Awaiting Ecstasy: Texas Football Returns

 

Rebecca May, BA ’91, Life Member, is a Texas ex-pat living in Oregon while rooting for the Longhorns. An attorney by day, she blogs about college football by night as a regular contributor to gridirongirl.

It’s time! It’s time! Well, it’s almost time. Kickoff is getting closer every day. I’m making the necessary preparations. My fainting couch is almost ready at the upholsterer. What? It was covered with flop sweat and tears from last season. Now all I need is gametime!

Take heart, gentle readers. There is much positive talk about our beloved Texas Longhorns for this upcoming season. Hopes are pretty high, with some sportswriters predicting a Big 12 championship for the ‘Horns. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Let’s talk offense. Texas is returning 19 starters, including the entire offensive line. That means many of the problems attributed to inexperience—on both offense and defense—should improve. Running back Joe Bergeron is lighter and stronger coming into this season. The ‘Horns have several *leaders returning to the offense: David Ash, Jaxon Shipley, and Malcolm Brown. My well-known spirit animal Johnathan Gray is poised to have an incredible year. There is already Heisman talk about him, which is how it should be! My eyeballs are jangling with excitement at the idea of seeing Gray explode down the field.

Even more offensive changes are afoot. Texas will employ the “hurry-up” offense this year. This offensive scheme isn’t new, but it’s increasing in popularity each year. In a hurry-up offense, there is no huddle after a play ends. More traditional offenses involve a huddle between each play, then the teams get set before the ball snaps. A hurry-up offense means the defense probably can’t make substitutions, because the rules dictate that the defense can’t substitute if the offense doesn’t. A healthy, well-conditioned offense can cram another 20 plays into four quarters this way. And you can imagine what this does to the defense, with no opportunities to rest. It’s very effective when done well, and the ‘Horns are going to give it a try. They have the talent to make it work to their advantage.

Now, defense. Last year’s squad was plagued by injuries and inexperience—notice I didn’t say coaching. I’ll save that for later, in an effort to keep these rose-colored glasses firmly planted on my face. Every linebacker is returning this year. Jordan Hicks is finally healthy and returning to play! See, I needed the fainting couch for that bit of news alone. Jackson Jeffcoat is back in fighting form as well, recovering nicely from his torn pectoral. It makes me hurt just to type that.

Last year, the defense ended ranked 67th in the country. They also gave up more yards than any unit in program history. For a team with a long history of defensive domination, this is hard to swallow. To prepare, the players have engaged in lots of strength training. This year’s Longhorn defense will be one of the most experienced in college football, full of juniors and seniors. We can only hope that the miscues and disappointments from last season translated into learning opportunities and incentives to improve their game fundamentals for 2013.

Preseason rankings are out, and Texas comes in at a not-embarrassing #15. There were some prognosticators who put Texas as high as number 4 at the beginning of the summer. Come on, fellas! Let’s keep this real, shall we? Before we go talking about breaking into the top 5, let’s make sure we can beat Oklahoma—who, incidentally, has won the Red River Shootout every year since 2009. That’s a trend that simply can’t continue. Like all devoted fans, I want to see Texas return to its former glorious state of being a real football powerhouse.

Until next time, remember our logo was voted best in the country! Hook ’em Horns!

*Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this sentence read, “The Horns have several senior leaders returning to the offense.” We have removed “senior” to avoid confusion. While those leaders are more experienced, perhaps, than other returners, they are not, in fact, seniors. All three are juniors. Special thanks to reader Robert Hemple for his eagle eye.

David Ash. Photo courtesy UT Athletics.

 

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