Five storylines to monitor in Texas leading up to the 2023 football season
Offseason storylines start to form around this part of the offseason as head coaches in Texas meet with alumni across the state. Though this year is not short on notable quotes, last offseason set the bar high for preseason trash talk.
Last year, Alabama head coach Nick Saban opined on the changing landscape of recruiting in the NIL era. In doing so, Texas A&M and head coach Jimbo Fisher caught a stray for their historic 2022 recruiting class.
Many of the more talented recruits in the class have since left A&M, including five-star cornerback Denver Harris and wide receiver Chris Marshall. Nevertheless, Fisher vehemently denied all claims that the Aggies’ strong class had anything to do with NIL incentives. Never mind that there is video of Aggie staffers incentivizing recruits to sign because of what A&M donors will pay in NIL.
Nevertheless, Fisher called those claims despicable stoking the flame of what would be an underwhelming bout between Alabama and Texas A&M.
Whether organic or contrived, let’s look at a few offseason storylines to monitor.
Can Texas hold off Oklahoma once more?
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The 2023 season could be a turning point in the rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma. Some would view last year as that, but the Sooners were in a first season with their new coaching staff. Some would suggest Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian’s comments on last year’s meeting would provide ammunition for the Oklahoma football program heading into the game. One would think losing by 49 points alone would be plenty of motivation for the team. The Longhorns need to win this game to turn the next few years of the rivalry in its favor. It needs to be a top priority for Sarkisian and company.
Can the Aggies get up off the mat?
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher is bloviating confident vibes toward his fan base this offseason once again, and rightfully so. He’s got as good job security as any coach in the nation and past success at Florida State to back up his confidence. The issue is, his team went 5-7 last year and his program appears to be a sinking ship under his leadership. Can the Aggies respond from their down season in 2022?
Can Texas Tech get to the top of the Big 12?
Tim Warner/Getty Images
The Texas Tech Red Raiders are seeing plenty of positive prognostications after a bowl win over Ole Miss. Second-year head coach Joey McGuire is looking to build on last season’s momentum with a Big 12 championship appearance. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. The Red Raiders need great quarterback play, and could get that from its veteran Tyler Shough or younger gunslinger Behren Morton.
Did Baylor fix its defense?
Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
We recently looked at Shehan Jeyarajah’s offseason overreactions. One of those involved Baylor shoring up its defensive unit with a new defensive coordinator and several transfers. Utah State transfer Byron Vaughns should aid the team’s pass rush, but the Baylor run defense looked suspect last season. The progression of the unit could launch the squad back into Big 12 title contention.
Is TCU back?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
TCU has recently been placed in elite company by some after reaching the national championship last season. However, a drop off could be in the cards. No doubt there are plenty of weapons on the team’s roster to put up points on offense. The lack of defensive returning production is cause for concern for the program. If TCU is able to return once again to the Big 12 championship game in 2023, it will be difficult to unseat them once Oklahoma and Texas leave the conference.