Changes Texas Needs To Make In 2014
If the Texas Longhorns are hoping to make a turnaround in 2014, there are several things they must do. Despite winning eight games last season under former head coach Mack Brown, the Longhorns were not in the top 50 in either offense or defense, which explains why no player was selected in last month's NFL Draft.
On the other hand, new coach Charlie Strong's offense and defense at Louisville were ranked 28th and first, respectively. The main reason: More talent. Therefore, the first place that Strong needs to start in rebuilding the program is at the recruiting level.
Although the Longhorns failed to finish in the top 10 in recruiting this year, they did manage to crack the top 20, according to recruiting services Scout.com and Rivals.com, respectively. That may not be impressive to most, but it's a start. It's been well documented that Texas missed out on Heisman winners Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston. Can you imagine where this program would be had they picked up one of those players? Consequently, quarterback is where the turnaround must begin.
Leadership at quarterback is as important as talent, and the Longhorns haven't had either since Colt McCoy. Hopefully, that's about to change. The incumbents are last year's starter David Ash and top-rated talented recruit Tyrone Swoopes. Ash didn't exactly put up big numbers. After a fast start against New Mexico State, he was slowed by injuries. Ash needs to stay healthy if the Longhorns are to make some noise. So far, that hasn't happened. He suffered a foot injury during spring training that required surgery.
Swoopes looked impressive in the spring game, throwing for three touchdowns and 229 yards. But he is inexperienced, and throwing a young quarterback onto the field could quickly turn a rebuilding year into a disaster. He may be the future, but I'm sure that Strong probably hopes it doesn't start now. But if Strong's reputation with quarterbacks is any indiction (see Teddy Bridgewater), then whoever emerges as the starter will have all the qualities that are needed to be the Longhorn's starter.
As for the Texas defense, the question is how to replace Jackson Jeffcoat, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year who was drafted by the Seahawks. The loss of Jeffcoat, along with Chris Whaley, may not be as big of a deal as one would think. Desmond Jackson, who stepped in at times for Whaley last year, and freshman Derrick Robinson may be able to plug those holes.
The bigger question may be in the secondary, where the Longhorns had the most problems last season. Strong will have no choice but to use some talented, yet inexperienced, players back there.
Longhorn fans aren't known for their patience, but they will have to exercise some of it next season. This team has some talent, but falls short in experience. If fans are patient, improvement will come, and, hopefully, it will begin this season. All that Texas fans have to do is look at Louisville's program to see that Strong's system does work.