By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
2013 record: 8-4 overall, 7-2 in Big 12, lost to Oregon 30-7 in Alamo Bowl.
Returning starters: 7 on offense, 9 on defense.
Top players returning: Junior QB David Ash, sophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes, senior RB Malcolm Brown, junior RB Johnathan Gray, senior RB Joe Bergeron, senior WR Jaxon Shipley, junior WR Daje' Johnson, senior LT Desmond Harrison, senior C Dominic Espinosa, senior DE Cedric Reed, junior DT Malcom Brown, senior LB Jordan Hicks, senior CB Quandre Diggs.
Key players to replace: WR Mike Davis, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, QB Case McCoy, DT Chris Waley, K Anthony Fera.
A new coaching staff has inherited an old problem. Not since the Vince Young/Colt McCoy days has Texas had a quarterback capable of leading the Longhorns to a championship. Coach Charlie Strong, who coached a first-round NFL Draft choice at his previous school, understands that finding a signal caller is Job One.
"Your team isn't going to go until your quarterback goes," Strong said. "So we have to get better there. We're all concerned about the quarterback position. You just make sure the positions around him play well enough and once we're able to get that position going we'll be pretty comfortable."
Junior David Ash, who missed most of last season because of a concussion, missed the second half of spring practice after suffering a broken foot. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes was inconsistent in the spring game. Freshman Jerrod Heard will start competing for the job over the summer.
"We don't need a great player," Strong said. "We just need someone to take control of it."
Strong, since his hiring last December, has showed the Longhorns that he's in control. He has been preaching toughness, discipline and accountability.
"You've had no choice but to buy in or leave," senior defensive back Quandre Diggs said. "If you don't buy in, you leave. If you don't buy in, you don't play."
*Junior wide receiver Marcus Johnson is the top candidate to step in for the departed Mike Davis, who was the Longhorns' top deep threat. Johnson had 22 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns last season. He had an outstanding spring. "Marcus is a big-play player," said UT co-offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. "I mean, he has got great speed, he is assignment-sound, he has played a lot of football, so he has got a real good feel for the game."
*Texas' three nonconference opponents – North Texas, BYU and UCLA – all won their bowl games last season. Those three teams finished a combined 27-12 in 2013. The Longhorns will be at home for the first two opponents and will face the Bruins at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
*Joe Wickline was hired by Charlie Strong as co-offensive coordinator. Wickline, who previously coached at Oklahoma State, is also regarded as one of the nation's top offensive line coaches. Texas hasn't had an offensive linemen drafted since 2008.
Coach Charlie Strong on …
The "Comin' on Strong Tour" that visited 11 cities in the state:
"The key thing is to get around the state and let the fans know how important they are to the program. I know it means a lot to them and let them know how our players have been working and what we're trying to get accomplished."
Strengthening the team's confidence:
"What guys need to understand is that if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you. You got to believe you can go make plays, and you have to believe that you are good enough. Sometimes you think you aren't good enough because you haven't had success and so much has been made about bad things that happened."
His assessment of the team at the end of spring practice:
"I don't ever get angry. I just get mad. Just overall, we still have some work to do. I wish I had 15 more days, but I don't have them. When we get to fall camp, we need to get to work and put a product out there that is being consistent."
|Aug. 30||North Texas|
|Sept. 13||UCLA (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas)|
|Sept. 27||at Kansas*|
|Oct. 11||Oklahoma* (Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas)|
|Oct. 18||at Iowa State*|
|Oct. 25||at Kansas State*|
|Nov. 1||at Texas Tech*|
|Nov. 8||West Virginia*|
|Nov. 15||at Oklahoma State*|