Texas has a lot to prove in 2015. The inaugural season of Charlie Strong and his new version of Texas Longhorns football was anything but ideal. Strong brought in a whole new… everything. New system. New style of play. New style of leadership and coaching philosophy. Everything changed in Austin… except the Texas fan base, boosters, and fever pitch desire to win NOW. And win now is what Strong must do. If he and Texas are going to improve on 2014’s 6-7 showing, the Longhorns must be able to solve several different problems.
Texas' Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines
1. Time To Grow Up
Last year Texas’ offensive line was young and inexperienced, and it showed over and over again. The young group could not provide protection for its QBs and by the time this unit began to figure it out, it was simply too late. This year, it doesn’t matter who the QB of this team is if the offensive line doesn’t mature into its massive potential. With better depth now, along with several high quality freshmen being added to the mix, the Longhorns’ line should see significant improvement.
2. And the Winner of the QB Competition is…
Texas left spring practice still not sure who the “official” starting QB is. Tyrone Swoopes technically has the starting job, but according to Strong, Jerrod Heard has closed the gap considerably. Swoopes made a lot of mistakes, but NO ONE was going to prosper behind that poor of an offensive line. If No. 1 on this list is fixed, then it is possible that Swoopes will perform adequately, as there were flashes of brilliance. However, it may be time for Heard to take the reins.
3. “Gray” Skies Could Be Clearing Up
Jonathan Gray could be poised for a true breakout season after suffering an ACL tear in 2013, and coming back to play well behind the now-departed Malcolm Brown last season. Gray has the potential to become a serious dual-threat player this season, if he can stay healthy. And if Texas is to become legit contenders, or even simply take the next step back to respectability, Gray needs to be great.
4. “Defense is My Claim to Fame”
Strong made his name and reputation as a defensive guru. His defensive strategies are the reason why those Urban Meyer Florida teams won championships. His defensive strategies are the reason why his Louisville teams owned Florida and Miami in back-to-back bowl wins. In year two of his stint in Louisville, the defense made significant strides, and seemed to create the identity that would define Strong’s tenure in the Bluegrass. The Longhorn faithful are hoping for a similar jump.
5. Block out the Burnt Orange Noise!
The major and most significant challenge that Texas will face in 2015 is not on the field, but off it. The coaches and players must figure out how to block out the distractions that are inevitably facing a team that will face more than a few challenges. This team must create an insular quality that is simply not phased by demands for the athletic director and/or head coach to be fired, or calls for position changes when players struggle. All this team can control is what happens on the field. These Longhorns must block out the noise to what happens off of it.
— Written by Lloyd H. Spence Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence has covered both high school and college sports for several years, and has written for several outlets, incuding ESPNLouisville.com and CardinalSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.