The waiting is over. Kickoff for the Longhorns is but two days away.
And if you don’t get the Longhorn Network and are not a neighbor/confidante of Mack Brown’s, here’s a look at how this Texas football season will likely unfold.
OK, could unfold:
Quarterback David Ash will complete 66 percent of his passes for 3,742 yards and throw 23 touchdowns with a career-low six interceptions. He will also run for 312 yards and five touchdowns. He will be second-team All-Big 12.
Case McCoy will bail out Ash in one game and be flagged for unnecessary celebration when he breaks out in a native Peruvian dance.
Tyrone Swoopes, who will be used in a mopup role, will run for more yards than he passes for. (I’d use the already-redshirted Jalen Overstreet in that role and redshirt Swoopes, a freshman.)
Sophomore Daje Johnson will absolutely blow up and become this year’s Tavon Austin in the Big 12. He said as much Tuesday, saying he wanted to emulate the former West Virginia star as well as Oregon’s DeAnthony Thomas. “I would like that,” Mack Brown said Wednesday.
Johnson’s got his head on straight, never misses a team meeting and grows into a monster for the Longhorns. He’ll catch 52 balls for 563 yards and seven touchdowns. He’ll also run for 381 yards and five scores mostly on jet sweeps. When I asked him if he’s a star, Johnson said, “I’m not going to say a star yet. I can’t tell the future. But one of my goals is to be a big contributor, have a big role.”
Correction: he will be a star.
Mike Davis will finally produce like a top receiver should and will catch 76 balls for 1,124 yards — third-most in school history — and nine touchdowns with four plays of 50 yards or more. Jaxon Shipley will battle injury problems but will still catch everything near him for 67 receptions for 763 yards and six scores.
Johnathan Gray will emerge as the featured running back, have at least four 25-carry games and will become the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Jamaal Charles in 2007. The sophomore will finish with 1,198 yards and 12 touchdowns and develop into one of Ash’s top targets (38 receptions for 405 yards).
Malcolm Brown will stay healthy the entire year and run for 513 yards and seven scores.
Joe Bergeron’s touchdowns take a dip, from 16 to 10, but he will rush for 422 yards. He’ll also set the school record for tattoos after adding his 40th — no lie, his 40th — when he designed a likeness of an Egyptian god that symbolizes protection and inked up his right hand. He designs all his tattoos. Could be a future in it for him.
Overstreet will work out of the Wild formation some, but Gray will handle most of those snaps. Gray will complete one pass all year.
Ash will catch a touchdown pass.
Shipley will throw one.
Desmond Harrison, maybe the most famous left tackle in school history before even making a single block, becomes Texas’ first All-Big 12 offensive lineman since Adam Ulatoski in 2008.
The rising star in the offensive line will be 6-7 sophomore Kennedy Estelle.
Geoff Swaim gives the tight end a pulse. After a year in which no tight end caught more than 14 passes and they all scored three touchdowns as a group, the junior college transfer from Butte Community College gives Ash another target with 29 catches for 324 yards.
Johnson runs back a kickoff for a touchdown. And a punt.
Major Applewhite, who has a great feel for the game, will start a trend of offensive coordinators calling plays from the field. He will be lionized by fans and media for throwing halfback passes, throwback screens and double reverses. He will be lustily booed for throwing halfback passes, throwback screens and double reverses.
Texas’ defense will score four touchdowns on returns and will have 28 takeaways.
Jackson Jeffcoat dominates at defensive end with 12 sacks and 20 tackles for losses. Next April, he’ll become the sixth defensive end drafted in the last six years, furthering Texas’ image as Defensive End U and bringing more luster to Oscar Giles as a terrific position coach. Cedric Reed will be solid at the other end with four sacks.
Jordan Hicks will lead the Longhorns linebackers and become the team’s leading tackler with 86 stops.
Quandre Diggs will pace the secondary with three interceptions and return one for a touchdown.
Anthony Fera has a rebound year as kicker, booting 17 of 21 field-goal attempts, and punting for a 44-yard average.
Half of Nick Rose’s kickoffs will be touchbacks as the former walk-on earns his scholarship. Can you get this stuff anywhere else?
Texas barely escapes a loss at West Virginia, the biggest trap game of the year. Couches are safe for another day.
Finally, the 15th-ranked Longhorns rise to fifth in the nation after winning their first six games but fall to TCU and Oklahoma State to finish 10-2 and land in the Cotton Bowl.
15-TEXAS VS. NEW MEXICO STATE
7 Saturday, LHN, 1300, 98.1
KICKOFF: COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The season is finally here, kicking off tonight with South Carolina and North Carolina. Inside today’s section, you’ll find our Longhorns notebook on Page C8. On Friday, we’ll examine Texas’ running back depth and Saturday, we’ll publish our first Sports Extra section of the fall, previewing the Texas-New Mexico State game.