When the 2014 Texas Longhorns take the field this fall they will begin a new era in their tradition rich football program history book. After having Mack Brown patrol the sidelines in Austin, Texas for nearly two decades the reigns are now handed over to Charlie Strong. Strong, the former defensive coordinator at Florida and head coach at Louisville, was brought in to bring a new toughness and swagger the Longhorns have been lacking the past four years.
Strong in his time at Florida helped lead the Gators to two national titles in 2006 and 2008 respectively. The title in 2008 showed just how great of a defensive coordinator Strong was when he was able to slow down the 2008 Oklahoma Sooners’ offense. That Sooners’ offense in 2008 held the record for most points scored in a single season in college football history, but was later broke by the 2013 Florida State Seminoles national title team.
Strong held that explosive Oklahoma offense that scored over 700 points on the season to 14 points, which was well below their season average. Strong will now look to bring that same defensive intensity to the Longhorns starting in 2014. Texas in the mid to late 2000’s were known as one of the best defensive teams in all of college football, but once 2010 arrived those memories were a distant memory.
The Longhorns will hope to get back a healthy David Ash at quarterback in 2014. Ash has suffered from neck and concussion injuries the past year, but is expected to make a full recovery. Ash has been the Longhorns most productive quarterback the past two seasons, but injury issues have kept him off the field for majority of the season.
If Ash is able to come back in 2014 and stay healthy the Longhorns will be on the right track to returning to a powerhouse in 2014. The Longhorns have some very talented backups at quarterback, but they are very inexperienced. The Longhorns have a five star quarterback by the name of Jerrod Heard coming in this season, but the Longhorns want him to be the long term solution at quarterback and not have to use him in 2014.
The Longhorns also have Tyrone Swoopes to back up Ash and possibly even compete for the starting quarterback position with Ash in fall camp. Swoopes got some minimal playing time last year and showed signs of greatness, but also showed he wasn’t nearly prepared enough to manage a game for an entire 60 minutes.
The strength of the Longhorns the past three years has been their running game. The injury bug has also hit the running backs at Texas the past couple of seasons; especially in 2013 when Johnathan Gray went down due to injuries. Gray will be returning in 2014 from a severe torn Achilles injury that caused him to miss half the 2013 season. The Longhorns will be looking for a bounce back season from Gray this coming season after the signs of greatness he showed the first half of the 2013 season.
The schedule for Texas is always tough because of the parity and competition level of the Big 12 from year to year. The Longhorns are in a transition period in their program, but a decent season in Austin this coming year could really get Strong off to a positive start on the 40 acres.
I will predict how I see the Longhorns doing in each of their games for the 2014 season. It will be an interesting season for Texas to say the least, but the expectations have to be realistic in year one for Strong and company.
Week 1- North Texas Mean Green @ Texas Longhorns- Texas Longhorns win
Week 2- BYU Cougars @ Texas Longhorns- Texas Longhorns win
Week 3- Texas Longhorns vs. UCLA Bruins (played in Arlington, Texas) - UCLA Bruins win
Week 4- Bye Week
Week 5- Texas Longhorns @ Kansas Jayhawks- Texas Longhorns win
Week 6- Baylor Bears @ Texas Longhorns- Baylor Bears win
Week 7- Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners (played in Dallas, Texas) – Oklahoma Sooners win
Week 8- Iowa State Cyclones @ Texas Longhorns- Texas Longhorns win
Week 9- Texas Longhorns @ Kansas State Wildcats- Texas Longhorns win
Week 10- Texas Longhorns @ Texas Tech Red Raiders- Texas Tech Red Raiders win
Week 11- West Virginia Mountaineers @ Texas Longhorns- Texas Longhorns win
Week 12- Texas Longhorns @ Oklahoma State Cowboys- Oklahoma State Cowboys win
Week 13- Bye Week
Week 14- TCU Horned Frogs @ Texas Longhorns- Texas Longhorns win
So, after examining the 2014 Texas Longhorns’ schedule I have them finishing 7-5. This is obviously a horribly disappointing season for Texas, but with their tough schedule and transition period they are in around the seven or eight win mark is what I see in store for the Longhorns.
Texas had a lot of talent last year and most of it returns for 2014, but the schedule is much tougher this year than it was last year because of the tough road games Texas has in 2014. If the Longhorns are able to pull off a couple of upsets this coming season then a ten win season could be a possibility. That, however, I feel is a reach at this point and that 2014 will be a disappointment after the high hopes they have entering year one with Strong as head coach.
The future is bright for Texas and the coaching staff led by Strong, but it will have to wait until 2015 at the earliest. The recruiting has been great for Texas since Strong took over as head coach at Texas and even though the Horns may not be winning on the field in 2014 they certainly will be off the field on the recruiting trails. 2014 will be a down season for Texas, but the future is bright on the 40 acres with Strong as head coach.