The Charlie Strong era begins soon for the Texas Longhorns. He’s diving head-first into his inaugural season at Texas with a schedule that pits the Longhorns against BYU, UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma by mid-October. Strong inherits 14 returning starters and a top-10 defense.
Texas hasn’t had strong quarterback play since Colt McCoy was under center. David Ash has struggled with injuries, and the team’s success will depend on his health.
However, he won’t be alone in the backfield as Malcolm Brown returns after a 904-yard season. Johnathan Gray makes it a 1-2 punch after running for 780 yards despite missing the last four games of last season with an Achilles injury. At wide receiver, Jaxon Shipley returns after leading the Longhorns with 56 receptions a year ago. However, he suffered a hamstring injury during practice in early August. No timetable was set for his return, whether he misses game time or just preseason workouts. With the graduation of Mike Davis and dismissal of Kendall Sanders, Texas has some work to do at receiver. Besides Shipley, the Longhorns don’t have a receiver who had more than 24 catches last season.
Defensively, Texas should miss Jackson Jeffcoat, but defensive end Cedric Reed is ready to step out from Jeffcoat’s shadow and make a name for himself. Reed was third on the team with 78 tackles and a team-high 22 tackles for loss last season. Linebackers Dalton Santos and Steve Edmond accounted for a combined 147 tackles last year. In the secondary, cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Duke Thomas are poised for breakout seasons.
THE LONGHORNS’ SCHEDULE
— Compiled by Krista Pirtle