After winning 10 games and beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in Tom Herman’s second season in 2018, Texas fans expected to take another step forward in 2019. They expected a win over Oklahoma and a Big 12 championship.

It didn’t happen.

After playing LSU, the eventual national champion, to the wire before losing 45-38 in Austin early in the season, the Longhorns lost to Oklahoma by a touchdown, by two points at Iowa State, and to TCU and Baylor by double-digits to finish 8-5 and 5-4 in the Big 12.

So Herman shook up his staff, bringing in seven new coaches, including both coordinators. But they missed out on critical spring practice time because of the coronavirus.

Still, there are ample reasons to believe Texas will challenge Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship in 2020. The Longhorns return seven starters on offense and one of them is quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who threw for 32 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. New OC Mike Yurcich, who was the passing game coordinator at Ohio State last season and was at Oklahoma State before that, is going to bring some additional creativity to the offense. Justin Fields certainly thrived at Ohio State last season under his watch.

The other reason for optimism is that the defense returns nine starters under the tutelage of Chris Ash, who was the DC at Ohio State before serving four years as the head coach at Rutgers.

The Longhorns will play a 10-game schedule of nine Big 12 games plus a non-conference opponent. They open on Sept. 12 against UTEP, play Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 10, are at Oklahoma State to face Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher in 2019, on Oct. 31, and host Iowa State on Nov. 28.