The dreaded offseason is now upon us with 130 days until the Texas football season starts, which means the coaches are virtually never available to the media. Monday morning did provide a rare exception in the form of the Big 12 conference call, which included appearances by each of the head coaches in the league.
Of course, that included Mack Brown, who had some thoughts on the spring, the BCS, and West Virginia.
A 13-12 record over the last two years has dampened expectations, even around the team, as Brown spent most of the 2011 offseason talking about improvement rather than goals like a Big 12 title or BCS appearance. That continued through the spring, though expectations are now getting back towards the typical levels for the Longhorns:
#Big12 FB UT coach Mack Brown: "We’re back to where we feel like we can win every game. That attitude is starting to get there."— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) April 23, 2012
The swagger may not entirely be back, but it sounds like it is getting closer to making an appearance again.
After spending most of the spring talking about the need to develop depth everywhere, Brown would have been remiss had he failed to mention it in the conference call. He didn't disappoint:
#Big12 FB UT coach Mack Brown: "We’re developing more of a two-deep in the offensive line which we haven’t had in the last few years."— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) April 23, 2012
The second-team offensive line struggled for most of the first half in the Orange-White game before busting out a blackboard play on a pin-and-pull to free senior running back Jeremy Hills for an explosive run, but besides redshirt freshman Sedrick Flowers, it's not clear that there are any others in the group who could step in for a starter and provide the same quality of play.
The depth is better than it was -- which doesn't take much -- but it still isn't where the coaches want it to be to feel comfortable about being able to overcome injuries to anyone in the starting group, especially the tackles.
For the offense to make a needed jump in the fall, the offensive line will have to reduce the number of number plays, both by reducing the number of mental breakdowns and missed assignments and by becoming more technically proficient to the extent that more players are winning their individual battles on every play, especially in the running game. Fortunately for the 2012 outlook, Brown saw improvement:
#Big12 FB UT coach Mack Brown: "We’re getting much better with our running game and we had a more physical spring."— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) April 23, 2012
Brown also mentioned that he was encouraged by sophomore running back Malcolm Brown staying healthy, something he challenged the young back to do this spring.
If there was anything approaching a major revelation, it was Brown standing up again for changes in the BCS:
On Big 12 conference call, Texas' Mack Brown repeats preference for change in the BCS, doesn't like current system or last year's rematch.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) April 23, 2012
Brown doesn't have the same level of influence as his athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, but the Texas machine getting behind changes to the current system represents a significant advocate for a reversal of the status quo.
Finally, Brown spent some time talking about the best opponent the Longhorns will face at home this season, a visit from Dana Holgorsen, his awesome skullet, and his high-flying offense:
Mack Brown on #WVU: They get tough kids from Pittsburgh and West Virginia area and recruit well elsewhere. #Texas #Longhorns #Big12— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) April 23, 2012
Nice to see Brown getting a start on his normal "Every opponent is the most awesome opponent ever" meme well before the season has even started. Apparently, engaging in coachspeak is important in the offseason to stay sharp. It's not just the players who have to keep training!
Mack Brown on #WVU: They can always run, play an exciting brand of offense, physical defense. #Texas #Big12— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) April 23, 2012
On a more serious note, the Mountaineers are a serious contender for the Big 12 titles and for the Longhorns to harbor any title hopes themselves past the early part of the season, defending the home field and defeating West Virginia is an important and necessary part of that equation.