Whoever wins the job won't have to win games by himself — just hand the ball to tailback Cedric Benson, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, and unload passes to the deluxe wide receiver trio of B.J. Johnson and Sloan Thomas.
The depth of talent Texas has amassed on the defensive line is almost obscene, and tackle Rodrique Wright was named the 2002 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Linebacker Derrick Johnson has been feasting on opponents since he first arrived in Austin. Nathan Vasher and Dakarai Pearson rank among the league's premiere defensive backs.
Getting a grip: The Longhorns lost just six fumbles all last season.
Two in a row: Texas has won 11 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time.
Stiff defense: The Longhorns allowed a total of 16 first quarter points all through the 2002 regular season.
2002 results: 11–2 (6–2 Big 12)
2002 Bowl Game: Beat LSU 35-20 in Cotton Bowl
Returning starters: 8 offense, 7 defense, placekicker
A. 30 New Mexico State
S. 13 Arkansas
S. 20 at Rice
S. 27 Tulane
O. 4 Kansas State
O. 11 #Oklahoma
O. 18 at Iowa State
O. 25 at Baylor
N. 1 Nebraska
N. 8 at Oklahoma State
N. 15 Texas Tech
N. 28 at Texas A&M
Schedule Analysis: It starts and ends with Oklahoma, right? Well, the pre-conference slate won't scare anyone, but in the Big 12 Kansas State comes to Austin the week before the OU showdown, (in Dallas as always), and a trip to Oklahoma State follows a visit from Nebraska in November. But really, the October 11 game in Dallas will determine the Big 12 South championship, possibly the Big 12 championship and possibly the national championship.
Final Word: This Texas team reminds us of another UT team, one that plays in Knoxville. In 1998, Peyton Manning, a highly publicized quarterback whose father was an NFL star. Manning was highly successful in Knoxville, but could not beat nemesis Chance Mock (or Vincent Young) leads Texas past Oklahoma and on to the national championship? There certainly is a chance, particularly if four key players shake a highly publicized drug bust this spring.
To pre-order the 2003 Athlon Big 12 Regional edition, which features a discussion on the Mack Brown era at Texas, click on the magazine icon below. The Big 12 Regional edition is set to hit newsstands June 6.