It's summer. It's hot here in Dallas. And football season is exactly 60 days, 0 hours, 16 minutes and 49... no, 48 seconds away.
We are smack in the middle of the sports wasteland known as July, wondering aimlessly for any sign of sports life. Alias, there's none in sight. There's the mirage known as the World Cup, but we continue in search of a brand of football where men don't wine like toddlers when they fall down.
It's around this time every year when questions, concerns and predictions start to swim around in my head, hijacking my days, and sometimes, my nights. Yes, I woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago and the first thing that popped in my head was how Garrett Gilbert dips too much when he drops back to pass. I mean, the kid loses at least 2 inches when he does that. I trust Greg Davis has at least purged him of that demon. Let's hope so, at least for the sake of a good night's sleep. (And I won't mention how he releases the ball too low. The mind can only handle so much.)
I had to sit down and flush out on electronic paper my top questions, concerns and things I'm most looking forward to as the 2010 Texas Longhorns football season draws closer. It's not that I expect to have all these issues settled by October, I just felt like I needed to get them out there, and hopefully encourage you to do the same.
Garrett Gilbert: Is he Chris Simms or Colt McCoy?
I was at the University Co-op store in Dallas with my daughters the other day and I saw several wracks of No. 7 jerseys. It just made me uneasy. It's not that I think Gilbert can't get the job done, but I'm always squeamish about entering a new era. I felt the same way in 1999 after the Ricky Williams era and the same in 2006 after the Vince Young era.
During the fourth quarter of the National Championship Game, many Texas fans broke out in chants of "Gilbert, Gilbert, Gilbert" several times, so it started to sink in early (albeit way too early) that the transition had already begun, whether we wanted it to or not. I really think he'll be great, but he must have help around him. He has the size, the arm and the accuracy, but does he have those oh-so precious intangibles? The answer will be revealed in the journey. One thing's for sure-No. 10 and No. 12 are not going to walk out of that DKR tunnel, so all we can do is dive in and hope that Gilbert can run the show.
Can we finally get a ball carrier, please?
This is Texas. We should be able to run the ball when we want to. If the offense is going to go under center more often this year, we must have a consistent threat on the ground. Big 12 defenses are now built for the passing game, so we need to hit'em in the gut with the carries. I don't think Tre' Newton has the bulk for 20-plus touches a game. But I do think he is the best all-around option we have right now, and I expect at least 800 yards from him this season. Chris Whaley, Cody Johnson, Fozzy "Waka Waka" Whittaker and Vondrell McGee all bring something different, but none are as complete as Newton. Although, we still haven't seen Whaley's potential, but something tells me he's more Henry Melton II than Cedric Benson II. Newton will do, if the coaches give him the nod. Or, can we get a little Traylon Shead? Just a little peek? Please?
First Line of Defense
Having played on the offensive and defensive lines for nine years, I'm one of those who believe the game is played from the line of scrimmage out. Have a solid line on both sides of the ball, and the rest of the pieces will be much easier to place. But there are huge holes to fill on the 2010 defensive line, and that worries me.
Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston were huge last year, and I know there is tremendous talent locked and loaded to take their place, but it's all what could be. We already know Sam Acho is special. Alex Okafor, Derek Johnson and Kheeston Randall might turn out to be fantastic, not to mention the true freshmen talent coming in, but how will they work together? What will the rotations be like? Will Muschamp's boys must get the first line of defense locked down before we start talking about the linebackers and DBs.
Who's the No. 1 receiver?
Dan Buckner wore No. 4 during his short say in Austin, which, if you think about it, is kind of sacrilegious. But he wasn't a top option anyway. So, who is? I like Malcolm Williams' potential, but he's too inconsistent. I just don't trust him to be the guy (see the mistimed jump that may have been a touchdown in the Rose Bowl). Marquise Goodwin should be a great weapon, but is he a first option? Gilbert will be more comfortable having a No. 1 go-to guy, and I don't see him emerging yet. That said, I can't wait to see what Greg Timmons and that gaggle of true freshmen have in their bags.
OK, those are just four issues. I'll share more latter. For now, leave a comment with your top issue keeping you up at night. How do you see things shaking out in the fall?