DALLAS - OCTOBER 02: Quarterback Garrett Gilbert #7 of the Texas Longhorns reacts during play against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 2 2010 in Dallas Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Don't expect to see the same Texas Longhorns on the field this year that we saw last year. It just isn't possible! I'm not at all saying that the Longhorns will jump back to the top of conference. I'm not sure you'll find anyone who is seriously predicting that and I'll even go as far Mack Brown would hands down be the Big 12 Coach of the Year if that were to happen. What I am saying is that five new assistant coaches hired to the Texas staff will significantly change the product on the field. The Longhorns won't go 12-0 but they will look different.
New offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin will try to give an identity to an offense that was desperately searching for one last season. He returns eight starters from last year which is more than enough to start with but if the spring was any sort of gauge they've still got a long way to go.
Will Muschamp gave up being the Head Coach in Waiting and bolted Austin to become the head coach for the Florida Gators. Despite only producing the nation's 49th ranked scoring defense Muschamp could have remained at Texas with no questions or concerns. He didn't though and chose to depart under his own terms leaving the revival of the Longhorn defense to Manny Diaz.
Diaz has six returning starters to work with, including leading tackler Keenan Robinson. However, Sam Acho and defensive backs Curtis Brown, Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown are all gone. There isn't a better place than here to start with our round of questions.
1. Can Texas defend the pass? We know they can rush the passer. Acho led the team in sacks last year with 8 and Alex Okafor produced five in the spring game. The question within the question is whether this is a success story for the defensive line or an indictment against the offensive line? Now, back to the subject at hand. The Texas secondary took a serious hit at the corner position and this will be a key concern heading into the fall. BYU will give them a slight test on September but this group may not fully be put to the test until the face the Sooners on October 8th.
2. Can Garrett Gilbert make the right decisions with the ball? As much as we as Oklahoma fans have enjoyed the punch lines Gilbert has given us he could actually transition from laughing stock to worst nightmare if his mental capacity ever catches up with physical ability. It doesn't matter who the offensive coordinator is or what the scheme is, if you're giving the ball away more than you're scoring with it then the offense won't work. Gilbert threw 17 interceptions to 10 touchdowns last season and, again, if the spring was any indication then he's got a long way to go.
3. Can Malcolm Brown get the rushing attack back on track? There are a lot of people banking on him to do just that. Texas ended the spring with Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson once again leading the way for the running backs but the truth is, they are both seniors and have yet to produce a season in which they've proven they could the go to guy behind the quarterback. The eyes of Texas will be on a true freshman this fall when it comes to the running game.