What are five things the Texas Longhorns must do to finish the season strong?

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What are five things the Texas Longhorns must do to finish the season strong?

Brett Davis: US Presswire

Eight games into the 2012 season, the Texas Longhorns are 6-2 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 play.

At the beginning of the year, the Longhorns looked like they would be finding their way back to the top of the college football rankings. The offense, led by a new-and-impoved David Ash, was firing on all cylinders and looking unstoppable. The defense, well, that was another issue, but many felt that it was something that could be easily corrected.

After solid road wins over the Ole Miss Rebels and the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Longhorns were sitting pretty. Their first loss was a narrow defeat at the hands of the then-top-five ranked West Virginia Mountaineers, a team many thought to be considered one of the best in the country at the time.

The following week, however, the wheels fell off. The Longhorns showed up unprepared and uninspired to their match-up against the Oklahoma Sooners and were humiliated by a score of 63-21.

For many Longhorn fans, it was the last straw. Fans started demanding changes sooner rather than later, and most of the ire was directed at head-coach Mack Brown.

The following week, the Longhorns were able to pull it back together to escape with a win over the struggling Baylor Bears, but many started again wringing their hands after a narrow victory over the one-win Kansas Jayhawks.

Are the Longhorns regressing?

It seems that they are indeed.

Here are five things that the Longhorns must do for the remainder of their games in order to finish the season strong.

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Take the handcuffs off David Ash

Spruce Derden: US Presswire

We saw early in the season what David Ash is capable of when the coaches allow him to stretch the field. However, since the loss to the Sooners, the coaches seem to have reeled him back in. Since then, the offense has regressed. If they want to get back to moving the ball and putting points on the board, they have to show more trust in Ash. He's at his best when he is allowed to play his own game.

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Get the playmakers more involved

Brendan Maloney: US Presswire

There is no reason that the Horns' most dangerous weapons, Daje Johnson and D.J. Monroe, shouldn't be on the field more often. The two are both averaging 8 yards per play, yet they also average fewer than 2 offensive touches per game. For the Horns' offense to reach their full potential, the coaches have to find a way to get them more involved more consistently.

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Simplify the defense

Mark Smith: US Presswire

The defense has been, quite frankly, horrendous this season. After such lofty pre-season expectations, they have become one of the worst in the nation. They miss tackles, they give up big plays, and they simply don't seem to be able to stop anyone.

Their best performance came in the 2nd half of the Kansas game when they returned to a base defense. Without so many exotic looks, the players were able to make plays and finally slow down an opponent's running game. If they hope to continue this trend, they need to be more vanilla for the remainder of the season. Don't get too cute; just play fundamentally sound defense.

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Set the tone early on both sides of the ball.

Brendan Maloney: US Presswire

The Longhorn coaches have a tendency to wait and see what the other team is going to do first and then respond, yet the Longhorns have proven this season that they play best when they come out and strike first. They can't afford to respond. They must be the ones to dictate the flow of the game before they even step foot onto the field.

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The leaders need to step up.

Brendan Maloney: US Presswire

Now is the time for the leaders on the team to step up and lead the younger players on the team. Yes, the Horns have faced some adversity this season, but they need players on the field to take control and light a fire under their teammates. The Horns still have a lot to play for this season. They need to play with confidence, and that comes from the leaders on the team.

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