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February 23, 2011

Lots of questions as UT kicks off spring ball

What is the biggest question going into the spring?

Spring football is set to begin on Thursday afternoon, and we continue to address some of the top questions on Longhorn fans' minds for the 2011 season.

In our final group project, we select what we feel is the biggest question surrounding the Texas team as spring practices are set to begin.

geoff ketchum

There's going to be a lot of talk about the offense for the next few months, but I think in a lot of ways the challenges facing Manny Diaz and the rest of the defensive staff is an even taller challenge. Can they take an extremely young defense with some real depth questions and turn it into a Texas defense that everyone can be proud of? As of today I can't tell you if Texas has more than one defensive tackle, one defensive end, three linebackers and a few safeties that it can feel good about on that side of the ball. Yes, there's a ton and I mean a ton of young talent for Diaz to work with, but the maturity of that group remains in serious question.

I've got to find out if Reggie Wilson can be a starter or if any of those out of shape defensive tackles from the 2010 class are ready to play or whether the team has a middle linebacker or enough corners. There are so many questions on that side of the ball that it just leaves your head spinning a little.

In addition to those issues, you've got a new staff that's barely had five minutes together to talk defense in the last month as a complete staff. There's just a lot to do.

Bryan Harsin
chip brown

First and foremost, how are the coachescoordinating everything together? Does this staff have the chemistry to install the offense and defense successfully and get the most out of the spring? Do they have the trust and faith of the players after a year in which those things were huge issues?

Once that gets resolved, then you can move on to how the quarterback position is fairing and if any vocal leadership is emerging on offense. This coaching staff will be looking for leaders on offense at every turn. There just wasn't any last season, and that has to be a top priority coming out of the spring. If the coaches feel like their chemistry is right on after the spring, and they have found a quarterback and some leadership on offense, then this spring will be deemed a success.

Defensively, a tackle next to Kheeston Randall needs to be found - and quickly. Some corners need to be identified. But everything will feed off of how this coaching staff is getting along and the image being portrayed to the players.

Manny Diaz
jason suchomel

So many questions, it's hard to pick just one. You could literally go down every single position group on the Texas roster and there are legitimate questions that will need to be addressed this spring and beyond.

The obvious choice for the biggest issue is at quarterback. It's the most important role on every football team and Texas is opening up the competition to see if anyone can challenge Garrett Gilbert, who struggled quite a bit last year.

Yes, QB is a huge issue this spring, but I'm taking a bigger picture look at things. The biggest question in my mind is whether or not Bryan Harsin can find ways to maximize the talent that's on campus, and does Texas have the type of players that will immediately fit into the new offensive scheme?

Looking back at the Longhorns' 2010 offense, there really was not much in the way of explosive and consistent talent. Mike Davis was the closest thing UT had, but even he had moments where he was a non-factor. Were the players just not that good, did Greg Davis' scheme not put the guys in a position to flourish or was it a combination of both?

Harsin and Major Applewhite's task beginning Thursday is to find ways to get the ball into the offensive playmakers' hands and put those guys in a position to make plays. But before they can diagram plays to each player's strengths, the coaches have to find out which guys are a cut above and which guys are, for a lack of better description, average talents. Let the games begin.

Bryan Harsin
Jason Howell

The biggest question to me is at quarterback. Can Garrett Gilbert step up or will someone else get a chance? How many will be on the roster when the 2011 season starts in the fall? All are great questions but the bottom line is will someone, anyone, step up and take charge from the quarterback position?

Gilbert certainly comes into the spring with the most eyes on him. I'm sure he did not have the first-year as a starter he expected. I'm also sure he is doing what he feels is necessary to show everyone that says he can't, he can.

That said, Gilbert is not the only quarterback on the roster and the spot, like every other on the field, has been said to be open. This team needs someone, the quarterback is always a vital leadership role and Harsin's system needs a quarterback to get it done.

There are a lot of questions going into spring ball as you could see from this group project. And anytime there is shake-up like there was following 2010, you can expect a lot of uncertainty. Some questions are bigger than others but quarterback will have my attention and I'm sure I won't be the only one watching.

Garrett Gilbert
Dustin MCcomas

No position on the football field gets more attention than the offensvie player that touches the football on every single play, and I'm not talking about the center. The biggest question in the spring has to be the quarterback position. It just has to be. And it's going to be the positionthat receives the most attention and criticism this spring.

So, the biggest question heading into the spring is how do the quarterbacks progress in the new offensive system, and which one steps up. Of course, the offense in general will be a huge question. But this offense, and even this UT team for that matter, doesn't take off until it gets some positive energy,play, and leadership from the quarterback position.

The signal caller will be the most talked about thing this spring after Garrett Gilbert's struggles last season, and the biggest question facing the Longhorns is how well the quarterback excels under the new offensive coordinator. The quicker Texas gets good QB play, the quicker this thing gets turned around.

Garrett Gilbert


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