As Oregon celebrated its 30-7 win in the Alamo Bowl on Monday night and workers began to clean confetti and balloons off the Alamodome turf, focus turned to Texas’ future.
The Longhorns will have a new football coach. Athletic Director Steve Patterson told reporters before the Alamo Bowl that a hire should be expected by mid-January.
“It will be a little bit different because all my life I’ve seen Texas football (with) Coach Brown,” freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes said.
Quarterback Case McCoy, defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat and kicker Anthony Fera are among the 21 seniors who won’t be back for 2014. Junior defensive end Cedric Reed needs to decide whether he wants to return or enter the NFL draft.
The Longhorns will retain some talent. But questions remain, most notably at the quarterback position.
Can junior David Ash, who has 21 starts on his résumé, come back after concussion issues cut short his season? Or will Texas turn to Swoopes or incoming recruit Jerrod Heard of Denton Guyer?
Four of Texas’ starting offensive linemen on Monday were seniors, but the Longhorns will return plenty of experience at the skill positions.
Only one of the 12 players who caught a pass this season — Mike Davis — was a senior. Texas’ rushing attack could also be bolstered by the return of Johnathan Gray, who suffered an Achilles injury in the season’s ninth game, and Daje Johnson, who was ruled academically ineligible for the Alamo Bowl.
“I think our future is very bright,” said Swoopes, who recorded 13 passes and 20 rushing attempts during his freshman season. “It will be fun. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back, and the young guys coming in, the guys in my class are really good also.”
Malcolm Brown, who led Texas this season with 904 rushing yards, is a junior. He rushed for 130 yards on 26 carries in the Alamo Bowl.
“He’s had a great year,” Mack Brown said. “I can’t wait to see what the future brings for him.”
On defense, Texas has holes to fill in its secondary, and Reed’s possible departure won’t help the line. But the growth of a young linebacking corps will benefit a defense that finished sixth in the Big 12 in scoring average.
Texas started underclassmen (Peter Jinkens, Dalton Santos and Timothy Cole) at its three linebacker positions in the Alamo Bowl. Juniors Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond also logged significant playing time before injuries ended their seasons.
“A lot of these guys, they’ve all got some nice careers ahead,” defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said when asked about his linebackers.
Texas finished with an 8-5 record and failed to reach double-digit wins for the fourth straight year. But Reed said Monday night that the football program just needed to be renovated, not rebuilt.
“Something is going to have to happen for us to get back on track to where we used to (be); somebody is going to have to find something,” Reed said. “I don’t think it’s going to take much rebuilding. It’s just something that whoever comes in is going to have to find. I don’t know how to really explain it, but they’re going to have to find it.”