calling responsibilities and he wants the Longhorns to play at a faster pace – they finished next to last in the Conference in average offensive plays per game. The spring workouts focused on getting the next play called and executed as quickly as possible.

Junior quarterback David Ash has solidified his spot as the starter. His performance (+++) in UT's victory in the Alamo Bowl provided a positive spring board for this season. Ash proved that he's capable of being more of a factor as a runner.

Wide receivers Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should be the top targets in the passing game while sophomore Johnathan Gray, who led the team in rushing last season, is on the verge of being a star.

The defense was expected to be the team's strength but was disappointing, particularly in three of the four team's losses. Tackling was a problem. Improvement at linebacker is a priority; seven different players have started at that position. Sophomores Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens performed well enough the spring to be in position to start alongside Jordan Hicks, who returns after missing 10 games with an injury last season.

Quick Slants
Freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes will create a lot of speculation during preseason practices and this season. In a limited appearance in the spring game, he displayed some electric running ability. Swoopes will either redshirt this season to preserve a year of eligibility or he could be used in special packages that could utilize his running ability.

Texas allowed 402 yards per game, the worst in school history. Over the last five games, though, the Longhorns led the Big 12 in total and scoring defense. In the Alamo Bowl victory, they had 10 sacks.

The Longhorns finished last in the Big 12 in field goal kicking, making 11 of 19 attempts. Nick Jordan, last year's kicker, made both of his attempts in the spring game but both were inside the 30. Nick Rose, who handled kickoffs, made a 34-yarder but missed from 42 yards.

Coach Mack Brown on ...
Criticism following three sub-par seasons:
"I'm really having fun. My buddies worry about me because people are more critical. You know, I've had everything bad said about me you can have. Really and truly, I have matured enough, it's not about me anymore, I really could care less. I don't care about a legacy; I don't care about a record. I want to help kids, I want to help football and I want to win all the games. That's all I want to do."

Reasons why this year's team will be better:
"Two years ago we stunk on offense, and we were good on defense. Last year we stunk on defense but were pretty good on offense. Next year we're going to be older, everything's come together. We've got depth, the quarterback's older, he's been in that Oklahoma game two years. I finally think that all comes together and we're a lot better."

Making improvements on defense:
"We know we've got to tackle better at linebacker and we know we've got to tackle better in the secondary. We are working really, really hard on it because this league is becoming a space league. We are working on those issues every day."

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31   New Mexico State
Sept. 7   at BYU
Sept. 14   Ole Miss
Sept. 21   Kansas State*
Oct. 3   at Iowa State*
Oct. 12   Oklahoma*
Oct. 26   at TCU*
Nov. 2   Kansas*
Nov. 9   at West Virginia*
Nov. 16   Oklahoma State*
Nov. 28   Texas Tech*
Dec. 7   at Baylor*
* - Conference game
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