NCAA Football 2014 Predictions: Texas Longhorns Play Strong for New Coach and New Era

( [email protected] ) Jul 16, 2014 02:23 AM EDT
If the offensive line can stay healthy, the Longhorns could start a new era of strength in Austin.
If Ash is on the field, the Longhorns have a good shot this year. Beaumont Enterprise

Texas' first year head coach Charlie Strong has shown he has what it takes to guide a team, and the players who man that team.  He  dragged Louisville football up from obscurity to BCS level success, and he coached top tier quarterbacks in the process.  

Strong has some great talent at Texas at QB, and he will start David Ash under center when the Longhorns face off against North Texas on August 30.   Ash began 2013 as the starter for Texas, but was knocked out of the job by a series of head injuries.  Ash missed all but three games and was an afterthought to a forgettable 2013 for Texas. For a while, it was unknown whether Ash would even return to football after multiple concussions, but in November the Junior declared his intention to return for 2014. If Ash can stay upright, Texas could do very well this year, and Charlie Strong should give Ash the best chance he has of finding success.    

Texas also has a pair of serious running backs in Malcolm Brown and Jonathan Gray.  Gray had achilles surgery after getting off to a great start last year, but has healed and should be a major contributor for the Texas offense.  Last year, Brown had to take most of the carries after Gray was hobbled, and he made the best of the opportunity, rushing for 904 yards over 7 games.  

Senior center Dom Espinosa is the only returning starter from last year's offensive line, so Texas will truly win or lose in the trenches this year.   Espinosa will have to be an anchor for the more inexperienced line mates in 2014. Cedrick Flowers will probably get the left guard position, as he is the only returning guard with any real experience. On the other side, the competition is wide open between Redshirt freshmen Rami Hammad and Darius James, who were both highly touted coming out of high school and certainly have the talent to be great for the Longhorns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Stefan Scrafield of Sports Day DFW says cornerback Quandre Diggs may be new defensive coordinator Vance Bedford's overall best player.  

"He's a do-it-all corner who came into college as a highly touted recruit and has continued to develop immensely in his first three years on the Forty Acres. He's started 36 of the 39 games he's played and has developed such a strong reputation in the Big 12 that his numbers have fallen each season, as teams simply won't throw at him," Scrafield writes.  

Bedford plans to use Diggs on the edge, which will play into the speedsters skill set.  

The secondary should be better than last year, but Bedford will have a job to do to fill the holes left by Jackson Jeffcoat and Chris Whaley on the Defensive Line.  Look for Cedric Reed and Shiro Davis to step up and do work to fill those holes this year, but offense should be where Texas really punches their ticket this season.

Prediction Time

Its a war of attrition, and time and injury will certainly take a toll.  Longhorns battle for new coach and new era  and pull out a Strong 9-3 record over a very, very tough schedule.