Big 12 Football: Are The Texas Longhorns A 10 Win Caliber Team?
The Texas Longhorns began the season 4-0 with an offense that put up 37, 45, 66 and 41 points as David Ash put his progression on display. The Horns have received the type of attention you would expect a team who is losing every game to get, but Austin expects a contender, this is Texas. Mack Brown has been put on the hot seat by fans because they’re tired of losing. Wait, what? As funny as it might sound to people outside of Texas, even though the Horns have a 10 win season in sight, the future of this program is in question.
It’s interesting this team can still reach double-digit wins, because overall as a team they’ve been mediocre and it is hard to really be impressed with any of their wins. The defense has played better the last three games, allowing a combined 46 points, but the defense still ranks in the bottom half of the conference. When looking over some numbers it becomes clear this team really isn’t your typical 10 win team, they are still very disappointing in many aspects of their game.
Texas has only played against two teams currently ranked (AP). The Longhorns gave up a combined 42.5 points a game and an average of 559 yards a game. While the very high numbers could be considered heavy towards the game against the Oklahoma Sooners, keep in mind the Horns gave up 48 to the West Virginia Mountaineers, who have now lost four straight. They also gave up 31 to the Ole Miss Rebels, 36 to the Oklahoma State Cowboys and 50 to the Baylor Bears. Cases can be made for each of those offenses, but the bottom line is a good 10 win team takes care of business on both sides of the ball.
One area Texas has been stellar at is turnover margin. They trail only the Kansas State Wildcats in the conference and is one of three Big 12 teams that has less than 10 turnovers lost. The Horns have also maintained a pretty decent ground game as they rank fourth in the conference, but many were labeling the running game as the best in the Big 12 coming into the season. Yes, you can always point back to the injury of Malcolm Brown, who has missed the better part of five games, but in stepped Johnathan Gray and every team suffers setbacks from injuries.
David Ash has been a pleasant surprise this year, you can even attribute less pressure on the running game to be the best because of the progress Ash has made. The offense is averaging 11.5 points, 65 total yards and 71 more passing yards more than last season. There is improvement from last year on offense, however, all the progress the offense has made under the second year with Bryan Harisn, can tend to be overshadowed by how horrible the defense has performed.
The let down against the Sooners was the biggest disappointment of the year. The annual game between Texas and Oklahoma is also a measuring stick between the two programs and the Longhorns have fallen behind the Sooners and until they can make it past the Sooners, they can’t be considered great.
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