Much has been made of Texas' defensive woes last season - particulary with defending the pass - but I hadn't sat down with the final offensive numbers since the season ended to compare the dropoff from 2005.
As great a freshman debut as McCoy had, the 2006 Texas Longhorn offense was a pop warner version of the Vince Young-led attack. You already knew that, but you'd be surprised how big the dropoff is when you see the actual numbers. I know I was.
The following chart sets the 2005 and 2006 offenses next to one another, as well as the percent difference between the two. The McCoy-led Longhorns were not even in the same stratosphere as the historic 2005 group:
The glaring numbers, of course, are in the rushing game, where Vince helped '05 Texas gain 1,460 more yards on 1.5 yards more per carry, with as astounding 31 more touchdowns. It's not like VY and Texas were scoring so many rushing touchdowns because the passing game was broken, either. Texas had more passing yards (on more yards per attempt and per catch) in 2005 than the 2006 team. During his senior season, Vince Young took his passing critics behind the shed, beat them lifeless, burned the remains, and scattered the ashes over Merril Hoge's front lawn.
Don't forget, too, that Texas was up so big, so often in 2005, that most of these numbers were accumulated in three quarters of a game.
All things considered, Texas did pretty well for itself last season. The Longhorns combined a small step backwards on defense with a gigantic step backwards in offense and still were one quarterback injury away from winning the Big 12 and making a BCS Bowl.
There's little reason to expect the 2007 Longhorns (or any future Texas team) to match the 2005 production, but there's also good reason to expect some improvement. McCoy has blown up the standard learning curve and proven himself ready to direct a highly-efficient pass-oriented attack. The running game, a relative disappointment in 2006 (especially compared to 2005), is no lock to improve with three new starters on the line, but there's a good argument to be made that Texas will be able to run off of their passing prowess better than they did last season.
The one thing that we learned last season and should have at the forefront of our minds in 2007 is that this team will likely go only as far as Colt McCoy takes it. Another injury to McCoy would be a gigantic setback to the offense. The good news? If Colt stays healthy, we may see one of the best Texas offenses (mortals division) since Mack Brown arrived in Austin.