This season will be different. No longer will fans call for the head of Mack Brown. New leadership is here. Texas football is already drastically better because of that.
A quick reminder--the SMO does not deal with logic or reason. It doesn't care about your fancy stats or film review. The SMO is an over-the-top emotional response to everything Texas football. That's what the fans want. That's what I plan to give them.
Extremely Optimistic-- Team Excitement
Do you remember watching the Longhorns come out of the tunnel last year? I do, and I wish I didn't. Texas football players looked flat at every home game. Remember New Mexico State and how the game was nearly tied going into halftime? Remember Ole Miss? When the Rebels took the field, and I swear this is true, I saw some Texas players in the north end zone take a step back like they were scared.
You think new Texas coach Charlie Strong is going to put up with that garbage? Hell no.
The idea of having to earn helmet stickers and the right to do the hook'em sign is corny, sure, but I think Strong and Co. know they have to shake things up in a locker room that was suffocating with entitlement.
Extremely Optimistic- Team Development
There are so many talking heads on TV and radio discussing the Longhorns potential based on stats from last season and predicted development. That's BS. Texas football is a completely unknown entity. The reality is, on paper, Texas fields a top-five team every season based on talent. Utilizing that talent is where the problem has been.
Who is to say that a player like Steve Edmond's struggles in previous seasons are an indication of his ability to perform this season? Does the blame fall on the coach or the player? Will the offensive line struggle because it struggled in 2013? How does one predict how Joe Wickline is retooling the offensive line for 2014? It's not like he had better recruits to work with at Oklahoma State, and that team fielded great offensive lines year end and year out.
This Texas football team is completely unpredictable.
Extremely Optimistic- Defense
The curse of Manny Diaz has been lifted, and with that comes a breath of fresh air and rainbows and smiles on the 40 acres. You feel bad because Diaz was an extremely nice guy, but then you watch the BYU game and feel less bad.
The Longhorns defense is now run by Vance Bedford, a madman who once had an epic rant involving a Charlie Strong train:
You have to be slightly crazy to coach defense.
Bedford, a UT alum, will be helped by Strong. Strong won a national championship as defensive coordinator at Florida and his defense at Louisville ranked top-ten nationally the past two seasons. Expect significant improvements in all areas of defense with this squad.
I don't know what to expect with the offense, but it honestly can't be any worse than what Case McCoy brought to the table in 2013. For that, I am very grateful.
Texas is thin at the QB spot, but when he is healthy, David Ash is one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Strong knows this and will probably do everything in his power to keep Ash from swan-diving into a group of linebackers like he did against Kansas State in 2013.
Texas has depth at wide receiver. Marcus Johnson, John Harris, Jaxon Shipley (hamstring), Daje Johnson (when he isn't suspended) and freshmen Jacorey Warrick and Jake Oliver will all provide stability for offensive coordinator Shawn Watson's passing game.
Texas running backs for 2014 are Malcolm Brown, Jonathan Gray and newcomer D'Onta Freeman. 2/3 of this trio has already proven itself.
This team has weapons.
The SMO will now predict the Longhorns 2014 season record, even though earlier he said predictions are pointless. He still stands by that statement.
UCLA- W (It's in Texas, relax.)
Iowa State- W
@Kansas State- W
@Texas Tech- W
West Virginia- W
@Oklahoma State- W
Every game on the schedule is winnable. Every game on the schedule is losable. I'll give this team the benefit of the doubt until it proves it doesn't deserve it.