Garrett Gilbert will take over the quarterbacking duties for the Longhorns.
Texas coach Mack Brown has to be kicking himself for letting last season's opportunity get away after the Texas Longhorns
went a 13-0 SU during the regular season. However, after losing QB Colt McCoy to injury in the national title game, he couldn't quite get his squad over the hump during a 37-21 defeat at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
A return trip to the title game seems like a legitimate possibility for the ‘Horns in 2010, and the oddsmakers have opened them at plus 1200. That's the fifth choice on the board behind Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.
The biggest question is how well sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert will do with a full spring under his belt. Gilbert had a miserable title game in relief of the injured McCoy, as he completed just 15-of-40 passes for 186 yards with two TDs and four picks.
He did successfully bring the Longhorns back from a 24-6 deficit at halftime to make the score 24-21 late in the fourth, but his boys in burnt orange never took the lead after falling behind 7-6.
Running back Tre' Newton, a fellow sophomore, is going to be the man that is in charge of helping Gilbert get used to this offense. Newton led all Longhorns in rushing a year ago with 552 yards, but he should expect a significantly increased work load this year from the 116 carries he had in 2009.
Texas averaged 39.3 PPG last season in conference play. If the offense can come anywhere near the 421.1 yards per game it averaged in 2009, there won't be anything to worry about in the Lone Star State.
The NCAA Football defensive front seven will once again be led by DE Sam Acho, who led Texas in sacks with nine last season. He was of the utmost importance to a front line that allowed an average of just 72.5 rushing yards per game, the top mark in the land. UT only conceded 251.9 yards per game overall (third in the NCAAs) and 16.7 points per game (12th).
Replacing saftey Earl Thomas is going to be difficult, but Brown expects another stellar defensive effort in 2010 under Will Muschamp.
Texas started the 2009 season very slowly against the college football lines, going 0-3 ATS. The year didn't end all that well either, with failed cover attempts in the regular season finale against Texas A&M, the Big XII title game against Nebraska and the National Championship Game against Alabama.
Between those non-covers, the ‘Horns were a respectable 5-2-1 ATS.
The real damage was done in Big XII play. Texas covered four straight conference spreads from Oct. 24 through Nov. 21, but ended 4-4-1 ATS after the Big XII title.
As always, the biggest game on the schedule is going to be the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma in 2010. A 16-13 win last year marked the second straight win in this conference showdown for the Horns, though the spread was pushed. Dating back to 2005, Texas is 4-0-1 ATS in the Red River Rivalry.
The beginning of Texas' schedule is incredibly difficult. There are only two games of preparation before the battles start to get out of control. A trip to Lubbock to face Texas Tech under new coach Tommy Tuberville won't be fun, and a visit from upstart UCLA could be hazardous as well.
The NCAA Football schedule after that is incredibly manageable. The only road game left on the slate is a trip to Kansas State, and there really shouldn't be anywhere near a challenge until Texas A&M comes to town in the regular season finale.
There has to be a loss somewhere on this schedule for a young quarterback that is still trying to learn. As long as the Big XII South is won, the Longhorns will once again be right there in the national title discussions, most likely with an 11-1 record.