Returning Starters: Offense - 10, Defense - 9
David Ash Will Be The Starting Quarterback
Having yet to live up to the hype that surrounds the starting quarterback position at UT, Ash has steadily made improvement. Heading into his junior season as the Longhorns' signal caller he is now the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12. Last season Ash threw for 2,699 yards with 19 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Offensive Coordinator Major Applewhite seems content on Ash being the leader of the offense and named him the starter after the spring.
Experience Is Key
The Longhorns were 74th in the nation in scoring defense last season and last in the conference in rushing defense. They return nine players on the defensive side of the ball with safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor being the two key losses.
There's no other way to word it, other than to say that at time Texas was atrocious last season when it came to tackling. Oklahoma's Damien Williams wasn't the only player to post one of his season highlights against the Longhorns and the hope is that another year of experience and maturity will be the cure all for a defense that often found itself in position but failed to make the play. Time will tell though.
Texas Is Going To Push The Tempo
With Major Applewhite directing the offense now, the Longhorns are going to speed up the pace. Reports from spring scrimmages even say that they are practicing getting the ball back into the hands of the officiating crew in a way that allows them to line up and snap the ball as quickly as possible. Depth will be key for Texas to continue a rapid-paced offense and if they haven't found all of their answers on the offensive line then they could face some struggles with this new philosophy.
Three Question Marks
Is There Wide Receiver Depth?
Marquise Goodwin has moved on to the NFL, leaving Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley as the two primary receivers. Obviously the Longhorns would like to put more than two receivers on the field and the spring suspensions of Cayleb Jones and Kendall Sanders hindered the effort to add depth to the position. This will have to be one of the primary areas of focus when the Longhorns open up their summer practices.
Has The Secondary Improved?
The Texas secondary faced its fair share of struggles last season and then lost their best player (Vaccaro) to the NFL. Adrian Phillips looks to be taking over Vaccaro's spot but, based on his history as a player, it just seems as if the Longhorns have added an inconsistent player to a secondary that was extremely inconsistent last season.
The Kicking Game
Long-time punter Alex King has graduated and his replacement, Anthony Fera, struggled a bit in the spring game. Sophomore Nick Rose looks to be taking over the place kicking duties. He's got an impressively strong leg but has also struggled with consistency at times.
Its was the 2009 season when Texas last had a 1,000 yard receiver, but Mike Davis was really close last season. His 57 receptions for 939 yards were the most on the team. With the right combination of size, speed and hands, Davis is the top receiving threat for the Longhorns and will doubt be looking to add to his average of 16.5 yards per reception from 2012.