Starters returning: 5
Starters returning: 9
September 10, 1978
This looks as if it could be another of those "rebuilding" years for the Longhorns, the kind in which they finish up at 10-1 or 9-2. Gone are the nation's best running back (Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell), the best defensive lineman in the country (Outland Trophy winner Brad Shearer), the leading pass receiver in the school's history (Alfred Jackson) and four starters from the offensive line. All the 'Horns have coming back this season are the top-scoring field-goal kicker in the country (Russell Erxleben), the best punter in the game (Erxleben again) and almost everyone except Shearer from the first-string defensive unit, which didn't allow a touchdown until the Longhorns' sixth game of the season.
Last year was also supposed to be a building year for Coach Fred Akers, so all Texas did was go 11-0 and spend most of the season ranked No. 1—until its abysmal performance against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. In five games the Longhorns scored 44 points or better, winning them by an average margin of 45.6. The fact that Texas beat Oklahoma 13-6 after losing its first- and second-string quarterbacks early in the game suggests that the team could have been run by George Plimpton and still have won. In fact, the 'Horns used rushing plays 82% of the time, something this year's squad will not be able to do with equal success. That could make the battle among Mark McBath, Jon Aune and Randy McEachern for the quarterback job critical.
Johnny (Ham) Jones (5.3 yards per carry) is the one established running back in the Texas veer and I formations, and he spent this spring rushing rather than blocking, preparing to emerge from Campbell's shadow. World-class sprinter Johnny (Lam) Jones gives Texas a deep threat at flanker; he caught 21 passes for 543 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season as a fulltime receiver. There is also a promising freshman back named A. J. (Jam) Jones, rounding out what Texans hope will be a movable feast of Lam, Jam and Ham.