College Football Preview: The 2014 Texas Longhorns
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2014 College Football Preview
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Overview: The Texas Longhorns experienced another mediocre season with an 8-5 record and a loss in a bowl game. It was the fourth straight season the Longhorns failed to win double-digit games, and it pretty much forced head coach Mack Brown to step down from a position he’s held since 1998. Former Louisville coach Charlie Strong has taken over the head coach position and will begin this new chapter with this historic program. Getting off on the right foot will be critical considering Texas is a program that’s tired of settling for second and third best.
Offense: One of the main reasons Texas hasn’t accomplished much lately is because the offense has lacked a true quarterback since Colt McCoy left the program. Even if David Ash gets healthy, he’s proven he’s not really a reliable option. Due to constant concission issues and a leg injury, Texas may be forced to roll the dice with either Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard. Not good. Running back does give the Longhorns a fighting chance with a three-headed monster returning in Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron. Those guys will get a ton of carries this year, especially if the starting quarterback shows no signs of progress. Texas also has four of its top five receivers from last year coming back, including Jaxon Shipley who has been underrated his whole career and Marcus Johnson who averaged more than 15 yards per catch. Like many offenses around the country, it all comes down to what the quarterback does in order for this unit to reach its potential.
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Defense: The Longhorns did lose their sack leader in Jackson Jeffcoat, but do return Cedric Reed, a true pass rusher who had 10 sacks last season. Reed will lead a solid Texas defensive line that should have no problem getting after the quarterback once again. The Texas secondary has a shutdown cornerback in Quandre Diggs and a ball hawk in Duke Thomas who is really just starting to hit his stride. The linebacker corps has the potential to also be solid, but a lot of that depends on the health of Jordan Hicks who appears to be made of glass. Overall, the talent level isn’t an issue on this side of the ball, it’s just a matter of players staying healthy and guys playing to their full potential. Of course, this has been a problem the last few years.
Special Teams: It’s going to be a tall order to replace one of the top kickers in college football with Anthony Fera gone. Not only did Fera handle the field goal duties, but he also averaged close to 41 yards per punt. Needless to say, special teams is a big hole right now for the Longhorns.
Outlook: A new head coach and a mystery at quarterback don’t spell a championship season for Texas. It also doesn’t help that the Longhorns have a tough Big 12 schedule that also includes UCLA and BYU. Texas may very well experience another up and down season. However, if there’s any team capable of surprises, it’d be Texas. The talent is always on this team and it’s what gives Texas a chance to beat anybody any given week. However, while I just don’t expect much this season from the Longhorns, there will be plenty of chances to make money off this team.