Texas Longhorns football is a little more than one month away, but with the calendar turning from July to August, it’s time for the annual Texas tradition of hyping up this Longhorns team into playoff contention before mid-September when the ‘Horns miss a game-tying PAT and lose to Tulsa.
But that was then. This is now.
Now is the time for extreme optimism — if for no other reason than this team has yet to give us a reason to be down. Is that because they haven’t taken the field yet? Quite possibly. But the unknown is much better than the known when the known just gave up 50 points at home against Maryland.
Texas is a new team this season. We say this every season, but this season we mean it. Why? Because this is Texas — and at any given moment, with the right coaching, Texas can field a 10-win team. The question is: Will they do it this year? My answer, as it always is in the preseason SMO, is yes.
The SMO does not deal in logic or reason. We do not care for your facts and figures, your analysis or your pivot tables. The SMO runs entirely on moxie.
This is the Case McCoy of Texas football columns. I have no idea why they let me keep doing it and it’s usually not very good but occasionally it’s great and also my dad is constantly yelling at the editors.
10 bold predictions for 2018 Texas football
No. 1: Texas wins at least 10 games in 2018
That’s right. Neutral readers here for balanced perspectives be gone. I am immediately introducing bias into this column by stating that I unequivocally believe that this Texas team will win at least 10 games in 2018 and that belief is based on little more than I really want them to win at least 10 games.
Texas is set up for 2018 the same way it was set up for success in years past — with legitimate NFL talent on the roster and a huge question mark at quarterback.
The difference maker this year is Texas head coach Tom Herman. What can he do after two full years of coaching with his system entirely in place, a quarterback room he’s familiar with, and even adding some of the most talented true freshmen Texas has ever had?
His coaching history shows he knows how to win. This team has enough talent to win. There are no guaranteed losses on a favorable schedule with the toughest games being played at home or on a neutral field. The Horns can play with everyone on it.
No. 2: Sam Ehlinger wins the job and doesn’t look back
The questions at quarterback are no different than they were last season. The difference is, this season Texas football has full room of scholarship quarterbacks instead of two guys and a wide receiver. That’s a huge deal for competitive balance and development — and also because fans don’t have to cringe every time the quarterback takes a hit.
Still, a room full of scholarship quarterbacks with the oldest being a true junior doesn’t mean Texas has the experience it needs at the position. That being said, I think Sam Ehlinger takes the reins this year. It’s his team to lose.
No. 3: Tim Beck doesn’t lose his job this season, but might leave on his own if he wants
Texas fans love firing coaches almost as much as they love winning games. This year, Texas sees the benefits of coaching continuity pay dividends on the field. Because of that, after this season we see the least amount of coaching attrition since the golden age of Mack Brown, except with guys (Orlando) who (Orlando) might (Orlando) be (Orlando) ready (Orlando) for (Orlando) head-coaching (Orlando) opportunities, depending on who that might be.
No. 4: Texas beats Oklahoma in Dallas because the Horns win every Red River Rivalry I can’t attend and lose every game I can make
Take this one to the bank, folks. The last time Texas beat Oklahoma I was moving my fiancé from Minneapolis to Chicago and missed essentially every play because I couldn’t get a good radio signal in the U-Haul.
This year, when Texas and Oklahoma kick off in Dallas, I’ll be at a wedding somewhere in the Caribbean. Hammer the Texas money-line in this game, but double the bet if I can’t get service to watch it. Because that means it’s going to be an all-time classic Texas win, the likes of which you’ll see on LHN for years to come.
No. 5: Texas gets College Gameday for the first time in a decade against Texas-USC
All Texas needs to do to secure ESPN’s College Gameday (the best show in the history of television) in Austin is beat Maryland and Tulsa. If the Horns make it to week three undefeated, there is no doubt that College Gameday is coming to Austin.
If you think this doesn’t matter, fine. But every 16-year-old high school football recruit thinks it does. And that’s who matters in this game.
No 6: The best home game of the year will be in early November against West Virginia
Yeah, Texas has the big USC game in Austin in September. I get that. But Texas hasn’t played relevant college football in November in the last ten years. Most Texas fans are so apathetic after October that you can essentially waltz into DKR for free and pick where you want to sit.
Not this year. With Texas in the hunt for a title (Big 12 or national, who knows?) and West Virginia sporting some of the best talent its ever had, this November game will be similar in atmosphere to the Geno Smith game in 2012.
This time, Texas wins.
No 7. Tre Watson becomes your favorite Longhorn with a bachelor’s degree from Cal-Berkeley since Bill Powers
The running game for Texas was embarrassing last season. This is disputed by absolutely no one.
With the addition of Tre Watson as a versatile, speedy running back with great hands, Texas now has a proven weapon in the backfield. Will it work? Please God.
Texas needs a playmaker in the backfield to take the pressure off these young quarterbacks. If Tre Watson is the guy they can dump it off to for a big gain, the Horns are going to be in good shape.
No 8: Kyle Porter breaks a tackle in 2018
In a game this season, I boldly predict that Kyle Porter will be handed the football at some point and will NOT go down on first contact. When this happens, fire the cannon. Call a timeout. Carry him off the field.
If Kyle Porter breaks multiple tackles in 2018, then maybe Texas fans will finally see what this staff has seen in him for the last two years.
No 9: BJ Foster will be a household name before the season is over
BJ Foster, the talented true freshman five-star safety, is ready to turn heads in college football. He isn’t a household name yet, but he’s going to become one.
Enjoy him while he’s here.
No 10: Texas will be ranked in every game this season
The boldest prediction of them all. Texas will not drop out of the rankings in 2018. Instead, we will see a Texas squad unlike any we have seen since the late 2000s. Texas will not be as good as those Colt McCoy teams, but they will be good enough to win every single game.
No more embarrassingly stupid game-losing PATs. No more blocked field goals getting returned. No more 500-yard rushing games to kickstart Heisman campaigns for 35-year-old BYU quarterbacks. No more kicking off in both halves because no one knows how the coin toss works.
In 2018, Texas turns the page. I firmly believe that.