2004 Texas Longhorns Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1187053]>Mack Brown</A> (145-92-1)<br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> 10-3 (2nd Place in Big 12 South Division, USA Today/ESPN No. 11 / AP No. 12)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2003 Holiday Bowl (28-20 loss to <a href=http://washingtonstate.theinsiders.com>Washington State</A><br><br><b>Key matchup(s):</b> @Arkansas (Sept. 11), Oklahoma (Oct. 9), Missouri (Oct. 16), @Texas Tech (Oct. 23)

Star Power: WLB Derrick Johnson, RB Cedric Benson, QB Vince Young

Notable Additions: DT Frank Okam, S Drew Kelson, WR Jordan Shipley, OL Cedric Dockery, WR Nate Jones

Notable Subtractions: SE Roy Williams, DT Marcus Tubbs, CB Nathan Vasher, FL B.J. Johnson

Notable Returnees: LDT Rodrique Wright, TE David Thomas, QB Chance Mock, FS Phillip Geiggar, FB Will Matthews, OT Justin Blalock

09/04/04North Texas
10/23/04@Texas Tech
11/06/04Oklahoma State
11/26/04Texas A&M
Offensive Overview: Texas re-invented itself offensively at mid-season, implementing a Zone Read scheme and replacing Mock with Young at quarterback. The makeover revitalized a sputtering ground game as Texas finished No. 8 nationally (232.5 ypg) in rushing offense. Benson averaged 167 ypg during the last five contests of the regular season and led the nation in rushing touchdowns (21) on the season. Young's 7.4 ypc was second to none in D-I football. The scheme sometimes rendered former SE (and Detroit first-round draft pick) Roy Williams into college football's best decoy in 2003. Mock considered transferring after his 8-to-1 TD to INT ratio (16-to-2) was tops nationally yet his playing time diminished as the season progressed. Now, coaches want both signalcallers to run the same plays to keep defenses from preparing for Young as the running quarterback and Mock as the designated passer. Texas is placing its most prolific receiving corps in school history. With just 277 career receiving yards on 24 catches, FL Tony Jeffery is Texas' top returning wideout. Coaches look to involve experienced tight ends (including sixth-year senior Bo Scaife) and the backfield in the passing game to allow new receivers time to adjust. New WR coach Bobby Kennedy joined Brown's staff this spring from Washington after former assistant Darryl Drake accepted the same job with the Chicago Bears. Brown pronounced Thomas as the unofficial MVP of spring drills for his work ethic and versatility allowing him to be cross-trained at wing and at fullback. A seasoned offensive line stacks up as potentially one of the best in Brown's tenure at Texas.

Defensive Overview: Brown is convinced defensive improvement is key to getting an otherwise successful program "over the hump" and into the BCS promised land. A Longhorn unit that led the nation in total defense just three years ago has seen its rush defense slide toward mediocrity (152.5 ypg, No. 58 nationally in 2003). Former Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson is now directing the UT defense, along with Co-Defensive Coordinator Duane Akina. Former Arizona head coach (and architect of the renowned Desert Swarm defense) Dick Tomey is now in charge of DEs. Texas will still base out of a 4-3, but Brown wants to force more turnovers by incorporating more zone coverage and zone blitzes into what has typically been a man-to-man scheme in the secondary. Johnson is the Butkus Award favorite and Texas' first All-American linebacker since 1983. He'll anchor a linebacking corps that, along with junior Aaron Harris and redshirt sophomore Garnet Smith, promises to be the fiercest at Texas in recent memory. Geiggar is the old man of a defensive backfield that is loaded with young and capable talent. Wright is as solid a DT as there is in the country, leading the team in both QB pressures (30) and QB sacks (7.5) last season. Former prep All-American Larry Dibbles replaces Tubbs at the RT tackle spot but Brown said stud recruit Okam is a "sudden impact" player who should compete for playing time. Tim Crowder is explosive off the edge, but depth at DE remains a concern.

Special Teams Overview: Senior Dusty Mangum, a three-year starter at PK, missed the Texas A&M game and Holiday Bowl due to leg injury and is in a battle with junior David Pino for the starting spot. Walk-on junior Richmond McGee shook off a shaky start in 2003 and emerged as a dependable starter handling both punting and kickoff duties. In fact, McGee held off scholarship athlete and freshman All-American Vanderbilt transfer Greg Johnson for the starting nod during spring. Speedy Selvin Young will likely return both punts and kickoffs, proving he can do both with two TD returns (one KO, one PR) in the season opener last year versus New Mexico State. CB Tarell Brown is also slated to return kicks.

A 2004 title run is possible if... Texas can end its four-year skid against arch rival Oklahoma. Mack Brown has produced the best six-year start in program history and is the only active Division-I coach who has led teams to nine-plus win seasons in each of the last eight years. Yet Texas is still looking for its first Big 12 championship and BCS berth under Brown. The rest of the games are winnable for the talented Longhorns.

TheInsiders.com 2005 College Football Preview
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