Kicker Fixed. What's Next?

When Texas landed former Penn State kicker Anthony Fera, it fixed one of the Longhorns' biggest question marks heading into the 2012 season. Here's a listing of the five biggest remaining questions.

1) Quarterback

Interestingly enough, before the two transfers, I would have listed kicking and punting above quarterback on the list of concerns. Because while quarterback appears to still be a potential issue — especially with Mack Brown swearing up and down that it's still an even competition — the Longhorns showed last year that if they can stay healthy, they can win games with David Ash and Case McCoy. Texas was 6-2, with their losses coming to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, with that duo before the running backs were injured. And with another season under their belts (and without the surprise of Ash being thrown in without a ton of preparation), the Longhorns have a chance to at least be average at the position. Still, until they show it on the field on Saturday's, this will be the primary concern. This isn't a position that will keep Texas from having a winning season, but it could still be a spot that could be the difference between winning the Big 12 or not.

2) Tight End

In most offenses, this wouldn't be as much of a concern. But so much of Bryan Harsin's offense relies on the tight ends to be able to motion around and cause mismatches both as blockers and receivers, and the Longhorns lack a proven "dual-threat" tight end like that. It could be 260-pound M.J. McFarland, who showed flashes of that ability in the spring coming off a redshirt season. D.J. Grant is an excellent receiver, but needs to continue to develop as a blocker. And word from Big 12 Media Days is that freshman Caleb Bluiett, with his combination of 240-pound size and athleticism, could play early. Whatever happens, the Longhorns would like to not have to use offensive tackle Luke Poehlmann again. Poehlmann was an outstanding blocker, as you would expect, but his one-dimensional nature tipped off defenses.

3) Linebacker

There's concern any time you have to replace players, and leaders, with the longevity and effectiveness of Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho. Having said that, the Longhorns feel like they have the guys for the job. Not only has Jordan Hicks taken it upon himself to become the leader of the group, but in Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs, the Longhorns have a pair of players who are superior athletically to their predecessors. Still, so much about being a linebacker is being right and making the correct read, and we won't know how consistent Edmond and Cobbs are in that vein until the season kicks off. The Longhorns would also like to develop better depth at the position, particularly with both Hicks and Cobbs struggling with injuries last year.

4) Wide Receiver

Call this one a consistency question. The one thing all coaches want is a receiving group where each wideout can go for 100 yards on any given day, and the Longhorns had precisely that a year ago, when each of their three starting receivers topped the century mark in at least one game. The issue now is getting those three to fire at the same time. Mike Davis was outstanding early, but faded in the mid-to-late season. Jaxon Shipley truly emerged mid-season, before he was hurt against Kansas. And Marquise Goodwin didn't really break out until after Shipley's injury. The key is Davis. When he's on, he displays All-Big 12 (and more) potential. Like at linebacker, the Longhorns appear to have their starters figured out, though depth is a concern, and could push one of a ballyhooed trio of freshmen (or all of them) onto the field.

5) Offensive Line

After Donald Hawkins's performance in the spring, the Longhorns may have a front line that they feel strongly about. There are two questions here: at center, where Dominic Espinosa showed flashes a year ago, and depth. Espinosa's quickness allowed him to get the angle needed on his blocks, but once he got there, he lacked the strength at times to finish them. Will he be better there this year? And can Texas develop enough depth that it can absorb some injuries? With Poehlmann at tackle and Sedrick Flowers at guard, it's certainly getting better. Of course, the next step will be to protect the Longhorn quarterbacks better than a year ago.

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