April 19, 2011
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011? GOT ME, BUT IT'S TIME TO TAKE AN OBJECTIVE LOOK
"So, how much better are the Longhorns going to be in 2011?"
Everywhere I go, I hear that question. After a disastrous 5-7 campaign in 2010 and a near complete overhaul of the UT coaching staff in the time that Texas is traditionally preparing for a bowl game, Texas surely has to bounce back in 2011. Right?
Surely, the Horns will improve on their record from last year, but let's be honest here ... nobody on this planet knows what to expect from the 2011 version of the Texas Longhorn football team. Not fans, not players, not even the coaches ... and certainly not me.
Yes, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the program as the team puts in new offensive and defensive schemes. But this is a team that still has legitimate questions at just about every position aside from linebacker and defensive end.
I expect improvement from Texas due to new schemes, a new energy and frankly, a better attitude. But there's no way I'm willing to stick my neck out and say the 2011 Longhorns will challenge for a conference title or get back to their double-digit winning ways.
The biggest issue, clearly, is at quarterback. If you really step back and look at that position objectively, it's pretty alarming.
After watching Garrett Gilbert shred defenses in high school, I was in the group that thought he'd jump right in with a stellar college career with few missteps. That idea obviously went out the window with last year's 10 TD, 17 INT performance.
Heading into 2011, am I the only one who keeps expecting the switch to suddenly flip for the former five-star gunslinger? It's like I expect Gilbert to wake up any day now and instantly transform into the all-everything quarterback I thought he'd be coming out of Lake Travis. Is it possible that it just might not happen?
Think about it ... you know the Texas coaches would have loved nothing more than for Gilbert to assert his dominance over the program's other three quarterbacks during UT's spring football season. It didn't happen, and to me, that is the biggest red flag heading into 2011.
The fact is, none of the four UT quarterbacks was able to separate from the pack, and there's no way to take that as a good sign if you're a Longhorn fan. One day it was Gilbert throwing the ball the best. The next it was Connor Wood. Case McCoy showed well in the Orange-White game and true freshman David Ash earned strong reviews for his play. The problem ... none of them were consistently better than any of the others.
The off-season workouts will be key in developing a pecking order heading into pre-season camp, but is it realistic to think that one of the guys is going to clearly outshine the pack? I'm not so sure it is.
Texas can be good in 2011 with decent, but not great, quarterback play. But for this team to make significant strides from last year's struggles, it's going to need one of the quarterbacks to step up and play at a high level. I'm certainly not ready to say it won't happen, but fans also have to be objective in admitting that another mediocre year at QB is a real possibility.
ANOTHER 5-STAR ABOUT TO ADD HIS NAME TO THE LIST?
Aledo running back Johnathan Gray has narrowed his choices down to Texas, TCU and Texas A&M, and he'll announce his final decision on April 22, his birthday.
Gray has played the entire recruiting process close to the vest, but all signs we've seen point in UT's favor, with TCU giving a hard charge and A&M doing enough to keep things interesting.
I've learned over the years to never make a guarantee unless I hear it from the kid himself (Gray's not talking at all), but Friday has the looks of an exciting day for the UT fan base.
One other note to consider ... should Gray choose the Longhorns, don't be at all surprised to see it impact at least one other highly-rated offensive prospect who has yet to commit.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERSTED IN THE UPCOMING REGIONAL TRACK MEETS
FINALLY, SOMETHING TO MAKE UP FOR THE ABOVE VIDEO
Happy birthday to the stunning beauty Ashley Judd, who turns 43 today.