BY DANIEL MOGOLLON
COLLEGE FOOTBALL INSIDERS
2006 RECORD: 10-3; BIG 12: 6-2
Won Alamo Bowl vs. Iowa 26-24
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
STADIUM: Memorial (85,123)
HEAD COACH: Mack Brown
OVERALL: 179-96-1 (23 seasons)
AT TEXAS: 93-22 (9 seasons)
The Horns missed becoming the first program to win consecutive Big 12 Championships, despite knocking off the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Shootout for the second straight year. Colt McCoy was a big reason why they did not miss a beat for most of the season and an injury (pinched nerve in neck) to their signal caller played a role in their late season losses to Kansas St. and Texas A & M, as the Longhorns put up a season low seven points against the Aggies. They lost several players to the National Football League, especially on defense, but with highly touted recruits waiting in the wings -- there is no reason to expect them to take a step back.
WHEN THE HORNS HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Greg Davis (10th Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 7
KEY LOSSES: Selvin Young, Justin Blalock, Kasey Studdard, Lyle Sendlein
You would think matching the freshman record for touchdown passes in a season would answer all the critics and while Colt McCoy certainly proved any doubters about his ability to play big time college football wrong, this season he has a new question to answer. Can he stay healthy? McCoy is not the biggest quarterback around and put on 10 pounds this off-season. If he stays on the field, the Horns have a chance against any opponent they face. Helping his transition into the starting rotation was Limas Sweed, a big target with reliable hands, who is complimented well by Quan Cosby, Jordan Shipley and Billy Pittman. Sweed is an All-American candidate, which is what those in Austin hope tight end Jermichael Finley, their immensely talented tight end, will eventually develop into. How good the running game is will affect McCoy as well, as they need Jamaal Charles to display more of the promise he showed as a freshman after an uneven sophomore campaign. The line is young, meaning senior Tony Hills must step up as the leader.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Limas Sweed (SR), 2) Jermichael Finley (SO), 3) Tony Hills (SR), 4) Jamaal Charles (JR), 5) Cedric Dockery (JR), 6) Billy Pittman (SR), 7) Colt McCoy (SO), 8) Adam Ulatoski (SO)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Duane Akina (3rd Season)/Larry Mac Duff (1st Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 6
KEY LOSSES: Aaron Ross, Tim Crowder, Michael Griffin, Brian Robison, Tarell Brown
Texas is well stocked with speed on defense and the new combo at defensive coordinator will look to do a better job of taking advantage of that fact, nevertheless it all starts upfront where few programs can match the tackle rotation of Frank Okam, Derrick Lokey and Roy Miller that Texas employs. Playing behind them is an even deeper linebacking corps, with at least six players competing for playing time, as unproven sophomores Roddrick Muckelroy and Sergio Kindle could give the upperclassman a run for their money. With their top two pass rushers off to the NFL, expect Brian Orakpo and Aaron Lewis, a pair of juniors, to bust loose this season. The secondary also had three players who heard their name called draft weekend from a pass defense that finished 99th in the country – good thing they had three future pros or who knows how bad they might have been. One intriguing prospect is the once highly touted Drew Kelson who will take a crack at playing safety, where his size/speed combo may be best used.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Frank Okam (SR), 2) Roy Miller (JR), 3) Drew Kelson (SR), 4) Brian Orakpo (JR), 5) Roddrick Muckelroy (SO), 6) Aaron Lewis (JR), 7) Robert Killebrew (SR), 8) Marcus Griffin (SR), 9) Derrick Lokey (SR), 10) Scott Derry (SR), 11) Sergio Kindle (SO)
Rivals old and new. They played the Texas Christian Horned Frogs 69 straight years from the late 1920’s to 1995 before joining the Big 12, encompassing the roaring 20’s, the Great Depression, World War I and II, Vietnam and the end of the Cold War. However, since then they have not crossed paths and wouldn’t you know that in all likelihood they will meet as ranked opponents, making TCU their toughest out of conference opponent. Within the Big 12, they have their first week of October matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners, a game that usually decides the Big 12 South, as well as their season finale against the A& M Aggies, who last season derailed their BCS hopes with an upset in Austin.
Bounce back seasons. The Horns managed to reach double-digit figures in wins once again despite some disappointing individual performances, as well as significant injuries. Now with so much talent off to the league where they play for pay, Mack Brown needs those players to rebound in 2007. McCoy’s injury down the stretch of the season had a lot to do with the Horns November losses, which cost them the Big 12 Title. Staying in the backfield, they need Charles to have the breakout season that was expected of him in ’06, with Cedric Dockery coming back to the line after missing half of the season to injury. On the defensive side of the ball, Kelson looks to finally fulfill his potential, in addition to the return of Lokey and Muckelroy, as the team defense suffered when they went down with injuries.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
Talent is never an issue with a Mack Brown coached team or with one of the most legendary programs located in the heart of recruiting country, however having said that, they have only won one Big 12 Title under Brown, while the hated Sooners have won four in the last seven years. Brown got over the “can’t win the big one” hump when they won the National Championship over Pete Carroll and USC in 2005, however this is “a what have you done for me lately” industry, so nothing less than a title is expected. Are they good enough to reach that lofty standard? Sure, however it says here they will fall just short once again. If they do win the Big 12, we could see a rematch against the Men of Troy in January.
Check back tomorrow to see who is #4 in CFI’s Top 25 Countdown