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Here we go again: More unbridled optimism at Texas. We’re still waiting for QB Sam Ehlinger – he enters his fourth year as a starter this season – to deliver on the vow that the Longhorns are back, which he made after Texas upset Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to cap a 10-4 season in 2019.

“Back” is not 8-5, with four Big 12 losses, a defense that was No. 97 overall nationally and 127th against the pass. That’s what Texas was last year.

Head coach Tom Herman, no doubt sensing some restlessness (he’s 25-15 for his first three years in Austin), hired seven new assistants in a massive overhaul this offseason. His defensive coordinator will be Chris Ash, who was arguably the worst head coach in Rutgers history (and that’s saying something for those who know that program). But maybe Ash will be effective if he focuses solely on defense instead of trying to run an entire program. The reality is that the defense can’t get much worse statistically.

With 15 starters back, and the revamped COVID-19 schedule resulting in a game against LSU being dropped, the Longhorns do look poised to take advantage of a favorable schedule.

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Ehlinger will be the key after throwing for 3,663 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 663 yards and seven scores. Keaontay Ingram will handle the bulk of the running back carries after rushing for 853 yards last year.

Wide receiver is an area of uncertainty but the offensive line should be improved. The defense has to be better. Much better.

Games against Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will determine whether this is a disappointing 7-3 season or perhaps a return to some semblance of glory at 9-1.