If you told Al Dannity a year ago that he’d rate the Longhorns this low he’d have laughed in your face. Al’s not laughing now as Texas prepares for a season that could make or break Mack Brown.
The schedule It’s not a sure-fire good start for the Longhorns. Rice at home should be straightforward enough but BYU could provide a scare, as could an enigmatic UCLA team. Iowa State will fancy their chances of upsetting Texas for a second straight season and then there’s the small matter of the Red River Rivalry with Oklahoma.
The back end of the schedule begins with a big home test against Oklahoma State. Road tests at Baylor, Missouri, and Texas A&M should also test the Longhorns as they look to bounce back from a miserable 2010. College Football betting fans will be wary of back Texas on any of these road trips in the second half of the season.
The players Mack Brown isn’t just a great coach, he’s also the best recruiter in a state loaded with elite recruiters, never mind recruits. It helps that he has the Texas brand name to work with but Brown’s unquestionable qualities make him a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail. Unsurprisingly that means Texas, despite a down year, remains stacked in terms of talent.
Quarterback remains a massive issue for the Longhorns. They simply don’t have a bona fide starter that can be trusted to lead the program. At most colleges this would be rankings poison but Texas have enough strength in depth to come out on top more often than not. With 14 returning starters, the Longhorns have an experienced outfit eager to prove 2010 was a freak season.
Defensively they will look for leadership from explosive linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson. Case McCoy could end up with the reins of the offense if Garrett Gilbert struggles early. Whoever comes out on top at quarterback, they will have a talented but unproven receiver corps to work with.
The forecast There are plenty of big tests on the schedule but in most years we wouldn’t bat an eyelid at pencilling in Texas to win 10 games despite such tests. This is a Texas team with big questions at quarterback and looking to recover from a truly shocking season. The talent alone should bring them up to another level and win most of their games this year. The 2011 season could go 7-5 or it could go 11-1 depending on how Texas’ quarterback situation pans out. I’m tempted to split the difference at 9-3 but 8-4 looks more likely given how many of their tougher games are on the road.