2011 was another year of ups and downs for Texas.
The Longhorns won their first four games before dropping
five of their last eight matches.
A Holiday Bowl win against California eased the pain from a disappointing season, but the
folks in Austin are still hungry for something better.
The Longhorns lost three key defensive players in the 2012
NFL draft including linebacker Keenan Robinson (119th pick, Washington Redskins), linebacker Emmanual Acho (204th
pick, Cleaveland Browns) and defensive tackle Kheeston Randall (215th pick, Miami Dolphins).
Senior running back Foswhitt Whittaker
will graduate after playing four years for the Longhorns and rushing for 1233
career yards and 12 career touchdowns.
Senior kicker Justin Tucker will graduate after making 40 field goals out of 48 attempts in his
career. The Longhorns will need to
look for a solid replacement for Tucker in 2012.
The good news for the longhorns is they have loads of
returning talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Freshman Malcolm Brown rushed for 742 yards and five touchdowns in 2011 and looks to improve
those numbers in 2012. Incoming
five-star running back Jonathan Gray (Aledo, TX) will provide another threat on
the ground for Texas in 2012. With
power in Brown and speed in Gray, this could be a nightmare duo for opposing
defenses in the Big 12 next year.
Freshman wide receiver Jaxon Shipley had a solid rookie year last year as he went for 607 yards
and three touchdowns. Texas will
need him to improve as the Longhorns are yet to find a viable quarterback to
balance out their offense.
Both freshman David Ash and sophomore Case McCoy saw
playing time last year, but neither was very impressive through the air. It will be interesting to see if the
Longhorns stick with either of these options, or go with incoming freshman four-star
quarterback Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, AZ).
Other notable 2012 recruits for the Longhorns include five-star
offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle (Pearland, TX), five-star defensive tackle
Malcolm Brown (Brenham, TX), five-star wide receiver Cayleb
Jones (Austin, TX) and five-star offensive guard Curtis Riser (Desoto, TX).
Although the 2012 Longhorns have lost key players on the
defensive side of the ball and are still considered a young team on both sides
of the ball, they have a lot of returning talent at the running back and
receiver position. As a team that
went 5-7 in 2010 and then 8-5 in 2011, you can expect the Longhorns to improve
on a moderately successful 2011 campaign in 2012.
The biggest mystery to the Longhorns successes in 2012
should be if they can establish a decent passing attack to balance out their
offense and give their highly touted running backs some breathing room. Improving their passing game could be
the difference in a mediocre and a successful 2012 campaign.
Big 12 season record
Given wins: Wyoming,
New Mexico, Kansas, Iowa State
Tossups: Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas State
Probable losses: West Virginia, Oklahoma
My prediction: 8-4