However, Brown believes the off-season changes, plus a highly-focused spring season, are significant factors in finally getting the program over the hump and into the truly elite of college football.
"We didn't finish right," Brown recently summed up the 2003 campaign. "We need to go into the spring with a chip on our shoulder."
That Bevo-sized chip has much to do with why most of spring drills will be closed to the pubic for the first time during Brown's seven-year tenure. Fans may attend practice at Frank Denius Field on March 1 and 2, as well as the Memorial Stadium scrimmage set for Saturday, March 7. Otherwise, that's all folks!, until the Spring Jamboree on the evening of April 3. If "finish" was the moniker of 2003, then "focus" may be the buzzword this time around. Brown cited the need for heightened focus this spring, thereby closing the practices just as most big time D-I coaches do during the regular season.
For now, Brown conducted coaching meetings with his assistants all day Monday and Tuesday. For nearly one month, new Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson and new Assistant Head Coach/DE Coach Dick Tomey have been at work developing the "new Texas defensive scheme" that they will begin to implement next week. The old Texas defense suffered a two-year slide toward mediocrity, bottoming out (hopefully) with a run defense that finished No. 58 (152.5 ypg) nationally. The Texas D has not produced a consistent pass rush vs. quality opposition in two seasons and needs to create more turnovers to help take the program to the proverbial next level.
Philosophically, Tomey (the architect of the Arizona 'Desert Swarm' defense of the 1990s) believes the key to the longed-for aggressive demeanor has more to do with a player's attitude than a particular scheme.
"I want a scheme that is sound, simple and one that we can execute to perfection in crisis situations," Tomey said. He also wants a defense that is known for its "hard-hitting" approach that "defends the goal line with a passion."
The defensive changes have usurped what otherwise would have been the $64,000 Question heading into spring ball: who will replace the most prolific (yet still underutilized) trio of receivers in Longhorn history? New WR Coach Bobby Kennedy has been on campus less than two weeks and is still learning the names of guys like senior FL Tony Jeffery and RS-freshman WR Limas Sweed.
"We are a team that has a lot of questions to answer," Brown said.
What impact will three new coaches have on the 2004 Longhorns? Which receivers will fill the cleats of dearly departed Roy Williams and company? Who are the leading candidates to fill vacancies at defensive tackle and at cornerback? Who will emerge as the vocal leader of the offensive line? To what extent will Brown involve himself in the offensive playcalling? What new wrinkles will be added to ignite Texas' explosive offensive backfield? Is All-American P Greg Johnson (now eligible after transferring from Vanderbilt) all that? Will this dripping-with-talent team acquire the aggressive attitude needed to compete at a championship level?
Beginning this week and continuing until early April, Inside Texas will address these (and other) questions regarding Longhorn football, including Friday's media session with Brown, plus interviews, features and updates throughout the spring season. Stay tuned!