It was a season of ups and downs but Texas finished strong with a win over Cal in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl and achieved a preseason goal of winning at least 8 games.Â A young team, Texas struggled to find its identity and was forced to deal with a slew of injuries to key contributors.Â Now that the dust has settled, here’s what we know.
The biggest question mark heading into next year is again the quarterback position.Â David Ash has emerged as the winner of the quarterback battle â€“ at least heading into spring.Â Mack indicated last week at his press conference that Case needs to improve but he will have his chance to compete again.Â The Longhorns also have incoming quarterback recruit Connor Brewer headed to the 40 acres as an early enrollee in January.Â Brewer graduated from high school this month from Chaparral High School in Arizona.Â Look for Brewer to make things interesting in the spring, along with fellow recruit and dual threat quarterback Jalen Overstreet.
What does all this really mean?Â Essentially that the quarterback position is wide open for the taking by either of these young men.Â Â Those interested in Connor Brewerâ€™s abilities â€“ see the video below.
The loss of Fozzy Whittaker was huge in terms of leadership and on-field production.Â Texas had to learn to live Fozzy-less in early November when Whittaker tore both his MCL and ACL in the Missouri game.Â Stud freshmen Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron picked up where Fozzy left off but both suffered injuries that would plague them the entire season.Â D.J. Monroe and bruiser Cody Johnson both played as well.Â 2012 sees heralded running back and coveted recruit Johnathan Gray (Aledo HS) come to Texas and play immediately.Â The stable of backs in the 2012 Texas offense is down right scary.Â Health will be the key.Â These guys stay healthy….Â Watch out.
The Texas Defense
Manny Diaz is an absolute genius.Â This unit was ferocious and stout all year and look for them to be even better next year.Â With Safety Kenny Vaccarro announcing he will be staying for his senior season and Alex Okafor’s expected return in 2012, the Texas defense will be in great shape.Â The loss of Manny Acho and Keenan Robinson are not to be taken lightly, but with another year comesÂ a more experienced group of returnees.Â Demarco Cobbs will get elevated playing time and JUCO transfer Brandon Moore will most likely play immediately.Â Jackson Jeffcoat returns as a the cornerstone of the defensive line.Â This group could easily be the best in the Big XII and one of the best in the nation in 2012.
Realistic Expectations for Next Year
Even with the uncertainty at quarterback Texas fans should expect the Longhorns to compete for a Big XII title next year.Â National championship contention is probably a little too much to ask for next year, but 2013 will manifest a mature senior class that should be in the mix.Â Mack Brown is excited about the next few years for a reason – because the goods are there.Â The off-season should be extremely productive since Texas has smoothed out most of the road bumps they encountered this year.Â Keeping the coaching staff in place is critical to future success, as just about every assistant coach was approached by other schools about coaching vacancies before the 2011 season started.Â Look for Deloss Dodds to tack a few more years on to the existing Mack Brown contract which currently goes through 2016.