#7 Texas Longhorns

Offense
Garrett Gilbert was thrown to the wolves a little premature in the national title game last year due to the injury to Colt McCoy. After a first half that saw Gilbert complete just 1/10 throws, Gilbert rallied the Longhorns before falling short in the 2nd half. Gilbert will be sold piece of the Longhorn offense in 2010, and he’ll have a loaded receiving corps at his disposal. Despite the loss of WR Jordan Shipley, the Longhorns return WR Malcom Williams and John Chiles. Williams had over 500 yards receiving in 09 and with Shipley out of the picture, I think Williams may double his numbers this season.

The key for Gilbert to be successful in his starting role is to get better production from the RBs. Tre Newton led the way last season with a mediocre 552 yards on the season and fumbles were a major problem. However, I look for a much improved season out of Newton. Mack Brown is shifting to I-formation attack which will better suit Newton and Gilbert. Plus, the Longhorns return 10 players on their O-line two deep depth chart.

Defense
Another year and another stacked defensive football team for Texas. Each individual unit on Texas’ defense could compete for the best in the nation, which is a true testament to Mack Brown’s recruiting efforts. Alex Okafor returns on the defensive line after an outstanding freshman season. MLB Jarred Norton has 122 tackles and Emmanuel Acho will compete for All-Big 12 honors.

Texas for my money has the best secondary in America returning led by CB Curtis Brown. DC Will Muschamp is the best in the business and this group is just as talented and loaded with potential as any in Muschamp’s tenure.

Overall
Record breaking QB Colt McCoy is gone, but I don’t there will be the dropoff many expect with Garrett Gilbert. The key will be a solid establishment of a running game.

After what some considered an underachieving run in the first few years of Brown’s tenure, Texas has reeled off 3 BCS bids in five seasons including 2 national title appearances. The schedule sets up nicely, however the Longhorns have two mammoth games on the road at Nebraska and the annual Red River Shootout. Look for Texas to split these games and finish 11-1. However, this will be good enough to land in yet another BCS bowl.

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