15 Texas

August 20, 2012

A BCS-worthy D will make Big 12 QBs shake—but the Horns' own shaky offense will hold them back

Key Recruit

JOHNATHAN GRAY The most prized freshman tailback in America comes from Aledo, Texas, with 205 touchdowns on his résumé, the highest total in high school history. The 5'11", 207-pound Gray is a big-game player an optimal blend of chiseled size and breakaway speed.

Breakout Player

BRANDON MOORE Alabama booted the massive, yet athletic, Moore off its roster in the spring of 2011 for violating team rules. After a stopover at East Mississippi Community College, the 6'5", 335-pound junior is yet another wrecking ball on the Horns defensive front.

The Skinny

"YOU'VE GOT to have pass rushers," coach Mack Brown says. "The Big 12 is going to light you up if you don't." So count the Longhorns among the lucky. On one end of the defensive line is senior Alex Okafor (seven sacks last year), a likely first-round NFL pick next spring. On the other is junior Jackson Jeffcoat (7½ sacks), an even surer bet to be among the top 32 players selected come April. In fact, Jackson, the son of 15-year NFL defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat, might be the best pass rusher in the country—and, though it's heresy to suggest this in his household, even better than his dad. Under defensive coordinator Manny Diaz's up-tempo, attacking scheme, the Longhorns' D should light up most of the Big 12 quarterbacks it sees.

Final Analysis

THE DEFENSE won't be a problem for Texas—but it wasn't a problem last year either, when it was the Big 12's top unit against the run and pass, and the Longhorns still went 8--5 and were blown out by Oklahoma and Baylor. The quarterback situation is as unsettled as it was in 2011, when David Ash and Case McCoy combined for 11 TD passes and 12 interceptions. Whether Ash, a sophomore, can spark the offense will determine whether the Longhorns contend for the Big 12 title. The Horns, perhaps the most unpredictable team in SI's top 25, could end up in the BCS title game or they could wind up in the Holiday Bowl.

THE VITALS

Coach Mack Brown (15th year)

141--39 (86--27 Big 12)

2011 Record 8--5 (4--5, T-6 in Big 12)

Final AP Rank NR

Returning Starters Offense 6, Defense 6

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 392.5 YPG (54)

Rushing Offense 202.6 YPG (21)

Passing Offense 189.9 YPG (86)

Total Defense 306.1 YPG (11)

Rushing Defense 96.2 YPG (6)

Passing Defense 209.8 YPG (42)

TELLING NUMBER 0

Longhorns picked in the first three rounds of the 2012 NFL draft, the first time in 11 years Texas failed to send a player to the NFL before the fourth round.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

QB David Ash

Soph. 6'3", 223 pounds

1,079 YDs, 4 TDs

RB Malcolm Brown

Soph. 6'0", 223 pounds

172 rushes, 742 YDs, 5 TDs

WR Mike Davis

Jr. 6'2", 193 pounds

45 recs, 609 YDs, 1 TD

Defense

DE Jackson Jeffcoat

Jr. 6'5", 245 pounds

54 tackles, 7½ sacks

DE Alex Okafor

Sr. 6'4", 265 pounds

50 tackles, 7 sacks

CB Carrington Byndom

Jr. 6'0", 180 pounds

53 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 TD

Special Teams

KR Quandre Diggs

Soph. 5'10", 200 pounds

19 KR, 19.5 avg

PHOTOCHARLES BAUS/ICON SMI (OKAFOR)Okafor (above) and Jeffcoat anchor a blitz-happy defense that pummels the passer first and asks questions later. PHOTOMATT HEMPEL/UT SPORTS (MOORE)[See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)