The Texas Longhorns followed up a promising 2018 season with a thud.
Texas served up the occasional signs of life, such as going toe-to-toe with eventual national champion LSU early in the season. More often, the Longhorns played schizophrenic football on the way to an 8-5 finish.
UT has spent the offseason gearing up for an opportunity to get back on track with a coaching staff overhauled by Tom Herman. Freed from the expectations that led up to last year's disappointment, can the Longhorns work their way into the national championship race?
Here are three reasons to believe they can earn a spot in the College Football Playoff this season — and three more suggesting that they won't.
Three Reasons Why Texas Will Make it to the College Football Playoff in 2020
1. Sam Ehlinger
UT's senior quarterback gets one last run at helping restore the Longhorns to glory. For the last three seasons, Ehlinger has demonstrated leadership and toughness to go along with his bruising running style and underrated skills as a thrower. In 2020, his ability to raise his teammates' play may mean just as much to Texas' overall success as how well he executes the offense.
2. New blood on the coaching staff
A dismal 2019 campaign forced Herman to purge his coaching staff, including dumping both coordinators. On the offensive side of the ball, Mike Yurcich is expected to juice up a passing attack that needs help stretching the field. Meanwhile, new defensive mastermind Chris Ash will try to clean up the shoddy fundamentals that plagued UT last season and cost predecessor Todd Orlando his job.
3. LSU is likely to take a step back
Let's say the Longhorns and Tigers actually end up squaring off in Baton Rouge in September. LSU will be bringing a far different team to the table than the one coach Ed Orgeron assembled last year. Even on the road, UT stands a better chance of winning in ‘20, which could help propel the Horns to a special season.
Three Reasons Why Texas Won't Make it to the College Football Playoff in 2020
1. Consistency at wide receiver
Between Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, roughly half of Texas' 306 catches and 3,800 receiving from a year ago are now gone. UT has a few talented options lined up to fill their shoes at receiver — namely junior Brennan Eagles and sophomore Jake Smith. Ehlinger will need to establish a similar type of rapport with them to ensure Texas' aerial potency doesn't fall off.
2. Lack of continuity
Sure, the new faces on the coaching staff offer reason for hope around Austin in ‘20. Such a massive shakeup also raises the likelihood of hiccups as the players transition to new schemes. A crazy offseason only makes those hiccups even more likely.
3. Pass defense
The Longhorns ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 in nearly every key category in pass defense last year: ninth in completion percentage, eighth in yards per pass attempt, eighth in passer rating. Two major contributors in the secondary, Brandon Jones and Anthony Cook, are gone, too. If Texas hopes to improve this year, potential impact players like Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster have to pick up on Ash's plans for the defense immediately.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.