Out goes Mack Brown, in comes Charlie Strong.
While replacing a legend in Austin will take a mighty large leap of faith, the selection of Charlie Strong to pick up the Texas Longhorn’s football program was met with some opposition by boosters. But in the long run, I think the intensity of the former Louisville head coach will be good for the school, good or the Big 12 and even better for college football. Strong and his players, however, have few stumbling blocks to get over first.
Here are the important things we know about this team:
Key Returnees: QB David Ash, QB Tyrone Swoopes, RB Malcolm Brown, RB Joe Bergeron, RB Johnathan Gray, RB/WR Daje Johnson, WR Jaxon Shipley, WR Kendall Sanders, WR Marcus Johnson, C Dominic Espinosa, OT Kennedy Estelle, DE Cedric Reed, DT Malcom Brown, DT Desmond Jackson, DT Hassan Ridgeway, LB Steve Edmond, LB Dalton Santos, LB Jordan Hicks, LB Peter Jinkens, CB Quandre Diggs, CB Duke Thomas, S Mykkele Thompson, S Josh Turner
Key Losses: QB Case McCoy, WR Mike Davis, LT Donald Hawkins, RG Mason Walters, RT Trey Hopkins, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, DT Chris Whaley, CB Carrington Byndom, S Adrian Phillips, P Anthony Fera.
Strong, who is a defensive minded coach, will have to fix an offense that was less than stellar last season. While there will be deficiencies on defense, the offensive woes are more prevailant.
There will be growing pains in Strong’s first season. While Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State are all expected to finish about the Longhorns, the team in Austin must answer these questions first before thinking of a Big 12 title.
Who will play quarterback? Will the return of David Ash be the answer? Or will the Longhorns turn to talented sophomore Tyrone Swoopes? With concerns at quarterback, expect the Longhorns to lean on a talented trio of running backs.
What about the offensive line? New line coach Joe Wickline will have his hands full this spring, as Texas needs to replace three starters in the trenches. The offense is clearly a work in progress.
The defense, however, will be Strong’s masterpiece, even if the team must replace Jackson Jeffcoat.
Cedric Reed, Malcom Brown and Desmond Jackson is a solid start in the trenches. And the defense will get a boost from the return of linebacker Jordan Hicks from injury, while cornerback Quandre Diggs turned down the NFL for one more season in Austin.
The puzzle pieces may fit, but they will need time to settle and for that reason, this is a team that may take a few steps back before it can take a step forward.