1) David Ash
By far the easiest choice … Texas's success level this season could reasonably come down to whether the Longhorns get a successful, fully healthy season out of Ash, who played in just three games as a junior. His absence hurt. Ash's quarterback rating in three games (really 2.5) was nearly 50 points higher than Case McCoy's over 13. And Ash's 152 rushing yards were 153 more than the -1 put up by McCoy over the course of the whole season. Ash had a top-25 quarterback rating in 2012, his first full season as a starter. And the previous staff felt he had a chance to be a top 10 to 15 quarterback in 2013 with an added year's experience, especially with what he would have been able to provide as a running threat.
Yes, it seems silly to do with such little time logged in 2013, but Ash's stats over those 2.5 games, multiplied out over 13 games, would have had him with 3,952 passing yards and 36 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, with another 790.4 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Those are Heisman Trophy type numbers. But if Ash can put up something like 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, that could be enough to propel Texas to a 10-win season. But if Ash isn't able to go, or logs another short season, the Longhorns could be in serious trouble at the quarterback position.
OK, so that's more than just one person. But perhaps no position suffered from injuries as much as Texas's linebacker spot. The Longhorns were set to be deep at the position in 2013 after returning a whopping seven players who started at least one game in 2012. But of those seven, five missed at least a game in 2013 with an injury, with Jordan Hicks (Achilles), Steve Edmond (lacerated liver), Tevin Jackson (ACL) and Demarco Cobbs (ACL) suffering from serious injuries. Additionally, like Cobbs, freshman Deoundrei Davis sat out last year while recovering from an ACL injury suffered the year before. Cobbs could be one of the most interesting players to watch because, while he sat out 2013, sources said that he made gains in terms of understanding how to play linebacker under Greg Robinson. And with his outstanding speed, he could provide Charlie Strong with a devastating blitzing presence. Can Hicks recover from his Achilles in time to make an impact? That, plus whether Johnathan Gray will be able to come back from an Achilles that he suffered later in the year, are two of the bigger injury questions facing the team.
Evans played in the first five games of 2013 before blowing out his ACL. But he showed some flashes of transitioning well to cornerback after starting his Texas career at safety. Evans has the physical talent to be a standout cornerback in the Big 12 … he's big, physical and is one of the fastest players in the Big 12. With Texas looking for secondary help following the departure of Carrington Byndom, don't be surprised if Evans makes a serious push for a spot.